What is futures betting?

What are futures?

Futures bets are wagers placed on events that will not be decided until later in the future. These bets usually refer to season-long outcomes, such as championships, award winners, or stats leaders at the end of a season or tournament. As such, their shelf life is much longer than regular game-by-game sports bets. However, while it may take longer for a futures bet to be settled as a winner or loser, the long timespan covered by the wager often presents greater value for sports bettors who have expert knowledge in a specific team, league, or player.

Futures bets are popular with bettors who like to keep a bet open throughout the full duration of a season, and are often placed to kick-start a sports bettor’s betting “season” with a particular sport. Some also like to combine futures bets into season-long parlays that can offer potentially lucrative returns.

How do futures bets work?

Futures betting markets are opened up before seasons get underway and offer bettors the chance to make their pre-season predictions for who will win a tournament, league, or championship. Similar opportunities are also offered for bettors to predict the winners of major player awards, such as the NFL MVP, or Premier League Golden Boot winner (top goalscorer).

Before the season gets underway, sportsbooks release their futures market for a competition, listing their preseason odds as they install their early favorite to win each competition. Bettors can then opt to back their chosen team at the odds available.

Those odds will be tweaked and changed throughout the season to reflect the performances of the teams (or players), with the market remaining open for betting action throughout the season. However, once you have placed your bet, the odds you backed will remain locked in, regardless of subsequent price changes during the season.

Types of futures bet

There are two main types of futures bets: team futures and player futures.

Team futures allow you to bet on a team to win a particular competition, league, or tournament, such as the Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, World Series, or NBA Championship. Player futures focus on individual player-performance markets, such as the NFL MVP, or Premier League Golden Boot winner.

An example of a team futures bet would be a bet on a team to win the Stanley Cup either before or during the NHL season. An example of a player futures bet would be a pre-season or midseason bet on a player to win the NFL MVP award that year.

In both cases, the futures markets would feature long lists of potential selections. Stanley Cup futures would initially feature every team in the NHL, as every team starts the season with a chance of Stanley Cup success.

For player futures, sportsbooks will compile a long list of contenders, then offer additional odds for “the field,” which allows you to bet on any player not featured in the list. Some sportsbooks offer “others on request,” where they will give you a price on a specific player not listed, and you can opt whether to take those odds and place a bet.

How do you place a futures bet?

Placing a futures bet is simple. All you need to do is choose the market you’d like to bet on, then choose which team or player you want to back for success in their chosen league, tournament, or competition. Check the odds are right for you, set your stake and place your bet.

Futures bets offer plenty of value, especially when backed at the start of a season, so it pays to shop around for the best odds on your chosen team or player. BET.CA has comprehensive reviews of Canada’s best sportsbooks so you can build a shortlist of trusted oddsmakers to check each time you’re looking to place a bet. Surf around and check the odds at each of your shortlisted sportsbooks, and pick the one that gives you the best potential return for your bet stake.

Most futures markets are straightforward. You’re simply picking a team or player to win their competition.

For instance, in a futures market to win the 2023 Super Bowl, the Green Bay Packers may be priced at +1400 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers priced at +2000. Looking at the odds, you might think that Tom Brady’s return from retirement makes Tampa Bay’s +2000 odds tempting, while Aaron Rodgers’ decision to stay at Green Bay may make their +1400 a solid option. A winning $100 bet on the Bucs would return $2,100 ($2,000 in winnings plus your $100 stake). A winning $100 bet on the Packers would return $1,500 ($1,400 in winnings plus your $100 stake).

Advantages of future betting

The nature of futures bets means the markets often offer good value from the moment they are opened. No sportsbook is fully sure of the outcome of an entire season BEFORE the season starts, and as such has to play it safe when setting odds. That means favorites can’t be favored too strongly and too early in the season, while other contenders can’t have their odds shortened until later on. At the same time, particular favored teams can be backed at better odds early in the season compared to later on in the campaign.

However, sportsbooks can change their odds as the season progresses, and this also offers the opportunity for value seeking bettors. A team that starts the season slowly, or in patchy form, may end up having its odds lengthened by sportsbooks. If you still think that team will improve their results and come on strong as the season progresses, the opportunity is there to back that team at an inflated price.

The key thing to remember with futures bets is that even though the odds can fluctuate, they won’t change on your betting ticket once you have placed your bet. The odds you back when you bet are the odds you’ll carry throughout the season, so it’s important to make sure you bet when you think you’re getting the best possible value on your team. Finding that optimal time to back your team is the key to maximizing your winnings at the end of the season.

Don’t forget, it always pays to shop around for the best odds – after all, some sportsbooks may move odds in your favor, while others may not. BET.CA has a comprehensive set of sportsbook reviews to ensure you always bet with a sportsbook you can trust.

Futures betting FAQs

Can you include futures bets in a parlay?
Can you cancel a futures bet?
Can you place a futures bet after the season has started?

All betting guides on BET.CA are written by in-our house team, who have over 40 years’ experience in the sports betting and gaming industries, and have worked and written for several of the world’s leading sportsbooks. They possess in-depth knowledge of betting markets and strategies, as well as an understanding of what is important to bettors, meaning you can read on with the confidence that they will help improve your betting.

BET.CA staff
BET.CA staff