Famous Las Vegas gambler gets probation in card-marking case

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 13, 2014 4:13 PM

By Marty Graham

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - A Las Vegas gambler who once famously turned $50 into $40 million and then lost it all has been sentenced to three years' probation for a card-marking scheme that got him arrested at a California casino, a San Diego prosecutor said on Thursday.

Anargyros Karabourniotis, who was also ordered to pay $6,860 in restitution, pleaded guilty to a felony count of burglary for entering the Barona Casino in the San Diego area in July 2013 intending to commit a theft.

Better known as Archie Karas, 64-year-old Karabourniotis is legendary for arriving in Las Vegas in 1992 with $50 and going on a three-year gambling streak that included poker, pool and dice games that raised his funds to $40 million, which he lost in a few months in 1995.

At the San Diego area casino, Karabourniotis was videotaped twice marking cards at a blackjack table. He won $8,000 in one sitting, according to court records. 

Deputy District Attorney Andrew Aguilar said Karabourniotis was using his fingers to daub the cards with a substance, marking them in three different ways to signal that the card was either an ace, had a playing value of 10, or was a card worth seven, eight or nine points.

"It gave him a slight edge, but in blackjack, that's enough," Aguilar said. "He was the last to get cards before the dealer, so he could either help his own hand or make the dealer go bust if he knew the value of the card that was going to be dealt next."

The California and Nevada Gaming Control Boards cooperated on the arrest, Aguilar said. Nevada authorities found daub material at Karabourniotis's home during a warrant search, and he was charged with two counts of burglary in San Diego County.

Karabourniotis didn't speak at the sentencing on Wednesday, but his attorney said Karabourniotis hoped to return to Las Vegas, where he makes his home, and serve the three-year sentence there.

After a year of successfully following the terms of probation, including paying the restitution, Karabourniotis will be able to ask to have the felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor, Judge Daniel Goldstein said.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Sandra Maler)