Futures Betting Guide

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A futures bet is a type of sports bet that is based on an event that will finish (typically) far in the future, such as who will win the Super Bowl or who will win MVP. 

Futures bets aren't usually on a single game. Instead, they are on things such as who will win a division or championship, which player will win an award, or which player will lead the league in a certain stat.

This guide goes over how odds work on futures bets, examples of futures bets in each major sport, and strategies for winning futures.

On this page

Examples of Futures Bets

Here are some examples of futures bets in the major U.S. sports:

NFL Futures

  • Super Bowl Winner
  • Conference Championship Winners
  • Division Winners
  • MVP
  • Offensive Player of the Year (OPOY)
  • Defensive Rookie of the Year (DROY)
  • Most passing TDs thrown
  • Most rushing yards

NBA Futures

  • NBA Finals Champion
  • Eastern Conference Champion
  • Western Conference Champion
  • Division Winners
  • MVP
  • Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY)

MLB Futures

  • World Series Champion
  • NL Champion
  • AL Champion
  • Cy Young Award Winners
  • Most Homeruns

NHL Futures

  • Stanley Cup Champion
  • Nation of Stanley Cup Champion
  • Eastern Conference Winner
  • Western Conference Winner
  • Division Winners
  • Hart Memorial Trophy Winner (MVP)
  • Conn Smythe Trophy (MVP of Playoffs)

Golf Futures

  • Masters Winner
  • US Open Winner
  • British Open Winner
  • PGA Championship Winner

College Futures

  • National Champions (any sport)
  • To make the College Football Playoff (CFB)
  • To make the NCAA Tournament (CBB)
  • Heisman Trophy Winner (CFB MVP)
  • Naismith Award Winner (CBB MVP)

How Odds Work on Futures Bets

Just like every other type of bet, the odds on futures bets reflect the bookmakers' perceived probability of the bet winning, plus the vig they charge. Longshot bets will have longer odds (and higher payouts) while favorites will have shorter odds (and lower payouts).

Sportsbooks release odds on futures bets as far as a year in advance of the time when the event will actually be completed and you can usually bet them up until a week or so before the event is finished.

For example, they may release futures on Super Bowl 57 just a week or two after this Super Bowl 56 is over. You should be able to place a futures bet any time from then up until when the Conference Championships start.

As you can imagine, a lot can change during this time, so books are constantly updating the odds to reflect the current chance that each option wins. For example, books may change futures odds based on:

  • The results of games
  • Injuries
  • Trades
  • Player performance
  • Anything else that impacts the chance of the bet winning
With so many options on most markets (such as 32 NFL teams for the winner of the Super Bowl), there is often a lot of variation in odds between sportsbook to sportsbook. For this reason, it's crucial to shop around for the best odds when betting futures. 

Reading Futures Odds

The payouts on futures bets work just like any other type of bet. You can use our Betting Payout Calculator to find your total potential payout and profit or check out our How to Read Betting Odds Guide to learn more about reading each type of odds format you may come across when betting futures.

We'll briefly go over how to read futures odds in the American format since that's what most legal U.S. sportsbooks use. These are always a number of 100 or greater with a + or – sign in front.

  • A positive sign in front of the number indicates how much you would win from a $100 bet. You can calculate your profit by multiplying the amount you bet by the odds divided by 100.
  • negative sign in front of the number reflects how much you would have to bet to win $100. To calculate your profit, divide the amount you bet by the odds divided by -100.

Let's go over a quick example from the FanDuel Sportsbook

NFL MVP Futures Example

In this example of the 2021-22 NFL MVP, a $10 bet on Patrick Mahomes at +500 would payout $50 in profit. The same $10 bet on Lamar Jackson would payout a profit of $170.

If there were a QB at -150 odds (indicating that they are a considerable favorite to win the award), a $10 would payout $9.09. 

Payouts from Futures Bets

The following table shows the profits (not including getting the amount wagered back) on futures bets with various odds:

Amount Bet

Future Odds

Implied Probability

Profit If Wins

$10

-200

66.67%

$5.00

$10

-120

54.55%

$8.33

$10

+100

50%

$10

$10

+500

16.67%

$50

$10

+5000

1.96%

$500

$10

+10000

0.99%

$1,000

How to Place a Futures Bet

It should be pretty easy to find any futures markets you are interested in. Here are the general steps you have to take:

  1. Register for a sportsbook or open up your preferred sportsbook app.
  2. Navigate to the sport you are interested in placing a futures bet on.
  3. Look for one of the sub-menus (often a horizontally scrolling menu towards the top of the screen) that says “Futures” or the event you are interested in (such as “Super Bowl”).
  4. Take note of the odds for the teams you are interested in and convert them to implied probability to decide if you think there is value.
  5. (Optional) If you have more than one sportsbook account, compare the odds to find the best value. 
  6. If you decide you want to place the futures bet, add it to your betslip, type in the amount you want to wager, and click “Place Bet.”

