Breaking Down the Action:
  • Arriving in Las Vegas
  • Vilandos and the Peak Years
  • A Legacy of Love from Poker World

4 Minute Read

Pete 'The Greek' Vilandos has passed away at the age of 82, with the three-time WSOP bracelet winner leaving a legacy in the game of poker.

The three-time WSOP bracelet winner Pete Vilandos, known to the poker world as ‘Pete the Greek’ has died at the age of 82 years old. With wins in 1995, 2009 and finally in 2012, Pete the Greek became a legend in the game at a late age, winning his final bracelet at the grand old age of 72 years old.

Arriving in Las Vegas

Vilandos, whose real Christian name was Panayote, arrived in the United States at the age of 27. It took him several years to win his first cash, however, as the man born in 1940 would not win money in a poker tournament until his 50th year. Five years later, he had his first bracelet, triumphing at a final table containing characters such as Annie Duke (6th) and former WSOP Main Event runner-up Dewey Tomko (7th).

Winning Event #10, the $1,500-entry Pot-Limit Hold’em event at the 1995 World Series of Poker for $148,500, Vilandos proved that even after several years in the U.S. after his emigration from Greece, he could carve out a niche in the game and become a legend.

Vilandos, who loved Texas and graduated from the University of Houston in Electrical Engineering, may not be remembered for that qualification, but was proud of that achievement as he was his success in poker.

Vilandos and the Peak Years

Although he enjoyed poker as a second career, Pete the Greek truly loved the game and having succeeded in his first career as a businessman, made even more of a success story of his foray into the game, with fans around the world and a proud, supportive family behind him and his achievements.

Vilandos loved the World Series of Poker and it loved him right back. Of his $3.2 million in live tournament winnings, over $2.5 million of them came at the WSOP, with three bracelets all great wins in their own right. Perhaps the middle pin of the three stood tallest among his achievements, purely down to the period in which he played it.

In 2009, he won his second bracelet in the $1,500-entry NLHE event, triumphing for $607,256 when the former Eastenders actor Michael Greco came third. But what made Vilandos’ achievement all the more special was how he’d performed in the days before. As Blair Rodman commented online in tribute, he said:

“Great player! I thought one of [his most] amazing performances ever was when, in 2009, he took 2nd out of 6,012 in a $1k NLHE event, then a few days later beat 2,056 to win a bracelet in a 1500!”

A Legacy of Love from Poker World

While that victory is singular in terms of stamina, the final bracelet of Vilandos’ three was impressive on a professional level. Overcoming Kyle Julius and Dan Smith in the final three at the age of 72, Pete the Greek won the top prize of $952,694, his best-ever tournament result, outlasting 1,000 opponents to capture the $5,000-entry NLHRE Event #50 in 2012.

When he won that event, he told reporters that he enjoyed it so much because his wife was present on the rail.

“I enjoyed it a lot better today,” he said. “I was very calm and I was focused on my opponents, you know. There are some very intelligent people who sat here. The last table was very smart people. But I got lucky, and I played the way I know how to play. When you have your wife or your own people, you know, your own family… next to you and pull for you in the tournament… of course, it’s a lot. It means a lot to me.”

As recently as in Ma Poker Richmond Spring Poker Classic $1,150 Main Event where Vilandos earned his last tournament cash back in May when he finished in 59th place for $2,600.

Peter Costa, the former Aussie Millions Main Event champion, said: “Peter was one of the first players to befriend me when I first started coming to Vegas over 23 years ago. Very sad. Condolences to his loved ones.”

Dying on July 24th at the age of 82, Pete ‘The Greek’ Vilandos will live on in the hearts and minds of poker players everywhere. In the end, that’s possibly the biggest win any player can ever enjoy.




Arthur Crowson

Arthur Crowson writes for about the gambling industry. His experience ranges from crypto and technology to sports, casinos, and poker. He went to Douglas College and started his journalism career at the Merritt Herald as a general beat reporter covering news, sports and community. Arthur lives in Hawaii and is passionate about writing, editing, and photography.

Back To Top
Back To Top