The Las Vegas Casinos Ban Poker Legend Archie Karas for Life

Legendary gambler Archie Karas has received a lifetime ban from Nevada casino for cheating. Being assigned to the Black Book is a rare thing, and it is truly a lifetime ban. Karas will not be able to gamble in Nevada casinos for the rest of his life.

The Black Book was established in 1972. Since then, gamblers have rarely been added to the list. The usual reasons include cheating and repeated card counting, but it is not that easy to achieve the dubious fame of being blacklisted. Mr. Karas was blacklisted for allegedly cheating (and getting caught) 5 times.

“The Run”

Archie Karas is a legend in the poker world. In a feat simply known as “The Run, he is famous for having turned $50 into $40 million. Like many other high stakes gamblers, Karas has won and lost several fortunes in his lifetime.

Karas is particularly known for his poker sessions in 1995 and 1996. Over a stretch of months, he beat a murderers row of professional poker players: Stu Ungar, Doyle Brunson, Chip Reese, Johnny Chan, Puggy Pearson, and Johnny Moss.

Lost It All on Baccarat

While he didn’t win every session in 1995-96, he won enough that the top players wouldn’t take his action anymore, according to Karas. Instead, Karas turned to craps and baccarat. It was at the baccarat table that he lost the money he had won in the Las Vegas high stakes ring games.

The consensus says Archie Karas never cheated the poker players–he was just that good. But when he started to lose, he fell into the pattern of the problem gambler, losing everything he had. In all, he lost his entire $40 million bankroll. That doesn’t make him the biggest loser in the history of high roller gambling–not by a long shot. But his story is seen as tragic by many, because of the heights he scaled in the poker world.

History of Alleged Cheating

Over the past few years, he has undoudtebly been caught cheating. At the Barona Casino in San Diego last year, he was caught marking the cards at blackjack. He was able to reach a plea bargain and stayed out of jail by paying a $6,860 fine, but it was one more mark against him. Karas knew he might be banned for life on his next offense.

One aspect of the tragedy of the lifetime ban is Archie Karas won’t be able to enter the World Series of Poker, which is played in the Las Vegas area every year. The real tragedy isn’t that the professional gambler might not play in the world’s largest poker tournament again, though. His descent into a life as an (alleged) card cheat is driven by problem gambling, unable to walk away from the game when the odds turn against him. That is what the evidence points toward, it would seem.

About Archie Karas

The man known as Archie Karas was born Anargyros Karabourniotis in Antypata, Cefalonia, Greece in 1951. Karas ran away from home at the age of 15 when his father threw a shovel at his head (and missed). He worked his way to the United States as a waiter aboard a ship. Karas made a living in the U.S. as a pool hustler, but eventually switched to poker when he proved too good to draw billiards opponents anymore.

Moving from Portland to Los Angeles, he built a $2 million bankroll playing poker, but eventually lost everything playing in the high stakes card clubs of L.A. Over the years, he learned the skills which allowed him to more successfully play the world’s greatest poker players on a more even footing. At the age of 41, he had $50 in his pocket, but a lifetime’s worth of poker skills. Over the next few years, he would turn that money into a $40 million bankroll, playing in the cash games of Las Vegas.

Those who follows poker tournaments see only one side of the card playing world. Many players gain their reputation in the cash games–called ring games–which seems to transpire endless in gaming destinations like Las Vegas and elsewhere. Men like Chip Reese and Archie Karas gain reputation far greater playing high stakes poker against the best, instead of gambling for the cameras against hundreds or even thousands of lesser known players. The sad story of Archie Karas is made sadder by the fact that his fall has been one all-too-familiar to the family of problem gamblers out there.

About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on,, and

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