Sports Handicapping World Loses a Good Man in Dave Malinsky

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:

While those of us at Gambling911.com have dealt with some really good guys in the world of sports handicapping, the reality is that the industry overall has endured a rather bad reputation over the past few decades. 

Let's just say it was especially refreshing to see the outpouring of sympathy once it was realized that the industry had lost one of its own.

Dave Malinsky, while we were certainly familiar with the name, those of us at Gambling911 had no idea just how beloved he was within the sports betting community until his untimely passing this week.   The reality is that so many of the pre-Internet bigwigs in this space are looked down upon for their high pressure tactics....Malinsky apparently did not meet that criteria based on everything we have heard.

Malinsky's body was recovered just outside of Las Vegas on Mount Charles.  He had planned a hiking excursion last week and had not been heard from since Saturday.

Almost immediately a GoFundMe account was set up in an effort to help find the popular sports handicapper and a number of folks reached out to Gambling911.com in an effort to get the word out about his disappearance.

A number of fellow sports handicappers offered their own thoughts about Malinsky with an especially touching posting on Facebook from fellow capper Stephen Nover:

Have you ever been blessed with a friend who always was in your corner, never had a fight or crossed word with, loaned you a huge sum of money during your most desperate financial time and helped you grow professionally and emotionally.

Dave Malinsky was that friend to me. As an added bonus, and with apologies to the Dos Equis commericals, he was the most interesting man in the world. The smartest, too. His powers of observation unmatched.

Any subject, person, music, food, drink, place you name it, Dave could carry on a provocative conversation. No reference could slip past him. The more obscure, the more fun and challenging for him. Those who read his daily Point Blank columns have some idea of what I'm talking about.

One of his hobbies was studying old trees and pine cones, many of which are located in Mt. Charleston right outside of Las Vegas. Dave was 57 when he died hiking there earlier this month.

I suppose you can put a positive spin by saying Dave died doing what he loved and that since his body was found, after a week of looking, there is closure. Tremendous kudos go out to his close friend Mona and the many others who spent countless time assisting in the search, those who contributed to the GoFundMe account set up to help find him and to the anonymous hiker who found the body while doing a private search. But it doesn't lessen the pain of what a tremendous loss this is.

Not only was Dave's the smartest guy in the room, he was the most low-key. There are so many ego-driven, people of no talent who brag and pat themselves on the back all the time. They're superficial nothings. Dave was the real thing. A proflifc writer who crafted his essays with steel discipline in the wee hours of the weekday mornings churning out thousands of words per day. Reading Dave wasn't just about getting out-of-the-box, original handicapping tips, but learning about food, drink and music among other subjects.

The handicapping lessons, theories and philosophies he so elegantly penned didn't just connect in sports. They transcended life. I still can't fathom how much knowledge and wisdom could be stored in one brain.

He had a zest for the finer things in life and he worked hard to achieve them while also generously devoting his time to many causes, including tree preservation, providing guidance to troubled souls and being on various think tank groups. And those were just some of the actitives that I barely knew of. He had so many different interests and friendships. I have no idea how he could manage to do all of this. It was like he was super human. My portal to him was sports handicapping.

We met back in the mid-1980's shortly after he arrived in Las Vegas. I was the sports gaming columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. I was immediately attracted to not only his sophisication level, but the way he could articulate things. He was a journalist's dream. Soon we were on the radio together on the Sunday Night Stardust Line with Arne Lang. Our time was the late 1980's to the mid 1990's. Much thanks to Scotty Schettler, Joe Lupo and Robert Walker, who ran the fabled Stardust sports book during that period for allowing us to be on the air in a mostly uncensored way.

So many stories. Some on-air. Some off-air. It always was fun with Dave.

The guy was omniscient. I was once tried to trip Dave up on-air during a discussion of Notre Dame football by asking if he could name my all-time favorite Notre Dame football player? How could Dave possibly know that. He figured it out, though. This is how his Sherlock Holmes-type brain worked:

He was too smart to guess Joe Montana. That would have been too obvious. He knew I was a life long Packers fan being from Wisconsin, but he also knew that it wouldn't be Paul Hornung because I was too little to have watched him when he played at Notre Dame.

So he narrowed the time frame down starting around 1965 when I would have been old enough to really follow football. Then he came to the correct conclussion that my favorite player probably would have played at Notre Dame during the 1960's when I was still a child because children have heros and favorites.

