Futures Bets – Everything You Need to Know


Do you ever make any bold predictions about something that will happen in sports? How would you like to get rewarded for being right about a hunch? It sounds like you may be interested in making a futures bet. The good news is you landed on the ideal page that is going to break everything down. Betting on individual games and matches aren’t your only way to make a dent in the sports betting arena.

We plan on spending the next few sections explaining what a futures bet is, as well as talking about how the payouts work. We will go over some strategies to follow when placing this type of wager and describe the benefits of making these promising bets.

Get comfortable and enjoy reading about one of the most lucrative bets in all of the sports!

Breaking Down a Futures Bet

Let’s explain what a futures bet really is. It is a wager on something that is not going to be settled immediately in the next game.

For ExampleBetting at the beginning of the season on who will win the NBA Finals is a futures bet. Betting three months before the Master’s golf tournament on who will win is another example.

If you want to bet on Lebron James, Kevin Durant, or any other NBA player that you think will win the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award, that is also a future bet that you can find at nearly all the top betting sites.

Typically, futures bets are made at the beginning of a season or tournament. However, most books will continue to offer you odds throughout the duration of that season or tournament. The odds will constantly change throughout the season or tournament as that outcome becomes more or less likely.

When you make futures bets, there will usually be odds on every team or player competing. If there isn’t, they will have odds on all of the “big name” teams and players. You will also see a “Field” bet.

The “Field” bet refers to anyone not listed in with odds to win. For example, a golf tournament with 156 players may only have lines set for the top 50 players competing in the tournament. In this case, betting on “the field” would represent every golfer competing that isn’t listed on the betting sheet.

Futures bets are intended for those of you who like to make predictions way out in advance.

Let’s say you are a fan of Major League Baseball or you love watching the Daytona 500. You can bet on who will win the World Series essentially as soon as the last game of the previous Fall Classic is played out. Forget about waiting until the week of the race to pick a NASCAR driver to win the Daytona 500. If you like what you see from a driver months in advance and want to bet on him before his odds go down, fire away!

Something you need to consider and keep in mind when making futures bets is that it does lock up a portion of your bankroll for a longer period of time.

For ExampleIf you make a $100 futures bet at the beginning of the NFL season, you aren’t going to see that money until after the season, the playoffs, and the Super Bowl. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t smart bets to make, it’s just something that you need to be aware of and okay with.

How Futures Bets Are Paid Out

The payouts for futures bets are fairly straightforward if you are familiar with sports betting. Any bet you make will have a “price” attached to it that represents how much you will profit. Keep in mind that “8:1” and “+800” mean the same thing.

To help clarify futures bets in plain view, take a look at some sample futures betting odds to win the NFL Super Bowl. There are odds for every team, but we’re only going to show you the 5 biggest favorites for our example purposes. These have already and will continue to change drastically as time goes on.


If you think the Steelers are going to win the Super Bowl, you can place this bet at the beginning of the season. If you were to bet $100, you would profit $1400 if the Steelers pulled it off and ran the table. As the season goes on, you’ll still be able to bet on every team to win the Super Bowl, but the odds are going to adjust according to how likely it is for them to win.

For ExampleLet’s say that you decide not to bet the Steelers at the beginning of the season, and they come out of the gates looking amazing. They win their first 5 games, and people are starting to talk about them being the best team in the league. You can still bet on them to win the Super Bowl, but the odds are not going to be +1400. They might go down to something like +800 where a $100 bet would get you $800 in profit. While this is still a nice payday, it’s not as great as the $1400 profit you would have gotten at the beginning of the season.

The odds can always go the other way as well. Let’s say the Steelers come out and drop their first 3 games and look like a mess. That +1400 might move to something like +2000. This means that a $100 bet would now pay $2000.

There is nothing hidden or sneaky about how a futures bet is paid out. The odds are right in front of you and it’s up to you to take advantage and place a bet when the odds are “mispriced.” When you see the odds fluctuating dramatically, you know it is because of what is happening on the playing field or news that came out that will affect the future results.

Benefits of a Futures Bet

Futures bets are a lot like stocks. You want to try and “buy” a team or player when they are at their lowest and least likely to win it all because you’ll get the best payouts. The idea, though, is that the odds are going to closely reflect the likelihood of the team winning it all. What you’re looking for is opportunities when you are getting paid much better than you should be for the likelihood of a team winning it all.

Important:One thing to take into account with futures bets is that you often have the ability to profitably bet on multiple teams or players.

For instance, let’s say in our example that you think the Patriots, Eagles, and Steelers have a great shot at winning the Super Bowl. You’re convinced it’s going to be one of those 3 teams, but you aren’t sure which one. If you bet $100 on each of those teams, you’ll still turn a nice profit as long as one of them wins.

To illustrate this, say that you do bet $100 on each of those 3 teams and the Patriots end up winning it all.

You’ll be in for $300. When the Patriots win, you’ll receive your $100 bet back, plus $600 in profit. Even though you lost $200 on the Eagles and Steelers, you’ll still make a profit of $400! Despite losing 2 of the 3 bets, you still come out ahead. If the Steelers win, you’ll make a profit of $1200 even though you are losing 2 out of 3 of your bets.

You do need to realize, though, that when you’re betting 3 teams instead of 1, you have 3 times as much money at risk. You will get no money back if none of those 3 teams win.

Another great benefit of placing a futures bet is the opportunity to hedge later on and guarantee yourself money. This point is covered more in depth below in our segment on futures betting strategies.

