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$50 to $40 Million: Archie Karas

When you imagine a professional gambler, you instantly think of someone who can leave their house with $20 and easily come back with 10 times that amount. A larger than life figure who lives for the thrill of the bet and is never far away from the tables. 

Archie Karas is such a man. He’s a legend amongsthis peers and one of the élite few to fit the description of a pro gambler. Karas, a Greek-American,had spent most of his adult life in casinos, watching and learning, working on his strategy as a highstakes poker player in Los Angeles.

He was already an astute gambler before the event that made him ahousehold name in the casino world.After a long stint as a waiter-cum-pool-hustler, Karas ended up amassinga bankroll of $2 million in the card rooms of Los Angeles, a fortune which he proceeded to squander almostin its entirety. In December 1992, at the age of 42, Karas left his home in LA with just $50 dollarsand headed to Las Vegas to play in the big leagues.

3 years later, Karas had turned that humble $50 into$40 million, in what would go down in history as the longest recorded running winning streak of all time.Yes, you did read that figure right.

He decided to call it quits at $40 million and head home at leastfor a couple of months - well why wouldn’t you?.Let’s break this down a bit. His first long run inthe 3 year stretch was 7 months, in which he turned the $50 into $17 million; he then continued to winsome and lose some until he accumulated the $40m fortune.

However, this story doesn’t have the happiestof endings. By the end of 1995, he had lost all of his money - yes the whole $40 million! Gambling wasso much a part of his life that he was constantly looking for new challenges.

The poker action havingdried up, in part due to his dominance and the high stakes, he took to playing dice and baccarat witha lot less success. It took him a matter of weeks to fritter away his huge winnings. He lost $20 millionon dice before switching to baccarat where he lost $17 million. Speaking about his experience, Karasis very open and honest about winning and then losing it all, stating:

 “You've got to understand something. 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” (
In his time, he beat many of the top players, includingDoyle Brunson, Stu Ungar and Chip Reese and carved out a reputation for being fearless. His 3 year winningstreak is now most commonly known as ‘The Run’ and has left him with the notoriety of being up therewith the best gamblers across the globe.

Where is he now?

For someone so famous on the poker circuit, Archie Karas is a hard man to trackdown. It would be reasonable to assume that he’s still playing poker but the last TV interview he canbe seen doing was in 2008 at the World Series of Poker.

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