The Story of Archie Karas

Archie “The Greek” Karas carved out the kind of gambling career that goes down in history. What started with $50 in his pocket turned into more than $40 million in winnings. Unfortunately, all of it was lost in an epic, spectacular fall. Blog

here is an old saying in poker: “A chip and a chair.” That’s all it takes for someone to turn their fortunes around and win big. For Archie Karas, that’s essentially what it came down to. He went to Las Vegas with $50 in his pocket and built a gambling dynasty.

After winning $40 million as one of the top sports bettors in the United States, he fell as quickly as he rose. His story is like few others and Karas has carved out a niche as a legendary gambler for better or for worse.

Gambling in His Blood

Long before you could play conveniently at an online casino, Anargyros Karavourniotis was just a kid getting started in gambling. He would shoot marbles in an effort to win enough to keep himself fed, having grown up the son of a poor construction worker.

He would invent his own games and quickly won good pocket money. Rather than following in his dad’s footsteps, he came to America to chase a dream. He started as a successful pool shark before moving on to his true calling.

The Up-and-Down Life of Archie Karas

Though many of today’s gamblers get started with online blackjack or poker, Karas sat down at the poker table in person. He was fearless at the table, winning $2 million seemingly overnight. All of it was gone by December 1992.

It would lead him to what some would call a “come to Jesus” moment. While most gamblers would pack it in after those huge losses, the experience took Karas on the journey to become a millionaire once again.

$50 into $40 million

Karas moved to Vegas with $50 in his pocket. He ultimately found a friend to loan him $10,000 with a whopping 50% interest. He started out in razz and tripled his money inside of three hours. He paid the friend back and kept going from there.

He went on a streak that could only be called “The Run.” By the 1995 rolled around, he had managed to earn $40 million. He became a feared name in both Razz and poker, even scaring off some of the big names.

Then the casinos came after him. He was arrested five times for perpetrating alleged casino scams. It all caught up to him when he was put in the infamous “black book,” marking the end of his gambling career in 2015. He still lives in Las Vegas but will never be able to achieve his previous heights in gambling while there.


Few went on the kind of journey that Karas did. Though his huge wins were often gone before he knew it, no one had the kind of experiences that he managed. When we think of movies about gamblers, Karas lived that life to a tee.

Noah has worked in the iGaming space for more than five years, first as a freelancer and now as part of Duluth Media. He’s experienced in all facets of the industry and has covered plenty of sports.

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