Greek-American Karas is widely regarded as one of the greatest gamblers of all time. Born in Cephalonia, Greece in 1951, he left his home in Greece and traveled to America at the age of 15 after a particularly bad row with his carpenter father. It was here in America where he worked briefly as a busboy in a restaurant in Los Angeles while hustling pool in the hall next door. Within a short space of time he had already begun to amass cash, but was so successful that people became unwilling to play him; causing him to turn his attention to poker and the bright lights of Las Vegas, Nevada.
Building a Reputation
It was in Las Vegas that Karas tried pushed his limited knowledge of poker to its extremes, and luckily for Karas, he was a natural when he came to the game. Despite his lack of experience, he earned a bankroll of $2 million in a matter of a few months. Over the years that followed he won – and lost – his fortune many times and built himself a reputation in the casinos as a hard-nosed gambler with a tenacious attitude. It was this attitude that caused him to turn his attention to the World Series of Poker, which he entered a total of seven times. Of his appearances, his 2009 year is a standout, where he took the fifth position after taking the pot for $53,783.
He is probably most well-known for his run known as “The Streak” which saw him amass $40 million from an initial investment of $50 between 1992-1995. This is regarded as the longest and largest winning streak ever documented in casino gambling history. Other prestigious gamblers lined up to challenge his streak, including a mysterious gentleman who he refused to name, in fear of what it may do to his reputation. During their games together, he managed to fleece the other party of a whopping $4.2 million. Other poker legends have fallen foul of his technique including Stu Ungar, who he collected $1.2 million from in 7-card stud and Heads-up Razz. Chip Reese, Johnny Chan, Puggy Pearson and Doyle Brunson. Within just six months, his $50 had multiplied astronomically to $17 million through poker and pool.
In September of 2013, Karas’ luck took a decided turn for the worst as it was revealed to the world that Police had arrested him on suspicion of cheating at blackjack in the Barona Casino, San Diego. He was accused of marking his cards with a dye which he secreted in a hollowed-out gambling chip, discretely touching them with the ink to benefit his game. He pleaded guilty to the charge and was ordered to pay $6,800 in fines. He had won $6,000 the evening that he was found to be cheating. Since then he has been investigated many times by the Nevada Gaming Control Board for potential fraud.