Futures Betting on the NFL, NBA, MLB & More

Futures bets are a very popular form of sports betting that continues to increase in popularity as the industry legalizes across the country. Oftentimes you’ll see this a day after a championship for a sport where the odds are immediately out for the next season’s champion. This is referred to as a futures bet. A futures bet may include a championship winner, an event, or an award in the future. The most traditional bets include single-game wagers, but futures betting is not that.

Depending on when you place the wager, you could be playing the long game when betting futures. Before the season starts, you could decide which team you believe will win the sport’s championship. Because so much can happen during that time with transactions, injuries, and whatever else happens throughout a season, futures bets are difficult to win. Therefore, the payouts are generally pretty good.

In this article, we will give you everything you’ll need to know when it comes to placing sports wagers on futures bets to make you a more educated bettor.

Bet futures on a wide variety of sports

Futures bets are usually always available for all the major sports in the U.S. all year round, and they’re constantly being updated with the ebbs and flows whether it’s before or even during the season with changes happening across the sport. Odds may fluctuate often, so it’s important to get in on your futures bet winner at the optimal time for the greatest payout.

Now that you know the basics of futures bets, here’s a look at what some examples might look like across several of the major sports.

NFL futures bets

With just about everything, the NFL is going to be the king regardless of the betting type, and that’s the case as well with futures betting. Here’s a look at some of the potential futures bets available.

  • Super Bowl: Betting on who wins the next Super Bowl is a very popular future bet to make. All 32 NFL teams are going to be listed with a given value. The NFL sells hope for its teams very well and boasts about the parity across the league, making this a betting option for fans across the country to bet on their favorite teams. Because there are so many options, correctly predicting the Super Bowl could lead to a fairly significant payout.
  • Division winner: The NFL has eight divisions across the league with four in the AFC and four more in the NFC. NFL bettors have the option to wager on which team will win a particular division.
  • Win totals: Season win totals are big talking points even for those who aren’t too interested in sports betting, but it at least gives fans of the team or sport an idea of what oddsmakers expect out of a particular team. Online sportsbooks in Virginia list several victories, and bettors can choose whether they believe the team will go over or under the win total.

NBA futures bets

While not as popular as the NFL in terms of betting, the NBA has plenty of futures bets being put out by sportsbooks. Basketball is a star-driven league, so individual player wagers are usually pretty popular futures bets. Here’s a look at a few examples of futures betting in basketball.

  • Most Valuable Player: Sports bettors can bet on which player they believe will win the league’s regular-season MVP. This is a big talking point over the year, so this futures bet gets quite a bit of interest.
  • Rookie of the Year: NBA fans are always excited to see who the next big star of the sport will be, which makes these futures bet another popular wagering item.
  • NBA Finals winner: Just like the Super Bowl, odds for who will win the next NBA championship are typically available all year round with odds continuing to fluctuate.

MLB futures bets

Baseball is another sport that will have several futures bets available to wager on. Here are just a few of them.

  • Cy Young Award: Given to the game’s best pitcher, the Cy Young Award is a popular betting option for futures bettors. Several factors go into this award with so many potential options, making it a very difficult bet to win, though a relatively high payout.
  • American League/National League Pennant: If you follow the National League more than the American League or vice-versa, you can place an MLB wager on which team will advance to the World Series from the particular league.
  • World Series: The most important event of the MLB season, the best-of-seven World Series can be wagered on pretty much all year round.

Golf futures bets

Golf is becoming a more popular sport in the United States with help from sports betting like others. The PGA Tour will usually always have odds listed on sportsbooks for futures bettors.

  • Majors: The four majors in golf include The Masters, British Open, U.S. Open, and PGA Championship. Odds are usually always going to be listed for which golfers will win those events.
  • Other tournaments: There are other important golf tournaments throughout the year, including events like the Ryder Cup, which features US golfers against European golfers. Golf bettors may choose which side will win even months in advance.

College football futures bets

College football has a very popular future betting market with some fun options to think about before and during the season. One item to note is the state of Virginia does not allow bettors to wager on college football teams located inside the state.