Futures Sports Betting Strategies & Tips

As with most forms of sports betting, it is difficult to make money betting on futures over time. Sportsbooks tend to charge a lot of “vig” on futures and your bet is often one injury away from becoming very unlikely.

With that being said, there are some things you can do to increase your chances of winning futures:

  • ALWAYS shop for the best odds. As mentioned above, it's absolutely crucial to shop around for the best odds when betting futures. One book may have a team or player at +5000 for an event while another has them at +10000. That's double the payout! While favorites often have similar odds from book to book, longshots often vary significantly.
  • Look for good teams that are performing poorly. You can often get good futures odds on great teams that are going through a slump. Think of perennial powerhouses—like the Chiefs or Warriors—that have a chance to win the championship every year. If they're going through a down period, but you don't think it's permanent, buying low on their futures is a good way to get an edge.
  • Take advantage of the news cycle. Though Vegas and other bookmakers are typically very good at changing odds or taking them off the board altogether when big news comes out (such as an injury, trade, etc.), you may be able to find a straggler that is slow to update, potentially giving you an edge.
  • Don't just bet on your favorite team or player. Unless you know something that you objectively think makes your favorite team or player undervalued in the betting lines (or if you're just doing it for fun), it's usually not a good idea to just blindly bet them to win a championship or award.
  • Check in on your futures throughout the season. Most sportsbooks allow you to cash out of futures bets for a partial payout. If the team or player you placed a futures bet on is performing much better than when you bet it, the odds are likely shorter, meaning your initial bet has some value. If you don't think you'll end up winning the bet, you may want to cash out to at least lock in some winnings.
  • Consider hedging your bet if it's likely to win. If you placed a futures bet a while ago and it now has a much better chance to hit, you can hedge your bet to guarantee winnings by betting the other side. For example, if you bet the Eagles to win the Super Bowl at +5000 odds and they now made it to the Super Bowl and have -120 odds to win, you can bet the opposing team to guarantee profit. Check out our hedging calculator to get a better idea of how you can do this.

Downsides of Futures Bets

We've hinted at some of the downsides of futures bets throughout this article, but let's hash them all out here so you know what you're getting yourself into if you decide to place some:

  • Books charge higher vig/juice than other types of bets. This is the main one—and is the reason why there aren't many professional gamblers primarily betting on futures. While books typically charge around 5% to 10% on spreads, totals, and moneyline bets, they'll often charge anywhere from 20% to 40% on futures. This means the odds you are getting are less fair than with other types of bets, making it harder to win.
  • Your money is tied up for longer. Since futures are bets on…well..events in the future, you'll have money locked up in that bet until it settles. Betting futures often locks away part of your bankroll for a good amount of time.
  • One play could drastically change the odds of your bet winning. If you bet on an NFL coming up this week, there is unlikely to be anything that happens between now and kickoff that would drastically change the odds. With futures, there is a lot more time for something to go wrong. It just takes one injury, trade, or suspension to drastically alter the value of your futures bet. On the other hand, all teams are susceptible to this change so another team's or player's misfortune could be your benefit.

Sports Betting Futures FAQs

Where can I bet on futures online?
You can bet futures at most legal online sportsbooks in the United States. Check out our best online sportsbooks guide to see our favorites and find the top options in your state.

Where can I bet on futures in person?
Most retail casinos and sportsbooks offer futures betting. Check out the state guides in the menu of our site to see retail options in your state.

Can you parlay multiple futures bets together?
Yes, most sportsbooks allow you to parlay multiple futures together for an increased payout.

Can you parlay futures bets with other bet types?
Yes, typically you can parlay futures with other bets such as spread bets, totals, moneyline bets, and pretty much anything else.

Can you cash out of futures bets?
Most sportsbooks generally allow you to cash out of futures bets for a partial payout but not at all times. If you don't see a cash-out option on your futures bet, check back in a few days to see if it's available then.

Dave Rathmanner

Dave Rathmanner is the Founder & CEO of Odds Assist. After struggling to find helpful sports betting resources and honest reviews when he first started betting, he decided to create the site he always wished he had. Dave has been betting on sports since NJ legalized it in 2018 and regularly analyzes sportsbooks to find the best options for bettors. Aside from creating new content for OA readers, Dave is also passionate about researching betting markets, creating models, and developing profitable betting strategies.