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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Betting Guide / Futures Betting Explained with Examples: What Is a Futures Bet?

Futures Betting Explained with Examples: What Is a Futures Bet?

Publish Date: 04/23/2024
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

Futures betting may represent the ultimate test for ambitious punters who think they’ve got in early on a prediction that could, if correct, land them big returns. And if not, it’s also one of the most entertaining ways to bet.

Whether you’re utilizing a complex futures betting strategy or you’re just shooting for the stars early on in a tournament to create threads of interest throughout, this really represents what online betting should be about. The ability to bet on (almost) anything you can imagine, in a way that improves your enjoyment of all your favorite sports, win or lose.

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What is a Futures Bet?: The basics of Futures Betting

The fundamentals of futures could hardly be simpler. So, what is a future bet?

It’s where you place a wager on events or outcomes that will occur significantly in the future. Other than that, there aren’t really many limits on what sports futures betting can be.

In fact, some don’t even need to be based on a sporting event at all. So long as it’s not imminent, it can be counted among the enormous potential number of markets under the umbrella of futures markets.

Tournament sports betting futures

What is betting on futures? While its scope is greater, for most people, it will come down to betting on major sports tournaments.

This could be for the winner of the Super Bowl, the World Series, Premier League, World Cup, Wimbledon, NBA Championship and so on. Futures betting can also be for smaller tournaments, such as La Liga 2, Minor League Baseball, and the minor professional golf tours.

It doesn’t even need to be the ultimate winner of the tournament to count towards futures sports betting. For instance, there’s futures on who will win the Eastern and Western Conference in the NBA, or the top of the group stages in the World Cup. As long as it’s the culmination of a sports betting series, it can count.

Of course, the scope of what’s available does depend on the site, so only consider the best sportsbooks in the US.

Player futures sports betting

The ultimate winner of a tournament is far from the only thing that matters, nor is it the only variable you can bet on with futures betting.

Those great clashes are made up of players and there’s plenty of fantastic individual players for you to enjoy. There’s often yearly MVP awards across top sporting leagues in all kinds of disciplines, for instance, that you can back.

Each sport also has its own individual awards at the end of a season. Take Major League Baseball as an example. You can back who will have the most runs, home-runs, or even be awarded the Gold Glove.

Basketball fans can bet on lead scorers, most rebounds, or assists.

Soccer fans can wager on future transfer windows and awards specific to tournaments, such as the Golden Glove (the best goalkeeper in the World Cup).

What is a future bet? It’s far beyond which team wins a tournament, that’s for sure. Any major future sporting accolade, including individual ones, can count.

Alternative futures betting

Futures betting isn’t even restricted to sports. Bookmakers often offer alternative and special markets on other non-sporting events – and they’re very often based on current affairs or media.

For instance, you could bet on who will be the next US president, the next James Bond, or who will win that year’s season of Dancing with the Stars. Again, all you need to know when you ask what is a futures bet – and the only key restriction – is the need for it to be some reasonable way into the future, typically the culmination of a major event or achievement.

Can You Parlay Futures?

Typically, parlay betting takes place on a single event or immediately upcoming sporting events – but not necessarily.

You could, for instance, place a parlay bet on an athlete to win a series of golf tournaments, or tennis championships, or on a team across several major events like the SuperBowl, NBA Championship, and World Series.

Just because parlays aren’t most closely associated with futures betting, that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. So, can you parlay futures? If you’ve got the right markets in mind, there’s nothing stopping you.

Types of Futures Bet

What distinguishes the availability of futures bets and other kinds, is time. So, for instance, the winner of a championship in the future counts, while prop bets would not because they’re made in the moment.

To help make this distinction more clear, here’s a table of examples:

Types of wagers that can count as futures bets Types of wagers that cannot count as futures bets
Championship winner (SuperBowl winner, World Cup winner, NBA Finals winner) In-game bets
Winner of season-long awards (MVP, Rookie of the Year, Golden Boot) Prop bets
Season performance (most goals, most assists, Golden Glove award) Player performance in a single game
Winner of a reality TV show Race/match results

Sports Futures Betting Odds Strategy

If you understand how odds work generally, you largely won’t need odds explained here. They remain a reflection of probability and your potential returns – available in decimal, fractional, and American odds formats.

And they are a key part of any betting strategy.

