A few hours after writing about the anonymous BetMGM bettor who nailed a Marcus Smart Defensive Player of the Year bet at 500-to-1 odds for $50,000, I received a message on Twitter from Garrett Seliga, the guy who placed the wager.
"Hey Greg, saw your article — check my pinned tweet," he said.
Upon verifying that he was indeed the lucky bettor, I asked Seliga if I could interview him, to which he agreed.
I wasn't sure what type of bettor I would encounter. Would he be one of the countless YOLO personalities who represent such a large chunk of gambling Twitter?
After nearly an hour of conversation, I knew that the $50,000 had made its way into the right hands. The 25-year-old Seliga impressed me with his modesty and his sharp, disciplined approach to betting.
The following is a snapshot of that conversation:
Tell me a little bit about yourself
Garrett Seliga: I'm a supply-chain student at Penn State University right now. I work a full-time job as well, as a preventative maintenance contract manager. I've always loved sports and following betting markets is something I've been passionate about for a very long time. It's a lot to juggle between all three, but I manage to make it happen, I guess.
Which resources do you consult for your betting?
GS: I'm in front of a computer all day, so I'll throw in my headphones and just listen to podcasts. NBA-wise, I listen to You Better You Bet. Deep Dive podcast. Establish the Run, they have a lot of good basketball content, as well. Buckets is another one.
When I get home from work, I'll usually hop on my computer and start diving into more advanced statistics and just try to read as much as I can. Then I'll connect with my buddy, Ben, and we'll go back and forth, just spitballing betting ideas and trying to forecast some things.
Take me through your thought process for this Marcus Smart DPOY wager. Were you looking for him, specifically, or were you just generally shopping for value?
GS: It was a little bit of both. Initially, I took a position on Bam Adebayo. I had him on my bet slip at 80-to-1 and never ended up placing it. Then it was basically a FOMO thing, where I grabbed him in early March at 16-to-1. I still thought there was some room for him to get down to a favorite, as he did towards the end. I was looking at other guys, too, and I really started digging into that market as we got into the last two months of the season and people were starting to talk about the Defensive Player of the Year award.
With every sport, I try to understand media members and how the votes are ultimately decided. Defensive Player of the Year was pretty interesting, because I kept hearing about how the Celtics' defense was historically good and how well they were doing. When I got into it and broke it down, I also grabbed Robert Williams III at 33-to-1. I thought he was going to be the one that ultimately won because he was playing for the best defense in the league and had the counting stats and the advanced stats. When we got into the research, everyone was saying how [Smart] was the glue to the defense. He had some advanced stats that were pretty good. It was like, "Oh yeah, 500-to-1 is implying significantly below 1%," and we thought there was value in that bet and it was an off-market price.
Smart was a -190 favorite to win DPOY when the season ended. How confident were you at that point that your ticket would cash?
GS: I was actually not very confident at all, to be honest. I still thought you could make a really good case for Bam and Mikal Bridges. Bam's biggest knock was his playing time. If he would have played a full season — or close to it — I think he was another guy well-deserving and would have gotten a lot more votes. Bridges was a super durable player and I could definitely make the case for him, too.
Did you ever hedge or consider cashing out?
GS: BetMGM offered me a cash-out for $9,233 [in late March]. I just looked at it and figured, "Hey, I'm never gonna remember this hundred dollars. It's not gonna mean much to me in the long run. If I just let it ride and it wins, that money could benefit me." I don't believe in taking most cash-outs unless it's a life-changing amount of money.
Describe for me the moment you found out the bet was a winner.
GS: It didn't really feel real or process that it was a good bit of money that I had just won. Just being right on the bet and having things go my way, I think that was the biggest thing. It wasn't so much celebrating money. At the end of the day, I'm very grateful and I'm definitely going to appreciate it. Putting in a lot of work between school and work and everything betting-related is very stressful, so having an extra payoff like that was pretty nice. It felt very rewarding.
Is this your biggest hit?
GS: Yeah. Last year, the NFL draft was my biggest hit I'd had, and that was Trey Lance to go third overall. That was about $8,000. It was mostly third overall pick for Lance and then Mac Jones over his draft position.
What are you going to do with the $50,000?
GS: Reinvest it. I do have student debt, unfortunately, so I'm sure some of that could go back into there. But just about all of it's gonna be reinvested. I know a lot of athletes usually have some sort of foundation. I'm not too sure if [Smart] has something like that, but I'd definitely be interested in contributing to that, if possible.
Do you have a favorite futures bet for the NBA playoffs?
GS: I grabbed Jordan Poole at 500-to-1 for Finals MVP. Drew Dinsick made some really good cases throughout the year on the Suns, so I've had some pretty good numbers in my pocket with the Suns. I personally think if we're looking at a Suns-Warriors Western Conference finals, Poole could be a good way to get some exposure to the Warriors. For a team that has a good shot at making the Finals, I thought that was a pretty good number. And I thought it was funny that it was at 500-to-1, so I'm testing my record out on those bets. Hopefully, I can get to 2-0.
If your life depended on you getting one defensive stop against an NBA team, which five current players are you picking to go out on the court to save your life?
GS: I'm gonna put Smart out there. Bridges. Down low, I'd have Gobert. It's a toss-up between Williams and Jaren Jackson Jr. Uh, wow ... let's go with Jaren Jackson Jr. because his counting stats were very good this year and he could definitely get me a big block. And let's go with Bam, out of respect. He's versatile in his switches and his ability to guard.
Is there anything you'd like to say to Marcus Smart?
GS: I'd say just keep playing how he's playing. He plays with a ton of heart, he's hustling, he's diving for balls. He reminds me of Jalen Ramsey. He's in your face and he's just an annoying guy to go up against.
He's got that dawg in him.
GS: He's got that dawg in him, absolutely.