Futures Betting Guide
Swinging Johnson may have a funny name but when it comes to handicapping, he’s all business. Betting games and drinking fine wine have always been his passions. As he’s fond of saying, “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.”
Betting markets come in many forms but the futures market is one that has increased in popularity as sports betting becomes more and more mainstream. Futures lines can be found at all of the best online sportsbooks and, simply put, they are the odds on a team or player in any sport to win a championship or an award.
For instance, there is always a futures betting market for teams to win a championship game and become Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup, or NBA champions. Several weeks, or even months before the season begins, offshore sportsbooks will offer lines for each professional sports team to win its division, conference, or league championship.
Betting favorites will have short odds while longshot teams will have much higher odds. Betting analysts will often strategize their future betting in concert with their playoff game betting or even series betting. Bets on teams to win a championship at the beginning of the year that remain in contention at the end of the year offer good hedging opportunities that we will delve into later.
Best Sportsbooks for Futures Betting in 2023
How Futures Betting Works
Betting on an individual team to win its division or even a league championship is a type of futures wager, much like betting on a player to win the MVP, Rookie of the Year, or any number of individual awards at the end of the season. A futures betting market can also include betting over or under the number of total wins in a season.
Future betting takes different forms and can be for virtually any league being offered on the betting menu. Although the range of markets runs the gamut from NFL teams to NASCAR drivers, we should know that the biggest range of futures markets can be found at the major offshore sportsbooks.
The future odds are also dynamic, which means they will change as money is bet. Those getting most of the action will see their odds drop, while those that are not getting any play will see their odds rise. And once the season begins, most of the books allow bets on futures right up to the playoffs. Because these bets are based on results that will happen in the distant future, a bettor gets an entire season’s worth of action for the price of one wager.
How to Read Futures Odds
All of the major sports and their corresponding professional leagues in North America have betting odds on individual match betting throughout the regular season, but future betting concerns itself with divisional winners and championship bets to win major events like the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Championship, or Stanley Cup.
We will often see the best offshore sportsbooks deal totals on regular season wins for each team. Bettors can wager over or under those totals. For instance, in soccer’s Champions League, betting analysts can bet on goal totals for several players just as they can for specific players in the NHL.
Every single goal counts so whether you are betting on a soccer or a hockey player, there is a future market for you. And reading futures odds is easy as they are all expressed in moneylines, the same kind you will find in an MLB game or a golf tournament.
Here is what an NFL future would look like:
- Bills +450 to Win the Super Bowl.
All of these moneylines are expressed on $100 bets. So, in this case, the bettor would risk $100 to win $450 if the Bills won the Super Bowl.
We also see player futures the same way and this would look like this:
- Patrick Mahomes +500 to Win the MVP.
A $100 bet would return $500 if Patrick Mahomes won the MVP Award.
Placing a Futures Bet
Certainly bettors today have more than one betting option as to where to place their online wagers. Betting lines can be found at hundreds upon hundreds of online sports betting sites, but does that mean they are all alike?
No, many sites that promise outrageous bonuses and free bets are nothing but predatory sportsbooks that are very good at marketing and taking people’s money while having no intention of paying their customers when they win. It is shocking but it is unfortunately all too common.
It’s one thing to sweat the bet but you should never sweat the payout. That’s why professional and recreational sports bettors use industry leaders like BetOnline, Bookmaker, Bovada, Heritage Sports, and BetAnySports to name some of the most trusted books in the business.
All of these offshore industry titans offer the biggest range of futures markets and a vast range of markets for the most popular form of betting, gameday matchups featuring point spreads, moneylines, totals, and prop bets.
Strategies for Futures Betting
Betting analysts often incorporate their futures betting strategy with a long-range plan for a possible arbitrage opportunity. There is a wide variety of arbitrage bets that can be made, but the futures bets made at the beginning or during the season must be in play when the championship series occurs.
In other words, at least one of the teams that were chosen to be included in the futures bets must be in contention at the end of the season, otherwise, all of that betting action will have no bearing on possible arbitrage bets when the championship series commences. We need a hedge and the only way we can get that is if our futures bets are alive.