For starters, you’ll want to ensure you’re only utilizing the finest betting sites – think bet365, BetMGM, and Caesars as a few top examples of futures betting.

And just as important for sports futures betting is that you’ll want to bet as early as possible. After all, what is betting on futures? It’s betting on something happening, as the name suggests, in the future. And the closer you get to that event, the much smaller your odds are likely to become.

For example, if you were to back a team to win a SuperBowl at the start of the season, you’re going to get far greater returns than if you wait until they’ve had some success and have progressed through the season.

Sport Betting Futures: Hedge Betting

You may think that futures are all about one big shot in the dark – the chance to win big on long odds, often without having to wager that much. And it can be that, but it’s also one of the best uses of hedge betting out there.

This is where you back more than one potential winner of a market, thereby reducing your risk and improving your chances of winning. And for many, this will be the most satisfying futures betting strategy, especially in a tournament.

There’s usually lots of potential winners. So, not only does placing multiple bets improve your chances of netting a big return, but it can also provide threads of interest throughout lengthy contests, keeping you more entertained through more encounters.

And if you bet early, the odds are usually still well worth your while, even with more than one stake.

How to Bet on Futures

The practicalities of futures betting are very simple and not at all unfamiliar if you’ve had any sort of previous experience betting online. The following five steps should be all you need to know for the overwhelming majority of bookmakers:

1- Consider big future events you’re interested in

First of all, you’ll need to find an event you want to bet on. It makes most sense to choose something you’re personally interested in because watching can only improve your futures betting strategy. If you’re not sure what’s available, simply take a look around at your favorite bookmakers and see what’s on offer.

2- Take a look at the available markets

Ok, once you’ve found an event that works for you, it’s time to check out the markets. Again, this is simply a case of seeing what’s available and considering what you think is most likely to make a successful wager.

3- Take the odds probability into consideration

The good thing about futures betting is that the odds can often be decent, even for favorites. Nonetheless, it’s important to understand both your potential returns and odds probability.

You can find potential returns simply by putting your stake into the bet slip (no need to confirm yet) and seeing what’s offered.

Implied probability can be found by putting the odds into an online calculator. This converts the odds into a percentage, which tells you how likely the bookmaker thinks that event is to happen. If you think the chances are greater than the percentage, you may have found an excellent futures sports betting opportunity.

4- Shop around for the best odds

Take a few operators known for excellent odds – Unibet, BetRivers, FanDuel and the like – and see who’s offering the biggest returns. Every cent counts, after all.

5- Sign up, if needed, and make your bet

Now that you have your futures betting market and the finest odds, if you are happy with them, the only thing left to do is sign up (if you’re not already), make a deposit, and place that bet.

Conclusion: Make Having Fun Your Priority

By betting early on big sporting events, or alternative futures markets, sizable returns are certainly possible. However, of course, no bet is guaranteed. But what you can be sure of is that by betting sensibly on sporting events you’re interested in, you can make every game and event a little more interesting, and ensure your futures betting remains safe and fun.

Plus, it’s simple enough for newcomers and deep enough for experts. In other words, this betting type is suitable for sports fans (and beyond) of all kinds.

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FAQs

❓ What are the different types of futures bet?

The only criteria for a futures bet is that it must be based on an event that occurs sometime in the future beyond your typical market.

So, for instance, beyond a game currently taking place or taking place that day. This means there’s a broad scope of what could be offered. Most often, futures betting is based on the winners of major sporting tournaments and achievements, and on major cultural events such as the prediction of an election or the conclusion of a major TV series. 

💵 Can I make multiple futures bets on the same event?

Absolutely. There’s nothing stopping you from making as many futures bets as you like on an event.

For instance, let’s say you wanted to back a winner of the FIFA World Cup. You could place a bet on one team to win it, or several in order to create more interest throughout the tournament and to improve your chances of winning. It’s entirely up to you. In fact, multiple bets are very common and popular in futures betting. 

💰 Can I utilize promotions with a futures bet?

That entirely depends on the terms and conditions of a specific promotion, but broadly, the answer is yes. There are many general sportsbook promotions which can be used on all kinds of sports betting markets, including futures in most cases.

Also, often in the case of major tournaments, there are specific bonus offers to encourage people to bet on particular futures events and markets.

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