Archie Karas – The greatest-ever gambler

Born in 1950, Anargyros Karabourniotis, known as Archie Karas is widely regarded as the world’s greatest-ever gambler. He proclaims to have gambled more money than anyone and even once turned $50 into a staggering $40,000,000 in just three years, known simply as The Run.

He grew up in poverty in Antypata on the Greek island of Cefalonia but ran away aged just 15 years old. In a rage his father Nickolas threw a spade at him, which narrowly missed his head, and he vowed never to see his father again. Four years later Nickolas died.

Karas began working on a boat as a waiter earning just $60 per month but left as soon as it docked in Portland, Oregon. He then moved to Los Angeles where he continued working as a waiter in a restaurant next to a pool hall. He quickly honed his pool skills and was soon earning more from pool than he was waiting tables! Once he ran out of pool competition he turned his attention to poker and built his bankroll to $2,000,000. however, he quickly lost it all but $50 and headed to Las Vegas.

When he arrived in Vegas he recognised a fellow poker player from Los Angeles who he convinced to loan him $10,000. Karas quickly ran this up to $30,000 playing $200/$400 Razz, gave his backer $20,000 back and used the remaining $10,000 as a bankroll. He used this to play high-stakes pool starting at $10,000 per game and finally moving up to $40,000 per game, eventually winning almost $3,000,000 in total.

He then switched to poker and played greats such as Stu Ungar, Doyle Brunson, Chip Reese and Johnny Chan, the latter being the only person to beat him during his epic heater. Just six months after arriving in Las vegas he was sitting on a $17,000,000 bankroll.

Even the very best poker players in Vegas refused to play Karas so he switched his interests to rolling dice, but for $100,000 a time! His amazing run continued for another two years and at one point he sat on a $40,000,000 fortune, but then it all started to go wrong.

In mid-1995 he lost $30,000,000 in just three weeks. $11,000,000 of that was playing dice, $2,000,000 in poker and $17,000,000 when he decided to play baccarat. With “just” $12,000,000 left he returned to Greece but then within a month of returning to Sin City, he had lost all but a million dollars, which he doubled to two million but then lost everything.

He has since gone on mini-streaks since, including turning $200 into $980,000 in just three days though his major gambling days are behind him.

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