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Author Topic: Interesting article: legend of Archie Karas, The Run  (Read 1233 times)
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October 26, 2013, 08:41:40 AM
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archie_Karas

After arriving in America, he worked at a restaurant in Los Angeles which was next to a bowling alley and a pool hall. There he honed his pool skills and eventually made more money playing pool than he did as a waiter. When his victims from the pool hall thinned out, he went to Los Angeles card rooms to play poker. He quickly became an astute poker player, building his bankroll to over $2,000,000. In December 1992, he had lost all but $50 playing high stakes poker. Instead of reevaluating his situation and slowing down, he decided to go to Las Vegas in search of bigger games. He claims to have gone from broke to millionaire and back several times before he went to Las Vegas. What happened in the next three years would go down in legend as the greatest run in gambling history.

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“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.”

The Run

Karas drove to Vegas with $50 in his wallet. His initial run lasted for six months where he turned $50 into $17 million playing poker and pool. After arriving at the Binion's Horseshoe, he started gambling and went on a hot streak. Karas recognized a fellow poker player from the Los Angeles scene and convinced him to loan him $10,000, which Archie quickly turned into $30,000 playing $200/$400 limit Razz. Karas returned $20,000 to his backer, who was more than content.

With a little over $10,000 in his pocket, Karas began looking for pool action. He found a wealthy and respected poker and pool player, Karas refused to reveal the name of his opponent for the sake of his opponent's reputation; he simply referred to him as "Mr. X". They started playing pool at $10,000 a game. After Karas won several hundred thousand dollars, they raised the stakes to $40,000 a game. Many gamblers and professional poker players watched Archie play with stakes never seen before. Karas ended up winning $1,200,000. He then played Mr. X in poker and won an additional $3,000,000 from him. Karas was willing to gamble everything he made and continued to raise the stakes to a level few dared to play at.

With a bankroll of $4 million, Karas gambled his bankroll up to $7 million after spending only three months in Vegas. By now many poker players had heard of Mr. X's loss to Archie. Only the best players dared to challenge him. Karas sat at the Binion's Horseshoe's poker table with 5 of his 7 million dollars in front of him waiting for any players willing to play for such stakes.

The first challenger was Stu Ungar, a three-time World Series of Poker champion widely regarded as the greatest Texas Hold'em and gin rummy player of all time. Stu was backed by Lyle Berman, another professional poker player and business executive who co-founded Grand Casinos. Karas first beat Stu for $500,000 playing heads-up Razz. Ungar then attempted to play him in 7-card stud, which cost him another $700,000. The next player was Chip Reese, widely regarded as the greatest cash game player. Reese claims that Karas beat him for more money than anyone else he ever played. After 25 games, Reese was down $2,022,000 playing $8,000/$16,000 limit.

Karas continued to beat many top players, from Doyle Brunson to Puggy Pearson to Johnny Moss. Many top players would not play him simply because his stakes were too high. The only player to beat Karas during his run was Johnny Chan, who beat him for $900,000 after losing to Karas the first two games. By the end of his six-month-long winning streak, Karas had amassed more than $17 million.

The poker action for Karas had mostly dried up due to his reputation and stakes. He turned to dice rolling for $100,000 on one roll. He said that he could quickly win $3 million on dice, while it would take days to weeks with poker. He said that "With each play I was making million-dollar decisions, I would have played even higher if they'd let me."

Transporting money became a hassle for Karas as he was moving several millions of dollars in his car every day. He carried a gun with him at all times and would often have his brother and casino security guards escort him. At one point, Karas had won all of the Binion's casino's $5000 chips, which were the highest denomination of chips at the time. By the end of his winning streak he had won a fortune of just over $40 million.

Downfall

By mid-1995, Karas lost all of his money in a period of three weeks. He lost $20 million playing dice and then lost the $2 million he won from Chip Reese back to him. Following these losses he switched to baccarat and lost another $17 million, for a total of $30 million. With $12 million left and needing a break from gambling, he returned to Greece. When he came back to Las Vegas, he went back to the Horseshoe shooting dice and playing baccarat at $300,000 per bet, and in less than a month, lost all but his last million.

With his last million, he went to the Bicycle Club and played Johnny Chan in a $1,000,000 freeze out event. This time, Chan was also backed by Lyle Berman and both took turns playing Karas. He preferred playing the both of them instead of just Chan, as he felt Chan was a tougher opponent. Karas won and doubled his money, only to lose it all at dice and baccarat, betting at the highest limits in just a few days.

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November 03, 2013, 02:21:34 PM
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Very interesting article. It's amazing how much money this guy won (and lost).
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November 05, 2013, 12:55:45 AM
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a guy with strong heart...admire and should learn for the good and bad..

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November 05, 2013, 01:54:08 AM
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Story similar to Stu Ungar that you mentioned the article.

Both extremely talented in skill games (like poker and his varation, and gyn rummy) but so egocentric and "adrenaline addicted" (Stu Ungar was also drugs addicted) to try to dominate also pure gambling (horse betting, dices, ecc) with similar, if not the same, results.   The end of Stu Ungar is also a tragic end.

I suggest to watch the movie High roller - The Stu Ungar story.  One of the best movie about poker, gambling and gambler's life.
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