Futures Betting Guide

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How to bet on futures

Discover our comprehensive guide to futures betting in 2024. Gain a full understanding of betting on futures for all of the major sports.

By the end of this page, you will learn what a futures bet is, the different futures bets available in each major American sport, some strategies to consider when futures betting and more.

What is a futures bet?

When placing a futures bet, you are wagering on players or events that have longer-term outcomes. Some examples of futures bets include: League champion, league MVP and other individual awards, win totals, conference or division champions and individual season performances.

In futures betting, you are able to place bets on results that won’t play out for up to several months. For instance, the best sportsbooks post World Series winner futures odds roughly one year before the series occurs.

To actually place a futures bet, all you need to do is go to your favorite sportsbook and navigate to a specific sport’s page (i.e., NFL, NBA, etc.) and select “futures”. There, you will find all of the sport’s available futures bets.

Futures betting is very popular within the sports betting world, and it’s easy to see why. For starters, the odds are almost always long, allowing for high payouts. Another reason why betting on futures markets is popular is that it gives you something to follow and root for throughout the season.

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How to read futures odds

Reading futures odds is the same as reading odds on any other type of wager. Betting on futures of teams or players with minus (-) odds will have a return less than your original stake, while teams/players with plus (+) odds will feature a payout greater than your original bet.

So, let’s say you bet on the Denver Nuggets at -350 to win the NBA Finals on FanDuel Sportsbook. You will need to wager $350 in order to receive a $100 return. Conversely, if the odds were at +350, you would only need to wager $28.57 to earn the same $100 return.

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) controls the ball under pressure from Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) in the first quarter during game five of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Ball Arena.
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What makes futures betting so fun is that the teams and players normally contain plus odds, leading to bigger payouts.

The reason for the odds frequently being so long on futures bets is that so many different variables are in play which can significantly affect your desired outcome. For example, when you are betting on a specific game, the options for the outcome of a specific bet are minimal and you also have more information at your disposal. With a future bet, more factors can influence the outcome, as well as more options for the outcome of the bet itself.

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Futures betting across the major sports

Futures betting is readily available throughout the year for each of the four major American sports. Below, we will show you what betting on futures is like for the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL:

NFL

NFL futures betting is almost endless, which is kind of expected considering the league’s mega-popularity. The best NFL betting sites will have futures odds posted practically year-round.

You’ll likely see categories for the futures betting options, including wins, awards, player stats and the NFL Draft. Meanwhile, there are also “team specials,” which feature specific futures markets for all 32 teams.

In addition to that, you can always bet on the standard NFL futures: Champion, conference winner, division winner and “to make the playoffs”. Moreover, you can take part in both champion and draft specials, which are essentially prop bets within the futures market.

Southern California Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams poses with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Chicago Bears as the No. 1 pick in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft
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NBA

The NBA isn’t all that far behind the NFL in terms of futures betting markets. A lot of the NBA futures betting focuses on the individual player awards, as you can bet on the following:

  • MVP
  • Defensive Player of the Year
  • Rookie of the Year
  • Coach of the Year
  • Sixth Man of the Year
  • Most Improved Player of the Year
  • Clutch Player of the Year
San Antonio Spurs forward Victor Wembanyama (1) shoots over Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) during the second half at Frost Bank Center.
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Outside of those betting options, you can wager on division winners, conference winners, NBA Champion, “to make the playoffs” and the NBA Draft. These bets should be available on most NBA betting sites.

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MLB

MLB futures rival that of the NBA’s in that they are tied for second in terms of having the most markets. For Major League Baseball, you can predict division winners, league winners, World Series winner and team win totals, but there are many other options as well.

For example, let’s take the “league leaders” market, there are tons of categories for MLB bettors to sift through. You can wager on who will lead the majors in home runs, stolen bases, strikeouts and so much more. Additionally, you can bet on league awards like MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, and even Reliever of the Year.

NHL

Rest assured hockey betting fans, the NHL futures market is also quite extensive. Check out some of the unique “league specials” from FanDuel Sportsbook.

