What is a Futures Bet?


Barbara N


Mar 1, 2023

Huge sports fan, author of two books and numerous articles on sports betting.


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Futures Betting Guide

A futures bet is a wager on an event or outcome that will be decided in the future.

For example, at the beginning of the NFL season, you can make a futures bet on your favorite team to win the Super Bowl. You can also make a futures bet on a particular player, i.e., which player you think will be the league MVP or win the Heisman Trophy.

The main distinguishing feature of futures betting is that instead of betting on a single game taking place the same day or the same week, the results represent the accumulation of many games over the course of weeks or months.

Futures Betting Odds 2023

Placing futures bets often entails making predictions about what will happen at a much later date. You can wager on these outcomes before the new season even starts, at the beginning of the season, or later after the season is already underway. But compared to single game betting, futures odds are much more likely to exhibit wild fluctuations.

Don’t expect to see the same futures betting odds over the course of the long NCAA, NFL, NBA, NHL, or MLB season that were available before the season started. Many factors can intervene to create shorter or longer odds on certain teams and players such as coaching changes, trades, draft picks, injuries to key players, and other intangibles, such as team morale and motivation.

Prior to the start of the season, you might have little to go on other than how the team fared the previous season, but last year’s team and this year’s team might be very different.  If you postpone your futures sports betting until you have more information, you might improve your chances of winning, but if you wait too long, the likelihood of finding favorable betting lines diminishes.

For example, when DraftKings Sportsbook posts its opening odds in January for the next year’s Super Bowl, the favorites – determined based both on their historical and last season performances – will have the least paying odds. However, as the new season progresses and bookmakers see how a certain team performs, these odds are bound to change. A favorite might have a poor season and the offered odds for them winning the Super Bowl will increase, while an underdog that’s been playing well will see their bookmaker odds decrease.

In any case, it pays to open an account at multiple sportsbooks, so at any given point in time, you can shop around for the best odds. Besides the many factors already mentioned that can influence futures odds, another important factor can be disproportionately heavy betting on a particular team or player at a given sportsbook. That sportsbook may have no alternative but to adjust its betting odds accordingly.

Even small differences in the odds can be significant, especially for those who are large bettors. That’s why it is always worth checking if the sports betting futures line on a given team or player at one sportsbook might be more favorable than at another sportsbook.

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How Futures Betting Works

Futures betting appeals to sports bettors of all skill levels and bankrolls. Knowledgeable bettors can make an educated prediction on which team they think has the best chance of winning at much better odds than if they wait until the last minute to bet. Sports betting novices can enjoy the fun and challenge of making a small wager with a big potential payout.

Even if you bet on the favorite, you get better odds with futures bets than if you wait until the day of the game. But the tradeoff is many more unknowns and a much bigger field.

You can make a futures wager either before or after the season starts. However, the timing of your bet can make a huge difference in the odds. An important thing to keep in mind is that once you make a futures bet, you have to ride it out. If you decide later that you might have made a mistake, you can’t take it back. Of course, you can make a different bet, but by then the odds might have changed and may not be to your liking. Meanwhile, you are bound by whatever odds the sportsbook gives you at the time you place your initial bet, as indicated on your ticket. Those odds might subsequently change but any such changes will have no bearing on the settlement of your wager.

Understanding Futures Betting Odds

Online sportsbooks present their futures odds in each sports category in the form of a list of each option, followed by the corresponding odds. The list starts with the option with the shortest odds (the favorite), then continues with all of the remaining options in descending order of probability, ending with the option with the longest odds, ie the team that has the least chance of winning.

Naturally, as seasons and leagues progress further, some teams lose the theoretical possibility to win, either due to their failure to qualify for the playoffs or due to the points difference which becomes insurmountable given the number of games left in the season. As such, sportsbooks will remove said teams from their futures bets offers.

To illustrate this, let’s take a look at Super Bowl betting futures odds offered by DraftKings and Fanduel. While there are 32 teams playing in the NFL, these bookmakers offer futures odds only for those that actually have a theoretical chance of winning by qualifying for the playoffs.

🏈NFL Team✅DraftKings✅FanDuel
Kansas City Chiefs+350+330
Buffalo Bills+400+420
San Francisco 49ers+500+500
Philadelphia Eagles+550+500
Cincinnati Bengals+850+750
Dallas Cowboys+1200+1300
L.A. Chargers+2000+2100
Tampa Bay Buccaneers+2800+2800
Minnesota Vikings+3500+3000
Baltimore Ravens+3500+3700
Jacksonville Jaguars+5000+4800
NY Giants+5500+5500
Miami Dolphins+6000+6500
Seattle Seahawks+7000+8500

As you can see from the table, despite the small field and the relatively short span of time from when these odds were posted to the day of the big game, the betting lines at different sportsbooks can still vary. Therefore, for maximum value, you need to pay close attention not only when you place your bet (since all futures odds change as the field continues to dwindle as the event draws closer), but where you place your bet.

How to Bet Futures Online

All of the major online sportsbooks offer futures betting. Since the various betting options open to you are organized by sport, first pick the sport that interests you, then click on either team futures or player futures. Then decide on the type of wager you wish to make, the team or player, and the amount.

For example, perhaps you’re thinking ahead to the 2023 MLB season and would like to make a futures bet on the next MLB champion. If you already have an opinion, you don’t even have to wait until the season starts. You can compare the available futures betting markets and futures betting odds at different sportsbooks and look for the best odds on the wager of your choice.

If you think the Houston Astros have a good chance of repeating, placing a bet on them very early might be wise because the odds will certainly drop if you wait and they get off to a fast start. How does +600 sound? Those are the odds to win for the Astros as of this writing at both DraftKings and FanDuel.

The Yankees are the current futures odds second choice, but DraftKings has them at +700, while the FanDuel line is only +650. So, if you want to place an early futures bet on the Yankees, DraftKings offers better odds.

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The next section describes the many different types of futures bets you can make in each of the major sports. You will be surprised by the tremendous variety of futures bets available to you.

Futures Betting Types

The types of future bets you can make vary with both the sport and how far in advance the bet is made. Not all futures bets are available at the same time. Here we will cover the most popular futures bets in the following professional sports betting categories:

NFL Futures

More wagers are placed on the NFL than on any other professional sports, so it only follows that the NFL betting market is the most extensive for NFL futures odds, too. The types of NFL futures bets available to you at most major sportsbooks (though not all at the same time) typically include all of the following:

  • Super Bowl winner
  • Division and conference winners
  • Total number of wins (O/U) in the regular season
  • Odds to make the playoffs
  • MVP award winner
  • Rookie of the year
  • First draft pick

 MLB Futures

The long MLB regular season and post-season also provide many opportunities for a wide range of futures bets. The most popular of these betting options include the following:

  • World Series winner
  • Pennant winners
  • Total number of regular season wins
  • Cy Young award
  • MVP award
  • Team with the best regular season record
  • Player with the most home runs

NBA Futures

A lot can happen between the start of the NBA season in October and the completion of the NBA finals and the determination of the NBA championship in June. In other words, during the interim, the odds to win can change greatly. The good news for NBA futures bettors is that throughout the long season and even before the season begins, wagering opportunities at attractive odds abound. Here are the most popular Basketball betting options:

  • NBA champion
  • Eastern Conference and Western Conference First Round, Semifinals, and Finals winners
  • How many games in a given Best of 7 Series
  • Total number of regular season wins
  • MVP winner
  • Rookie of the Year
  • Coach of the Year

 NHL Futures

The most popular NHL futures bets include all of the following:

  • Stanley Cup champion
  • Eastern Conference and Western Conference First Round, Second Round, and Conference Finals winners
  • How many games in a given Best of 7 Series
  • Total number of regular season wins
  • Hart Trophy winner
  • Rookie of the Year
  • Player with the most saves, assists, or goals

PGA Futures

Futures betting on PGA events is mostly centered around picking the winner of a specific major tournament such as one of the following:

  • The Masters
  • US Open
  • British Open
  • PGA Championship

Pros and Cons of Futures Betting

Futures betting has both advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is the possibility of getting much better odds than with single game betting. Even if you bet on the favorite, you have a good chance to win more money than you are risking on your bet. Or you can choose a bet with longer odds with a bigger potential payout.

Futures betting is also a fun way to have the same wager working for you for a long period of time. You don’t have to worry about a single outcome not going your way because the team or player you are betting to win will have many opportunities to rebound.

Futures betting also has multiple downsides. The most obvious is that you are privy to much less information than you will be later. Such factors as injuries, trades, and better performances than expected by other teams could have early futures bettors wishing they could take their bet back. But of course, they can’t.

Also, not all futures bets are smart wagers from a mathematical standpoint. Sometimes the house edge is much greater than with a typical point spread wager laying $110 to win $100.

Lastly, if you are working with a limited bankroll, it might not be prudent to tie up funds with futures bets that won’t be decided until the end of the season that you could be betting and reinvesting your winnings with instead over the course of the season.

Futures Betting Tips

Here are five useful tips to help you win futures bets more often.

  • Don’t blindly bet on your favorite team or player or the team that won the championship last year without first doing your homework regarding the similarities and differences between last year’s team and this year’s team.
  • Sometimes, a highly regarded team struggles in the early part of the season before rounding into form. The result is better odds than expected.
  • Futures odds are far more likely to vary significantly from one sportsbook to another than odds on upcoming individual games. Therefore, shopping around at multiple places for the best odds is an excellent futures betting strategy.
  • Another winning futures betting strategy is to take advantage of opportunities to hedge your bets. This entails eventually making a wager opposite to your original bet for a guaranteed profit.
  • Practice good money management and be selective with your futures wagers. If you think you have a gambling problem, stop betting and get help.

Hedging in Futures Betting

There is nothing more frustrating than getting all the way down to the last two teams and having a futures bet on one of them, only to see the other team win and you win nothing.

Hedging your bet at the opportune time by betting the opposite way will lock in a profit for you no matter which team wins. Consider this strategy as you get close to the end of March Madness, the NBA finals, or the NFL or college football championship game. You won’t win as much as you could if you simply let your original bet ride, but you don’t run the risk of walking away empty-handed.


Do futures bets payout?

Yes, if the bet is a winner, you will be paid according to the odds displayed on your ticket.

When do futures bet payout?

Ordinarily, futures bets are not settled until the event is completed and the results are final. However, some sportsbooks allow early cash-outs on pending futures bets.

Can I parlay futures bets?

Some sportsbooks allow users to parlay future bets, while others don’t. Your options might also vary based on the selected event.

Can I cash out my future bet early?

Some sportsbooks support cashing out your future bets. The cash out odds will depend on the performance of the teams at the given time, but they will always be less than the amount you would win if your ticket was a winner.

How to cancel my futures bet?

You will not always have the option to cancel your futures bet. If cash-out is supported and available for the specific bet, you will be allowed to cancel it and take some money back.

Which sportsbooks accept futures bets?

All major US sportsbooks accept futures bets on selected events. The odds might vary, so you should always compare the futures betting odds on sportsbooks like DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, PointsBet, and BetRivers, before settling for one.