Can you accurately predict who will win the next Super Bowl? How about the next NBA MVP selection? The winner of March Madness?
Futures betting is one of the most popular corners of the sports betting world since odds and markets are easy to understand and easy to follow. Pick which team or player you think will win a league, division, award, etc; wait and see who wins; get paid according to the odds you locked in at the time of your bet.
Thanks to the explosion of legal sports betting apps in New York, betting on futures is easier than ever. With that in mind, we’ve assembled this guide to futures odds and the ins and outs of futures betting.
Want to see what live futures odds look like at an online sportsbook? Check our live feed below for futures odds as posted for NFL, NBA, MLB, PGA golf and more. Use the drop-down menu on the left to change your sport; use the other menu to toggle between the futures markets available within each sport. If you see any odds you like, click on them and you’ll go right to the sportsbook itself to start the process.
The name kind of gives it away, but a futures bet is a bet on the outcome of an event that hasn’t happened yet. These bets can vary quite a bit depending on the sportsbook and the sport, but some of the most common you’ll come across are:
They range far and wide and include everything from teams to individuals to conferences and leagues.
Like any type of bet you might make, a quick glance at the odds at your sportsbook of choice will tell you which way the oddsmakers are expecting the end result to play out. Most futures won’t offer negative odds, indicating a massive favorite, unless it’s a runaway choice. But you can still identify what the oddsmakers most expect to happen by the odds that are on the positive side but closest to zero.
The closer to the event date you get, the tighter and more precise those odds are going to be just due to the information that becomes available, public betting trends and more. Your aim is to pick the winner and to do it with the best odds possible. Sometimes that means making a pick right after the lines are released, which in some cases — like the Super Bowl — happen immediately following the conclusion of the previous Super Bowl.
Those are the riskiest bets when it comes to futures, though, and many bettors choose to wait until the picture begins to get a little clearer. Sure, the odds will have adjusted, but if you get your bet in early enough, you’ll still come away with a nice return if you’re right. Because sports are a year-round part of our lives, you will be able to find futures betting markets no matter when you decide to take a gander at the sportsbooks.
If you’re using legal online sportsbook apps, then it’s a simple process to actually place a bet. When you are on the sportsbook homepage, you’ll likely see a dedicated link to the futures bets. Go there and you’ll see links to the various sports. Going to one of the sports will reveal which futures bets are available for it.
Click the bet you’re interested in making, choose your amount on the bet slip and then finalize the wager.
Let’s start with the NFL betting, which is the most popular professional sport to bet on in the United States. As the example, we’ll say you’ve decided to place your bet on next year’s Super Bowl champion. Here’s what you could potentially see:
As we discussed above, you can see the favorites by finding the team that either has negative odds (which is rare in futures bets like this one), or is the closest to zero. In this case, the favorites are the Chiefs.
But let’s say that after researching it thoroughly, you’ve decided it’s the Packers who are going to come away with the championship. In that case, if you placed a $100 bet on +900 odds and the Packers win, you would receive $1,000 from the sportsbook: your winnings of $900 plus your original bet of $100.
Maybe you’re not a big enough football fan to want to bet on the Super Bowl, but you’re really interested in basketball and placing an NBA wager on the next MVP winner. You might come across futures betting odds that look like this:
You might do your research and come to the conclusion that Nikola Jokić has a good chance to finally take home the MVP award. If you’re right, your return on a $100 wager would be $600: your original bet plus a profit of $500.
We’ll give you one more example, this time using Major League Baseball and a futures bet on which player will have the most regular season hits. Here are the odds at your sportsbook of choice:
Once again, you’ll likely want to do some quick research, compare schedules and analyze some stats to come up with your pick. Once you’ve done that, maybe you decide DJ LeMahieu is the one to back. This time, however, you’ve wagered $200. Should you win, you would stand to get back $1,400 for every $100 you wagered, meaning your potential payout would be $3,000: your $200 original wager plus the $2,800 in winnings.
As you get closer to the date of whatever event you’re betting on, the favorites will begin to emerge. Take our NFL example above, and your bet on the Green Bay Packers to win the Super Bowl.
If the Pack starts the season off with a string of victories, the odds are definitely going to shift because the team is showing it has the potential to go all the way. If it wins its division, then the odds will continue to shift, as they will if Green Bay wins the conference to earn a chance at the Lombardi Trophy.
In addition, if the public begins placing a lot of bets on the Packers to win the Super Bowl, the books will adjust the lines so other teams begin to look more attractive with better odds in an effort to lower the liability of paying out all those early bets. The more public betting leans toward one outcome over the others, then sportsbooks are going to adjust their lines accordingly in an aim to ensure a profit.
