Several Greeks made history in the United States, but Nick Dandolos is one of few who is remembered the most. Frank Sinatra and Aristotle Onassis were two of his biggest fans.
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The story of Nick the Greek is the stuff that old Hollywood movies were made of. He went from rags to riches 75 times, and it is estimated that during his illustrious gambling career he won and lost more than million dollars. His family came from Smyrna and they were well-off.
Dandolos, Nick (Nick the Greek)
His father sold carpets and his godfather was a shipbuilder. He studied philosophy at the Evangelical School of Smyrna. His first stop was Chicago, but after an unsuccessful relationship with a young woman, he moved to Montreal, Canada. It was there that he began gambling when he met a horse racer who taught him the secrets of horse racing. It was when he returned to Chicago that he decided to become a gambler. He soon became a connoisseur of card playing and dice and started winning at card clubs.
He became the master of the bluff.
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Card club owners tried to recruit him as they believed that it would be better to have him on their side of the table. On a roll of the dice or a game of poker, he would bet thousands. Soon the legend was born.
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His wins were as loud as his losses. The casinos in sin city became his ultimate playground and he was one of its greatest attractions. Despite generous offers by casino owners such a s Benny Binion, as well as mafia bosses, Nick the Greek stayed independent and never worked for anyone. Nick the Greek tells the true story of Nick, an illegal Greek immigrant, who grew up in a world where his ambitions were greater than what his country could offer him.
We see this story unfold over the course of 40 years. His journey begins in a small village, close to Kalamata, Greece, where he was born. Nick survived World War II, became a tailor by trade, got married, and had three children.
One day, he brings a suitcase home and tells his wife to pack it. He was leaving for America to create the life he always dreamed of since he was a little boy.
Nick the Greek
He had heard that in America, dollars grow on trees. Every item on stage has a personal meaning for her. Every suit she wears, are suits that her father, Nick, made with his own hands 50 years ago.
I know these characters in my bones. Once I decided to write the piece four years ago, it was just very easy to get on the page. It flowed.