Futures Betting Guide

What is futures betting
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What Is Futures Betting?

Futures betting involves wagering on events that occur (you guessed it) in the future.

But wait—isn’t that most sports betting, with the exception of in-game or live betting? In a sense, yes, but futures betting has become a term of its own, representing a specific type of bet with slightly different rules and complexities than your standard moneyline, point spread, or totals wager.

On this page, you will find everything you need to know to understand futures betting.

How Futures Betting Works

As we hinted at above, a futures bet is a wager that a specific outcome will occur in the near to distant future. Popular futures include Super Bowl winner, NBA Championship winner, and World Series Winner. However, you can get much more specific, too. For example, you can bet on the regular-season MVP in the NFL long before the season begins. Or you can bet on specific conference winners in various leagues.

For the most part, futures bets have relatively high-paying odds. This is because it’s hard to pick out a single outcome among a long list of possibilities. Imagine trying to select the 2023 Super Bowl winner before the season even begins. Many people try, and that’s because those bets offer solid odds. A $1 bet could lead to a $100-plus win if the outcome hit.

Futures odds change over time based on team and player performance, so there’s a lot to consider—when to place a bet, when to wait, when to hedge, and more. Below we’ll dive into some of the intricacies related to futures betting.

How To Read Futures Odds

Most futures odds will list multiple outcomes, each with a line attached. For the most part, these lines have well-paying odds because, again, you’re betting that one very specific thing will happen when there are tens or even dozens of possibilities. To paint a clear picture, let’s take a look at two helpful examples.

NBA Championship Futures Odds

As of this writing, here are the current odds to win the NBA championship from PointsBet.

NBA TeamOdds To Win 2022 NBA Championship
Phoenix Suns+250
Golden State Warriors+275
Miami Heat+500
Milwaukee Bucks+500
Boston Celtics+600
Memphis Grizzlies+2500
Philadelphia 76ers+3300
Dallas Mavericks+4000

The easiest way to understand these odds is to pretend you’re willing to bet $100 on a team to win. The +250 on the Phoenix Suns means that $100 bet would pay out $250 (plus your initial wager).

The Memphis Grizzlies, if they won and you had placed a $100 bet, would earn you $2500 plus your initial wager. But that higher number means they’re far less likely to actually win the championship. You’d be making a riskier bet for the chance at a higher payout.

Also, consider the season’s progress. The NBA playoffs are in full swing, and oddsmakers have a pretty firm grip on team performance. At this point, a longshot bet on the Grizzlies, 76ers, or Mavericks may not be worth your while.

I bet on the Brooklyn Nets to win the NBA Championship months ago, and now they’re completely out of contention. Futures bets can be ever-changing!

Next, let’s look at a different set of futures odds that represent another scenario.

MLB World Series Futures Odds

Below, find a selection of odds to win the World Series from PointsBet. Note that we didn’t include every line, as there are 30 teams. Instead, this limited selection is meant to showcase the wide variety of odds on offer for the World Series.

MLB TeamOdds To Win 2022 World Series
Los Angeles Dodgers+450
Toronto Blue Jays+700
New York Yankees+800
New York Mets+800
Houston Astros+1000
Chicago White Sox+1200
Atlanta Braves+1400
Chicago Cubs+10000
Oakland Athletics+20000
Pittsburgh Pirates+50000

Again, this is only a third of the total slate of bets. I threw in those final three as an example of incredibly long odds on teams that are not expected to win at all.

The baseball season is in its early stages, with six months left to go before the World Series is even played. This means the market is volatile, and things will change. If you’re looking to bet on a semi-longshot, now might be a perfect time, especially if their odds are astronomical. Remember it’s always a risk, but there’s a benefit to getting in on the ground floor with your favorite underdog team.

How Odds On Futures Change Over Time

The futures odds you see one day almost certainly won’t be the same odds you’ll find the next day. They change as seasons progress, and for good reason. The team everyone counted out on opening day may make a mid-season run and find themselves in contention.

The truth is, there are myriad reasons odds change. A single win can make a team look more enticing than they’ve looked all season. A string of injuries could set an early frontrunner back by weeks or even months.

When you’re placing a futures bet, you have to weigh the risk and reward. You may want to get in early and place a bet on your underdog team in the hopes that later events will put them in firm contention.

You have to hunt futures odds as though you are a careful and calculated predator. Pounce at just the right moment, and you’ll nab yourself a juicy reward. Make a misstep, and you risk losing your quarry.

Keep a close eye on the odds and how they change, selecting your bet carefully.

When You Should Hedge A Futures Bet

There are many cases in which a futures bet that once looked perfect falls apart. Above, I mentioned my $5 bet on the Brooklyn Nets to win the 2022 NBA Championship. That ship has sailed, and the Nets aren’t in contention any longer. In a scenario like this, it may be smart for me to hedge my bet by placing a new wager on the Suns or the Warriors. Should one of those teams win, I may recoup my initial bet, even though the units I put up were relatively small.

