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Hall of Fame: Nick 'The Greek' Dandolos (Read 10555 times)
Five Fingers
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Hall of Fame: Nick 'The Greek' Dandolos
Sep 26th, 2006, 3:55pm

Nicholas Andreas Dandolos was born in Crete in 1893.  
Dandolos moved to the USA when just 18 years old and within six months had accumlated over $500,000 at the horse races. Unfortunately he quickly lost the entire bankroll playing card and dice games.
In gambling circles, Nick is regarded as something of an anomaly with huge losses being equally as famous, if not more so, than any of his big killings. Yet it is widely believed that he won a city block in Los Angeles and once challenged a rude opponent to draw one card for $550,000 (his offer was declined).
Dandolos believed “gambling fame is usually followed by a jail sentence.” Yet the only record of Dandolas being arrested was in a gambling house on November 21, 1920.  Dandolos and others were charged with vagrancy and having no visible means of support.  In the courtroom, Dandolos removed a money belt holding over $350,000 and put up the bail for everyone.
Despite Dandolos being associated with a number of gang leaders in America, Dandolos never worked for the house or the mob. He remained an independent gambler using his own money all his life. Publisher Greenspun said, "He kept his mouth closed about what he knew and paid his markers on time."  
In 1949, Dandolos took part in surely the most talked about poker game in history and inspired what would eventually become the World Series of Poker. Dandolos asked Vegas casino owner Benny Binion to invite the great Johnny Moss to his Horseshoe casino to play ‘the biggest game in town’.
Dandolos, by then 57 years of age, had busted every big name poker player on the East Coast. Moss was fifteen years his junior and a high stakes player in private games throughout the South. Dandolos was educated and social. Moss had little education, was calculating and distant.  
The heads up epic lasted over five months and included all variations of poker.  Dandolos and Moss would play for five days straight, sleeping only once or twice a week. At the end Dandolos was down an estimated $2-4 million but still managed to produce the most famous poker quote. "Mr. Moss, I have to let you go."  His grace in defeat earned him the kind of respect money can’t buy.
One of his long-time rivals added "Anybody can win in gambling and take the money gracefully. There are few who can lose and pay up without a squawk of some kind, and Nick is the champion of champions at that."
It is estimated that ‘Nick the Greek’ won over $500 million during his career, donating over $20 million to charity.  Before his death, Dandolos claimed he had gone from rags to riches 73 times. Sadly, in his final years Dandolos was near broke and playing $5 limit poker in California.  When asked how he could play such low stakes after winning millions, Dandolos replied “Hey, its action isnt it?”
Dandolos defined his own philosophy one night in New York. He had experienced bad luck in a dice game and lost $50,000.  Later that night, two men who had lost a few thousand in the same game were bemoaning their own loses.  
"How do you do it, Nick?" asked one of the men. "You lose fifty grand, and it doesn’t mean a thing." Nick the Greek answered. "I tell you boys, the greatest pleasure in life is gambling and winning. The next greatest pleasure is gambling and losing."
On his death, Hank Greensum, the founder of the Las Vegas Sun described Dandolos as the ‘King of Gamblers’, “luck was a lady and she has been the love of his life”.
Nicholas Andreas Dandolos died on 25 December 1966.  
Nick the Greek was a charter inductee of the Poker Hall of Fame in 1979.

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