Currency: Euro (€)
Casinos with Poker
- Regency Casino Thessaloniki
- Club Hotel Casino Loutraki
In the Mediterranean country of Greece, gambling has a long history. Even in Ancient Greek mythology, Zeus, Hades and Poseidon decided who rules over what part of the universe by “shaking the lots”. Shaking lots was an ancient game of chance where one would put numbered sticks in a tube, shake it, then call a winner based on which stick stays in the tube the longest.
The populous also enjoyed gambling in ancient Hellas, across all social classes. The most popular games were throwing dice and heads or tails.
Today, a few thousand years later, there’s 9 casinos in operation in Greece. These gambling houses typically target tourists rather than locals. Only 3 of them have poker rooms.
When it comes to online gambling, the state-owned company OPAP has a legal monopoly in the country. They offer sports betting and lotteries. However, they do not offer poker, which means the Greek government has no real incentive to go after players who play on foreign sites – online poker rooms from abroad aren’t really competitors.
That means there’s still a substantial number of people playing online poker in Greece, even though it technically is illegal.
Famous Greek Poker Players
Vasilis Lazarou has won two WSOP gold bracelets – one in 1990, the other in 1997, both in 7-Card Stud.
Peter Vilandos has won even more, 3 WSOP bracelets. He won the $1,500 Pot Limit Hold’em, the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em and the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em events in 1995, 2009 and 2012, respectively.
Former professional football player and chef Chris Tsiprailidis has also won a World Series event. He took down the $3,000 Limit Hold’em championship for $213,600 in 2000. In 1993, he came very close to another bracelet, finishing 2nd in the $1,500 NLHE championship. He lost the heads-up match for the title to none other than 16-time gold bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth.
Alexandros Kolonias has won more in live tournaments than any other Greek player, according to Hendon. He has $3.730 million in career earnings. His biggest cash is $1.261 million, which he got for finishing first in the €10,350 Main Event at the 2019 WSOP Europe in Rozvadov, Czech Republic.
There have been multiple famous gamblers during the years who are known by the nickname “the Greek”.
Archie “the Greek” Karas is famous for arriving with $50 to Las Vegas, borrowing $10,000, and then turning that money into more than $7 million in just 3 months, playing mostly limit Razz. Unfortunately, he went bust a few years later.
Nick “the Greek” Dandolos was a famous high stakes poker player in the 1940s’ and 50’s, before the WSOP-era. Canadian Haralabos “the Greek” Voulgaris is a currently active professional sports bettor and poker player.
– Playing Live Poker in Greece –
Live Poker Legislation in Greece
According to the European Casino Association’s website, new 2018 laws actually made a step in the right direction, incentivizing new investments into the gaming sector. For instance, they abolished the entrance tickets to casinos, simplified the approval processes for new games, and set the municipality tax rate at 2%. For the full list of changes visit the ECA’s site.
Live Poker Venue Greece
At Regency Casino Thessaloniki, they run a €115 or a €165 tournament each Wednesday under the World Poker Tour brand. They also have cash tables running from 5 pm every day. They have No Limit Hold’em games on €1/€3 and €2/€5 stakes, as well as Pot Limit Omaha on €2/€5 and €5/€5 stakes in their game selection.
Club Hotel Casino Loutraki in the city of Loutraki too runs its NLHE tourneys Wednesday nights. The buy-ins are €110 with an optional €100 add-on. Since the add-on is more than the regular starting stack, it is safe to assume that this is essentially a €210 tournament.
They also have a cash game room where you can play Hold’em on €1/€2 or Omaha on €2/€2 stakes. They also offer Stud, but it’s not what you think it is – strangely, they claim you play Stud poker against the house, not other players…
– Casinos and Poker Rooms in Greece –
Regency Casino Thessaloniki
Club Hotel Casino Loutraki
Online Poker Legislation in Greece
As we wrote in our intro, the state-owned OPAP has a legal monopoly in online gambling within Greece.
This wasn’t always the case. Before the early 2010’s, foreign private companies, like PokerStars or partypoker held Greek licences and were able to give action legally to Greek players. Thus we can conclude that while land based gambling laws changed for the better recently in Greece, online gambling laws changed for the worse.
The EU put a lot of pressure on its financially troubled member state to change its course. In January 2013, the Court of Justice for the European Union even declared the Greek gambling monopoly unlawful.
Even though the new legislations weren’t overturned, poker players who choose to play on foreign sites shouldn’t be afraid of being persecuted – OPAP doesn’t offer online poker, thus partypoker, Natural8-GGNetwork, and the other online rooms aren’t competitors to them. Therefore the online poker ban is not enforced in Greece.