Futures Betting Guide

Read below to learn everything you need to know about Futures Betting and how you can participate in it.

Sports betting has become one of the largest betting markets in the world. It has expanded to include an incredible amount of sports as well as several different bet types, including futures bet. Futures bets offer some of the best value between the different bet types and allow players to use their expertise or knowledge of a sport to reap the best rewards. It offers the possibility of high returns and involves many betting strategies players can use.

But what actually is a futures bet? This article will explain exactly that, as well as look at several aspects of futures bets, how to place a bet to strategies you can use and how to understand the odds. It will also consider the most popular sports in the market and list the pros and cons of futures betting. Let’s crack on.

What Is Futures Betting?

As the name implies, futures betting refers to placing a bet on a sporting event that happens in the future. This means it encompasses a wide range of bets and sports, as the future period can range from a week to years, depending on the bet type. Generally, futures bets will be placed at least a week before the sporting event, but it can also be a few months or even a year in advance for popular and significant events.

Take the Super Bowl, for instance. You can place a bet at the start of the season as to who will win the finals and this will constitute a futures bet.

How It Works

While the exact time betting opens for a futures bet varies between betting sites, there are some guidelines you can follow. If you bet at a dedicated site, it would be best to ensure you know when they usually release the lines, so that you have accurate knowledge of when you can bet. If you bet at different sites, you need to be aware when most of the markets are made live, as most sites will abide more or less by that timeline. At the very least, betting lines will be released a week beforehand.

You can place your bet once the betting lines have been released and keep placing bets until the start of the sporting event. Only if the match has started or kicked off and you place another bet that it’ll stop being a futures bet and become an in-running bet. Let’s say you bet on the winners of the Super Bowl before the start of the season. 

As the season progresses, if you continue to bet in that market where you made your original bet on the winnings, it is classed as a futures bet. If it is the season’s final match and you make a bet after it has started, it is no longer a futures bet.

Payouts for this type of bet only happen once the market is settled, meaning after the sports event, or if your team does not make it to the next round. In the case of the Super Bowl, this would mean once the Super Bowl is completed and the winner has been announced. As per the nature of future bets, there are no early payouts. Many betting sites will also not allow you to cash out your winnings from a futures bet, as it can be such a lucrative betting type.

To make a futures bet, you need to go onto your chosen betting site and open the sport you want to bet on. Let’s say you want to bet on the NFL, click on NFL futures, select your market such as the Super Bowl and look at the odds. To add your bet, you simply click on the odds you want, add your bet amount and place your bet. This bet will appear on your current bet slips. You will also be able to place futures bets at a range of offshore sportsbooks.


As with all bet types, there are several strategies you can employ when it comes to betting. It’s important to always research the market and your picks before placing a bet, even more so if you’re making a futures bet a few months or a year in advance. We’ll discuss three strategies that are often the best to use when making a futures bet.

Line Shopping

Line shopping is one of the most popular strategies used when it comes to futures betting.  This is because the lines vary drastically from site to site. Betting sites all offer their odds and when it comes to teams that aren’t in the top three favorites, it can make all the difference to bets. One site might offer a team the odds of +10 000 while another offers odds of +24 900, which is more than double and can make a big difference when betting.

The considerable variance in odds is generally due to the money that betting sites have already received in bets. If a betting site has already received many bets for that team, they might lower the team’s odds to ensure they aren’t exposed and balance the books.

Use Vig/Juice

Vig, otherwise known as ‘juice’, refers to the profit margin that the bookmakers have over markets. It is basically the house edge they have and get by manipulating the odds in their favor. This protects the bookmakers and ensures they don’t lose a large amount of money. Generally, professional bettors don’t often use futures betting, but rather it is used for recreational betting. This means that the vig on these bets is usually more than on others.

The best bets can be found by shopping lines and doing a small formula to find your best shot with the lowest juice. The formula would be your risk or bet, divided by your return, otherwise known as your bet plus any profit you’ll gain, multiplied by 100 to get your juice percentage. Once you have done this for all lines in a betting site’s market, you need to add the percentages to give yourself a total juice percentage. To calculate the no-vig win probability, you would then divide the individual line percentages by the total juice percentage, which will give you a no-vig win probability percentage of each line.

Together, these no-vig win probability percentages of each line will make up a total no-vig percentage and can be converted back into odds. This will give you an accurate idea of a team’s probability of winning on a particular betting site. If you do this for several sites, you can create an arbitrage in the market if another site’s total no-vig percentage is lower.

Hedging Bets

This refers to when you place multiple bets to avoid significant losses. You would bet on multiple outcomes, generally throughout the season, to help cover yourself. This can mean that if you bet on a particular team to win the sporting event, that team would naturally need to win their first match, the semi-finals, etc. If you place bets on this team winning those matches and the final, then it counts as hedging bets when making futures bets.

