Remembering a great handicapper and person

On April 30, 2019, in Sports, by Stephen

By Stephen Nover

It was a little more than a year ago that one of my closest friends of the past 30 years died in a hiking accident.

Dave Malinsky was more than a friend, though, he also was my sports handicapping mentor. Many may remember Dave from his Point Blank column and from his frequent guest radio and podcast broadcast appearances.
In memory of Dave here are 10 of his lessons:
10. Price not team. The point spread is the great equalizer. Because of that any team can be backed or faded. It just depends on the price point.
9. Put in the work. Each season is different in each sport. What works one year probably won’t work the following season. Change is constant. You must be up on it. Dave had many old-school handicapping techniques having been a highly successful bettor way before the Information Age and Internet. But he always was striving to improve his handicapping. He studied metrics in baseball. Some of his favorite football sites were away from the mainstream such as Pro Football Focus, Football Outsiders and college student newspapers.
8. Healthy lifestyle: You have to be physically fit and mentally fresh in order to reach your peak handicapping ability. Dave ate well. He would frequent mom-and-pop type ethnic restaurants broadening his scope of world cuisine and avoid franchise restaurants. He had certain high standard codes such as never going to a buffet if it cost less than $50. During football weekends, he would stop at Lotus of Siam – the top Thai restaurant in Las Vegas – and bring home enough food to last Friday night through Sunday night so he could concentrate on football without worrying about leaving the house.
7. Avoid randomness: Randomness is your enemy. But how to avoid it when there is a certain randomness factor in every sports event? Dave was always on the alert to minimize it. For instance, he never would bet small conference basketball games on a Saturday. There weren’t enough good officials to go around with so many games. That increased the randomness factor.
6. Accepting Bad Beats: Dave said the term Bad Beat was used too loosely. There is a difference between a bad beat and tough loss. Most bettors suffer tough losses instead of a bad beat because outcomes can be unpredictable. Dave’s philosophy on the rare bad beat is yes it stings, but that’s the tax for doing and enjoying this type of activity. It’s also a mark of your skill as a handicapper if you suffer more bad beats than get lucky because it shows you were on the right side.
5. Politeness, civility and respect: These traits showed through in Dave whenever he answered questions and comments on his interactive Point Blank column and when he was on the air via radio or podcast. He never tried to brow beat, or make anyone look bad, in order to prove his points. He had enough self-esteem, class and empathy to never embarrass anyone just so he could look better. If he disagreed he would phrase his argument by saying “I choose to look at it this way,” or “what would you say if it is pointed out that …” Sure Dave had an ego. We all do. But he knew how to keep it in check and remain humble knowing a losing streak can always happen no matter how well you might handicap.
4. Being well-rounded: Dave was the most well-rounded person I’ve ever known. He could hold his end of a conversaton with experts on history, art, politics, food, drink, current events, music, economics and philosophy. He knew Churchill Downs and he knew Winston Churchill having read his six-volume books. Once Dave made a compelling case for a team on the brink of playoff elimination down 3-0 by citing passages from Sun Tzu’s seminal book “The Art of War.”
3. Discipline: I didn’t know all of Dave’s secrets as to how he found the time to cram so much information and develop so much cutting edge, original handicapping ideas, but I do know he would be up by at least 5 a.m. every morning studying and working. This discipline would apply to his betting. He made numbers. If a side or total didn’t reach his go number he wouldn’t play the game no matter how much he might like it. The handicap AND the number both had to be there for him to get involved.
2. Staying calm: I watched many sports events through the years with Dave and never once did I ever see him get emotional. You couldn’t tell if he had bet the game, or not, by his demeanor. He never yelled or rooted. He wasn’t a small bettor either. Thousands of dollars often were at stake. One time he lost a bet on a walk-off home run by a veteran player. His reaction was joy because the homer happen to be a landmark statistic for that player. He enjoyed the game and that wasn’t ruined if he lost a bet no matter what size the wager was.
1. Outside interests: Dave had the sharpest and most original sports opinions of anyone I knew. But he never was consumed by sports except during football season. Once football season ended, though, and spring began he would find balance in his life by taking long hikes at Mount Charleston on Saturday. He wanted to be at peace with himself and nature. This was his way of doing it. He said it made him a better person and handicapper.
It has been more than a year since Dave’s passing. The pain of missing him hasn’t subsided. I don’t think it ever will. It’s cathartic, though, to talk about him and hope he still can influence us to be better handicappers and people.

One Response to Remembering a great handicapper and person

  1. Robbie Garland says:

    I never met Dave, but reading his words and listening to his words sends me into a state of sadness and regretfullness. I was amazed at his command of so many subjects and his patience and tolerance of ignorance and mean-spiritedness. If there is a paradise after life, certainly Dave should reside there. Thanks for the reminder Stephen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *