The enthusiasm and excitement surrounding gambling in sports are largely fuelled by the bewildering array of possible bets. But if you’re still a rookie, the best strategy is to stick to easy-to-understand options when wagering your money. One of these is the futures bet. These kinds of bets are straightforward, with plenty of potential to generate profits. And in addition to sports, futures odds cover everything from cultural to political events. You may even be able to bet on whether Hollywood’s Arnold Schwarzenegger will be reprising his iconic role in The Legend of Conan.
Keep reading to find out more about what futures betting is, how to calculate probabilities, and the cash you can get out of it.
Betting on the Future
A futures bet involves placing a wager on an event or series that will transpire and conclude in the future. Sure, all bets are technically bets on the future. But this isn’t outright betting on a single future outcome or a match. A futures bet, more widely known as sports betting on futures, often includes betting on events that are settled in the longer term at the end of the sports season.
In other words, a futures bet typically revolves around multiple sports events, an entire season, or individual performances (points scored, interceptions, MVPs). Of course, these bets are popular among Super Bowl fans, as well as those who are passionate about the Formula 1 Championship, the NASCAR Cup Series, The US Open, and the NCAA Football Championship.
Betting on the future in sports falls within the category of prop bets. It’s also important to note that betting on futures is a long-term financial commitment.
Basics of Futures Odds
In essence, futures odds are betting odds on sports outcomes that will occur weeks or months in the future. Although the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLS, and PGA Championships bets are the most popular options among bettors, these types of wagers are available for all sports.
Futures odds are constantly being updated as the championship or a season progresses, and bookmakers adjust their predictions. There are many variables that affect the odds, such as the team’s wins, losses, player injuries, weather conditions, trades, player futures, coach replacements, and much more.
The bookmakers’ predictions are solely related to the actual sports events. Hence, a bookmaker may change the odds based on the amount of money wagered.
Tampa Bay residents in Florida may wager a lot of money in future bets on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning the next Super Bowl. This influx in wagers forces the local bookmaker to change the futures odds to reflect that. Meanwhile, in popular betting destinations like Las Vegas, bookmakers will think long and hard about which teams the public will choose for futures betting before drawing up their odds.
Bettors who place futures bets early in the championship get more favorable odds than those who join in mid-season or later. Future bets are made all the more enticing by the potential for huge rewards in exchange for a modest wager.
If we return to the example of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their futures odds for winning the Super Bowl LVI, this is how you stand to gain.
Current Odd: +650
Preseason Odds: +700
Naturally, preseason odds are more profitable than the current option. Betting on the Buccaneers would yield $700 for every $100 wager in the preseason. NFL futures betting pays $650 for every $100 bet right now.
Meanwhile, in European football, the futures odds on Arsenal winning the 2021-22 Premier League are 50/1, which means the team is widely seen as an outsider.
Futures Into Probabilities
A significant advantage of futures odds is that you can calculate the possible payouts in implied probabilities as part of your betting tactics. Converting futures betting odds into a percentage on the likelihood of something occurring requires a simple formula. Add the denominator and the numerator, and then use the outcome to divide the denominator. To get the percentage, simply multiply the result by 100.
For example, Arsenal’s futures odds of 50/1 would have the implied probability of 1.9%. The formula is 1/(1+50)X100. In the event of Kansas City Chiefs for the 2017 AFC West preseason odds of 47/20, you’d get 20/(20+47)X100, or 29.85% implied possibility.
Here are a few more football futures odds for Premier League winners in the 2021-22 season:
Manchester City: 8/15; implied probability: 65.21%
Liverpool: 11/4; implied probability: 26.66%
Chelsea: 5/1; implied probability: 20%
If you add these probabilities, you’d get 111.87% which makes no sense as it should be equal to 100%. That is due to the betting juice, casino juice, gambling vig, or no vig probability, which means that the higher the chances of something happening, the less the bookmaker will pay out on it. Bookmakers are in the business of generating profits and are always looking to minimize their expenses.
Luckily, futures bettors can also calculate the actual or no vig probability. Let’s return to the aforementioned Premier League winner odds. For Manchester City, we would have 65.21% / 111.87% X 100, which equals 58.29% of actual probability. Liverpool would get 26.66% / 111.87% X 100, or 23.83%, and Chelsea 20% / 111.87% X 100, or 17.87%. Add these no vig probabilities, and you’ll get 99.99% after rounding down.
Manchester City: 8/15; implied probability: 65.21%; no vig probability: 58.29%
Liverpool: 11/4; implied probability: 26.66%, no vig probability: 23.83%
Chelsea: 5/1; implied probability: 20%, no vig probability: 17.87%
When placing a futures bet, you can use implied probabilities to check what will happen in the season. Hence, if Manchester City has more than 65.21%, you ought to bet on them winning. Just remember that with such good chances, the bookmaker will pay out less.
Benefits and Drawback of Futures Bets
Futures wagers are exciting for sports fans for many reasons, but they aren’t always sure bets. Let’s look at some of the motivating factors behind future bets.
- Long-term enjoyment: Sports punters that place future bets are more engaged with the matches in the tournament since they have an added incentive to keep an eye on their investment.
- All sports events supported: A common futures bet is available for literally any sport the bookmaker offers. Not only that, but bettors can place these prop wagers on various options, like team or player performances or vital sports benchmarks.
- Potential for a massive profit: Placing small wagers in the preseason, although riskier, can yield significantly greater cash rewards.
Reasons not to place future bets:
- Predicting all the event variables: Since future bets cover weeks or months-long tournaments or series, it’s challenging to predict all outcomes accurately.
- Long payout delays: Even if you bet on a winning match or a player, you will get your money after the event series in question is over. Futures bet options could easily keep you apart from your money for an entire year.
- Picking winners: With so many futures bet possibilities, choosing the winner is exceedingly unlikely for an average bettor.
- Forgetting about a futures bet: It might sound ridiculous, but there are countless instances when punters forgot to cash out their wagers. This is because some sports events last for long periods of time.
It’s easy to see why futures bets are highly popular among sports bettors. They offer potentially huge payouts in exchange for relatively modest investments. And by familiarizing yourself with futures bet tips and tricks like hedging, betting mid-season, or wagering on multiple teams or players, you can make all futures odds work in your favor.
Where should I place my futures bet?
By calculating future odds to determine implied probabilities, you’ll be able to determine where to place your bet and whether it’s profitable enough.
How do NFL futures bets work?
With NFL future bets, you can bet on a specific team winning the Super Bowl or any other football championship. You can also bet on a player or a group of players with the most touchdowns or interceptions during the season.
Can you cash out futures bets?
Once the futures betting event concludes, such as a tournament, you can cash out your winnings.
Is betting a skill or luck?
There is always an element of luck involved in betting. But experienced bettors develop skills that help them determine probabilities, which is a critical factor for winning a futures bet.