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Futures betting is a staple of the sports betting world but it is a bit of an outlier compared to standard game lines. They’re also the only truly long-term bet you can make.
The main allure of futures bets is their unpredictability, which ultimately leads to higher odds and massive potential payouts. Also, they’re simple to understand, which is why both amateur and veteran Maryland bettors often dive into this type of betting.
We’ve got everything you need to know about futures betting: How futures odds are set across different sports, what are the main advantages and disadvantages of futures compared to other betting types, and how they payout.
Live futures odds at Maryland online sportsbooks
Instead of going to each Maryland sportsbooks to compare futures betting odds, you can simply use our odds feed below that will help you find the best odds for the bet you’re looking for. Use the drop-down menus to change between different sports/leagues and markets to find odds that appeal to you.
Once you find odds you like, simply click the links to visit the corresponding Maryland sportsbook. Sign up, claim the welcome bonus and start making your futures bets in no time.
What is a futures bet?
The name says it all. A futures bet is a wager on something happening in the future. This usually isn’t a bet taken on an individual game but instead implies a prediction of the outcome of an entire league or tournament.
There are essentially two types of futures bets, team futures and player futures. The former suggests picking a team to win a championship, like the next Super Bowl winner. With player props, you’ll be betting on individual players, like which player will win the NBA MVP award.
You can also find some special and a bit obscure futures for certain big events. For example, you can put an over/under wager on how many goals will be scored throughout the FIFA World Cup or who will be the referee in the final.
The great thing about futures bets is that they are not particularly time-sensitive. You can bet on the World Series winner before the season even starts while also opting to place the same bet during the playoffs. Of course, odds will change throughout the season.
Sportsbooks usually won’t have any restrictions on how much you can bet on futures markets, so you can either place a small $10 bet or wager a few thousand dollars or more. Either way, you’re likely going to get great value, as the odds for futures bets tend to be relatively high given the general unpredictability of the outcomes.
Why you should choose futures over other bets
Odds are the main reason for sports betting on futures over other types of bets. As mentioned, predicting an outcome of an entire competition is hard both for bettors and oddsmakers. This means that the odds will be relatively high, so even if you bet on the outright favorite, you could be looking at the odds of +500 or higher.
A season-long bet can help your bankroll last longer, and you can always choose an early cashout if offered and get a small profit even if the season isn’t concluded yet.
The downside, however, is that futures bets usually have a higher house edge. While single-game wagers typically have a house edge of around 4.5%, futures bets can have a house edge of 20% or more.
Of course, there’s also the aspect of waiting. A season can last for over half a year, so those who like constant action might not find this type of bet all too exciting.
How futures bets differ between sports
The majority of sports are constructed in such a way that they allow for futures bets. Major American sports like the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL are all similar in the sense that they have a long regular season followed by a playoff “tournament,” more or less.
For these sports, the most common futures bets are division winner, conference winner, Championship winner, or individual player awards (MVP, Cy Young, ROY, Coach of the Year, etc).
Things work a little differently for individual sports like tennis and golf. While certain sportsbooks might allow you to bet on who ends as the world’s number one player, most futures bets for these sports will revolve around winners of major tournaments.
Golf betting is a little more versatile in the sense that you can bet on a player to cut, finish in the top 5, the leader after round one, the top player from a specific country, and more.
Are there any futures bet variations I should know about?
Futures are pretty straightforward bets and are usually taken as singles. However, some sportsbooks may allow you to parlay your futures bets. Of course, this will depend on the sportsbook’s rules, but expect that parlay futures won’t work for every competition. After all, there can’t be two winners of the same competition.
A great example of a parlay futures bet is the series winner. Since these bets work pretty much in the same way as the moneyline wager, you can place several of them on the same bet slip.
How do futures bets pay out?
Futures bets payout is relative to their odds which reflect the probability of a team winning a championship or a player getting a specific award. If you wager $10 on odds of +500, your potential profit is $50; if you bet $10 on +5,000, the payout is $500, and so on.
You will get paid shortly after the season is concluded. Even when certain futures bets like over/under get decided before the last game of the season, you’ll still have to wait for the season to end to request a withdrawal.
