Futures Betting 101
- ✅ What is Futures Betting?
- ✅ Types of Futures Bets
- ✅ How to Choose the Right Futures Bet
- ✅ Top Strategies for Betting on Futures
- ✅ Managing Your Bankroll
- ✅ The Benefits and Risks of Futures Betting
- ✅ Popular Sports for Futures Betting
- ✅ Final Thoughts
What is Futures Betting?
Futures betting is a way of sports betting on outcomes that will happen in the future, such as the result of an entire season, the playoffs, or certain player awards. Rather than bet on the outcome of a single game, futures bets allow bettors to place wagers on longer-term events, such as who will win the championship game, before the season even starts or while it is ongoing. Futures bets let you risk money on the outcome of multiple games or on a player's performance over a season, instead of single events that each require lots of research.
Examples of a futures bet
Futures bets include team futures and player futures. You could bet on the Green Bay Packers to win the Super Bowl before the season begins. You could place a wager on Lebron James to win the NBA MVP award after he dominates the first 10 games of the season. Or, you could bet on your favorite team to take it all the way in the college football playoff games and become championship winners. What makes each of these wagers a futures bet is that their outcome is dependent upon what happens over the course of multiple games.
How to read futures odds
If you're placing a bet in Kentucky or anywhere else in the country, the odds for futures bets should be displayed as American odds. You will see the odds for given futures markets in a list, usually with the highest odds first, and displayed usually as a positive number. Negative odds are rare for futures.
For example, let's say you want to bet on who will win the NBA Finals, before the season starts. The Golden State Warriors are the favorites, so you'll see them listed first with +500 odds, meaning you need to bet $100 on the Warriors to win $500. You want to bet on the Oklahoma City Thunder, who are major underdogs this year, so you scroll toward the bottom of the list and find them at +3600 odds.
How to bet on futures
To bet on futures, you need to first set up an account with the online sportsbook app in Kentucky of your choice. Navigate to the futures odds area, and find the market that you're looking for. For the most part, different online sportsbooks offer the same futures markets. You can scroll through the list of options in the market of your choice to select the team or player you want to bet on to find their specific odds.
Types of Futures Bets
Most futures bets are wagers on what team will be division winners in a certain league, or who will win the championship game. Other futures bets might refer to specific player awards and who will win them.
Championship or Tournament Winners
The most common futures bets are predictions for who will win major championships, such as the Stanley Cup, Super Bowl, World Series, or NBA Finals. People like these types of futures because the odds of a team winning are usually relatively slim, even if they are among the favorites.
For example, let's say you bet on the Green Bay Packers to be the Super Bowl Winner. Even though they have the third-highest odds of winning at the start of the season, their line is still +800—a pretty decent return on a team that has a good shot of going all the way this year.
Division and Conference Winners
You don't have to think a team will win it all to find futures markets that allow you to bet on them. Another common type of futures market is choosing what team will win a specific division or conference.
For instance, you might want to wager a few dollars on your hometown Kentucky Wildcats football team winning the SEC conference, even though the futures odds are stacked against them. You can find the SEC conference winner market on most major sports betting platforms.
Player awards are a fun way to place futures bets on your favorite individual players. You can bet on prop bets like who will win the Heisman Trophy, the NFL MVP award, or the NBA scoring title. You can find futures odds for just about every player award in major league sports, and many in college sports as well.
How to Choose the Right Futures Bet
Futures betting odds can offer great opportunities to bettors, but you have to know what to look for. Considering factors such as team and player performance, strength of schedule, and market odds is important when choosing a futures bet.
Team and Player Performance
Since the most common futures bets are wagers regarding team performance or player awards, you have to consider the team or player at hand carefully. While placing futures bets on your favorite team winning it all might be alluring, it also might not be the best idea if they're a huge underdog. The same principle applies to player futures. You might be a big Draymond Green fan because of his defensive prowess, but betting on him to win the NBA MVP award is a bad idea because he isn't an offensive superstar and the award is a reflection of overall dominance. You'd be better off placing a wager on Green to win Defensive Player of the Year.
Strength of Schedule
It would be nice if all things in sports were perfectly fair, but unfortunately, that isn't the case. One example of disparities in major sports is the strength of a team's season schedule. Some teams have tougher schedules than others, and this can impact their chances of winning a division or championship. For example, you might see that two NFL teams have similar odds to win the Super Bowl, but upon further investigation, you find that one of the teams has a much easier schedule. It might be a good idea to place your wager on the team with the easier schedule in this example.