You’ll also see line movement for big injury news for a team, or a big acquisition in free agency or even just poor or outstanding play from individual contributors on particular teams.
The first answer is that you really should be betting on sports that you enjoy betting on. You’ll find plenty of futures bets at legal sportsbooks for just about any sport that is popular in the United States.
Having said that, we also recognize that you might be interested in finding new futures bets to consider. You’re in luck, because every major sport in the US is going to have representation in the sportsbooks, and so are several international sports.
The NFL is the king of sports betting in this country, so it won’t surprise you to find out that it has a ton of futures bets. The numbers don’t slouch much for MLB betting, NBA betting, college football betting and college basketball betting, either.
The second-tier sports for futures betting in most sportsbooks are going to include futures bets for the NHL, various soccer leagues, MMA, tennis, motorsports and golf. Depending on the sport, you’ll find futures bets that include things like:
Handicapping futures can be a bit of a different process than you might usually employ for other bets. You’re not looking at single games or individual performances so much as you’re trying to envision what the season will hold based on limited data. That’s not the easiest of chores, but it can be a lot of fun and much more simple than you think.
When it comes to handicapping futures, the key is to start by looking over the available lines. You’re going to find favorites and underdogs and even long shots when you take a look at those opening lines, but they’ve all reached those positions because that’s the way it plays out on paper to the best of oddsmakers’ ability to see the future.
You’ll often find opportunities in those odds, however. Those mid-range underdogs may not jump off the page when you’re doing your research, but you might find yourself compiling enough information to give them a solid chance at winning the futures bet you’re handicapping. If so, and you feel as though there’s enough evidence to support it, you shouldn’t hesitate to make a wager. Those are the types of bets that can pay off in a big way — though it’s important to remember that an underdog is in that category for a reason, and more often than not the underdog will finish out of the top spot.
While you’re handicapping, keep an eye out for potential sleepers and the favorites you like. Wagers on both won’t break the bankroll, and it makes watching the season play out that much more interesting and fun.
Before setting up your plan for handicapping futures, do some research across the internet. There are loads of free resources to help you develop a good handicapping format, and the free advice available out there from professional sports bettors and analysts will only help you in becoming a better handicapper.
Every sportsbook has its own set of rules regarding what allows a bet to be canceled or pushed, what is considered a no-bet and more.
To understand the approach your sportsbook of choice takes when it comes to the various situations that can arise in sports betting, you should always read the terms and conditions that you have to acknowledge when you sign up for an account. That’s where you’ll find outlines for the rules regarding every sport and bet.
This is a good time to remind you to only use legal and regulated sportsbooks. You’ll come across “offshore” betting sites that skirt the laws of wagering in your state, but placing a bet with them is not only illegal, it’s also risky.
Illegal sportsbooks have no oversight and no reason to honor your wagers. If you win, they may not pay you. If you aren’t careful, they might even take more from your accounts than you authorized. And if that happens, because you’re using an offshore book, you’ll find yourself with no options because there are no legal avenues to pursue.
Using legal sportsbooks means there is an agency that oversees the operations. If problems arise, you can reach out to the customer service team at the sportsbook to solve it, and if that ends up being a dead end, you can reach out to the agency responsible for regulating sports betting.
Sportsbooks and casinos don’t want to risk their licensing over squabbles regarding money, so they follow the rules and regulations and have customer service teams in place to help address any issues you may experience.
Futures betting focuses on more distant wagers. It’s a robust market with plenty of options for every popular sport in the United States, ranging from professional teams to individual performances and more.
At a legal sportsbook, be it mobile, online or brick-and-mortar, you can wager on everything from the next world champion to which player will win rookie of the year honors to how a team will finish at the conclusion of the regular season in its respective sport.
When it comes to researching and handicapping futures, the process is a bit different from other types of bets, if only because you’re trying to make your wagers based on something that requires you to take a much broader look at a full season or future event. Use the internet and find free resources to develop your handicapping process and give yourself the best chance to win.
Don’t just stick with the favorites, either. Sure, the oddsmakers know what they are doing, and they have picked teams and individuals as the likely candidates to win, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a chance on a dark horse that you have a good feeling about and your research supports.
You’re going to lose more than you win in the futures market, but when you do hit for a win, the end result can be fairly lucrative. Keep an eye on your bankroll and bet responsibly. Never chase losses trying to win your money back.
Maybe the best part of futures betting is the fact that it engages you for the long run in the sports you’ve wagered on. That gives an added amount of enjoyment and interest in the season, and that’s what this hobby is all about.