That Time a Professional Gambler Turned $50 into $40 Million, Then Promptly Lost It All


In the world of professional gambling, there
is a well documented hot streak of near-mythical status referred to by many as “The Run”. During this streak, a man known as Archie
Karas turned $50 into $40 million by primarily shooting pool and playing poker in Vegas. What makes this run so infamous is that, after
winning more money than most people could spend in a lifetime, Karas lost it all in
the span of a few weeks. The Run began in 1992 when Karas (aka: Anargyros
Karabourniotis) drove to Las Vegas with approximately $50 in his pocket. The then 41 year old had originally come to
America from Greece via working aboard a cruise ship as a waiter. Before that, he ran away from home at the
age of 15 after his father attacked him with a shovel. Once in America, he developed prodigious skill
at both pool and poker, and several times made himself a millionaire via gambling in
California, only to lose much of it shortly thereafter. Notably, directly before his famous trip to
Vegas, he managed to accumulate over $2 million before losing most all of it playing poker. Rather than quit, he decided to head to Vegas
to try his luck there. archie-karasKaras’ previous experience playing
high-stakes poker helped him turn his $50 into $10,000 almost immediately when he bumped
into a high-roller at The Mirage he’d previously played with and convinced him to give him
$10,000. The high-roller, knowing Karas’ skill, happily
lent him the money and watched as he turned it into $30,000 in a matter of hours at the
poker tables. In repayment of the loan, Karas gave the man
$20,000 and headed for the pool halls with the remaining $10,000. There Karas, who’d spent years hustling
people at pool while working next door to a pool hall in LA, ran into a fellow pool
shark he has only ever referred to as “Mr. X” in interviews “out of respect for him
and his position.” To quote Karas on he and Mr. X’s first encounter
in Vegas: “We knew each other from the past, and it took no time at all to agree to play
a game of 9-ball. We started shooting 9-ball for something pretty
small, like $5,000 per game.” Over the course of about two and half months,
Karas and this mystery man met many dozens of times to play pool for ever increasing
sums of money, eventually culminating in both men agreeing to play for a whopping $40,000
per game, which inevitably resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars changing hands every
night. In one particularly heated set, according
to Karas, he lost $320,000 dollars in “about 40 seconds” when Mr. X was able to sink
the 9 ball on his break an astounding eight times out of ten, something Karas had never
even heard of happening before. He stated of this, I don’t rattle easy, but that rattled me,
as I didn’t even get the chance to shoot one ball in those games. It is hard to fade, believe me. It felt like I was throwing $40,000 at a time,
right out of a car window in seconds, over and over again, and my hard-earned money was
flying off into the wind. That said, Karas was still way ahead, having
netted around $1.2 million from Mr. X at this point. Nonetheless, he decided Mr. X was simply too
good to beat consistently over a large sample set. Knowing his opponent wouldn’t want to let
him walk away with over a million dollars of his money, Karas offered to change the
game, telling Mr. X, “If you want to gamble with me, let’s go play some poker.” Like their pool games, the stakes between
both men quickly became high at upwards of $15,000 per hand while playing seven card
stud- an amount Karas describes as “unheard of in those days”. After three weeks of playing poker with Mr.
X and others, Karas had another $3 million in his pocket from those games and the same
playing dice in between poker matches, bringing his total up to $7 million in about three
months of gambling. Rather than retiring an living off the interest,
Karas set up shop at Binion’s Gambling Hall and Hotel (then known as Binion’s Horseshoe)
and simply sat at the highest stakes poker table with $5 million in chips in front of
him. To psyche out any potential opponents, Karas
would occasionally stand up and go to the bar or toilet, leaving the $5 million on the
table like he didn’t even care about it. In reality, the money was being closely watched
over by casino security, but it did cause enough of a stir to pique the interest of
some of the biggest poker stars of the day. Over the next six months, Karas won an additional
$10 million from some of the best card players of all time including Stu Ungar (widely considered
the best Texas Hold ‘Em player ever), Chip Reese (one of the youngest players ever inducted
into the poker hall of fame) and Johnny Chan (one of only a handful of people in history
to have won the World Series of Poker main event consecutively). During this particular hot streak, Karas continually
tried to raise the stakes against his opponents until he was playing half-million dollar games. While this earned him an undeniable amount
of kudos from his peers, it had the adverse effect of ultimately scaring away nearly every
high-roller in Vegas. And so it was that after six months of dominating
high-stakes poker, losing only one major game to Johnny Chan, Karas got bored of chasing
opponents and decided to take his $17 million to the dice tables at the Binion Horseshoe,
as they prided themselves on allowing customers to bet more money at once than any other casino
in Vegas. In the end, Karas was able to convince the
casino to allow him to bet $100,000 per dice roll, 20 times more than any other casino
in the area offered and 5 times what other customers at Binion’s could bet. Briefly, Karas even topped that after convincing
the owner to allow him to bet $200,000 on a single roll- a concession that was quickly
rescinded when Karas won nearly a million dollars in two consecutive rolls. On another occasion, Karas won almost every
$5000 chip (the largest at that establishment at the time) the casino had and ultimately
walked out carrying $3 million in cash that day which he nonchalantly dumped onto his
car’s passenger seat before driving to the bank. (He did later note that he carried a gun with
him when walking around with large sums.) At the end of this final streak, Karas had
managed to acquire another $13 million, bringing his total winnings over this two and a half
year period to over $40 million (about $65 million today). It’s at this point that his unprecedented
run stopped cold. Over the course of the next few weeks, Karas
lost about $17 million playing baccarat, $11 million playing dice and $2 million playing
poker against Johnny Chan. Just like that, 75% of his fortune was gone. These losses shook the normally ice cold Karas
enough to prompt him to return to his native Greece for a few weeks to catch his breath. But the allure of Vegas and the highs of gambling
tempted him back and he proceeded to lose another $10 million or so almost immediately
upon return, leaving him with about $1 million to his name. Karas briefly regained his luck, winning about
$2 million in a single high-stake poker match against Chan, but lost all these winnings
playing dice directly after. After this final losing streak, Karas was
broke; he’d lost just over $40 million in about a month’s worth of gambling. By his own estimation, during The Run, Karas
gambled over a billion dollars. Whether true or not, the better documented
exploits during his streak would seem to indicate he’s probably not far off when he states
he’s gambled more money than any single human being in history, except for “people
on Wall Street”. As for why he continued when he could have
easily just walked away one of the richest people in the world, Karas stated: “Money
means nothing to me. I don’t value it. I’ve had all the material things I could
ever want. Everything. The things I want, money can’t buy: health,
freedom, love, happiness. I don’t care about money, so I have no fear. I don’t care if I lose it.” Showing that lack of fear, after losing that
$40 million, Karas continued gambling, managing to win and lose millions of dollars a few
times over in the two decades since. Notable in these mini-runs was the time in
1996 when he turned $40,000 into about $5 million, then promptly lost it all the day
after winning approximately 80% of that sum. Unfortunately for Karas, he won’t be able
to go on any other such runs in Vegas for the foreseeable future. Why? In 2015, he was added to Nevada’s infamous
“Black Book” (a list of people banned from ever gambling in the state) after being
found guilty of marking cards in a blackjack game in 2013. In the end, Karas summed up his view on his
gambling career, “I consider myself the king of gamblers. I made it, I lost it and like Frank Sinatra
says, I stood tall and I took the punches and I did it my way.”