  • Heisman Trophy: One of the most prestigious individual awards in all sports, the Heisman Trophy is given to the best player in college football that season. Tracking this award is a big part of the sport’s coverage, making the betting market fairly popular.
  • Conference winners: College football is more of a regional sport, and fans are typically more familiar with the conference their favorite team is in. With their increased knowledge of the conference, they could place a bet on which team will win it by the end of the season.
  • National title winner: Usually the day after the national championship, the next season’s title odds are out and will stay up till the next champ is crowned.

College basketball futures bets

College basketball is going to have plenty of options for futures bettors in a normal year. Like college football, bettors in Virginia are not allowed to wager on in-state college basketball teams.

  • Making the tournament: The most exciting event of the college basketball season is March Madness, a 68-team tournament held in March and early April. Sportsbooks will sometimes offer odds on teams to advance to the tournament.
  • Making the Final Four: The Final Four is a goal for many of the top college basketball programs, and sportsbooks will give out odds on which teams have the best chance to advance that far.
  • Naismith Award: While not as popular as the Heisman in college football, the Naismith Award is given to the sport’s best player with individual player odds listed.

How sportsbooks set futures odds

A variety of factors come into play when oddsmakers decide where to place certain teams and where to set the odds. Odds for futures bets are always going to be changing based on what’s happening around the futures betting market.

For example, a key player for one of the best teams in the sport could get injured, which could drastically change the future odds for that team. Also, a crucial player could get traded, which would also cause an adjustment to the odds. With important breaking news, sportsbooks may take the entire board down temporarily so they can take their time to adjust before bettors can jump in and get their bets in quickly.

Another item to consider is the amount of action going on a particular side. If one side of a futures bet is getting bet a ton with not many bets on the other side, that could force the sportsbooks to make a change to their numbers or odds.

How to place a futures bet at a sportsbook

If you’ve identified a futures bet you believe has good enough value for you to place a wager on, it’s time to place the bet. Your betting slip at the online sportsbook will show the amount of money you wagered on your predicted outcome with the payout listed if your bet becomes a winner.

In our example, let’s go to the NFL and say you’re deciding to bet on the Washington Football Team to win more than the 9.5 win total set by the sportsbook. Odds on the over and under will likely be determined by where the action is coming in, but the odds are likely going to be at least somewhere around -110 on each side, which is the traditional odds on a 50/50 wager. This essentially means you’d need to bet $110 to earn a $100 profit. If you wager $110 for Washington to get over the 9.5-win total at -110 odds and the team gets it done with a 10-win season, you win your bet and go home with a $100 profit.

Many futures bets will have many possible outcomes to choose from, which will lead to a much greater payout. For example, if you wanted to pick the Baltimore Ravens to win the Super Bowl, they could be listed as something like +800 odds for this to happen. To calculate the payout for this, a $100 bet would turn into an $800 profit. The more betting options the less likely you’ll get your bet correct, but the higher the payout will be.

Tips and strategies for betting futures

Bettors have their strategies to attack the futures betting markets, but a good way to go is to stick to the 50/50 bets with items like season win totals. You’re much more likely to get your bet correct when it’s simply a yes or no bet, rather than choosing between dozens of different players or teams. Cashing on a championship winner can be a thrilling experience, but choosing 50/50 bets might be a better play in the long term.

This is something to look for with every bet you place but if you have accounts at multiple sportsbooks, it’s important to get yourself the best odds. Sportsbooks will likely have a lot of the same futures bets, and the odds may be different. It’s up to you to shop around and get your best number with the highest payout.

Disadvantages of sports betting futures

The biggest con of futures betting is simply how difficult these bets are to win especially if there are tons of potential betting outcomes. There’s a reason sportsbooks offer championship odds so quickly, and it’s because they’re fun to bet on and they’re enticing options to wager.

Also, so much can happen throughout the season that you cannot predict, whether it’s an injury, a key trade, or simply poor execution you hadn’t expected before making the bet. As sports fans and sports bettors, we think we know exactly how a season will play out, but there are a ton of factors that go into winning a championship, making it a difficult wager to win consistently.


In conclusion, futures betting can be a fun market to look at and potentially place a wager on, though they’re difficult to win. Predicting something that far in the future is going to be difficult. That’s why the payouts are so high and why sportsbooks continue to offer them. No matter the sport, it will likely have plenty of futures betting options for you to choose from, and they’re going to increase as sportsbooks continue to compete for new users.