MEET THE LATEST WSOP CHAMPION – PETER “THE GREEK” VILANDOS
Vilandos is known as “Peter the Greek” because his proud Greek heritage.
Vilandos’ real name is Panayote Vilandos.
Vilandos is a 72-year-old retiree who now plays poker semi-professionally. He has been a fixture at major poker tournaments around the United States for more than 20 years.
Vilandos arrived as an immigrant from Greece at the age of 27. He had already earned a degree from the University of Athens but decided to go back to school in the United States. He graduated from the University of Houston and earned a degree in electrical engineering.
Vilandos was a businessman in Houston. He started playing poker for fun. It eventually became a passion to the point he travels around the tournament circuit as a regular.
Vilandos believes his engineering background, which uses math, is helpful to him at the poker table.
Vilandos collected $952,694 for first place. He was also awarded his third WSOP gold bracelet.
With this victory, Vilandos became the 58th player in history to win three or more gold bracelets.
According to the official records, Vilandos now has 3 wins, 9 final table appearances, and 21 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP.
Note: Vilandos will be classified as a semi-pro poker player in WSOP records, since he plays part-time and has been in the game for many years.
INTERVIEW WITH THE WINNER
Question: So, you just won nearly a million dollars. Are you going to bail out Greece?
Vilandos: No! Don’t ask me that. Don’t ask me that.
Question: Three gold bracelets and $952,694 in prize money. Is this the greatest moment of your poker career?
Vilandos: Well, it’s between today and the last two times that I won. Today, my wife was here with me, and she shares this…she stayed with me the whole way through the last table. So, I enjoyed it a lot better today. 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.
Question: Talk about what the support from your wife and what that means to you.
Vilandos: Of course, it means a lot. When you have your wife or your own people, you know, your own family, people to that are next to you and pull for you, pull for you in the tournament. I mean, of course it’s a lot. It means a lot to me, especially if I have no problems in my mind and no arguments with my wife. I play a lot better.
Question: One unusual thing about this tournament was the longevity of it. How did you keep your focus through that long stretch of play?
Vilandos: To tell you the truth, I wanted to finish it yesterday at night. I was more tired. I was just older than all of them. I’m healthy. I’ve got a strong heart. I didn’t mind playing last night. But, I liked to play today, too. I enjoyed it very much today.
Question: What does this third gold bracelet mean to you compared to the first one you won back in 1995?
Vilandos: It’s two plus one is three. That’s what it means to me. I believe I’m the Hercules of poker.
Question: Many will say this is now a young man’s game. You talk about how this is a young man’s game, but you’re 72. Does experience help you here?
Vilandos: I think the experience, it counts a lot. Health, it counts a lot. Being focused and clear-minded, it counts a lot. And good people with no tired being in the tournament, they get good cards. Tired cards, they go to tired people. Bad cards, they go to bad people. Happy cards, they go to happy people. I’m happy. I’m very strong. And I’m very healthy. I’ve got everything.