Other unique futures in NHL betting are the Presidents’ Trophy as well as the following trophies:

  • Art Ross Trophy (player with most points)
  • Hart Trophy (MVP)
  • Calder Trophy (best rookie)
  • Vezina Trophy (best goalie)
  • Norris Trophy (best defensemen)

Aside from those, the other NHL futures include Stanley Cup winner, conference winner, division winner, “to make the playoffs”, as well as team points.

What strategies should you use when betting on futures?

There are strategies you can implement to increase your odds of winning more futures bets. The first thing you can do is look around for sportsbook promo offers you can take advantage of. There may not be much available for futures bets specifically, but you never know. Take a look at a few of our favorite strategies:

Leave your fandom to the side

There’s nothing better than supporting your team. But if your goal is to win a profit from your bets, there is simply no room for bias. Objectivity and analysis must be your focus.

Don’t blindly bet on your favorite teams or players, because you will lose far more often than you win. If not betting with your heart isn’t an option, then we recommend sitting it out and betting on something else. Bet with your brain, not your heart.

Shop for the best odds

Again, this can be said for any kind of sports betting, including futures betting. It’s unlikely that odds will be the same at every one of the top online sportsbooks, so we recommend shopping around and using the sportsbook that’s offering the most favorable odds for your particular futures bet. During the offseason especially, you can find large discrepancies between say, FanDuel Sportsbook which lists the Philadelphia Eagles’ 2024-25 Lombardi Trophy odds at +1400, and DraftKings Sportsbook where you can get that Eagles future bet with odds of +1700

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Is a futures bet a worthwhile bet?

Futures bets are among the bet types with the most variability. Because most futures odds come with plus odds, they are inherently less likely to win.

With that being said, futures are a fun bet type, as you are calling your shot well in advance. If and when you hit a futures bet, it is a satisfying win, not to mention the nice payout futures bets generally come with.

Can you parlay futures bets?

Parlay betting is when a bettor combines two or more bets into one wager. To win a parlay bet, each “leg” of the parlay needs to hit. If one or more of the parlay elements does not win, your bet loses.

You can parlay futures bets that don’t share a correlated market. For instance, you could not make a two-leg futures parlay containing the Boston Celtics and the Phoenix Suns to win the NBA Finals.

You could, however, parlay the Boston Celtics to win the NBA Finals with Juan Soto to win the American League MVP Award. Simply put, your futures parlay can’t share multiple legs from the same market.

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More futures betting questions

Continue reading for answers to a few more futures betting questions, including how sportsbooks make money on futures bets:

How are the futures odds determined?

Oddsmakers determine and set futures odds similar to how meteorologists forecast the weather. Essentially, they do extensive research to predict which teams and players have the best odds in respective futures markets.

For example, the Kansas City Chiefs are the consensus betting favorite to win the Big Game in 2025. Of course, that isn’t by accident. Those in charge of setting the odds are well aware that Patrick Mahomes has proven capable of winning the AFC and beyond nearly every year.

How and when do futures odds change?

There are many factors that can cause futures odds to move, including trades, injuries, suspensions and great or poor team/player performances.

Let’s say that hypothetically the Denver Nuggets are the futures betting favorites to win the NBA Finals. Then, their best player goes down with a season-ending injury. The team’s odds are going to move significantly due to that news.

How do sportsbooks make money on futures bets?

Sportsbooks make money on futures bets just as they do on other types of sports wagers. Futures markets usually have long to very long odds, and that’s because they are very difficult to predict correctly. Thus, the sportsbooks profit off tons of losing futures bets.

FAQ

When is the best time to place a futures bet?

There is no concrete answer as to when the best time to place a futures bet is, but if you really feel confident about a futures bet, try to place it when it has the longest odds. Normally, the odds will get shorter as the outcome approaches.

What’s the difference between a futures bet and a moneyline bet?

The difference between a futures bet and a moneyline bet is simple. In a moneyline bet, you are predicting which team will win a particular game/event. In a futures bet, you are predicting the outcome of an event that is weeks or even months away.

How do you calculate futures odds?

Calculating futures odds is done the same way as calculating odds on any other kind of bet. The plus (+) sign still indicates a greater return that your original stake, while the minus (-) sign means your return will be less than your bet’s amount.

Is there a minimum or maximum to how much you can bet or win on a futures bet?

There is no specified maximum amount that you can bet or win on a futures bet, but each sportsbook has its own maximum payout limit.