At the base level, a future bet is a bet that will be settled later in the future. These are usually for bets such as Championship winners, season-long awards, or how many total wins a team will have over the course of a season. The future market ranges from long-shot odds for a team to win the Super Bowl on a wager placed in the preseason, or it can be a -110 prop to bet the over or under on a given team's wins on the season.
As we approach the 2023 MLB season, it is a perfect time to use this as an example to show the different markets when betting futures. When it comes to future bets, most bettors think about Championship outrights.
The image above from Fanduel Sportsbook is the World Series market for the upcoming MLB season. These Championship outright bets are likely the most popular future bet type. This is a wager on the overall winner of a league, competition, or tournament. For most sports bettors this is a great way to have investment into a team all season long. This bet type offers casual bettors a chance to "win big" on a straight bet with longer odds. It is also a bet many enjoy as they can follow along for a whole season and track its progress.
Casual bettors also welcome futures bets, as they are more straightforward to understand than other betting markets. For instance, if a bettor places a wager on the New York Yankees to win the 2023 World Series, they are accepting an 8 to 1 payout for the Yankees to raise the trophy at the end of the season. Much like horseshoes, close does not cut it on this bet type.
However, "close" to winning the World Series, or just a team being able to win the respective division is another futures market.
In this market, one is betting for a given team to win their division for the upcoming season. Unlike our earlier Yankees to win the World Series example, in this futures market, the team just needs to finish first in the AL East. The odds reflect the probability of each future. The chances of the Yankees winning the league out of 30 other teams will obviously have a much higher payout than the odds to win their five-team division. NYY winning the division is something the team has done twelve times since 2000, but only two of those times were they able to win the World Series.
One of the simplest markets out there is season win totals. This bet type will not payout high odds like a bettor can find in the outright winner market, but they have a higher chance of winning.
As you can see, this market is simply taking a team's over or under-in wins for the season. While the execution of this bet is can be difficult, the actual market is conceptually easy to understand. In this given image, a bettor can take any MLB team to win 106 wins (over 105.5) for the season at even money. After that general prop bet the market is broken down on a team-by-team basis.
While these futures are more forthright, there are many more bet types that are more comprehensive. Here is an example of such markets provided by DraftKings Sportsbook.
In this future bet, one is able to bet a team's win total in a head-to-head format. For teams with similar lines set for their season total, a bettor is able to bet either team to finish with more teams than the other. So, if one was to bet 115 dollars on the Washington Nationals in the "Season Wins Matchbet" market over the Oakland Athletics, it would payout 100 dollars if won. To win, said bettor would need the Nationals to win more regular season games in 2023 than the Athletics.
For teams with larger gaps in their win total line, the sportsbook will offer to match bet spreads. That is what we see in this image with the Cincinnati Reds and the Cleveland Guardians. A bettor is able to place a wager for -105 odds that the Guardians will win twenty-two more games in the season than the regular season.
One of the fun aspects of betting futures is tracking the progress across an entire season rather than a short-duration single game. The odds for a given championship outright or player award will shift drastically throughout the season based on any major events, or based on player/team performance.
Nikola Jokic has won back-to-back MVP awards and many thought it would be extremely tough for someone to conquer this feat for a third straight season. Jokic entered the season with +1000 odds to win the 2023 MVP award. However, during the All-Star break, he is currently-240 to win the award yet again on Fanduel Sportsbook. This drastic change in odds is due to Jokic's play, as he has a chance to be the third NBA player to ever average a triple-double for a season.
Future bets are a lot of fun, but also profitable once you have an understanding of how they work and the best angles to bet. The one key with these bets is tracking them throughout the year. Track those long-term bets with the best bet-tracking app out there, Pikkit!