Anargyros Karabournitiotis, best known as Archie Karas is one of the most skilled poker players you’ll ever meet. He is well known for “The Run” which was the longest and most profitable winning streak ever to be documented in casino gambling history. He was born in 1951 on an island called Cefalonia in Greece, which is located in the Ionian Sea between Italy and Greece. Archie’s father was a talented carpenter, who could build houses, but still couldn’t make enough money to support the family. Archie had an interest in playing marbles with his friends, hoping to earn some money towards food for his family.
Archie cared a lot about his family, but never had a great relationship with his father. His father would consistently take his anger and frustration out on him. In hopes to strengthen the relationship, Archie would volunteer to help him build houses during the summers. At the age of 15 years old, his father threw a shovel at him in anger during an argument while working, which lead Archie to pack all his belongings and run away. He got a job as a waiter on a ship, heading to America to make money.
Furthermore, Archie was determined to build a better life for himself in the states. He picked up English through talking to customers and hustled people out of their money with his incredible pool table skills in his free time. He was a natural when it came to any form of gambling and picked up playing poker with ease. He earned over $2 million in just a few months and unfortunately lost it all the same year. He continued to remain optimistic and decided to move to Las Vegas to create more opportunities with only $50 remaining.
One day, Archie ran into an old friend who happened to be very wealthy, while he was visiting The Mirage Hotel and Casino. His friend took an interest in his talent and decided to loan him $10,000 to gamble with. The initial $10,000 turned into $30,000 by playing $200-$400 limit Razz. Karas gave $20,000 back to his friend, leaving him with $10,000 to spare.
An extremely wealthy man, named Mr. X, who Archie refused to reveal his name to protect his reputation, was willing to play pool against Archie for very high stakes. It started at $10,000 a game and raised to $40,000. Archie won $1.2 million and got offered a competition to Binion’s Horse shoe, where Archie won $3million dollars from him.
He picked up quite a reputation for himself and even had famous gamblers travelling to compete against him. Stu Ungur, a 3- time World Series of Poker champion, first big name legend to attempt to play a friendly game of Heads-up Razz. Archie walked away with over half a million dollars. Desperate for another try, Stu challenged Archie to a 7- card stud game, where Archie won $700,000. Archie continued to beat famous players and turned his $50 into $17 million through playing many poker and pool games within 6 months.
Archie found it difficult to find competition who were willing to compete against him at the negotiable amount he wanted, so he decided to switch over to crap tables. He bet the maximum of $200,000 on the 4 and 10 to 4.6 odds. In just 2 rolls, he was up $920,000 forcing the casino to lower their limit immediately. He acquired over $40 million in two and a half years.
All good things must come to an end and Archie’s winning streak did. It all started when he lost $11 million playing craps and another $17 million switching over to baccarat, where he had no idea what he was doing. Chip Reese and Johnny Chan challenged him to various poker competitions and managed to win back a large amount of money of which he had won from them previously. Archie’s $40 million dollars got depleted.
Archie stated: “I feel lucky to have such a supportive family, as I realize for many others, who might have gone through the ups and downs in life as I have, the family ties might evaporate. Even though I went to the mountain and back, losing a fortune, my family is still there for me.” Archie continues to tell all his fans that it was his family’s moral support that got him through the times he was left broke and badly beaten.
Today, Archie Karas lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, but makes it his priority to visit his mother, two sisters and older brother yearly in Greece. He still continues to play high stakes poker games and compete in the World Series of Poker seven times with his biggest accomplishment being when he took fifth in the 2009 WSOP $10,000 World Championship No-limit Deuce-to Seven draw for $53,783.He has made history through his accomplishments from gambling and is probably still playing till today.