Anyone even remotely acquainted with gambling, either online or in brick and mortar casinos, has heard the name “Nick the Greek.” Popularly referred to as “The Gentleman of Gambling,” Nick the Greek is viewed very highly by the gambling community. He is often held in comparison with some of the greatest gamblers of all time, including Archie Karas. If you consider yourselfan avid gambler, you should make yourself familiar with the story behind Nick the Greek—it’s truly the stuff of legend. An Unlikely Beginning Nick the Greek’s 1883 birth certificate reads “Nicholas Andreas Dandolos,” although his gambling nickname became far more recognizable and renown than his birth name. Nick the Greek really was Greek. He was born in Crete and grew up in a wealthy, privileged environment. You may be surprised to learn that this well-known gambling character attended an Evangelical university and graduated with a degree in Philosophy. His title, Gentleman of Gambling, was earned rightfully. He gambled intelligently with the demeanor of a highly educated and thoughtful man. His degree in Philosophy earned him yet another nickname: “The Aristotle of the Don’t Pass Line.” However, Nick’s academic success in Greece was quickly channeled into a new hobby when he arrived in the United States. His family sent him a monthly allowance of $150, which he quickly began to use to bet on horses with a friend. His gambling interest was fanned into flame as he turned his $150 allowance into a $500,000 sum within the span of a single racing season. Sweeping Losses With plenty of financial “wiggle room,” Nick began to explore new gambling methods in Chicago. He may have been a little overzealous at this stage in his gambling career, as he lost the half a million dollars earned at the races as quickly as he had won it. Although he lost such a large sum to professional gamblers, Nick the Greek often insisted that it was worth the loss. Instead of becoming discouraged and downcast about his lack of success during this period, he claimed that he had gained gaming experience that was far more valuable than a cash sum. In fact, sweeping losses became one of the main characteristics of Nick’s gambling career. His gentlemanly title stemmed from his honorable gameplay; he was a man who showed very little interest in winning money. He simply wanted “a piece of the action.” A Brain for the Game Why did Nick seem so disinterested in cash? The answer seems to be rooted in his personality. He had a very mathematical, curious mind. Solving the problem was more valuable to him than winning a large sum of money. He loved to examine every side of a challenge and came up with solutions that set him apart from the crowd even today. He is said to have both won and lost over $500 million over the span of his lifetime,going from dirt poor to rich on over 73 separate occasions. He summed up his attitude about the ordeals in a quote that would later become world famous: “the next best thing to playing and winning is playing and losing.” Urban Legends A slew of entertaining stories accompany Nick the Greek’s vast career. While many of these stories may or may not hold historical accuracy, they are a small part of what makes Nick’s name such a colorful legend and popular gambling inspiration. One of the most well known urban legends floating around is centered on Albert Einstein. Rumor has it that Nick was once given the chance to escort Einstein throughout the city of Las Vegas. It wouldn’t be difficult to imagine the two men as getting along famously, considering their knack for mathematics. Supposedly, Nick introduced his well-known friend as “Little Al from Princeton,” claiming that he “controlled a lot of the numbers action around Jersey.” Another legend insists that Nick played one of the longest poker games in history, playing for a supposed five months with audience at hand. His rival, Moss, was a formidable player. The match was fairly evenly set, and the gameplay resulted in a great deal of excitement in the gambling community. The players only had respite from the gameplay for brief periods of sleep (talk about dedicated!). Quickly transitioning from one form of poker to the next, both players were tested in every arena of the card game. It was during this exhausting event that Nick finally withdrew from the match, famously stating, “Mr. Moss, I have to let you go.” Nick the Greek is a name that will go down in history—not because of his vast winnings, but because of his spirit. He was a man who cared more about having fun and beating the odds than hoarding cash. He truly embraced gambling with an air of intelligence and competitiveness that is still admired today.