Public Safety

Notorious Gambler Charged in Card Marking Scheme at Barona Casino

A world-famous gambler and poker player known for the largest and longest documented winning streak in gambling history has been charged in a card-marking scheme at Barona Casino, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Anargyros Karabourniotis, 62, who goes by ‘Archie Karas,’ was caught, by the Barona Gaming Commission, marking cards at the casino’s blackjack table in July, the DA’s Office said. He was arrested at his Las Vegas home on Tuesday and will be extradited to San Diego to face charges of burglary, winning by fraudulent means and cheating.

“This defendant’s luck ran out thanks to extraordinary cooperation between several different law enforcement agencies who worked together to investigate and prosecute this case,” said District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.

Card marking is when a person puts a subtle, but distinguishable mark on the back of playing cards.  A ’good mark’ will not be apparent to the dealer or others not in the know, but the cheater who knows what to look for will readily be able see the mark. Karas was caught on surveillance cameras marking cards in an effort to secretly identify the value of each card he was dealt. In doing so, he successfully cheated the casino out of more than $8,000.

Upon receiving the case from the Barona Gaming Commission, the California Department of Justice Bureau of Gambling Control coordinated a multi-agency investigation that allowed them to identify Karas as the perpetrator of this crime.  The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office assisted with the arrest and search warrants and will coordinate the extradition.  The Nevada Gaming Control Board was instrumental in assisting with the arrest of Karas and the search of his home in Las Vegas.

“We were happy to have assisted with this investigation and the arrest of Mr. Karas,” said Enforcement Chief Karl Bennison. “The Nevada Gaming Control Board has investigated Karas on multiple occasions resulting in four arrests. Karas has been a threat to the gaming industry in many jurisdictions and joint efforts like this show the effectiveness of a consolidated law enforcement effort.”

Karas is best-known for his winning streak from 1992 to 1995 when he turned just $50 into $40 million. He went on to gamble away his fortune that same year. He is considered by many to have been the greatest gambler of all time and has often been compared to Nick the Greek, another high stakes gambler. Karas himself claims to have gambled with more money than anyone else in history.

Karas is currently being held in Las Vegas on no bail.  An extradition hearing is scheduled in Nevada on Monday, September 30.  If convicted of all the charges, Karas faces up to 3 years in local prison.

San Diego County has 18 federally-recognized Indian tribes and 10 Indian casinos, more than any other county in the United States.  Nationwide, industry experts estimate that casinos lose tens of millions of dollars every year in various cheating scams.