Posts created 5132

100 thoughts on “That Time a Professional Gambler Turned $50 into $40 Million, Then Promptly Lost It All

  1. Shouldve walked away with the $40 million… Invested that in real estate or equities. Made a fuck ton more. And spent the rest of his life lounging on a beach somewhere.

  2. He was a cheat, who likely cheated the poker players for millions, and then he got caught cheating(marking cards) in California.

  3. There is no way he was cheating in the Binion's casino. Those guys were so tough the Italian mafia didn't mess with their joint. They were known to have buried people in the desert. Against Chan, Ungar, and Reese, it is possible he marked the cards, but highly unlikely, these were guys with genius IQs and had come up the hard way, being students of human nature. So I can't rule it out entirely, but I'm fairly sure he played them straight. Ungar was probably off his peak in the early 90s. I guess playing so high messed with Reeses' and Chan's skills or maybe he was just a bit luckier than they were.

    I don't know much about playing pool, but I know with poker you are usually done as a serious threat in your 60s and sometimes even a bit earlier. Johnny Moss became a weak player late in life, fortunately for him his wife had forced him to give her half his winnings throughout his life and he was a multimillionaire in real estate in Texas. An older Karas could no longer replicate his feats in poker and pool most likely and Vegas no longer allows big spreads at their tables. I once went on a huge run in blackjack where if there were no table limits I probably could have walked away a millionaire, but the limits kept my winnings, well limited. I won roughly 28 out of 30 straight hands including numerous doubles. Don't try it at home kids, you will be back and dump off your winnings plus more.

  4. Today you also figured out that Archie laundered money for the mob, and this story was the mobs cover up story. Archie Karas was just a cover boy for the mob to launder money, nothing more than just a front. Now Archie is Blacked booked from all the Casinos out West for being a cheat.

  5. Playing dice odds against you poker is skill what a big bum dosser could of fed millions of hungry people around the world and homeless

  6. I bet $50 on a 2-to-1 bet at a roulette table.  I won and had $150 in front of me.
    I bet $150 and won again and had $450 in front of me.
    I bet $450 and won again had $1,350 in front of me.
    I bet $1,350.  A win would've meant that I'd have $4,050 in front of me.  And at which point, I'd have quit.

    I lost.  But I got comped a meal for my family at the buffet, which would've cost $150.  And everyone at the table shook my hand and the dealers gave me an approving nod.

  7. I have a gambling problem but wouldnt gamble away those sort of winnings, thats a life changing amount to make you quit surely.

  8. If I had to bet I said he still had it and just scammed the fuck outta the IRS lmao and said he lost it but who am I

  9. stories like this share one thing in common: gamblers do know know how or when to quit when they are ahead. You pretty much loose all forms of perspective when you are up that much.

