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Famous gambler gets probation for cheating at California casino

No jail, just probation, for famous gambler who admits cheating at cards in San Diego County

The self-proclaimed “king of gamblers” in Las Vegas was sentenced Wednesday to three years of probation for cheating at cards at the Barona Casino in eastern San Diego County.

Known as Archie Karas in gambling circles, Anargyros Karabourniotis, 63, pleaded guilty to a single count of burglary for having entered the casino with the intent to cheat.

Karabourniotis won more than $6,000 by secretly marking cards so he knew the value of each card before it was dealt, prosecutors said. El Cajon Superior Court Judge Daniel Goldstein ordered Karabourniotis to pay $6,800 in restitution to the casino.

The cheating was caught by surveillance cameras operated by the Barona Gaming Commission, prosecutors said.

Karabourniotis, a Greek immigrant, once turned $50 into $40 million in a three-year span of playing poker, pool and pit games, only to lose it all by late 1995.

He was arrested in 1988, 1992, 1996 and 2007 by the Nevada Gaming Control Board on suspicion of cheating at blackjack in casinos in Reno, Las Vegas and Laughlin, Nev. He has never been sentenced to jail, officials said.

Karabourniotis is known to wear gold-and-diamond pinkie rings and to boast that he is the "undisputed champion of gambling." He has also boasted of winning and losing more money than anyone in history.

"I consider myself the king of gamblers," he told ESPN in 2007. "I made it, I lost it and like Frank Sinatra says, I stood tall and I took the punches and I did it my way."

Karabourniotis has said that the thrill of action, not the lure of money, is what attracts him to high-stakes gambling.

"Money means nothing to me, I don't value it," he told author Michael Konik for a 2008 story in Cigar Aficionado magazine. "I've had all the material things I could ever want. Everything. The things I want money can't buy: health, freedom, love, happiness."

After being arrested in 2013, he spent 73 days in jail before being released on bail.

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