Dave Tuley writes for VSiN’s Point Spread Weekly and appears on VSiN's programming throughout the week.
After 14 years at Daily Racing Form and the last 6 years at ESPN.com, I’m proud to be taking my talents to South Point – and the Vegas Stats & Information Network. At this time, I can’t help but reflect on the long and winding road that has brought me here . . .
The pivotal day in my professional life was July 20, 1990. After earning degrees in journalism from College of DuPage (1984, associate of arts) and Northern Illinois University (1988, bachelor of arts), I was working as a sports copy editor for The Northwest Herald in the Chicago suburb of Crystal Lake, Ill. I was on a career path with the goal of reaching the Chicago Tribune or Chicago Sun-Times.
And then I went to see a man about a horse (race). Our paper’s handicapper, Frank Brabec, had invited me out to Arlington Park about 3 months prior and I had been going to the races every day before working the night shift at The Northwest Herald. I was making less than $20,000 and struggling to pay rent and new car payments. As a novice handicapper (I grew up in a conservative Baptist household with no exposure to the gambling life), I was betting too much chalk and gambling beyond my means. I seriously was thisclose to giving it up. Brabec invited me to the races that day and I told him I couldn’t really afford it. He said he had a sure thing and told me to bet win & place and an exacta box with his top three choices. I went to Arlington and bet $5 to win and place on Text Mahal and a $2 exacta box ($12, for a total of $22). Outside the Arlington press box, there’s a huge matrix board that shows all the combinations for perfectas (what AP called exactas back in the day) and quinellas. I saw that the 1-12 quinella was paying $2,000. At that time, the quinella was a minimum $3 bet, so I put $3 on the 1-12 quinella so that it came to a $25 investment on the race (25 is one of favorite numbers as it was my football uniform number when I was a high school kicker at Glenbard North in Carol Steam, Ill.). Frank’s horses were leading most of the way and I felt pretty good, but then they started the fade and I felt sick to my stomach. I was pissed at myself for coming to the track…the $25 was more than I could afford to lose…and then I saw two horses flying down the stretch. I looked and it was the 1 and 12! I cashed for over $1,800 (I guess my bet knocked it down that much) and I was hooked. Seriously, if I hadn’t won that bet, I might have never gone back to the track or taken a new path in my career.
I continued splitting my days at the track and on the copy desk, and that led to being hired by Daily Racing Form in 1993 to work in its office in Lexington, Ky. I then moved in March 1994 to the main editorial offices in Phoenix, Ariz., where I worked as a page editor (laying out pages) with my regular duties including designing the sport betting page (with our Vegas writers Roxy Roxborough and David Scott) in the morning and then handling Page 1 in the afternoons. I met my wife-to-be in Vegas in 1998 (in an online chat room, before any of these current dating sites existed) and also wanted to returning to writing, so I took a job as managing editor of the GamingToday newspaper in Las Vegas in November 1998.
Among the highlights of my time at GamingToday was a series of articles on Hall of Fame basketball coach Pete Newell (who believed that regulated sports betting helps prevent point-shaving scandals as opposed to illegal betting). Sen. John McCain was pushing the Amateur Sports Integrity Act as chair of the Senate Finance Committee. I brought Newell to the attention of the American Gaming Association and accompanied him to hearings on Capitol Hill in April 2001. The bill was ultimately killed when Sen. Jim Jeffords switch from Republican to Independent, giving the Dems control of the Senate and McCain losing his chairmanship, but the 2001 hearings with Newell helped turn the tide. It's our belief that if the NCAA was able to get its games off the betting boards in Nevada that the pro sports leagues would have followed suit and we wouldn't be anywhere near the acceptance that we see sports betting having today. I also started a run where I’ve covered every final table of the World Series of Poker’s Main Event since 1999 (including being one of the few to cover Chris Moneymaker’s historic win in 2003).
