Despite his epithet, ‘Vegas Dave’, David Oancea was born in the college town of Saline, Southeast Michigan on December 10, 1976 and raised in nearby Ann Arbor. At the age of 21, Oancea moved to Hawaii, where he developed a taste for sports betting. Legend has it that he subsequently moved to Las Vegas on the pretence of attending the University of Nevada but, having secured a student loan for $10,000, placed all his money on a single winning spin of roulette.
Thereafter, Oancea abandoned his studies altogether and embarked on a path that would make him the self-proclaimed ‘best sports information consultant in the world’. He first rose to fame, or infamy, in 2015, when he backed Kansas City Royals – who were available at odds of 22/1 at the start of spring training – to win the World Series. They did so, beating New York Mets 4-1 in the best-of-seven postseason play-off to record their first victory since 1985 and netting Oancea $2.5 million.
Lo and behold, Oancea did it again the following February, collecting $2.3 million when Denver Broncos defeated odds-on favourites Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. However, on that occasion, his winnings were withheld, at least in part, because he was under investigation, for identity fraud, by the federal government. Oancea was subsequently indicted on numerous counts and only escaped conviction as the result of a plea bargain. In any event, he pled guilty of a misdemeanour, surrendered half a million dollars and was bannned from sports betting in Las Vegas for three years. He remains one of the most controversial figures in the field, with a distinctly dubious reputation.