It’s been quite a while since Dave Oancea, owner of the Hogs Haven BBQ and Brewery in New York, last turned in a winning streak at the sports books. The 40-year-old Texan lost his millions on a four-team parlay involving the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, and Dallas Cowboys. He told Sports Illustrated, “I was in the right place at the right time and I had a lot of fun. It was a great learning experience. But I don’t really want to be in the pit business anymore.”
And so, while Oancea continues to dabble in the sports betting world, he’s turned his attention to golf. He bought a chunk of the island of Antigua in April 2015, and in January of this year, purchased a mansion in nearby St. John’s County, Florida. He told The New York Times, “I love the game of golf and have always wanted to play it more often. It’s a great thing to be able to spend time with your family and have some peace while also making money. I’m looking forward to becoming more involved in the game.”
What else is Dave Oancea up to? Well, he’s started a foundation to help veterans get a better start in life. He grew up in poverty and wasn’t able to go to school because he needed to work to help support his family. It was only after joining the Army in 1989 that he was able to get an education, eventually becoming an officer. He wants to give back to those who have served our country, and has started a non-profit organization, Building Better Futures, which provides mentors for at-risk youth and helps get them back on track.
Betting On The Underdog
Oancea is often times seen as the “Nashville” equivalent to Jeff Gordon, a celebrity in country music circles for his support of the “underdog”. He is a well-known fan of the Nashville Predators and has made a name for himself by backing up-and-comers with winning streaks. He’s also become notorious for his bets on the underdogs in major sports events. For instance, he has a habit of picking Cleveland to win the NBA Finals, and the New York Yankees to win the World Series. In 2013, he placed a winning bet on the San Francisco 49ers to cover the point spread in the NFC Championship Game against the New York Giants. And let’s not forget about that massive NCAA basketball parlay he made in 2014, where he won a boatload of money despite picking the underdogs to cover the spread in almost all games.
Oancea always takes the opposite viewpoint to most people, which in today’s world means that he’s considered a bit of a risk. Country music fans may know him as the co-founder of the popular radio station, Texas Country 95.5, or maybe they’ll recognize him from his many appearances on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno”. But beyond music, Oancea has always been a mystery. Born and raised in Dallas, he always refused to answer interviewers’ questions about where he worked or what he did for a living. It wasn’t until his early 20s that he finally opened up about his past, telling the New York Times, “I’ve always been kind of a private person. I didn’t really like talking about myself… I didn’t want people to think I was perfect or that everything was under control.”
Oancea eventually graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in economics. He got his first taste of business ownership in 2003, when he founded DaveOancea.com, a sports analytics website which he runs with his brother, Clay. Since then, he’s stuck with sports betting, which he regards as a challenge. He told USA Today, “It’s a lot more work than I’d anticipated. It’s something that I’ve always loved to do but didn’t really have the time to focus on. Now that I’m doing it, it’s like, ‘Man, this is a lot of work.’”
While most industry experts regard sports betting as a low-margin, high-volume business, Oancea is looking to change that. He has big plans to open luxury sportsbooks and to introduce new betting products. He also would like to see a rise in the amount of money bet on individual games, not just on full-blown parlay bets. To that end, he has partnered with sportsbook operator, William Hill U.S., to create a VIP club where high rollers can have access to top-notch sportsbooks and betting lines. The goal is to change how people think about sports betting, by making it more luxurious and appealing. While Oancea still holds on to his country roots, he’s clearly not your typical redneck anymore.