Futures odds change based on a team or player's chances of winning. If a team has a low chance of winning the title, betting on them to do so should mean that you can get a sizeable return on a small bet if they manage to pull it off. Conversely, betting on the favorite to win the title will mean you need to wager more to get the same return. Successful sports betting requires that you find odds with hidden value, meaning you believe the actual chances of something happening are higher than what the odds depict.
Top Strategies for Betting on Futures
Futures bets can be both a fun and lucrative way of wagering on sports. Follow the strategies below to give yourself the best chance of getting a return while placing futures bets.
Diversify Your Bets
Successful investors know that one of the most important tips to making money in the stock market is to diversify your portfolio. Sports betting is no different: You should not wager all of your money on one or two futures bets. Futures betting odds tend to be high, meaning each wager you make is unlikely to win, even if you bet on the favorite. For this reason, it's a good idea to spread your money around with a variety of futures bets, giving yourself more opportunities to hit on a bet with high odds and see a substantial return.
Look for Value Bets
All sports betting experts look for value bets as a way of getting the best odds on a return. A value bet is simply a wager where there is a higher likelihood of something happening than the odds for the bet suggest. For example, let's say the Los Angeles Lakers have futures odds of +1600 to win the NBA Finals next year. While the futures odds for them to win the championship are higher than many other teams in the NBA, you feel that these odds don't reflect the value of the experience the players on the Lakers have, so you identify the Lakers at +1600 as a value bet.
If you want to find value futures bets, you have to stay informed on the sports, teams, and players that you are betting on. Kentucky sportsbooks will have teams of experts who work around-the-clock to calculate the odds for various markets to ensure that they remain slightly in the sportsbook's favor. If you want to find the futures betting odds with hidden value, you'll need to do your research!
Futures bets can be placed at any point during a season, but the odds will change after every game based on the latest team and player performance. The gap between favorites and underdogs only widens as a season goes on and it becomes more clear who the frontrunners are. Betting early on futures means that you can wager on teams and players with hidden value, before they begin to perform well and the futures odds adjust.
For example, let's say you want to bet on the Chicago Blackhawks to win the Stanley Cup. You see that they have a favorable schedule and you feel that their lineup is underrated. You place your bet at +1300 odds before the season starts. 7 games into the season, they are 6-1 and their odds have decreased to +650. Your bet holds twice the value of the current futures odds!
Managing Your Futures Betting Bankroll
You can employ all the betting strategies you want, but without proper bankroll management, you are unlikely to be successful in placing future bets. Learn how to manage your bankroll below.
Set a Budget
Setting a budget is a critical aspect of bankroll management. The first rule of successful sports betting is to never wager money that you can't afford to lose. Once you know your total amount of bettable money, set a portion of it aside to bet on futures. Since futures odds tend to be high, you don't want to use your whole bankroll on this type of bet.
Use a Unit System
Using a unit system can help you to control how much money you place on each bet. An easy way to set up your unit system is to have one unit equal one percent of your overall bankroll. If you've deposited $1,000 into your betting account, your unit size is $10. Once you know your unit size, you can decide how much of your bankroll to use on each bet. Most expert bettors use between 1-5% of their bankroll on each bet, or 1-5 units.
Track Your Bets
Tracking your sports bets allows you to notice trends and become a smarter bettor. You should keep track of each bet, including the odds and the result, as well as how many units you wagered. Tracking bets takes time but it can expose trends and help you to understand what is and is not working.
Futures Betting Pros and Cons
Benefits of Futures Betting
Futures odds provide a fun and potentially lucrative way to wager on sports and to enjoy watching a season unfold without needing to worry about the result of every individual game.
High Potential Returns
Since futures betting odds tend to be high, futures markets offer the opportunity to see high returns without risking too much on each bet. There may also be more opportunities for hidden value when placing futures bets than when betting on individual games.
For the sake of this example, let's say that the futures odds for the favorite team in the NBA, NFL, and MLB are +500 for each of them to win the championship this year. If you wager $100 on each of these favorites and only one of the teams wins, you will still turn a profit. That is the benefit of betting futures with high odds.
Sports betting isn't just a potential way to make money; it also makes watching our favorite games a lot more fun. Sports bettors love futures bets because they can make it more engaging to follow different teams and players as the season evolves. Let's say you pick an NBA championship winner, a World Series winner, and a Super Bowl favorite. Now you've got three major league sports to follow this year!
A futures bet allows you to diversify your betting portfolio. You can still bet props, moneylines, totals, and any other market you wish, but placing some futures bets allows you to have multiple ongoing wagers at once. If your short-term bets don't hit, you can still win big on your futures wager.
Risks of Futures Betting
Like all types of sports betting, futures bets come with some risk involved. Learn about the biggest risks of futures bets below.