Futures become easier to predict accurately as time goes on, and that makes hedging a valuable strategy.

Remember, though, no bet is ever a sure thing until you actually see the outcome succeed and watch the money hit your account. Hedge with caution.

Types Of Futures Bets

Futures bets span a wide range, offering various types of wagers. A few stand out as the most common, however.

First and foremost, you’ve got championship bets: wager on one team to bring home the league’s coveted trophy, cup ring, or another shiny object. You can find futures bets on the following, alongside other major events.

  • World Series Winner
  • Super Bowl Champion
  • Stanley Cup Winner
  • NBA Championship winner

In addition to those, you can find futures for various conferences within leagues. For example, you could be on a team to win the NFC Championship. Others include betting on a team to make the playoffs or to win a particular series.

You can also find player-based futures. NBA MVP is a major one, and the same goes for the NFL. In the MLB, you can bet on the winner of the Cy Young trophy.

In other words, there are many types of futures bets, each with their own unique appeal.

Advantages Of Futures Bets

There are many reasons futures bets can be advantageous compared to other wagers. Here are just a few examples:

Fun For Fans

If you like to root for a specific team, futures bets can get you more invested in that team. A member of our team is a Chicago Bulls fan, so he finds joy in the occasional futures bet on the Bulls each season. Of course, none of them tend to pan out, but its gives him extra reason to cheer for his home team!

The same goes for specific players. If you’re a Tom Brady fan, you may bet on him to win NFL MVP to up your investment in his performance.

High-Paying Odds

Futures pay well…if you can hit them. Futures odds are always fairly high because of the wide selection of options. But if you’re smart, savvy bettor, you can use this to your advantage.

Hedge Potential

If your futures bet doesn’t pan out, there’s plenty of opportunity to hedge as the season moves on. If for example the Chicago Bulls lose in the playoffs, I might decide to bet on the front-running team and hope to recoup my loss. Hedge sparingly and with caution, but remember it can be a helpful tool in your betting arsenal.

Futures Bets: The Disadvantages

Of course, futures bets come with their downsides, as well.

Hard To Predict

Ever try picking the Super Bowl winner before the September kickoff? That’s what it’s like trying to pick an accurate futures wager. Frankly, the staggering number of potential outcomes and the various factors at play over the course of a season make it very difficult to select a futures bet correctly.

Consider the MLB, in which 30 teams compete. There are so many external factors and possibilities that futures become near-impossible to accurately predict.

Constant Line Movements

You might place a bet that you feel confident in, it’s the cream of the crop, and ideal wager for you. Then you check the next day and see the payout only got higher after you placed your wager. This is the risk you run with futures bets. They are volatile and ever-changing. You have to be prepared for this if you’re planning to palace futures bets.

Futures Betting Strategy

Ready to start placing some savvy futures bets? Here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind as you do so.

Shop Around For Odds

Always look around to find the most advantageous lines. If you have access to one sportsbook, chances are you have access to many more legal and live sportsbooks.

Every sportsbook has a different theoretical hold, aka the amount of money it expects to make on a futures market. The higher the hold, the worse the odds tend to be. Always seek out the highest-paying line on your preferred futures market and place your bet there. A difference of $5 in a payout may seem small, but those things add up over time.

Know When To Wait

Not feeling like the line is just right? Hold off. You can always place your bet later and hope for a better potential payout. If your team is on a losing streak but you don’t think it’ll last, wait until the peak of that streak and palace your bet when the odds are highest.

Know When To Strike

Conversely, know when the time is right to go for your preferred bet. If your team starts with long odds but you think they’re on the up-and-up, place your bet to get locked in with a solid payout.

Use Bonus Money

If you have bonus site credits in your account, either from a deposit match bonus, a risk-free bet, or a rewards program, consider using that for futures bets. The odds typically offer a high payout, so even a small bit of bonus cash can go a long way towards an excellent win. Plus, you don’t need to shell out your hard-earned cash to place an already risky bet.

Hedge When Necessary

I’ve said it a few times already, but it’s worth repeating. Don’t be afraid to hedge if you think it’s the smart play. If your team is out of the running but you’ve got a decent shot at recuperating your loss with a savvy hedge, it can be a great strategy.

Avoid Home Team Bias

I’m a Chicago Bears fan. See where I’m going with this? I may love the Monsters of the Midway, but I’m smart enough to realize their chances of nabbing a Super Bowl victory (or even making it to the Super Bowl in the first place) are slim to none for the next few seasons at the very least. Try to squash your bias and place smart, educated futures bets. They’re already risky enough without your fandom coming into play.

Now, if your home team is the Chiefs, you may have a smart bet on your hands.

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