Blackjack Card Counter Faces Manslaughter, Weapons Charges for Death of Gaming Partner in Canada

Posted on: September 3, 2020, 05:05h. 

Last updated on: September 4, 2020, 10:55h.

Kevin Barton, a 60-year-old Canadian blackjack and poker player, is due in local court next week in connection with the death of his gaming partner, Vida Smith, 69, whose body remains missing.

Calgary murder suspect
Kevin Barton, 60, has been charged with manslaughter and multiple weapons violations in Calgary, Canada in connection with the disappearance of Vida Smith, his gaming partner. (Image: Police)

The Chestermere woman disappeared in Calgary on July 21. On the day following Smith’s disappearance, police discovered two rifles and three handguns in a Cadillac Escalade that was driven by Barton.

Nine days after her disappearance, he was charged with manslaughter. He has also been charged with 27 weapons violations, CBC said.

It was reported that Barton and Smith got into an argument on July 21. Earlier this summer, police searched for a possible witness to the dispute.

Card Counting Duo

The pair were “renowned” card counters on casino floors, an unnamed casino source revealed this week to CBC in Canada. Barton also was allegedly banned from gaming properties in Las Vegas and Canada, CBC further reported on Thursday, September 3.

The report did not specify which gaming venues will not allow him entrance. Sometimes, card counters have been banned from casinos.

In multiple jurisdictions, card counting is legal if players use only their heads to count cards. But in Nevada, card counting is banned if players use electronic or mechanical devices.

Barton and Smith frequently collaborated in card games while on gaming floors. One player would count cards and then signal the other “to step in when the deck went hot,” CBC said.

Other Calgary-based poker and blackjack players additionally told reporters Barton was a regular at casinos, and he typically “kept to himself.” Barton and Smith also frequented casinos in Las Vegas and in various locations in Canada, sources revealed to CBC.

Barton was described as having been “known nationally to law enforcement” in Canada, CBC said. He used an alias of Chris Lee.

Family Speaks Out

Smith’s relatives made public statements since her disappearance.

“Vida Smith is more than just a missing person or a victim … she’s a beautiful human being, she’s a friend, a mother, and a grandmother. She loved her grandchildren more than anything in this world,” Smith’s family said in a statement published by CBC earlier this summer.