When you place a futures bet, you are wagering money that you may not see back for months or longer, even if the bet wins. Additionally, you will need to check on the status of your bet continuously to ensure that it's not the right time for an early cash-out. The long-term commitment of a future bet means that you will be involved with this form of gambling continuously, rather than placing a bet that is a one-time event.
Injuries and Unexpected Events
Futures odds are high, even for heavily favored teams, because you never know what could happen over the course of several games or an entire season. Events like injuries and trades can happen unexpectedly during the regular season or playoffs and can have a huge impact on your futures bets.
For example, let's say you place a bet before the season begins on the World Series favorite Los Angeles Dodgers to win it all. The Dodgers have a solid start, but halfway through the season, they make a couple of trades and one of their best starting pitchers gets injured. They end up finishing the season poorly and missing the playoffs—a result you never could have predicted but one that means your bet will lose.
Limited Cash Out Options
Your original bet does not always have to win in order for you to cash out a futures wager. Some futures bets allow for early cash-out with updated odds.
For example, if you wager on the Milwaukee Bucks to win the NBA Finals and they have the best record in the league after 40 games, you may be able to cash out your bet early for less than the original futures odds. The risk here is that cash-out options are highly limited and different Kentucky sportsbook apps have different options, so you can't rely on early cash-out when making futures bets.
Popular Sports for Futures Betting
U.S. sports bettors love to place futures bets on America's major league sports teams. Whether you're wagering on the NFL, NHL, NBA, or MLB, futures markets can offer a fun way to play.
NFL Futures Betting
NFL futures bets are one of the most common futures options. Bettors love to place wagers on Super Bowl odds to win, who will win player awards like the NFL MVP award, and which teams will face off in the final game of the postseason. The wide variety of NFL betting options for future events make the sport particularly fun to wager on.
NBA Futures Betting
Basketball fans love placing NBA futures bets because it makes each game of the long season more exciting to watch. You can wager on who will have the best record at the end of the regular season, or which team will be the outright winner of the NBA championship. NBA player awards are also more varied and emphasized than many other sports, so wagers on MVP, Scoring Title, Defensive Player of the Year, and other player awards are common in NBA betting.
MLB Futures Betting
An MLB futures bet makes the long regular season more exciting to watch. Both player futures and team futures are popular. You could bet on your favorite MLB team to win the World Series, or on your favorite player to hit the most home runs in the league this year. MLB futures bets are popular because of all the unique player and team statistics available to bet on, and because futures bets make watching the games more engaging.
NHL Futures Betting
Hockey fans love that futures odds offer value and make the game more engaging to watch. NHL futures bets may include team futures or player futures, and like other sports, the most popular futures bets in the NHL involve choosing the Stanley Cup winner. NHL futures offer hockey bettors a way to diversify their bankroll and find bets with hidden value.
Start Betting Futures in Kentucky
Kentucky bettors love that futures odds offer hidden value in many markets and make it more engaging to watch various sports throughout the season. Whether you are betting on NCAA tournament winners, your favorite to secure the Premier League Trophy, or which two teams will head off in this year's Super Bowl, futures odds can offer high returns and fun options for betting.
To find the best futures odds, you must find bets with hidden value. This requires plenty of research which, alongside managing your bankroll properly, can increase your chances of turning a profit. Futures betting odds are offered on all major U.S. sports, including the MLB, NFL, NHL, and NBA.
More Sports Betting Guides:
Futures Betting FAQs
A futures bet is a wager you can place on an outcome that will happen in the future, such as betting on a Super Bowl winner before the first game of the season or the NBA Finals champion before the season starts.
To place a futures bet, navigate to the futures section on your favorite sportsbook and select the market you wish to bet on. You can then click on the bet you want to take to add it to your bet slip.
Yes, you can parlay futures bets. Parlays are a common way to stack up futures betting odds to create a wager with a super high return. Some sportsbooks will even offer odds on preselected specials for certain sports and betting markets.
No, you can't typically can't cancel futures bets. In some cases, though, you can bail out of your bet early. Some futures bets have the option of cashing out early with updated odds, before the actual outcome of the bet has happened.
Yes, you can bet on futures in a sportsbook. When it comes to sports betting, futures bets are one of the most common ways to play. All major U.S. sportsbooks, some of which will be launching in Kentucky this September, offer futures.
Adam Wernham has over eight years of professional copywriting experience. Growing up in the Bay Area, Adam developed strong ties to local teams including the Giants, Warriors, and 49ers. His passion for sports and writing make him a strong voice on all things sports betting and a great asset to the BetKentucky staff.