  10. Lmao how retarded are you, making so much money gambling.. 40mil, thats enough for few generation to come living in mansions doing whatever the fuck you want lel

  11. @7:35 extremely interesting info here. I had heard of "the run" before, never knew he was arrested for marking cards though. The reason I find it interesting, "the run" almost had to have involved some cheating because of the unlikelihood of it happening coupled with this new information of him being caught for cheating!

  12. For anyone who’s not in the poker world this guy wasn’t crippled by that loss he just doesn’t give a fuck about money he still plays large stakes games and the wsop main event every year. Anyways what I’m saying is he’s not a broke ass he still has more cash then the average joe

  13. So what are their day jobs…if they can afford multiple 40,000 bets….and loose then come back and bet more in hopes to win their money back

  14. People often ask why didn't he stopped at $40million?!? The same reason that allowed him to get to 40 million is the reason he couldn't stop. The person who say they would stop at 40 million is lying because they would have stopped at a few grand and be happy.

  15. You got to know when to hold'em
    Know when to fold them
    Know when to walk away and
    Know when to run ..

    You never count your money
    When you sitting at the table.
    They'll be time enough for counting
    When the dealing's done…..

  16. I TRIED THAT SHIT MADE FROM 80 $ TO A 1300 THEN IN SPAN OF 3 DAYS MADE ABOUT 4000 LOST THE WHOLE 4000 THE NEXT DAY IM AN IDIOT BUT IMA MAKE IT BACK

  17. gambling is a drug, you can't stay high forever. If you want to feel the rush, you gotta lose it all(sober up).

  18. Just goes to show how addictive gambling really is?? Just be careful u gamblers out there and punch out when the going is bad ok. Thats 1 hell of a lot of money to possibly lose in a game of cards yo. Keep it fun n not suicidal.

  19. money talks 😎 get rich or die trying ☝️but never gamble unless you know what your doing or if you fixed it 😉

  20. I've left my house with 10 dollars played scratchers and had 1800$ in two hours only to lose it trying to win the "big" one on 30 to 50 dollars scratchers. It was a big waste of time and I should of left when I was 1k ahead. Moral of story enough should be just that enough.

  21. I’m and Uber driver and I’ve have taken some customers who pay me to be private driver to take them to casino and stay with them, I’ve seen crazy sh*t they done. One of them insert 25$ in roulette machine then turned into 90$. Not yet, he bet it all 15$ a number (6 numbers ) then hit again 180$. Guess what he did?, again he bet it all and made 1080$. Missed couple numbers then kept hitting more than losing. About an hour later, cashed out 12000$. He took 2000$ cash and 10000$ check. Went to high limited slot and played 75$ a spin, boooom. 75000$ jackpot after few spins. Well, two weeks later he broke as hell. And other one, a Asian girl who cashed in 300$ at black jack table at high limit, stated betting 25$(minimum at high limits ) kept on wining and rose her bet to 200-300$ a hand. Kept on wining and rose her bet to max which was 1000-2000$ a hand. and lost only few hands. For about 6-7 hours, 320000$ wining. Few days later, she came back and lost it all. Now I stop driving them to casino. They paid me very well but they’re so rude when they lost.

  22. he said: money alone does not make him happy. Only making money with gambling does. So leave the man alone.

  23. What a fucking idiot, i can imagine how much of a pompous pos prick that guy mustve been, he so deserved it. He had 40 million dollars, and thought he couldnt lose it as easy as he won it. Lol

  24. He played craps that's how he built his roll. When he was asked why wouldnt he quit now that he was up 40mil…he said he wanted to win the horseshoe

    And hes full of shit that the money didnt matter

  25. I enjoyed the under-the-breath comment about his banning after an arrest for marking cards. Perhaps his story should be: The Card Cheat Who Always Lost All His Cheating Wins by Gambling.

  26. What a great way to spend money, i just hope he took breaks inbetween to fuck loads of hookers and take a shitload of drugs

  27. I know a guy who turned $50 into $300,000 while drunk playing online blackjack. Some crazy life changing shit. They send him a check for $10,000 a month because of their terms of service.

  28. I would rather loose £10, rather than gain £40,000,000 and loose it all, its just depressing you had that money and lost it all

  29. Been there and done that…and I'm still a f**king compulsive gambler even though I know it's a f**king disease….

  30. A wise man once said: You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to run!

  31. Someone should just give him $50 dollars and tell him to try and do it again and give them a cut

  32. My wife says " stop gambling you loser " I say " WHY, BECAUSE I WOULD NEVER KNOW WHEN MY LOSING STREAK WAS UP "

  33. "I want things that money can't buy, like …health…"
    Tell that to your health insurance company when you can't pay them after you go broke…

  34. ”Money means nothing to me. I don’t value it. I’ve had all the material things I could ever want. Everything. The things I want money can’t buy: health, freedom, love happiness. I don’t care about money, so I have no fear. I don’t care if I lose it.”

    It would’ve had been all very poetic, if he didn’t got caught cheating and subsequently banned from gambling in Las Vegas casinos for the rest of his life.

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