What Are Futures Bets and How Do They Work?

A futures bet is made on a long-term outcome that can be days, weeks, months, or even years in the future. Rather than placing a single-game wager that settles on the day of the game, a futures bet will pay out at a later date once the outcome is decided. The options you have with this sort of bet are wide-ranging, with markets on individual performances as readily available as markets on team performances. The choice is yours.

Futures sports betting is popular around the world because of its longevity, but it also provides long odds, the chance for a large payout, and gives you the ability to hedge. Hedging is when you bet on a different outcome as your initial bet gets closer to hitting.

With all this in mind, let’s take some time to explore a few advantages and disadvantages of futures betting to see if this type of sports betting may be right for you.

Benefits of Futures Betting

Not only can futures betting be fun, it can also be incredibly lucrative. As futures bets can last for years, it gives you something to focus on for longer. When compared to other bet types like moneyline, point spread, and so on, the excitement steadily ramps up over an extended amount of time.

Futures bets usually come with attractive odds as well — especially if you bet early on in the season or before the tournament begins. With so many different future markets available, there's always something for you to find. No matter what sports or events you are interested in, if you look long enough, you will find something that works to you.

As we mentioned, futures bets also present the opportunity to hedge. As long as your bet remains in play, you can hedge a bet for multiple ways of securing a profit. This is a key attraction of futures betting for many.

Pitfalls of Futures Betting

As always, while future bets have a long list of pros, there are some downfalls worth bearing in mind. The first downside to keep in mind is the house having a bigger advantage here than with other bets. When it comes to futures, there's only a single outcome possible. Because of this, odds can be set at a value that is advantageous to the house.

Another thing to be aware of is that futures betting isn’t for everyone. Some bettors may not like the idea of having their money tied up in a bet for so long. Depending on the bet you choose, it can take years for the outcome to be decided. Of course, the simple workaround for this is just sticking to future bets that only last for a few days or weeks, but even then you still might not find it appealing.

Last but not least, the longer your future bet lasts, the more variables there are that may influence the outcome and prevent you from winning. For example, injuries are more likely to occur further along in a competition or tournament. And if you've placed a bet on a player winning a title or award but they suffer an injury, you'll automatically lose the bet. Depending on the player, individual injuries can have a significant impact on certain team bets, too.

What Are the Most Popular Futures and Markets?

Futures bets are popular in almost every sports market you can think of, including the NBA Championship, golf tournaments, Super Bowl, World Cup, college national championships, tennis tournaments, and more.

In most cases, bettors will place a futures bet on a "Yes" outcome like whether an individual player will win Rookie of the Year in the NBA. On the other hand, "No" outcomes are also possible but not always available. For example, futures betting on a "No" outcome may be wagering on a team missing the playoffs.

It's quite rare for there to be a "No" option when it comes to a team winning a championship. This usually only happens if a team is a heavy favorite against the other teams. In this case, a "No" option may be made available.

Futures Bet Examples

As we've discussed, futures betting will pay out days, weeks, months, or years after you place the bet. It may sound a little daunting at first, but whether you are new to sports betting or a seasoned bettor, they're easy to learn.

To help you understand how futures betting works even more, we have created a few examples to walk you through the process. Without further ado:

Let’s say you choose to bet on a team to win a tournament at +600 odds, your bet will either lose whenever the team is eliminated from the tournament or pay out if they win. In this example, if you were to wager $100, you would win $600 should your pick win the tournament.

You could also place a bet for a team to win a series with odds of +380. If that happens, and you place a bet of $100 again, you'd win $380 if your team wins.

Keep in mind that snagging a futures bet earlier on comes with more benefits; betting odds can worsen as the season continues, so you should get in early if your heart's set on placing a futures bet.

NFL Futures Betting

A futures bet for the NFL could be a bet on a specific team winning the Super Bowl, their division, their conference, or to make or miss the playoffs. A few other futures bets with a player focus include:


• Offensive Player of the Year

• Defensive Player of the Year

NFL bets will be presented with their respective odds. Essentially, the lower the payouts, the less likely it is predicted that the bet will win. Here are a few examples of how a $100 bet on odds at +900 might play out:

• You bet on a team to win but they don’t make the playoffs, you win $0

• You bet on a team to make it to the Super Bowl but they lose beforehand, you win $0

• You bet that a team will make it to the Super Bowl and they go on to win, you win $900

Simple. You only win a payout if your future bet is entirely correct. To do this, you'll need a good knowledge of the sport, team, or individual players you're betting on. If you place a bet on a team or player who is less likely to win and they manage to pull it off, your potential payout will be larger. So, if you place a $100 bet on odds of +20,000, you could go on to win a staggering $20,000.

NBA Futures Betting

Likewise in the NBA, a futures bet can be placed on a division, a conference, or an outright title. You can also bet on a regular season leader for stats like rebounds, scoring, and assists. Individual bets on players can also be made for Rookie of the Year and other awards.

Tennis Futures Betting

It's important to highlight here that futures bets are not always available at the beginning of a competition or tournament. That said, future bets will often be available throughout the competition or tournament.

Tennis future bets will pay out in the same way as the above NFL futures examples. Even though you can place futures bets at any point, it's better to do this as early as possible. For example, if you want to bet on a winning player, your outcome either becomes more or less likely as the competition progresses.

Let’s say you want to place a bet on the Wimbledon winner but hold off for a bit. If you wait until there are six players left and your pick is among them, it’s more likely that they will win compared to the beginning of the competition. But the odds will be updated to reflect the likelihood of this outcome.

Futures Betting on Other Sports

There are plenty of futures markets across all types of sports. Whether you want to place a futures bet in golf, tennis, or motorsports, for example, these are all options. Horse racing is also a popular sport, especially for races such as the Kentucky Derby.

Popular Questions About Futures Betting

Whether you're a novice or a seasoned bettor, futures are a fun and straightforward way to play. A futures bet is when you place a bet on an outcome that will be decided in the future. This could be days, weeks, months, or years into the future, which makes it ideal for anyone who prefers long-term bets.

You can parlay futures bets if you like, but you should keep in mind that it isn’t always possible to place bets on multiple markets if they're correlated. For example, if you want to bet on a team to win the Super Bowl, their division title, and on a player in the team to winning the MVP award, this may not be accepted.

NFL futures bets are wagers on outcomes that won’t be determined until later on during the season. NFL futures bets are usually placed on outcomes such as the winning team, and division and conference champions.

If you're on the hunt for a long-term bet with the potential to land you larger payouts, future bets are certainly worth considering. They provide you with a lot of opportunities to hedge bets and manage risk more effectively. For example, if you pick underdogs at the beginning of a season or tournament, you can secure a profit with hedging.