This means you can still win even if they don’t win the final match, as you had bet on them previously. One of the reasons bettors like hedging bets is because you can move your stakes around. You can, for example, stake more on them winning the finals than the semi-finals. You can also bet on the opponent in the finals to ensure you win either way.


There are many different sports types that you can place futures bets on. However, there are some prevailing sports when it comes to futures betting. These sports are the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball Association (NBA), and National Hockey League (NHL).

When it comes to betting on the NFL, it usually has to do with the Conference winner, Division winner, and Super Bowl. The odds are usually the most competitive for the Super Bowl and betting sites can also offer prop bets as futures bets. This also includes who the MVP will be and quarterback ratings.

Futures betting on MLB is usually centered around the World Series, and when betting on the MLB, it’s essential to look at the juice of the different markets. Regarding the NBA, the Championships are extremely popular and you will find a wide range of betting options on most sites. 

The same can be said for the NHL, with the Stanley Cup being the center of the market betting. These sports have special or props bets that fall under futures betting. This can range from the MVP of a season to which player is handed the Stanley cup or which manager will be fired before the end of the league.

Futures betting is also not limited to sport, though it is the most significant component. Some bettors make futures bets when it comes to politics. This includes bets on the next president or the outcome of a state’s general election. As futures bets can be held open for years, they can genuinely become a long-term investment when making a bet.

Odds and How to Read Them

With the tremendous interest in real money sports betting and especially futures betting, the odds range greatly from betting site to betting site. It can be influenced by how many bets have already been accepted for a particular outcome and the bookmakers’ understanding of who are the favorites to win and the underdogs of the season. This provides players with an advantage if they believe that their knowledge and research are correct, so they can shop around and find the best odds available for their futures bet.

Most betting sites use the plus and minus signs that default in American odds. The plus sign refers to the possible win if you bet $100, while the minus sign shows how much you need to bet to win $100. The favorite to win will almost always be at minus odds, while the underdogs will have plus odds. The less likely they are to win, the higher their odds are.

Although the odds are based on betting or winning $100, this doesn’t mean you’re limited to $100. Bets can be made as little as $1, with the odds applying to that amount instead. So if you had odds of +400, where you bet $100 to win $400 possibly and you bet $1 instead, you’d possibly win $4.

An important factor to remember about futures bets is that the odds will continue to change as time goes on. It is one of the reasons futures bets can be so lucrative, as the initial odds given are odds without any other factors influencing them. This means that if later in the season, one team starts to play extremely well or another team has a member that gets injured, the odds of your futures bet won’t be influenced. 

This also opens up a degree of risk as well though. If your original futures bet was properly researched and you managed to deduce the winning team or make a winning bet, then you can win a massive return on that bet. However, if the team or probability you had bet on is influenced by an unexpected factor, like an injury, etc., you would also lose it all.  

Place Your Futures Bet Today

Although futures bets are mostly regarded as a recreational means of betting, it remains one of the favorite betting types. The competitive odds, high value, and betting strategies make it one of the most lucrative bets if you don’t mind the long-term investment that goes into making it. As there are such competitive odds in futures betting, it’s crucial to look at what the different bet sites offer you before making a bet. 

Making a futures bet is a commitment you need to be sure of, especially as it can be risky. The odds might be higher as the season’s matches haven’t influenced them, but it also means you don’t know all the factors that can influence who wins the season. However, this doesn’t mean it’s not a good bet to make, as often the possibility of high returns outweighs the risk when betting. A long-term investment could put players off, but at the same time, it may stop them from spending more money, as they will be invested in all games their chosen team is involved in. It can be a great way to add more excitement when watching your favorite sport.

Using this article as a guide, you can easily navigate the sports betting market and place your futures bet today.


When will I get my payout?

Payouts of futures bets only happen at the end of the sporting event or season. This means even if you made a bet about an earlier match in the season, regardless if you won, you’d only get paid out at the end of the entire season.

Can I cash out my futures bets?

Although some sites don’t allow bettors to cash out futures bets, that isn’t true for all sites. It’s best to make sure beforehand if you can cash it out or if you’ve already won, you can check with your cashier whether it’s possible.

When do the markets open for futures bets?

Generally, they open at the end of the previous season, but this generally depends on the betting site.

Can you cancel a futures bet?

No, it’s not possible to cancel a futures bet. If you had made a bet by mistake, you could immediately contact the bookmaker and explain the situation to them to have your wager credited. However, whether the bookmaker does this or not is up to the in-house rules of the betting site, so please make sure you are placing the right bet to avoid this.