Personal Loan Letter

Four Previous Arrests, Bankruptcy Revealed in Archie Karas Past

Last week’s revelation that legendary high-stakes gambler Archie Karas had been arrested on multiple charges connected to the alleged marking of cards at the San Diego-area Barona Resort & Casino sent a ripple through the gambling world, for the twin revelations that Karas, whose real name is Anargyros Karabourniotis, was not only arrested for cheating, but had been arrested four previous times in the past quarter century on similar charges.

Reports of Karas’s other legal scrapes over cheating allegations surprised many onlookers, especially since they dated all the way back to 1988, years before the famous “Run” made by Karas in Las Vegas’s major casinos, where he parlayed $50 into something close to $40 million between 1992 and early 1995 before losing it in a matter of months.

Southern California news outlets were the first to report Karas’s previous cheating scrapes, quoting Nevada Gaming Control Board security chief Karl Bennison as calling Karas a “threat to the gaming industry in many jurisdictions,” noting that Karas had been investigated on multiple occasions and had been arrested four separate times.

Over the weekend, the Las Vegas Review-Journal published a list of the four locales where Karas was charged with cheating, along with the alleged offenses:

1988 – Flamingo Reno (formerly the Reno Hilton), Reno, card marking;

1992 – River Palms, Laughlin, card cheating (unspecified);

1996 – California Club, downtown Las Vegas (absorbed by the Golden Nugget), card cheating (unspecified);

2007 – Aquarius Casino Resort, Laughlin, card cheating (unspecified).

By 2007, Karas had been down on his luck for years, and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, though the case’s federal bankruptcy trustee filed a complaint against Karas in early 2008 based on several anomalies in his asset disclosures, including no mention of the ownership of Karas’s 2005 Toyota Corolla or of $204,646.28 in credit-card debt that Karas claimed to have racked up “pretty much” in 2007 while gambling in various venues.

While no explanation was ever provided in court documents as to how a functionally bankrupt Karas was still able to rack up over $200,000 in credit-card debt, the ownership of the car was detailed on the record, and that’s where the story gets stranger.

Whether or not the car was originally Karas’s wasn’t specified, but Karas alleged that in 2007 a lien was placed against in exchange for a $10,000 personal loan from Tom Sexton, the brother of famed “Ambassador of Poker” Mike Sexton of PartyPoker and World Poker Tour fame.

Karas even produced a handwritten note and provided that as part of his own pro se response to the bankruptcy trustee’s complaint and refusal to originally discharge Karas’s debts.  FlushDraw has obtained a copy of that document:

ScreenHunter_09 Sep. 30 14.20


It was the holder of that note, Tom Sexton, who later featured Karas in a lengthy ten-part series in his “Sexton’s Corner” column at PokerNews.  That series ran from February to April of 2008, which would have been while the loan existed, if the date on the note above is genuine.  Those columns definitely ran during the height of Karas’s bankruptcy troubles, unknown to me or anyone else at PN.

Sexton’s columns on Karas were voluminous puffery, as I noted last time out, and had I been aware of the existing financial relationship between he and Archie, I’d have probably tried to nix those pieces’ publication as compromised journalism.  But whatever.  Sexton himself is in dire health these days, having been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a few months back, and the bygones regarding his old PN columns — there were multiple issues with them that I’ve rarely spoken about — I let go of a long, long time ago.

It all just seems sad to me.

The Sextons in general have been known for quietly helping down-on-their-luck gamblers, and Mike Sexton was in that same boat himself before the huge PartyPoker spokesman opportunity fell in his lap.  It was Mike Sexton who paid for Stuey Ungar’s hotel room during Ungar’s last months of battling drug addiction, when few others gave Ungar the time of day.  Mike had been there himself; the stories I heard had his markers spread all over Vegas at one point in the late ’90s.  If you have enough (or maybe too much) gamble, that’s one of the risks.

Karas, or Karbourniotis if you prefer, has been one of Vegas’s cautionary tales for decades.  Deep down Archie probably thinks that he’s due to go on another glorious run, as that’s the nature of the real gambling addict.  The truth, however, as most of us know, is that it’s very unlikely to happen.


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