Futures betting is becoming more and more popular with all of the different options that sportsbooks are allowing their customers to get action on these days. So, what exactly is futures betting?
It’s basically a wager on an event that is going to be concluded well down the road. The most popular futures bets are on teams to win a championship from a particular sport, whether it be the Super Bowl, NBA Finals, World Series, etc.
There’s a pretty simple reason why books make a killing on these futures bets. They are going to make a killing as long as a longshot doesn’t come through at a huge price, but even then not many people bet the longshots and, when they do, they aren’t betting very much on them.
The books will collect a huge amount of money on these futures bets, use it as they want for months until the outcome of the bet is determined, and then pay out far less than they brought in once the outcome is reached. Futures bets really couldn’t be much better for them.
Most sharp bettors won’t even touch futures bets and will leave them to amateurs and tourists in Vegas. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t circumstances where a futures bet makes sense. I am going to go over the futures bets that I stay away from, but also list the types of futures bets that I recommend that can actually give the bettor the advantage.
The futures bets you do not want to place are ones that involve winning a league or a championship. I mentioned these before, but they are the World Series, NBA Finals, Super Bowl, and the college football and college basketball championships. In pro baseball, basketball and football, you essentially have a 1-in-30 chance of winning since there are roughly 30 teams in all three leagues. One of the favorites is probably going to win, which doesn’t return 30-to-1 odds. You could get lucky and hit a longshot, but chances are that your futures bet is going to be a losing wager.
I also don’t like futures bets to win conference championships. The odds on these aren’t that good either. In college football, conferences consist of roughly 10 to 14 teams. In NBA, conferences consistent of 15 teams, which is the same as baseball. There are 16 teams in each conference in football. I just don’t believe the return is good enough to justify a wager, which is why sportsbooks want you to make these bets. Futures bets to win the division aren’t as bad because you have roughly a 1-in-5 chance on these, but the odds you get paid back aren’t great unless you take a longshot.
The futures bets that I like to play are season win totals. These are basically 50/50 bets where you have to pick whether a team is going to finish over or under a certain amount of wins. If you have done your research and believe a team is going to be better than everyone else thinks, then there can be a ton of value here. That team will exceed its win total, but likely not go on to win a championship, which is why you don’t want to place futures bets on championships.
Conversely, there are teams that come into the season getting a lot of hype every year. These teams usually have inflated win totals, and there can be value in backing the UNDER as a result. Usually the juice is around -110 on both sides of these bets, but sometimes upwards of -150 or more if a lot of action is coming in on one side. That’s why you want to get your season win totals in early before the betting public has had a chance to jump on. I don’t recommend laying close to -150 on any season win total because all the value is zapped up by the juice.