What Is A Futures Bet In Sports Betting?

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Futures meaning

A futures bet is exactly what it sounds like, as it entails betting on events that will transpire in the future rather than in the present or on closely upcoming games. These can include both events involving teams or individual players. Let’s take a look at some of the details regarding futures bets.

What are sports betting futures?

Since futures bets entail events that will occur in the future, these would be very different from common bets like money lines, point spreads and totals (over/under) on games that will occur that day or that week. Futures can involve individual player outcomes or team outcomes.

Futures can be an excellent way to enjoy extended action for your investment. You can also find beneficial lines and odds if you watch the futures market throughout the season. Let’s look at some standard examples of futures bets.

How does a futures bet work – futures bet examples

Let’s look first at team bets for some common types of futures. This could include betting on what team will win the Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup or NBA championship. These odds will constantly move based on a team’s success or lack thereof as the season progresses. You may notice a trend with a given team during the season leading to advantageous futures odds at a given moment, and it is wise to jump on these bets before sportsbooks can adjust.

Player futures can include odds on a player to win the MVP or other honors like the Cy Young Award in baseball. You will also see player futures on specific categories, such as who will be the NFL rushing leader, who will lead the NFL in passing yards, and so on. Like with team futures, there can be opportunities for astute bettors to find beneficial odds on player futures based on closely watching performance throughout the season. Let’s analyze some of the types of futures bets in more detail.

Types of futures bets 

There are many types of futures bets. Futures betting lines will be set on many team outcomes, such as what team will win the championship, the conference, the division or even whether a team will make or miss the playoffs overall. Exact terminology will vary depending on the sport in question. Betting on team futures can be very exciting, mainly as the odds can be extremely long for specific outcomes that do indeed have a chance of occurring.

Futures markets for player awards are also standard options. These could include betting on what NBA player will win the MVP, what MLB player will win the batting title, what NHL goalie will win the Vezina Trophy or the NFL comeback player of the year. Not only will you find futures on awards but also on leaders in statistical categories depending on the sport like home runs, rushing yards, overall scoring and more.

How to bet on futures

It is straightforward to place futures bets on your sportsbook of choice. Different sportsbooks will organize these options differently, but you will often see a dedicated future section at many online sportsbooks. You can click on this option and find the futures bets available for all sports.

Another way to find futures is to navigate to the sport you would like to bet on and find the specific futures betting options for that sport. Sportsbooks will have varying lines and odds on futures at times, making it wise to shop between different sportsbooks to ensure you get the best bang for your buck.

Can you parlay futures bets? 

Some sportsbooks will allow parlaying future bets, yet parlays, in general, are always at the discretion of the individual sportsbook. Some selections will not be allowed as they are deemed too correlative for the sportsbook to profit off of.

A great example would be betting on an NFL quarterback to win the MVP while betting on his team to win its division. These events have far too much likelihood to occur together for sportsbooks to allow this bet.

Still, non-correlated futures should generally be allowed to be parlayed, in addition to futures that don’t correlate with other types of bets. An example would be the New York Mets winning the NL East parlayed with a bet from a different sport. There is no reason for a sportsbook not to allow these as they hold no bearing on each other, assuming the sportsbook allows parlays involving futures.

Hedging futures bets

One common way to use futures betting to your advantage is to employ it to ” hedge” your bets. Hedging refers to placing a bet and then subsequently placing a wager on the conflicting side, creating a scenario where you are guaranteed profit regardless of two outcomes.

A great example would be that perhaps you bet an MLB team to win the World Series at +2000, say the Seattle Mariners. This means that you would win $2,000 for a $100 wager. Perhaps that team is in the World Series and is facing a much better team that is a -180 favorite to win the World Series once the matchup is set, maybe the Los Angeles Dodgers. It is possible for you to place a bet on the Dodgers as a favorite and guarantee yourself some profit. 

The exact size of a hedge wager depends on how much profit you want to guarantee yourself versus how much you want to win if your original bet comes through. Of course, it would be exciting to simply let the money ride on Seattle with a chance for a big payday. Still, by placing a strategically sized bet on the Dodgers you at least guarantee yourself a profit, which is always a good situation in sports betting.

Advantages of futures betting 

There are a few advantages of futures betting. One is that it is a great way to enjoy betting action over the course of an entire season — or partial season — with minimal investment. On top of that, you will often find opportunities to bet on very long odds, meaning that a small bet may give you the chance to win a considerable amount. Sports are less predictable than people often give them credit for, and big underdogs can win championships or significant awards.

Furthermore, since lines and odds on futures are constantly moving, as are actual likelihoods of events, keeping a close eye on the sport and the futures market makes it possible to find promising wagering opportunities. Another lucrative reason to bet on futures is to give yourself opportunities to hedge. It is wise to jump on betting on any scenario in sports betting where you are guaranteed a profit. Since futures bets will inherently play out well after placement, you will often find great hedge opportunities, such as the aforementioned Mariners/Dodgers World Series example.

Disadvantages of futures betting

Of course, wherever there are pros, there are likely to be cons, and futures betting is no exception. In some instances, sportsbooks may have a stronger ability to set truly efficient lines and odds on futures. When lines and odds are set on individual games, the goal is to garner even action on both sides to guarantee the sportsbook profit. This means they often move in directions to encourage the betting public while being less efficient regarding the true odds of either outcome.

With futures, the line is being set on a single outcome, with less correlation with any one other single event. Yes, there is some correlation between one player winning the MVP and another not, but many players may win the award. The same goes with a team winning a championship. Therefore, the main goal of a sportsbook will be to simply set the odds efficiently on futures more so than moving them with the betting public.

Another disadvantage is that your money is being held up in your futures bet over a long period. Depending on your bankroll, it may not be wise to invest a considerable amount of your funds in a wager that will play out over a long period. On top of all that, you are banking on a lot of uncertainty since injuries, trades and other unforeseen factors may entirely change the value of your bet. Due to these potential obstacles, it can be much harder to wisely handicap futures compared to a single game.

Best futures betting strategies 

Arguably the number one strategy when sports betting on futures, just like in any other form of sports betting, is to look for inefficient lines and odds. It can be wise to bet futures during the season as you will have the chance to notice team and player trends that may not have been accounted for entirely by sportsbooks at a given moment.

Another key factor that applies to all forms of sports betting including the futures is to shop for the best lines and odds for the bet you want to place at different sportsbooks. Just like if you are shopping at a grocery store, you would not choose to buy the exact same item for more money at one store than another if you had the opportunity to purchase the lower-priced item without any inconvenience. If you are betting online, it is easy enough to observe the lines and odds at multiple sportsbooks without having to physically visit multiple locations.

Another crucial strategy in futures betting is to consider hedging. In many instances where your futures wager appears poised to win, you will have the opportunity to hedge with a contrasting bet and guarantee yourself a profit.

Luke Lindholm

Managing Editor for US Media Partnerships

Writer for Pickswise. Luke was born in PA but raised in MA and has been writing about major sports for 2 years. He plays soccer and basketball with a love for the EPL, NBA, NFL and NCAAF. Nothing runs faster than home dogs and betting the under is an act of maturity. Luke is a Liverpool and Patriots fan for life, YNWA

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