Pete "Pete the Greek" Vilandos, formally called Panayote Vilandos, died at the age of 82 on July 24. He won three World Series of Poker (WSOP) gold bracelets during his professional poker career.
Vilandos was born on May 30, 1940, and immigrated from Greece to the United States at the age of 27. He held a degree from the University of Athens and later enrolled at the University of Houston for an electrical engineering degree.
The Hendon Mob reports that the poker legend had $3,266,764 in lifetime poker earnings since he started playing in 1990. He earned $2,520,167 of this in WSOP cashes, including three gold bracelets.
Vilandos won the first bracelet in the 1995 WSOP after topping in Event No. 10:$1500 Pot-Limit Hold'em. He took home $148,500. He won his second gold bracelet in the 2009 WSOP after beating 2,505 players in Event No. 24:$1,500 No-Limit Hold'em and earned $607,256.
The victory was a few days after losing Event No. 4:$1,000 No-Limit Hold'em to Steve Sung and winning $473,282.
His Third Gold Bracelet
Vilandos won his final gold bracelet after beating 1,010 entrants and scoring $952,694. He beat Kyle Julius in a heads-up battle as Dan Smith finished third. By then, he was the 58th player in the history of WSOP to win more than two gold bracelets.
The player said after the tournament that his third bracelet win was his biggest victory. His wife accompanied him at the tournament and stuck by his side until he left the final table. Her presence made him enjoy the game more than he normally did, as he felt calm and was able to concentrate on his opponents.
Vilandos admitted that some of his opponents in the event were highly intelligent. The last table constituted smart people, and he used his best poker strategy to beat them.
The legend added that when a player's wife, family, or close friends are next to them at the table, they get inspired to continue making appropriate moves. He retired from business and occasionally played poker for leisure. Still, he claimed that his engineering prowess came in handy at the tables.
Vilandos won $2,600 after finishing 59th in the 101 Poker Richmond Spring Poker Classic $1,150 Main Event in May. This was his last time to cash in a poker tournament.
The Poker Community's Reaction
David Plastik broke the news on his social media profiles, and the poker community started sending condolences fast. Some people shared their fond memories with Vilandos.
Peter Costa, an Aussie Millions winner, stated that Vilandos was among the first players that welcomed him when he began traveling to Las Vegas more than two decades ago. He sent condolences to the player's loved ones.
Blair Rodman praised Vilandos, saying that he was a great player whose performance in 2009 stunned many poker enthusiasts globally when he finished as a runner-up in a $1,000 No-Limit event. He later beat 2,055 players in a $1,500 No-Limit tournament and won a bracelet.
Vilandos' demise saddened Adrian Sanders as he dealt to him during his stay in Houston. Sanders claimed that he will always remember an instance when the poker legend would put all his chips and reply that he had a flush draw, a straight, or a pair whenever someone asked him what he had.