What are Futures Bets?

Daniel Collins

Written by: Daniel Collins

Last Updated:

Read Time: 5 minutes

Betting on sporting events day-to-day may bring the most immediate return and excitement, but wherever you place your bets, there are no shortage of futures bets at your disposal.

What are futures bets? Futures allow you to bet on an outcome of some sort in the future.

There are many, many different types of futures bets. Let’s dive deeper into futures and look at some of the types of futures you can bet on.

What Are Futures Bets?

There are many types of futures bets you can place at most online sports betting sites.

Let’s start with one of the obvious, which is picking the team that will win a championship at the end of the season. This is a bet that you can make at any point of the season, but the best odds can usually be found at the beginning of the season.

Are you interested in betting on who will win the Super Bowl this season? You can place a futures bet on who the team you think will win.

As with moneyline bets on individual games, futures bets are straightforward as they are determined by the result of a particular outcome.

Say, you are betting on the NFL this week, and one of the games this week is a matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills, two of the top contenders to win the Super Bowl this season.

Just like you can place a bet on the Bills to win this week’s Bills-Chiefs matchup, you can place a bet on the Bills to win the Super Bowl this season.

But while the Chiefs may be favored to defeat the Bills at home this week, the Bills may be favored ahead of the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl this season.

Here’s an example of Super Bowl futures odds, using real odds as of Week 17 of the 2022 NFL season.

Super Bowl Futures Odds

  • Buffalo Bills +350
  • Kansas City Chiefs +450
  • Philadelphia Eagles +490
  • San Francisco +700
  • Cincinnati Bengals +800
  • Dallas Cowboys +1100
  • Minnesota Vikings +1900
  • Baltimore Ravens +2100

If you were to place a $100 bet on the Bills to win the Supe Bowl at +350 odds, your winnings would be $350, in addition to getting your original $100 stake back.

If you were to place a $100 bet on the Baltimore Ravens to win the Super Bowl at +2100 odds, your winnings would be $2100, in addition to getting your original $100 stake back.

How Should You Approach Futures Bets?

With the potential to turn a small stake into a significant profit, there’s a lot to like about futures bets.

However, be realistic about the possibility that your futures bets will not win. That advice applies to any kind of bets, but it especially applies to futures bets.

Even when betting on individual games or events, there are countless variables that can affect the outcome. But those variables are magnified over the course of a season or with an outcome that has several possibilities.

There are 30 MLB teams and 162 regular season games plus the playoffs.

The NBA has 30 teams and 82 regular season games plus the playoffs.

The NHL has 32 teams and 82 regular season games plus the playoffs.

In the NFL, there are 32 teams and 17 regular season games plus the playoffs.

In the Premier League, 20 teams duke it out in a 38-game season.

Beware of Injuries and Surprises

Over the course of a long season, fortunes can change all too easily.

For example, in the 2021 MLB season, pitcher Jacob deGrom was heavily favored to win the NL Cy Young Award and was poised to make a run at the NL Most Valuable Player award as well.

Then, due to injury, he didn’t pitch after July 7, and Milwaukee Brweers pitcher Corbin Burnes went on to win the NL Cy Young, while Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper went on to be named 2021 NL MVP.

Also, the potential for surprises can never be discounted. As the saying goes, the cream often rises to the top, but the path isn’t always straightforward.

Using the 2021 MLB season as an example again, through over 100 games of the season, the Atlanta Braves, who went into the season as one of the top contenders to win the World Series, did not have a winning record.

But they caught fire to win the NL East title, aided in part by a collapse by the Mets, and then went on to defeat the Houston Astros to win the World Series.

And sometimes, major surprises happen. Who would have predicted that Leicester City would win the Premier League in 2016?

Examples of Futures Bets

There are many different items on which you can make futures bets, including the following:

Winner of a season championship, tournament championship, or championship game in team sports

  • Super Bowl
  • World Series
  • NBA Finals
  • College Football Playoff
  • English Premier League
  • FIFA World Cup

Conference champion in team sports

  • American League or National League Championship Series in MLB
  • AFC or NFC Championship Game in the NFL
  • Eastern Conference or Western Conference Finals in the NBA
  • regular season, championship game, or conference tournament championships in leagues like the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, or SEC in college football or basketball

Winner of a division in team sports

  • The NFL has four divisions in each conference (AFC East, AFC North, AFC South, AFC West, NFC East, NFC North, NFC South, and NFC West
  • MLB has three divisions each in the American League (AL East, AL Central, and AL West) and National League (NL East, NL Central, and NL West)

Individual award winners

  • Most Valuable Player or Rookie of the Year awards (in the MLB, there are separate MVP and Rookie of the Year awards for the American League and National League)
  • Heisman Trophy (college football)
  • Wooden Award (college basketball)
  • position or role-specific awards (Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year in the NFL, Cy Young Award in MLB, or Sixth Man of the Year in the NBA)

Postseason award winners

  • Super Bowl MVP (NFL)
  • World Series MVP (MLB)
  • NBA Finals MVP (NBA)
  • Conn Smythe Trophy (MVP of the NHL playoffs)

Winner of individual events

  • tennis tournaments
  • golf tournaments
  • motorsports events
  • Tour de France

These bets range across many sports, and in the case of futures bets on events like golf and tennis tournaments, the results can take only days to come in, as opposed to months, if you are betting on an upcoming event instead of an event far into the future.

Also, many unregulated sportsbooks offer futures bets on non-sports events, like the Grammys, Academy Awards, or elections.

For example, for the most recent midterm elections in the United States, some sportsbooks offered bets on the outcome of important Senate races and which party would have control of the House and Senate.

Why Should You Make Futures Bets?

An immediate return with your bets is always appealing, but playing the long game has its perks.

Betting on a team who is one of the best in its league may not have value week in, week out. Futures bets offer value on such teams without you needing to risk a significant amount of your bankroll.

Also, futures bets are a great way to enhance your knowledge of and interest in a particular league, team, or player. That knowledge can pay off with other bets.

For example, if you have placed a bet on Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo to be named NBA MVP. If you decide to follow Giannis’s performances each game, that can provide you valuable knowledge to use on NBA player prop bets or bets on the Bucks.

Or if you have bet on the Atlanta Braves to win the World Series, following the Braves’ results and performances can help you be able to make the most informed bets on their games.

Also, futures bets can be a fun way to keep up with your favorite team or player. Just be mindful that is a long season, and one game or stretch won’t necessarily make or break your bets.

Futures Bets FAQs

What are futures bets?
Futures bets are bets on an outcome in the near or distant future, like who will win the Super Bowl, who will win the Heisman Trophy, or who will win the next World Cup.
Are futures bets less risky than other bets?
There are risks and variables involved with any bet you place.
Can I place futures bets on events other than sporting events?
Depending on where you bet, you can place futures bets on events like entertainment awards and elections.