Outside of a few anomalies, the professional sports betting world is a low-key affair. Most pros keep a low profile so that they can evade bookmakers’ detection for as long as possible.
Dave Oancea is an exception to the norm. Better known as “Vegas Dave,” this self-styled betting guru claims to beat sportsbooks at an insanely high rate.
He’s also more than willing to let everybody know about his success. Vegas Dave routinely touts his winning picks through Instagram and Twitter.
You might think other sports gamblers would think that Oancea is cool…or at the very least, interesting. Instead, though, most bettors seem to hate him.
Why is Vegas Dave among the biggest pariahs in the sports gambling industry? I’ll discuss more on him below along with why he incites so much hatred.
Despite what his name suggests, Vegas Dave wasn’t born anywhere near the bright lights of Sin City. Instead, he was born in the small town of Saline, Michigan (near Ann Arbor) in 1976.
He moved to Hawaii in 1997 and placed his first underground wager there. Dave was hooked on betting from there on out.
Oancea soon moved to Las Vegas to pursue his sports betting passion on a more-formal level. He told his parents that he was moving there strictly to attend the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).
However, he had dreams of becoming a professional sports gambler all along. He even took out a $10,000 student loan just to gamble on sports.
This move didn’t go so well. Oancea lost all of the money and had to declare bankruptcy in 2002. He eventually righted the ship, though, and began placing winning bets.
Oancea started the Vegas Dave legend in the mid-2000s. He gradually boosted his fame by winning wagers and flaunting his success.
However, Vegas Dave didn’t truly hit the big time until 2015. This marks the year when he collectively risked $100,000 on the Kansas City Royals winning the World Series.
His wagers paid off when the Royals beat the New York Mets in the World Series. He collected a $2.45 million payout.
Later that year, he made another improbable bet after putting $20,000 on Holly Holm to beat the undefeated Ronda Rousey. Despite facing +1,100 odds, Dave triumphed and pocketed $240,000 after Holm’s upset win.
In February 2016, Vegas Dave was at it again after placing a huge bet on the Denver Broncos beating the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. He collected a $2.3 million payout following the Broncos’ victory.
Oancea pumped these wins on Instagram and Twitter for attention. His strategy paid off when Showtime featured him in their “Action” documentary series.
Dave has since parlayed his gambling successes and showbiz fame into a highly successful handicapping business. He sometimes earns six figures a day for selling his picks.
But in 2017, Dave was indicted on charges of misusing Social Security numbers. After many court proceedings, news came out in 2019 that Vegas Dave agreed to forfeit more than $550,000 and he is banned from entering any Las Vegas sportsbooks for three years.
Oancea has built his handicapping legacy through the aforementioned big wins and by boasting of incredible success rates.
He touts himself as the world’s top handicapper. His supposed win percentages are so outstanding that they seem fake, though.
Dave alleges that his advice can help gamblers win up to 85% of their bets. He also advertises that his best packages can lead to six-figure wins.
Of course, anybody can win 85% of their wagers by taking -600 favorites every time. If he’s talking -110 odds—the common measuring stick for win percentages—then Oancea is almost assuredly lying.
Even Billy Walters, who’s largely considered the GOAT of sports betting, only won 57% of his bets. Most professionals win somewhere in the neighborhood of 53% to 55% of their bets at -110.
Vegas Dave hasn’t amassed over 2 million Instagram followers by stating that he can help gamblers break even. He shoots for the moon when promoting himself.
This is the big reason why he’s able to sell Game of the Week picks for $1,000. Even his basic moneyline bets sell for $200.
Maybe these amounts would be reasonable if Oancea could actually back up his claims. As it stands, though, he doesn’t offer any verifiable data to prove these boasts. Everybody is just supposed to take his word at face value.
Vegas Dave already does an excellent job at hyping up his betting abilities. However, he’s proven able to pump his brand through other methods too.
Oancea is a sports memorabilia collector who recently made $3.93 million by selling a Mike Trout rookie card. A 2009 Bowman superfractor brand, this Mike Trout card is the only one of its kind.
He originally received an offer for $3.5 million. But as Vegas Dave told the New York Post, he wouldn’t settle for anything less than what he got.
