Futures Betting: Sports Betting Futures Explained

Posted by Dave Consolazio . Last updated:

If the thought of betting on single games or events several times per week sounds like too much work, a future bet may the best alternative. Futures odds typically pay a higher return and focus on events and awards outcomes that we won’t know for months or even a year from now. This guide will explain future bets in detail with real-world examples, explain implied probabilities and pros and cons of placing a future bet wager.

Best Futures Online Sportsbooks

Here are the best online sportsbooks in the United States that post futures odds and accept futures bets.

What is Futures Betting?

Unlike the most common sports betting wagers such as point spreads, moneylines and over-under point totals, futures bet are placed on events, series and awards that are decided later on as opposed to the same day or week. Those who bet on futures have the advantage of better odds at the open, while one drawback is that they can tie up your bankroll for months. So, it’s wise to set a futures bet budget prior to dipping your toe in those waters.

How to Read Futures Odds

Future odds will come in a list form, showing each team/player and their odds to win. They are often ranked from best chances to win to worst.
For example, if you check the futures odds for Super Bowl, you will see the teams with the best chance to win will be at the top. Let’s say team A has futures odds of +500. This means you will win $500 on a $100 bet if team A wins.
Towards the bottom, you will see the odds of winning getting lower but they do provide huge profits. Even though +2,800 odds (winning $2,800 on a $100 bet) seem astronomical, it doesn’t come without risks.

Futures Betting Examples

While most futures betting focuses on the sporting world, online sportsbooks typically offer wacky pop culture and entertainment futures odds, too. For instance, at Bovada, you can wager on which characters will sit on the iron throne in HBO’s upcoming “Game of Thrones” prequel “House of Dragons.”

Character Futures Odds
Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen +150
Aegon Targaryen +150
Alicent Hightower +250
Prince Daemon Targaryen +250
Corlys Velaryon +750
Otto Hightower +1000

How Are Futures Bets Paid?

Future bets are paid out in a very simple way. Whatever the odds are when you make your future bet is what you get paid for your bet! If the odds are 5 to 1, you will be paid 5 to 1 if you win your bet. If the odds are +500, you will get paid +500 if you win the bet.

One thing to keep in mind is that futures bets, especially sports betting futures, are never paid out until the winner is determined. This means you will have to wait until the end of the season to get your winnings. This applies to all other types of future bets, whatever money you bet, you will not see it for weeks, maybe months at a time.

The most popular sport to bet on comes chock full of futures odds during the preseason. NFL betting futures include odds to win the Super Bowl, odds to win Most Valuable Players, odds to lead the league in rushing, receiving, passing as well as odds to be the first head coach fired.

green baseball icon

MLB Futures Example

Like the NFL, MLB betting futures typically focus on end of season events such as odds to win the World Series, lead the league in batting average, home runs and strikeouts. There are also futures odds that focus on the first and second half of the season. Odds who will have the best record at the All-Star break and odds to win the American League pennant.

NBA futures include odds to win Rookie of the Year, 6th Man of the Year, Most Improved Player and the NBA Finals Champions.

Don’t forget about college basketball and March Madness futures as the annual NCAA Tournament is one of the most coveted futures bet following selection Sunday. From time to time, online sportsbooks will also post college hoops futures odds like if Juwan Howard will be back to coach Michigan during the 2022-23 regular season.

As soon as the calendar flips over to a new year, you can typically find futures odds for all four major tennis tournaments: Australian Open, Wimbledon, French Open and U.S. Open.

Sports Betting Futures Markets

Bettors can wager on futures betting lines in most pro sports and some college sports. Here are some of the sports betting futures markets you can choose at most sportsbooks.

NHL Hockey
Soccer: Association Football
College Football
College Basketball
PGA and LIV Golf

Futures Betting Pros & Cons

When reading the tea leaves and placing a futures bet for down the road, it can be easy to get hung up on the negative aspects of futures wagers, but if you take a step back, the pros outweigh the cons.

Pros of Futures Betting

  • Larger payouts
  • Easier to find odds value
  • Exists in entertainment niche
  • Showcases skill and knowledge
  • Opportunities to hedge later
  • Easy to parlay

Cons of Futures Betting

  • Ties up money for extended periods of time
  • Better odds hit the board later
  • Some events not available

Futures Bet Tips and Strategies

Here we include a section of important concepts you need to understand before making bets. These concepts can have a huge impact on your end of the season bottom line.


Hedging your bets is perhaps the most important concept you need to pay attention to. Hedging your bets is in its most basic form, to be able to bet on multiple teams or players (depending on what sports you are betting on) across the season. It is nice to bet on one team and get paid when they win but why put your eggs in one basket when you can put them in multiple?
Let’s say you bet $100 on one team with 80 to 1 odds. Those are pretty high odds but if your team wins, you get $8000 and if they lose, you get $0. What can you do to prevent losing all your money? The answer is hedging your bets. This way you will lock up some winnings regardless of who wins.

As an example, let’s say the moneyline odds are as follows;

  • Team A +185
  • Team B -200

You can place a bet on team B to guarantee a portion of your winnings.

If you bet $20,000 on team B what can happen is;

If team B wins, you would win $10,000 for that bet and win $0 for your futures bet

If team B loses, you would win $40,000 for your futures bet but lose $20,000 on your team B bet.

If you hedge, no matter who wins, you make money. Yes, it is not $40,000 but it’s not $0 either. Now, it should be said that it is not wise to get greedy and end the season with $0. You should have a good understanding of when to hedge your bets and be prepared for it. You will need to have more money to hedge but, in the end, there is no real risk of losing money since you win regardless of which team takes the game.

Betting Multiple Teams/Players

A great strategy is to bet on multiple teams to win a season. If you bet $100 on three different teams to win, you are still going to profit regardless. This strategy makes sense because if you can narrow your options down to two or three teams you think can win, you will still be in the game if one of your teams loses and falls out of the season.

Bet Mid Season

Most people will place futures bets from day one but futures bets will usually be available all throughout the season. The odds are going to adjust depending on how the season is going and how people are choosing to bet on different teams. This will create a lot of opportunities if and when the betting public reacts aggressively to something.
Let’s say your favourite team to win the Super Bowl has their superstar player injured mid season. The betting public will start betting heavily on other teams and move away from supporting this team. But if you know your team has a backup and you think the rest of the team will pick up the pieces, this is a great time to place a futures bet.

Futures Implied Probability

a white soccer ball, football, and basketball

Futures Odds

Once you get comfortable reading futures odds, know that each futures bet comes with an implied probability. This can help you determine if there is value on the board and if an oddsmaker is undervaluing a team or person.

a white percentage symbol in the center of a circle

Converting Odds

The formula to convert odds depends if you’re betting on plus or minus money.

Negative American odds / (Negative American odds + 100) * 100 = implied probability

100 / (positive American odds + 100) * 100 = implied probability

At +300, the Chiefs implied probability of achieving the futures outcome is 25%.

two white cash money bills stacked on top of each other

Finding Value

Gamble Online is in the process of making an odds calculator available on the site. This will help to easily convert futures odds into that implied probability and help you find the best value on odds boards.

Futures Betting FAQs

Dave Consolazio

Dave Consolazio has been passionate about writing and sports journalism since his high school years. He has a degree in Broadcast Journalism from USC where he worked with the school's radio and television stations. His work has been featured in SportsbookReview, Sports Illustrated and SB Nation. Dave's experience ranges across multiple fields in the gambling industry. You can find his sports, casino, and poker articles in GambleOnline.co.

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