The good news is that the house edge persists over time. In the short term, anyone can make money gambling. If they couldn’t, the casinos would close because no one would play. Some gamblers, however, outperform others when it comes to winning money at Las Vegas casinos. But did you know the story about Archie Karas?
Archie Karas, a Greek gambler who turned $50 into $40 million in three years of Las Vegas poker before losing it all.
The Gambling Roots of Archie Karas
Anargyros Karavourniotis was born on the Greek island of Cephalonia on November 1, 1950, before becoming Archie Karas. His gambling career began when he was a child. Anargyros had to shoot marbles to survive because his father, Nickolas, was a poor construction worker.
The boy was betting regularly, inventing his own gambling games in the neighborhood and winning most of the time, earning a good living. Young Anargyros saw his job as his father’s construction assistant as a thankless task. He refused to shovel cement one day when he was 15, claiming he had a nasty burn on his hand.
His father, enraged with his son, threw the shovel at him. When the teenager avoided the flying shovel, he realized he had to leave home for good. When he arrived in Los Angeles, he got a job in a restaurant, where he discovered he was a natural at poker and decided to become a pool shark. (Source: Casino)
The Gambler, The Greek, The God of Gambling
Karas amassed over $2 million in winnings in months, progressing from pool halls to underground poker games. However, much of his haul was lost in high-stakes games. This type of financial upheaval would come to define Karas’s career.
He famously arrived in Vegas with only $50 in his pocket and a dream: to win it all back. Around this time, he officially changed his name from Anargyros Karabourniotis to Archie Karas.
A $10,000 loan from a fellow gambler is said to have been paid back in just hours, becoming the stuff of urban legend as he turned it into $17 million over six months by playing poker and pool.
Profits increased, as did invitations from high-profile players. His most famous victims are Stu Ungar, Chip Reese, Doyle Brunson, and Puggy Pearson. (Source: Casino)
The Good Streak and The Bad Streak
Karas amassed a fortune between 1992 and 1995, with a net worth of more than $40 million at its peak. This three-year streak became known as The Run, and is still thought to be the longest and largest hot streak in gambling history.
One of our favorite stories from the time is that Karas kept most of his money on him, stashing millions in his car and relying on casino security guards as escorts. But Karas’ crown began to sway.
Karas struggled to find new opponents after ‘The Run,’ during which he only lost once. As a result, the Greeks turned to other games. (Source: Casino)
The Big Mistake Archie Karas Made
Karas may have taken 30 months to become a multi-millionaire, but it only took him three weeks to lose most of it. His demise began with an $11 million loss on a craps table, followed by a staggering $17 million loss on a single baccarat table. That’s a $30 million loss in just 48 hours.
Karas’ fortune eventually crumbled as well. He beat Johnny Chan and Lyle Berman with his last million, but he lost it all within days. (Source: Casino)
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