In July 2000, I returned to Daily Racing Form as its full-time Las Vegas correspondent. I mostly wrote on sports betting from Vegas, but also covered the first 17 years of the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship and had a lot of success in the Breeders’ Cup over the years. I also starting covering the Hilton (now the Westgate) SuperContest (and finishing 14th in 2008) and have continued to this day. I was laid off from my full-time position in May 2007 when the recession was hitting, but letters to the editor (back when people wrote letters) helped bring me back for a weekly column during football season and bi-weekly the rest of the year. In 2007 (after being laid off), I won the Best News Story award from the Pro Football Writers of America (the only time a gambling story has won one of the PFWA's awards, beating out all the beat writers and columnists from most of the nation's major newspapers).
After being laid off, I started my website ViewFromVegas.com since I had long considered my DRF column to be a way for readers around the rest of the country to get the ViewFromVegas. I added the @ViewFromVegas Twitter account to keep my name and brand out there as I continued to cover the Vegas race & sports book scene and the SuperContest.
In 2011, Chad Millman of ESPN.com brought me on to do a weekly blog on the SuperContest and that grew into providing NFL picks for ESPN Insider starting in 2012 and the creation of the ESPN Chalk site in 2014 when I became a contracted “recurring writer” with my main focus on NFL but also providing picks and sports betting stories on March Madness, the NBA playoffs, Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup races, WSOP, Sunday Night Baseball and most other sports. After being laid off in April when 100+ ESPN employees were let go, my story on last year’s SuperContest took 3rd place for Best News Story from the PFWA (only the second time a gambling story has been honored).
And all that has brought me here and I’m excited to continue race & sports betting news to all my followers on all of VSiN’s platforms.
Tuley’s Odds and Ends…
Favorite Team: The one I’m currently betting on (though grew up in Chicago suburbs as die-hard Cubs, Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks and Sting fan).
Favorite movies: Back to the Future trilogy and pretty much any time travel movie, but these days only watch animated movies with my kids.
Favorite TV shows: Seinfeld, The Simpsons, Two and a Half Men (I dress like Charlie Harper with my ViewFromVegas.com bowling shirts), Curb Your Enthusiam, too many to really list.
Favorite bands: Led Zeppelin, Boston, Whitesnake (I’m just an overgrown teenage boy).
Favorite sports memory: Winning 1st place in Glenside Baseball in 1978 (we weren’t part of “Little League”) and kicking winning point in overtime of conference opener at Glenbard North High School in 1982. That, plus a win the next win over defending state champ Wheaton North (when I was listed as a key player in the Chicago Tribune preview), propelled us to an undefeated regular season and our school’s first DuPage Valley Conference title before losing in the state semifinals to eventual state champion Reavis.
Favorite sports event attended: Most of my spectator memories are from watching games at home or in Vegas sports books, but the most memorable game I attended was the “Fog Bowl” between the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles on Dec. 31, 1988. Me and my college buddies (Dave, Dave and Dan) had tickets in the upper reaches of the north end zone at Soldier Field. Right before halftime, the fog rolled over the south end of the stadium and Randall Cunningham hit TE Keith Jackson over the middle and he ran into the fog and we had to wait for the roar of the crowd to know he was tackled before scoring. We couldn’t see a thing, and most of the fans left the stadium to see if they could see better at home or at a bar, so we moved down to the lower level and all the way to the first row. We still could only see the occasional wide receiver and cornerback. My No. 2 game would be as the football beat writer for The Northern Star at NIU as I covered the last game of the 1987 season on Thanksgiving weekend at UNLV (televised by ESPN) and saw UNLV’s Ickey Woods clinch the national rushing title. That was my first visit to Vegas as I fell in love with the town…never dreaming I’d be living here 30 years later!
Team Tuley Trivia: My kids are all named after Chicago sports legends. My daughter Jordyn is, of course, named after Michael Jordan. Peyton is named after Walter Payton (NOT Peyton Manning, who I always felt was overrated, but did back him in his final Super Bowl). Maddux is, of course, named after first-ballot Hall of Famer Greg Maddux.