Card Counter Faces Manslaughter Charge for Mysterious Death of Gambling Partner

  • Canadian suspect Kevin Barton is also facing 27 firearm charges
  • Vida Smith was last seen in Calgary on July 21, her body not yet discovered
  • The two partners engaged in blackjack card counting at casinos in Canada and Vegas
  • Barton has been banned from numerous casinos, known to national law enforcement
  • Investigators believe Smith argued with Barton before disappearance and presumed death
fingerprints in crime investigation
Canadian blackjack and poker player Kevin Barton has been charged with the manslaughter of his blackjack card-counting partner Vida Smith. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Suspect hit with 27 firearm charges

Card counter Kevin Barton has been charged with manslaughter relating to the mysterious disappearance and presumed death of his gambling partner. The two reportedly partook in blackjack card counting at casinos all around Canada and in Las Vegas.

discovery of her body is yet to be made

As well as standing accused of killing his business partner and friend Vida Smith, the 60-year-old faces 27 firearm violations charges. Smith was last spotted on July 21 in Calgary, a city in Alberta, Canada. The discovery of her body is yet to be made. 

That same day, police found three handguns and two rifles in a Cadillac Escalade, the same vehicle Barton allegedly used to drive from Calgary to Edmonton the day after Smith was last seen alive.

Barton was arrested on July 30, nine days after Smith’s disappearance.

A skilled gambling duo

Barton mainly played blackjack and sometimes dabbled in baccarat and poker. Members of the blackjack and poker communities in Calgary described the accused as a regular player who “kept to himself”. A CBC News report did not reveal the identities of the persons and the gambling establishments currently involved in the investigation. 

a regular player who “kept to himself”

According to casino regulars, Barton was skilled and very smart. One casino employee said that he and Smith were known for their ability to count cards. The two would regularly work together, with one counting the cards and then signaling to the player when the deck was deemed to be hot. 

Barton, who is known to use the alias Chris Lee when gambling, is banned from a number of casinos across Canada and Las Vegas. While he does not have a criminal record in British Columbia or Alberta, the police authorities have confirmed that he is “known nationally to law enforcement”.

Card counters often get banned from casinos. While it is legal in a lot of jurisdictions if you are only counting with your head, using mechanical or electronic devices to count cards is illegal in gambling hotspots like Las Vegas.

Disappearance following argument

Smith’s last recorded sighting occurred while she was on her way to an appointment in Calgary from her Chestermere home. Investigators believe an argument took place between Smith and Barton in a parked white SUV on July 21 at around lunchtime. The Calgary Police Service is searching for a female who may have witnessed the altercation, releasing surveillance images of the woman to the public.

Smith’s family reported her missing when she failed to return from Calgary and did not attend a medical appointment a few days later. Barton is set to appear in court next week.