He also knew that I had a quirky sense of humor. So Dave concluded that it wouldn't be a star but some unique but not very talented player. Next he figured out that the player probably came from the epic 1966 game between the Irish and Michigan State that ended in a controversial 10-10 tie.

Notre Dame's star players from that team were quarterback Terry Hanratty and running back Nick Eddy. Dave remembered that Eddy didn't play in that game because of injury and Hanratty was knocked out early against Michigan State.

Dave, with his photographic memory, recalled Hanratty being replaced by a backup QB named Coley O'Brien. Now wasn't that a perfect name for a Notre Dame quarterback! That's what I thought and why O'Brien is my favorite Notre Dame player. Dave guessed that and was right again. This is the kind of mind/memory Dave possessed.

Dave's favorite sporting event was the British Open. I had better things to do that get up at 5 a.m. to watch Ian Woosnam miss a five-foot putt. Dave enjoyed the splendor, beauty, history and combination of man versus nature that the British Open annually presents.

It was Dave who came up with the Stullies, his annual award for the worst college football coach named after former Missouri coach Bob Stull.

Anytime we had a sports disagreement, I was a plus $2.50 underdog to win the argument. The only time I positively felt I was right was a discussion about who was the better player, Hakeem Olajuwon or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. David said Olajuwon. I had the advantage of being a few years older than Dave so I was able to see first-hand how great Abdul-Jabbar was during his first few years in the league when he was still Lew Alcindor and played for the Bucks.

Dave was such a radio force that people still remember those Stardust Line shows - more than 25 years later.

Dave's wit and humor certainly extended far past sports. Before I got married and Dave found his steady girl friend of many years, we would drink and eat at various Vegas watering holes talking life.

"Look at that one," I would nudge Dave pointing out a lady who had just entered. "Strictly bullpen," was his reply. Dave would group women into relief pitching categories. A middle inning reliever was a possible one-night stand, but no better. A setup reliever had the potential to be a serious date, but more likely just a fill-in while a closer was keeper material.

Once I was in a bar with Dave during his birthday. Various sports betting royalty, among others, would come to pay their respects by buying Dave a drink. One such figure was Alan Boston. This was before the NCAA implemented the 3-point shot back in 1986. Boston was in his handicapping prime then, in the argument for the sharpest college basketball bettor in Las Vegas if not North America.

Malinsky and Boston started talking and arguing college basketball. I could make out Bobby Knight and various types of zone defenses, but their discussion level was so far off the charts I could hardly follow. Picture Einstein and Hawking in a room talking theory of relativity and black holes with each other.

It was then I realized that Dave had levels depending on who he was talking to. This was a Level 10, his highest. Dave always was polite to people. But if a square approached him and started talking sports, Dave would be at Level 1. I used to joke with him after he finished talking with an admirer that it only was a Level 4.

Dave was much more private back then. It only was in the last 10 years or so that he became much more accessible to people by writing PointBlank and patiently interacting with them spending countless time answering questions no matter how simple. In a way, I was jealous. I didn't want to share him. But this helped him become a great person. He was willing to spend his hard-earned time trying to help people with his tremendous knowledge, never putting a novice or anyone down. His aim always was to help and improve.

He didn't need to do this. Dave had everything going. He had the wealth to eat anything and anywhere. Same with travel. People sought him out. Not the other way around.

How good of a 'capper was Dave? I once interviewed Billy Walters on who the most influential sports bettors of all-time were. Dave Malinsky was on Walters' short list.

Here are just a few of Dave's out-of-the-box handicapping ideas and philosophies:

On baseball: "It's not about being being brilliant, but instead accepting the edges where they are, and being patient and methodical enough to grind away with them."

On why he doesn't usually bet small conference basketball games: "Randomness is not a friend of the bettor. These games are too random especially on a Saturday when all the good referees are busy doing major conference games."

On what it takes to win in sports betting: "To be the most successful in this endeavor were not the crunchers, but rather those that understood the various subtleties and dynamics of sport, so that they could maneuver their way around those long corridors that statistics can not explain properly. Those that understand the way the various sports play out still need the refinement of the numbers behind them in order to win, but those that do not understand how fragile statistics are, based on both the human component and the various odd bounces that make up sports results, are going to have difficult time treading water."

Dave's gone and way too damn soon. But his writings and influence will live on. His legacy is more than handicapping. More than mere wins and losses. His legacy are the words and lessons he has passed on to us.

It is so rare to come across true greatness. I feel blessed for having known Dave and for being allowed in his orbit.

RIP my friend.

- Chris Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher

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