Futures Betting Strategies

There are many reasons why you will want to place futures bets. Just because you aren’t betting on an individual contest or match doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do any homework or research to help you project what will happen and how a sporting event will go down.

When you bet on a single game, you are taking a chance. You are either going to win the bet and make some money or lose the bet and go home empty-handed. Obviously, a push is a push and you can tie. Let’s say you bet on the Detroit Lions’ win total for next year and bet “over 9 wins.” If they win exactly 9 games, your bet is returned.

Note:A cool strategy to employ when betting futures is to hedge your action when the opportunity presents itself. Instead of either winning or losing, in certain cases you can actually make sure you win no matter what.

Hedging Your Action

The easiest way to explain this is to show you a real-life example of how and when you can utilize “the hedge.” Say you bet on the Duke Blue Devils to win the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship way before March Madness started and got the Blue Devils at +1200. You bet $100 and are set to win a handsome $1200 if Duke can prevail and win it all.

Now fast forward to the end of March and Duke wins their semi-final matchup in the Final Four and is set to play the Florida Gators in the Championship Game. Let’s just say that Duke is slightly favored in the Title game and the moneyline bet on the Gators is +120.

You already have a ticket in your hand that guarantees you $1200 if Duke wins. Right now, if Florida wins, you win nothing. An idea would be to bet $400 on the Gators to win at +120. Now, no matter what happens, you will walk away a winner. If Duke wins, you still profit $800. If Florida wins, you profit $380.

Take a look at the graphic below if you are still confused.

Total Money Bet When You Hedge


Total money wagered = $500


If Duke wins, you receive a $1300 ticket, meaning you won a total of $800. If Florida wins, you receive a ticket worth $880, meaning you won a total of $380.

In both cases, you win. Now take a look at what happens if you don’t hedge.

Total Money Bet When You Don’t Hedge


Total money wagered = $100


If Duke wins, you receive a $1300 ticket, meaning you won a total of $1200. If Florida wins, you receive a nothing, meaning you lost a total of $100.

Hedging bets is a common thing that bettors will do to make sure they make some money and don’t walk away with “zero.” Feel free to hold out and let your original bet ride, but the conservative approach is to hedge your action by betting the other side.

Another strategy we love to employ is to take advantage of the lines when they are clearly mispriced due to recency bias or an overreaction. Take a look below and you will see what we mean.

Why Odds Change

Let’s use the 2016 NFL season as an example because it proves our point to a tee. The Patriots opened the season as the odds-on favorites to win the Super Bowl. Suddenly, the commissioner announced that Tom Brady would be suspended the first 4 games, meaning the New England Patriots would be without their star QB for a quarter of the regular season.

As a result, the sportsbooks in Vegas and the online casino operators panicked a little and adjusted the odds, assuming the Patriots now had a much lower chance of winning the Super Bowl. Of course, people won’t want to bet on New England if Brady isn’t playing. Those that were patient and saw the big picture understood that Brady missing the first 4 games, in reality, had little if any impact on their overall chances of winning the whole thing months down the road.

The coaching staff and leadership in the locker room were strong enough to hold the fort down in the absence of their star and low and behold, Brady came back, played lights out, and the Patriots won the Super Bowl.

Breaking news about a star player isn’t the only thing that makes futures odds hop all over the place. Big trades will cause prices to be increased or decreased immediately when a trade is announced. If you are hearing rumors of one team in the works of acquiring a big name that will give them a real chance to contend for a title, that is your time to make the bet.

Important:Don’t wait until the trade happens, because the sportsbooks will have already properly adjusted the line in relation to the new acquisition

Just like any sports bet you are going to make, the more time and research you put into your bet the higher chance you have of seeing a profit. If you feel like a team is on the verge of getting on a winning streak and you know their odds on winning the title will be adjusted accordingly, don’t be afraid to take a chance on your hunch.

The Summary

Futures bets are not only a lot of fun, but they present an interesting and unique way to make some money when you are correct about a future outcome. If the MLB season is too long and grueling for you to bet game-by-game, forget it. Pick a couple teams you think can win it all in October and place a futures bet on them. You don’t even have to pay attention to the regular season and long summer days.

Come Halloween you may have two teams in the World Series and be guaranteed a chunky profit! Perhaps you have one squad that made it to the World Series and you are now in a position hedge your action to lock some money up. Hedging your action is one of the strategies you can follow when betting futures bets. We have yet to meet someone who doesn’t like the idea of guaranteed money.

We explained how the payouts work. As you can gather from the section, there is nothing fishy or sneaky about the payouts; the odds are in plain view. When you see the prices dramatically go up and down, don’t think the betting site is under construction. This just means that due to recent play or breaking news with a player getting traded or injured, the books now feel like the line needs to be adjusted. Anything that affects that team’s or athlete’s chances at being successful is enough to warrant a change in the price of the futures bet.

Between the benefits from being able to get a good price on teams when the public is “down on them” to the attractive payouts, we can’t think of many reasons not to make futures bets. If you like following the action and seeing a big return on your investment, futures bets are most likely tailor-made for you!

Jim Beviglia
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About Jim Beviglia
Jim Beviglia has been a gambling writer at LegitGamblingSites.com since 2018. During that time, he’s written just about every type of article related to gambling, including reviews of betting sites, guides to popular casino games, betting tips on both casino and sports betting, sports and casino blog posts, and game picks. In addition to online gambling, one of Jim’s other major interests is music. He has been doing freelance work for various music sites and magazines for two decades. Among his outlets past and present are American Songwriter, VinylMePlease, Treble, and The Bluegrass Situation. Jim has also written five books on music that were published by Rowman & Littlefield.