Legendary Las Vegas gambler arrested for cheating at blackjack

A gambler who once turned $50 into $40 million during a legendary Las Vegas hot streak in the 1990s is sitting in the Clark County Detention Center after being accused of cheating at blackjack at a Southern California Indian casino.

Anargyros Karabourniotis, better-known in gaming circles as Archie Karas, was arrested Tuesday by Nevada gaming agents as part of a multiagency investigation. His Las Vegas home was also searched.

Karas, 62, is accused of cheating the Barona Casino in San Diego County out of $8,000 while allegedly marking cards during a blackjack game. He is expected to be extradited to San Diego to face charges, including burglary and winning at gambling by fraudulent means. If convicted, he faces up to three years in prison.

Karas is best known for “The Run,” which was detailed in a 1994 issue of “Cigar Aficionado.”

From 1992 to 1994, Karas, played competitive games of poker and pool, beating out some of Las Vegas’ most famous gamblers — including the late Stu Ungar, Doyle Brunson, the late Puggy Pearson, the late Chip Reese, and the late Johnny Moss — during the hot streak.

Most of the action took place at Binion’s Horseshoe in downtown Las Vegas.

Poker standout Johnny Chan is the only gambler who actually beat Karas during the streak, taking $900,000 in a series of hold’em poker games.

As legend has it, Karas lost the entire $40 million between 1995 and 1996.

However, the streak may have been tarnished by a history of arrests.

Nevada gaming agents have arrested Karas four times since 1988 for allegedly cheating at blackjack in Reno, Las Vegas and Laughlin casinos.

“We were quite familiar with him,” said Gaming Control Board Chief of Enforcement Karl Bennison. “He has a history with us.”

According to the UT San Diego, Karas was caught on Barona Casino surveillance cameras putting “subtle, but distinguishable marks on the backs of playing cards” so he could secretly identify the value of the cards he was dealt.

He was identified after the Barona Gaming Commission passed the case to the California Department of Justice Bureau of Gambling Control, which coordinated the investigation.

“Our agency worked alongside the listed agencies in California in a concerted effort to arrest this individual,” Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett said Friday. “It’s an example of the high level of cooperation we have with other federal and state agencies.”

Gaming agents first arrested Karas in Nevada 1988 at the Flamingo Reno for marking cards. His next arrest came in 1992 at the River Palms in Laughlin for another form of card cheating. He was arrested four years later at the California Club in downtown Las Vegas and in 2007 at the Aquarius in Laughlin, both times for cheating at cards.

Karas took plea bargains in each case, which reduced the charges from a felony.

According to the Hendon Mob Poker Index, Karas placed 26th in a $2,500 buy-in Seven Card Razz event at this year’s World Series of Poker at the Rio, earning $4,759. According to the database, Karas cashed in five other World Series of Poker events going back to 2005. His best finish was 4th place in a 2005 $1,500 Seven Card Razz event, which earned him $30,120

Karas is being held without bail. An extradition hearing has been set for Monday.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.

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