Vilandos is a 69-year-old retiree who now plays poker professionally. He has been a fixture at major poker tournaments around the United States for more than 20 years.
Vialndos 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 $607,276 for first place. He was also awarded his second WSOP gold bracelet.
With this victory, Vilandos became the 62nd player in history to win exactly two gold bracelets. There are 115 players in WSOP who have won two gold bracelets, or more.
According to the official records, Vilandos now has 2 wins, 8 final table appearances, and 17 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP.
Vilandos finished second in the $1,000 buy-in “Stimulus Special” No-Limit Hold’em tournament (Event 4). He earned $473,282 for that feat.
Vilandos’ previous gold bracelet victory came in 1995, in the Pot-Limit Hold’em event. There were 264 entries.
Vilandos has outlasted more players in his two big cashes than any other player at this year’s WSOP. He outlasted 6,010 players in Event 4 and conquered a field-size of 2,506 in this tournament. Hence, he has outlasted a combined 7,515 players in two No-Limit Hold’em events. This is comparable to Dan Harrington’s feat in the 2003 and 2004 WSOP when he made back-to-back Main Event final tables.
Vilandos currently has $1,304,975 in WSOP winnings. With this cash, he became the 126th player in WSOP history to cross the million-mark in career winnings.
Vilandos has won more money at this year’s WSOP than all of his previous WSOP years combined.
Winner Quotes (Pete “the Greek” Vilandos)
On why he is having such a big year so far, in tournaments with big field-sizes: “It’s a lot of patience and a lot of strategy.”
On the older versus younger generation in poker: “The Internet players – they are very good players. But we are the old fellows and we have a gut feeling that we go with.”
On his family: “I love them all, especially my grandkids. This win was for them.”
The Final Table
The final table contained only one former WSOP gold bracelet winner – Pete Vilandos (1 win at start).
The runner up was Andy Seth, from Las Vegas, NV. He stakes many players and plays as an amateur. He is a 22-year-old graduate of the University of Illinois.
The third-place finisher was Michael Greco, from London, UK. He is a Scottish-born actor who has appeared in many television shows in England.
The fourth-place finisher was Glenn McCaffrey, from Londonderry, NH. He was the chip leader at the end of Day One.
The fifth-place finisher was Dean Hamrick, from East Lansing, MI. He is a professional poker player best known for finishing tenth the last year’s WSOP Main Event.
The sixth-place finisher was Allan Jaffrey, from Henderson, NV. This was the third consecutive year Jaffrey has made it to a WSOP final table.
The seventh-place finisher was David Lerman, an accountant from Granada Hills, CA.
Humberto Brenes, from San Jose, Costa Rica is currently ranked sixth on the all-time WSOP cashes list, with 54. He is one cash behind T.J. Cloutier and Berry Johnson.
The defending champion from 2008 was Vitaly Lunkin, from Moscow, Russia. He did not enter this event. It should be noted that there were six $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em tournaments on both this and last year’s schedule. This event roughly corresponds to Lunkin’s event from last year.
Odds and Ends
Attendance for this tournament has held steady in recent years. Each of the last eight No-Limit Hold’em events at this buy-in level has exceeded 2,300 entries. This tournament attracted 2,506 participants. The respective attendance figures for this event read as follows: 3,929, 2,706, 2,304, 2,720, 2,717, 2,693, 2,791, and 2,506.
Due to the intense media and public interest in another event held on the same day (Phil Ivey’s seventh gold bracelet victory), for the first time ever Bluff Media covered two final tables, in what turned out to be a doubleheader broadcast which had only planned to feature the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em championship. Fifteen more events are scheduled, which are split between ESPN 360 and Bluff Media. For a complete broadcast schedule of all events, go to:
The tournament was played over three consecutive days. On Day Three, the final table was dealt out on ESPN’s feature table.
The official WSOP gold bracelet ceremony takes place on the day following the winner’s victory. The ceremony takes place on at center stage of the main tournament room and begins during the break of the noon tournament. The ceremony usually starts around 2:20 pm. The national anthem of the winner’s nation is played. The entire presentation is open to public and media. Video and photography is permitted by both media and the public.
Winner Pete Vilandos will have the Greek National Anthem played at his ceremony.
The $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event attracted 2,506 entries. The total prize pool amounted to $3,420,690. The top 270 finishers collected prize money.
Through 25 tournaments, this was the third-largest field of the 2009 WSOP.
The chip leader after Day One was Glenn McCafferty, from Londonderry, NH, who finished fourth.
The chip leader at the start of the final table was Andy Seth. He ended up finishing second.
When the final table began, Vilandos was ranked seventh out of nine players.
The final table lasted about seven hours.
The big hand of the night took place when Vilandos won the biggest pot of the tournament with A-K versus Seth’s A-Q. Following that swing, it took Vilandos only about ten minutes to close out the victory.
The final hand of the tournament came when Vilandos was dealt A-5 versus Seth’s A-J. Seth raised all-in pre-flop. Vilandos called and made a straight when the final board showed 10-4-3-2-K.
The tournament officially began on Thursday, June 11th, at 5 pm. The tournament officially ended on Saturday, June 14th, at 11:30 pm.