Hedging Futures Bets
We have talked about hedging our futures bets, but now we need to explain how this betting opportunity works. Let’s assume we bet $100 on the Washington Capitals +4000 to win the Stanley Cup at the beginning of the season. As we know, the +4000 future odds are based on a $100 bet so that means if the Capitals win the Cup, we win the bet and the $4000.
After a successful regular season, the Capitals have won all of their playoff series and are now in the Stanley Cup Finals with the Vegas Golden Knights. Now we are down to individual match betting and will hedge our bet by betting on the Knights to win the Stanley Cup.
Assuming the series price is Vegas -150/Washington +130 which means we will have to risk $150 to win $100 on the Knights. If we bet $150 on Vegas, we are guaranteed to win at least the cost of our future bet.
- Scenario 1: Vegas wins and we win $100 but lose $100 on the Washington future bet leaving us breaking even.
- Scenario 2: Washington wins and we win $4000 on our future bet but lose $150 on Vegas in the series bet rendering a net profit of $3850.
Combining Multiple Futures Bets
Futures lines can be found on every team in virtually every sport. The types of future bets can vary and the betting volume on each team will determine the odds. But remember, once you make a future bet those are the odds you get and whether the odds go up or down, that has no bearing on your bet. When you make the bet, those odds are locked in and they are yours for the duration of the bet.
Combining multiple future bets can be done by putting them in a parlay and maximizing your return. In a recent NASCAR race, there was a parlay of four top 10 finishers. And wouldn’t you know it, all of the four drivers that were put in the parlay came in the top 10 when the race was finished. That $13 parlay paid nearly $1 million.
There are few more important aspects of sports betting than line shopping. Betting lines are not all the same which means it is critical to have funded accounts at several offshore betting sites. Make sure you do your homework and do business only with the best in the industry like BetOnline, Bookmaker, Bovada, Heritage Sports, and BetAnySports.
Whether it is a regular game you are looking to bet on or one of the more popular futures, the lines will vary from one shop to another. You wouldn’t buy a car at the first dealership you visited so why would you accept lines at only one sportsbook?
Let us assume we are betting the LA Dodgers to win the World Series. If we go line shopping we might see the Dodgers listed at +350, +400, +450, and +500 at four different betting sites. In this instance, we would choose to do business with the site that is offering Los Angeles at +500 because that is the best price we can find.
Shop your lines like you shop for your cars and you will lose less money and win more.
Use Vig/Juice to Find +EV Bets
Some sports bettors make a living finding +EV bets. This simply means finding wagers where the reward is bigger than the risk. Underdogs on the moneyline are always +EV which means you always get more back than you risk when you wager on a moneyline underdog.
Betting on a favorite will force you to pay the vig or the juice (the bookie’s commission) and on an ordinary point spread bet we will pay 10%, which means we are -EV. But betting futures are almost always +EV and some will generate a huge payout if it is a long shot.
Payouts for Futures Bets
A heavy favorite will naturally pay less than a big underdog. But betting futures often offer a potential payout that can be hundreds of times your original bet. And what is even more interesting is that you don’t necessarily have to win the futures bet to make money.
That’s right, some people sell their futures bets before they know whether they will win or lose. Someone may want to buy your ticket because your ticket has better odds than the prevailing odds on the team, player, or total. Naturally, you will not get the same payout if you kept it and won but by taking less money you are guaranteeing a winning wager and putting money in your pocket.
Frequently Asked Questions About Futures Betting
Although some online sportsbooks do not allow future bets to be parlayed, others will but the parlays cannot be correlated. Popular futures bets like the Bucs to win the NFC Championship and the Super Bowl can be bet separately but not in a parlay, for example.
A sizable portion of sportsbooks will not allow cancellations of any kind while others may be more lenient, especially if you have proven to be a good customer. Current future odds could very well change the moment a bet is made if it is large enough.
There are exceptions to every rule but the vast majority of online sportsbooks have a futures betting menu full of everyone’s favorite teams in every betting market.
Whether it be a team or individual sport like NASCAR, most offshore sportsbooks will offer futures on a range of sports. These can range from total wins at the end of the regular season to odds of winning a division, conference or championship.
There is always a period of time between when a game ends and when the bookmakers rule it as official. Once the bet is declared a winner then it can be a couple of hours to a couple of weeks by the time you get your payout.
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