The bus carrying the Division III Wesleyan University hockey team from Middletown, Conn., made a stop during their first road trip of the season. The players got out to eat except for one – the backup goalie.
Todd Fuhrman was too busy calling a bookie to check the lines for that day’s college basketball games.
His coach, Chris Potter, caught him in the middle of making those bets and knocked Fuhrman’s notebook out of his hands.
Potter went on to lecture Fuhrman about how the NCAA strongly disapproved of such actions and that there was no good future in what he was doing by gambling on sports. He also said Fuhrman would be disciplined by not being in uniform for the opening game.
Fuhrman, ever the smart-aleck, replied, “At least I got my bets in.”
Potter turned and immediately informed Fuhrman he’d “never see the ice as long as I’m here.”
Fuhrman finished out the season on the bench before deciding to give up hockey. He went on to graduate from Wesleyan with a degree in international economics.
Less than a year later, in early 2006, Fuhrman moved to Las Vegas. He worked for Caesars Palace for about six years, first as a financial analyst and then as a race and sports analyst, before leaving that side of the counter.
After two years as a consultant with Don Best, a sports gambling website, and two more years as the betting expert for the Fox Sports 1 television network, Fuhrman is the lead analyst at SportsLine, a subsidiary of CBS, where his gambling versatility is used on radio, TV and as a writer.
Fuhrman made sure Potter knew when he got quoted in The Hockey News about how to bet the NHL playoffs.
“I told him I thought I made the right choice career-wise,” Fuhrman said. “People assume you’re heading down a dark path that you can’t return from (as a sports gambler), but my parents were supportive. They told me, ‘If you’re passionate about it, you’ll find a way to make a career from it.’
“There isn’t anything evil about sports gambling. It’s a way to add entertainment to the game you’re already watching.”
Fuhrman, now 34, has emerged as a popular authority on the sports gaming industry in recent years, frequently tweeting (@ToddFuhrman) about topics of interest to bettors.
While he’s never had a handicapping service to sell his picks, he does bet them himself.
“I wouldn’t say I’m a professional gambler only because I make a fine living by providing content,” Fuhrman said. “I do bet substantial amounts of money – I’d say I bet more than 98 percent of the people that are out there on a consistent basis – but to say it is my No. 1 source of income would be lying.”
Fuhrman said he left Caesars in 2012 when he “didn’t see eye to eye” with his boss about some issues facing the industry, such as how to effectively use social media.
Fuhrman said he wanted “to be more progressive” overall while others were stuck in the past and not moving forward fast enough in his opinion.
Having learned the business from sportsbook directors such as Chuck Esposito (Sunset Station), Jay Kornegay (Westgate) and Jay Rood (MGM), Fuhrman didn’t rule out the possibility of returning to their side one day.
“There are points where I definitely miss being behind the counter,” Fuhrman said. “Super Bowl Sunday, the NCAA Tournament, those big weekends where the energy’s there.
“But it would have to be the right opportunity. It would have to have the right property president that wanted to do innovative things, think outside the box a little bit, and not be judged on the day to day (financially) but kind of look at the full calendar year.”
With the consolidation of so many sportsbooks into large chains (Station, William Hill, etc.), the number of high-end positions these days has been reduced to a “very finite amount,” Fuhrman said.
“That’s kind of what I ran into,” he added. “There wasn’t really a clearly defined progression plan. Do you continue waiting for some of the big guys to retire?
“I thought I was going to reach a dead end and was going to have to try to go into another aspect of the casino business to have some career growth.”
Dave Dye is a former sportswriter for the Detroit News and FoxSportsDetroit.com. He has covered six Stanley Cup Finals, five Final Fours, three NBA Finals, three Rose Bowls and one World Series. Twitter: @Dyedave Email: [email protected]