Popular futures bets per sport
Here are some of the most popular sports in Maryland and the most common futures bets associated with them.
- Super Bowl champion
- Conference champion
- MVP winner odds
- Regular season team win totals
- To make playoffs
- Stanley Cup champion
- Conference champion
- Best overall record
- Hart Memorial Trophy winner
- Rookie of the year winner
- National Championship winner
- Heisman Trophy winner
- National Championship winner
- Naismith Award winner
- Australian Open champion
- French Open champion
- Wimbledon champion
- US Open champion
- Fight awards
- Fighter to retain a world title
- Who will a certain fighter fight next
- First fighter to retire
- Champions League champion
- MLS champion
- FIFA World Cup champion
- UEFA Euro champion
- Premier League champion
How does in-play futures betting work?
Looking at how long futures bets take to settle, you might think it doesn’t make much difference whether you take them before, after, or during a single game.
However, most online sportsbooks won’t allow you to place futures bets while any of the corresponding selections are currently in play. The reason for this is that even a single regular-season game can have a large effect on a team’s or player’s chances of winning.
Imagine if a star player on a given team goes through a season-ending injury during the game. Naturally, that team’s chances of winning will drop significantly and will affect not only that team’s odds of winning but the odds of other teams as well.
Therefore, most sportsbooks will turn off their futures betting option while any games are in play, simply so bettors can’t exploit these kinds of situations.
Can I make early cashouts on futures bets?
Most Maryland sportsbooks feature the early cashout option. This option allows you to settle your bet even before the outcome, and it works for futures bets as well. Of course, the payout for this sort of action will be only a portion of your original potential payout.
So, for example, let’s say you bet on the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl at the beginning of the season. If the odds of them winning were +1,000 at the beginning of the season and you wagered $100, you will be looking at a potential payout of $1,000.
The Patriots make it to the final game, but you’re afraid that they might lose, so you pull out from that bet early. The sportsbook won’t offer you the full $1,000, but only a portion of that amount. Still, you end with some profit.
Player vs. team futures
Futures bets can be divided into player futures and team futures. Player futures allow you to bet on any number of players to win a certain award or reach a certain milestone, while team futures relate only to entire teams and their overall success throughout the season.
Player futures might have a few more markets you can explore, but that depends on the sport and the type of competition.
Biggest futures betting mistakes to avoid
Because they are easy to understand, futures bets are very attractive to beginner bettors. But that’s the exact reason why many people make mistakes when betting on futures. If you wish to increase your chances of winning this type of bet, here are some rookie mistakes to avoid:
- Overreacting on current form: The season is long, and it’s normal for players and teams to have ups and downs. The important thing is not to overreact to these trends, as they are likely not going to last for long. If a player starts playing well over several games, his chances for winning the MVP might increase, but that doesn’t mean he would continue performing on the same level for the rest of the season and win the trophy.
- Betting on futures too early: Some sportsbooks may release futures betting lines for the next season as soon as the previous season ends. It’s seldom good to take those bets, as there are plenty of things that may happen in the meantime, including the draft, trades, injuries, etc.
- Poor bankroll management: Seeing great odds and betting a lot of money on futures may seem irresistible. However, remember that this money is “trapped” for the rest of the season. Balance your budget in a way that you have the option to hedge bets and enjoy some regular in-season betting.
How much should you bet on futures?
Futures are always a risky bet, simply due to various factors that can change the outcome of the entire season. If you bet a lot on futures, that money will be locked in for a long time, so unless you are certain of your decision, you should always bet a smaller amount.
However, a great thing about futures bets is that they can be made throughout the year. The odds can shift rapidly over time, allowing you the opportunity to make new bets to cover your bases.
For example, the odds for Nikola Jokic winning the NBA MVP at the beginning of the 2020/21 season were around +3,600 on most online sportsbooks. Jokic played well throughout the season and by the end of the season was the odds-on favorite at -200.
If you made a futures bet on Jokic to win MVP early on, you can now make another bet on the second favorite player with a plus-money return and give yourself an even better chance to collect on at least one winner.
It’s generally a good idea to place smaller bets early in the season when predictability is still low. Once you move toward the end of the season and already have some insight into how the season is going, you can be more confident in making a larger bet.