LAS VEGAS – Van Smith often bet on sports and often lost. He would chase losses, lose more. Sometimes he had to borrow money from his brother or mother to settle accounts with unsavory numbers in Chicago.

He estimates that he has lost around $ 250,000 over several decades betting on games. Always an employee, enjoying a solid reputation as a butler, he diligently paid his creditors.

“But I exaggerated it,” he said, “because of the stupid way I bet.”

Today, Dennis Van Rhinevault, 62, reveals his real name because he is no longer ashamed to participate in an industry that has become so mainstream.

His fortunes were also reversed when he retired to Vegas in 2016, thanks to transformed discipline and rigid parameters essential to prosperity in this ruthless industry.

Friends call her Van, her middle name. I met him in the summer of 2017. Unlike so many professional sports bettors in this gambling paradise, he only casually mentioned his profession. He was modest, soft-spoken.

A year later, I contacted him after getting a publishing deal for a sportsbook book. I inquired about his methods and tactics, his past. He opened over 100 handwritten notebooks and detailed his involvement for six hours.

For personal reasons, he requested a pseudonym. In my “Sportsbook for Winners” published in 2019 and a Sun-Times profile that was published on May 2, 2020, we used a combination of his middle name and some last name.

Van Smith.

(“Is that you?” A few people texted him after seeing his silhouette photo in the Sun-Times.)

RIP, Van Smith. Forever it is Dennis Van Rhinevault, the real person who strives to convey the very real sports betting lessons he has learned to interested parties.

“I believe I can help people make money from the mistakes I made,” he says. “I started using a bankroll and I can’t stress how important it is. Everything changes. I sink or swim with it.

“Slow and steady is the way to go. Otherwise, you will turn off.


Rhinevault was born and raised in Indian Head Park. Outside of Lyons Township High, his stays in Oklahoma State and Wisconsin-Stout haven’t extinguished his business interests in high-end dining.

Through his father, he met restaurateur Arnold J. “Arnie” Morton and Klaus Fritsch, now vice-president of the Morton’s grill chain. Van apprenticed in several kitchens in Morton, graduating as a service chef.

At 24, he was butler of the elegant Toledo Room at the Lodge of the Four Seasons in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, and he flourished in the same role at Jack Binion’s steakhouses in Indiana. and Mississippi.

He continued to bet on sports, continued to lose.

At one nadir, a friend recounted his betting success using power odds. This led Rhinevault to tinker with ESPN ratings for professional sports, the Associated Press rankings for colleges.

It has revamped its operations, its objectives and its thinking. He built models, did extensive research, dumped garbage. It aimed to build a source of income that would provide living expenses in retirement.

The actions within each sport end when they reach certain units of profit, thresholds of decreasing return that he calibrates regularly.

For example, an NBA angle stops when it reaches four units of profit, often ending two or three weeks after the start of a season. He stops betting on baseball on Labor Day, due to uncertainties over the September list call.

He is constantly massaging and refining his formulas, the basis being a hardcore discipline based on the aforementioned funds and a typical one percent betting unit.

Sometimes he risks up to two units to gain one unit of profit. This base unit would only increase with the expansion of the bankroll, which he would adjust each year.

A bankroll of $ 100,000 has become $ 400,000. This is its cap, because it can be difficult to place bets of $ 2,000, the maximum allowance for many sportsbooks, in two different stores.

Irresponsible touts yelling about “five unit” plays may irritate him, but he tries to mind his own business.

“I learned years ago not to care about what other people are doing. Find out what makes you happy and try to achieve your goals. Comparing yourself to others is a recipe for failure and disappointment.


Rhinevault’s coins and records can be tracked for free at, which he started last year. The VS stands for Van Sports, a brand simpler than implying its last name.

In five full seasons of NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB and college football, 25 individual seasons of data and documentation, only his 2020-21 campaign in the NHL has not been profitable.

Twelve of them generated at least 20 profit units, ahead of 2017-18 NHL (32.6), 2018 MLB (30.1), 2016-17 NBA (29.7) and 2019 NBA -20 (26.8). The 2018-19 NHL season started off horribly before turning around beautifully, going 18-0 all at once; it reached its threshold on New Year’s Eve.

Rhinevault may be low-key, but he’s proud of his creation. After a few cuddles during an hour-long conversation on Monday, he admits, “I’m convinced I’m going to win.

He plans to produce YouTube video tutorials. Newcomers will benefit, but bettors of all skill levels could learn something. He is content to help others avoid the many pitfalls he has encountered.

“If someone followed me and what I did, it was certainly well rewarded. I never want anyone to lose money because of something I said, but I hope they have money.

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