How do you become the world’s most famous sports bettor?
First step: win $2.5 million betting on the Royals to win the World Series and then party your ass off with Eric Hosmer.
But far more impressive than the fortune Dave Oancea (“Vegas Dave”) made off the Royals was his next run of futures bets. In the span of less than four months in late 2015/early 2016, Dave made $240,000 off Holly Holm (an 11-1 underdog against Ronda Rousey), $2.3 million off the Broncos’ Super Bowl win (he nabbed them at 16/1 odds before the season), and then another $220,000 when Miesha Tate upset Holm at UFC 196.
He later made $2 million off the Falcons, whom he picked to win the NFC Championship at 10/1 odds and would have cashed out another $3m if they hadn’t given up the biggest lead in Super Bowl history.
The difference between Oancea and most gamblers is that he posts everything on social media. The bold bets are documented on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook from the time he buys the ticket until he collects his fat stacks of cash.
“A lot of gamblers bet offshore so they can hide their winnings from the IRS,” says Dave. “I posted myself paying almost $300,000 in income taxes last year.”
So why does Vegas hate Dave?
“The truth is, Vegas only likes losers,” says Oancea. “When you lose, you lose. When you win, they don’t pay you.”
Dave claims he’s single-handedly changed the way casinos take long-term “futures” bets.
Amateurs betting on a random team to “win it all” has always been lucrative for casinos. In baseball, for example, even though thousands of people put money on the Cubs to win the World Series last year, thousands more put cash on the other teams in the field — Red Sox, Dodgers, Tigers, etc. — and the casino, per usual, still came out on top.
But when one bettor with deep pockets hits it big — like really big — with the Royals at 30-1 odds or the Broncos at 16-1 odds, the sportsbooks’ margins go to shit.
“I beat the code,” says Oancea. “You can’t go to the counter anymore and put $100,000 on a future bet.”
But Dave’s road to riches wasn’t easy. He’s always had the skill, but an addiction to the party scene (Oancea estimated he’s spent over $2 million at Vegas clubs over the years) and a need for instant gratification — the trait he claims dooms almost all gamblers — caused him to become a millionaire four times early in his career, only to lose it all each time.
Eventually he went to Gamblers’ Anonymous and changed his mindset. He began to pride himself on research and a work ethic that he says drives him to work 18 hours a day, every day.
His skill became especially robust in baseball, where he started to win big consistently, including a span where he took home over $3 million in three weeks.
“I had talent, but I had no discipline,” says Oancea. “Once I learned money management, it was game over.”
Once he’d honed his regimen and cut down on partying (he definitely still parties, just not as much), Dave started winning and winning big.
And winning, Oancea claims, is what got him into trouble.
“I was losing money for ten years and nobody ever had a problem taking my money,” Dave says. “All of a sudden, I start winning, and there’s an issue with my social security number.”
That’s where things get murky. The Wynn and Westgate claim Oancea opened accounts with fraudulent social security numbers. Dave claims that they don’t want to pay him what he’s rightfully owed. The question for the courts to decide: who’s telling the truth?
“Dave is a very, very successful gambler,” Dave’s attorney, Paul Padda, told the Las Vegas Journal-Review. “The bets were legitimate. What happened is he beat the casinos.”
Oancea says he knew the casinos would eventually ban him, he just didn’t think it would happen this quickly. In fact, even though the judge in his case ruled that he could still place wagers while the charges are pending, none of Vegas’ casinos will take his money.
So how does the world’s most renowned sports bettor make coin now that he can no longer place wagers in Sin City? He makes his living mentoring young gamblers through his consultancy.
“I want to give people the guidance they need to get banned by Vegas too,” says Oancea.
Vegas Dave has also parlayed his legal saga into book and film deals with heavy-hitter writers attached to each project. Instead of hiding in the face of 19 felony charges, Oancea’s proud that he’s proactively turned his turmoil into an enormous (and potentially lucrative) storytelling opportunity.
He’s also used his money to hire three of the country’s highest profile attorneys, including David Chesnoff, who has represented Paris Hilton and Bruno Mars, amongst others.
“They tried to bully me, scare me,” says Oancea. “I know I’m right, and I’m not scared.”
The legal fight is just beginning between Vegas Dave and the city that bestowed his moniker, but considering his love for futures bets, Oancea seems optimistic about his odds.