“They called me before the auction, and said, ‘hey, made an offer for $3.5 million cash, take it,’” recalled Oancea. “We kind of argued over the phone I said, ‘no, I’ll stand my ground. If not, I’ll keep the card.’”
Aside from wanting more money, Vegas Dave also wanted to smash the record for the largest card sale. He easily broke this mark, which was previously held by a Honus Wanger tobacco card, which went for $3.12 million.
Oancea first fell in love with trading baseball cards as a child in Michigan, when he used to do card shows at the local Holiday Inn. He got away from this trade until recently, when Dave was busted for using other people’s identities to gamble at Vegas sportsbooks.
Oancea claims that the rareness of the card isn’t the only thing that helped it sell for a record-breaking price. He also believes that his personality and self-marketing pushed it to new heights.
“There’s no one else that could have done this,” Oancea boasted. “Most people that buy cards, they’re very quiet. […] Some people would say it’s rude or obnoxious but it’s just how I market myself.”
Dave originally bought the card on eBay in 2018 for $400,000. He pointed out how people once laughed at him for the purchase.
“People laughed about me buying the baseball card [because] it’s a piece of cardboard,” he said. “I made a video two years ago saying, ‘This card for $400,000 is my big investment.’
“I took a lot of criticism, people still hating on it and I said, ‘mark my words, it’ll break the record’—and it did two years later.”
On the surface, Dave Oancea appears to be the hardest-working handicapper in the business. He works up to 17 hours per day hawking betting packages, flipping sports memorabilia, and even trading Hermès Birkin bags.
Aside from his multimillion-dollar winning bets on the Royals, he’s also touted plenty of other big winning tickets. Oancea was most likely a successful sports gambler at one time. It’s the reason why he had to use other people’s accounts to get action—before getting caught.
These days, however, it’s difficult to tell whether he’s still the same bettor or merely somebody who’s selling an image.
At one time, Oancea probably knew his stuff and dedicated countless hours to handicapping games. Now, he seems to be putting those hours into self-promotion.
He’s not without his losses either. Dave lost his home in 2010 due to foreclosure. During his recent federal trial, he admitted to losing all of his winnings at one point due to gambling addiction.
According to those who spoke with Forbes writer Will Yakowicz, he’s not exactly the best betting consultant either. An amateur gambler named Ajay told Yakowicz that he suffered losses “day after day” by following Oancea’s advice.
An Arizona man said that he bought Vegas Dave’s $1,100 NFL packages only to see his bankroll disappear halfway through the season.
One potentially defrauded bettor started a Twitter hate account called Exposing Vegas Dave. Having amassed 2,800 followers to date, Exposing Vegas Dave takes shots at his outlandish social-media posts and losing picks.
To hear Vegas Dave speak, he’s not only the greatest handicapper today but also of all time. Oancea makes numerous boasts and offers no substantial evidence to back them up. He wins 85% of his picks…he’s worth $20 million…and he’s the “world’s best handicapper” without a doubt.
Vegas Dave has been referred to as the “Dan Bilzerian of Sports Betting.” This description is accurate to a large degree, with Bilzerian once claiming that he made $50 million through poker with no proof.
Only, Bilzerian isn’t asking people to send him $1k for poker tips. Vegas Dave is, which is where much of the hate comes from.
Maybe he’d only receive regular trolling if he bragged about his sports betting wins, showed off his Ferrari through Instagram, or showed off his 7,000-square-foot home in Vegas.
But this self-aggrandizing nature is about more than just seeking attention. It presents an image that Oancea is an extremely successful gambler who can help others win.
If he’s not what he makes himself out to be, though, then Vegas Dave is playing a cruel game with people’s money.
Vegas Dave is no doubt at the top of the sports gambling industry when it comes to self-promotion. He’s got the type of Instagram and Twitter followings that other professional sports bettors couldn’t buy.
This fame has afforded him the ability to flash his big wins and attract customers. The latter purchase his betting packages, which can run as high as $1.1k.
Oancea makes the outrageous claim that he can help people win 85% of their wagers. This is where the problems begin.
Some people who’ve used Oancea’s services haven’t come away impressed. In fact, they’ve lost lots of money through his advice.
Of course, no handicapper is perfect. But Vegas Dave draws extra scrutiny for his flashy ways and lack of evidence to back his lofty winning percentages.
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