What are Futures and Outright Bets and How do I Place Them?
A futures bet is a type of sports bet wager where instead of betting on the
outcome of a single game, you are betting on the outcome of an entire
competition or season. These bets can be incredibly fun as you can typically
enjoy them for most of the competition or season. An example of a futures bet
would be betting at the beginning of the season that the Seattle Seahawks would
win the Super Bowl. For you to win this bet, the Seahawks not only have to make
the playoffs, but they also have to make it to the Super Bowl and ultimately win
the game. As you can assume this can be challenging, the payouts on these bets
reward you much more handsomely than a bet on a single game typically would.
An outright bet is just another name for a futures bet. They are fully
interchangeable and mean the exact same thing. The term future bet is more
commonly used in the United States while the term outright bet is used in most
areas in the rest of the world. For the sake of this article, we will refer to
them as futures bets but know that we are referring to both.
Benefits of Futures and Outright Bets
More Entertainment Bang for Your Buck
One of the best things about futures bets is that you get to enjoy your
betting experience for more than one game. If you were to just bet on a single
game, once that game is over your bet is also over, and you’ll have to place
another one for more action and excitement. Futures bets, on the other hand, can
be enjoyed as long as your team is still in the competition or still has a shot
Let’s say you bet on the Seattle Seahawks as a futures bet at the beginning
of the season to win the Championship/Super Bowl. Every regular season game is
now important to you because they need to make the playoffs for you to win your
bet. If they make the playoffs, you now technically have a bet on every playoff
game they’re in until they lose or make it to the Super Bowl. If they make it to
the Super Bowl, you now have a huge bet you can win if they pull off the
victory. You’d be getting 20+ games of excitement off of one bet if the team you
selected made it to the Super Bowl.
This futures bet example would only be over when your team no longer had a
chance to make it to the playoffs or the Super Bowl. This means that at the very
least you will be able to enjoy this bet for six or seven games, but hopefully a
lot more if you picked wisely. The bottom line here is that you’re going to get
to cheer for a bet for a lot more than one game in most situations.
As you can probably already tell, futures bets take a lot of things to go
right to win your bet. Because of this, the sportsbook pays out so much more for
making these bets. Typically, the more games that need to be won and the more
teams that have a shot to win, the higher the payout is going to be. Also, the
casino factors in odds of how likely they think it is that the different teams
or participants are to win. All of this just means that if you happen to hit on
a futures bet, you’re going to be a happy camper.
This is a bit more than we like to bet (ok, it’s a lot more), but here’s the
story of the largest futures bet payout in history. “Vegas Dave” bet $100,000 on
the KC Chiefs to win the World Series and collected a $2.5 million dollar payday
for his pick!
What stage of an event or season do you have to bet?
Most futures bets take place at the beginning of a competition or the
beginning of a season. When you place your bets at this point, you are most
likely going to have the most options and the best payouts as it is the furthest
from the time the bet will win. If you’ve missed the beginning of the season of
your favorite sport, you are not completely out of luck. A lot of sportsbooks
offer futures bets throughout the year with adjustments to the odds being made
based on how the team or person is doing and how close they are getting to
The better off the team or person is doing, the lower payout you will be
offered on the bet.
The worse off the team or person is doing, the higher payout you will be
offered on the bet.
The closer to the end of the season or event, the lower payout you will be
offered on the bet.
The longer to the end of the season or event, the higher payout you will be
offered on the bet.
These odds will change much like a company stock would. If you “get in”
before certain good things happen, you’ll be rewarded more for taking more risk.
A Few Examples of Futures Bets
Futures bets are quite straightforward, and most new sports bettors are able
to pick up on them very quickly. What helps to make the small nuances and the
general idea of these clearer is to look through a few real world examples of
futures bets offered. We’ve pulled three different examples of screenshots of
actual futures bets for you to take a look at here. We are going to walk you
through how to read the information on the board, the criteria you need to
fulfill to win your bet, and how to calculate the amount that you will win with
Example 1 – NFL Football
Here we have a screenshot of futures bets offered at the start of the regular
NFL season in 2015 for the winner of the Super Bowl. As you can see, each team
is represented with the respective payout odds depicted in moneyline format. The
lower the payouts, the less likely the bookmakers think that the team will have
to win the Super Bowl. Let’s say at the beginning of the season you think that
the New England Patriots are going to win the Super Bowl. Spoiler alert, they do
win the Super Bowl in 2015 which is why we picked them for this example. You
decide to place a $100 wager on this. Here are a few outcomes that can happen
and what you would get paid on this bet.
The Patriots don’t make the playoffs. You win $0.
The Patriots make the playoffs but lose before the Super Bowl. You win $0.
The Patriots make it to the Super Bowl but lose. You win $0.
The Patriots make it to the Super Bowl and win! You win $800.
The above outcomes may seem a little redundant, but we wanted to make it very
clear that the only way you get paid on a futures bet is if the team you
selected actually wins the entire event/season the bet is for. There is
something we will talk about in the strategy section called hedging where you
can “lock up” some money earlier, but that has nothing to do with your original
If you look at some of the other odds that are offered, you will see that if
you bet on one of the less likely to win teams and they pull it off, you can
make a lot of money. If you were to bet $100 on the Jaguars and they were to
win, you would make $20,000 on your $100 bet! Even if you bet $5 on the Jaguars
and they won the Super Bowl that year, you would still win $1000! Granted, it’s
extremely unlikely that would happen, but you never know.
Example 2 – Premier League Soccer
This is a screenshot of the futures bets available on the 2014-2015 Premier
League soccer season. As you can see, it is quite similar to the first NFL
example except the payout odds are shown in fractional form instead of the
moneyline format. Everything else about these bets is exactly the same. You will
notice that the payouts are a bit lower than the NFL examples. This is because
there are fewer teams involved and it is usually easier to pick the season
winner of the Premier League at the beginning of the season. The payouts are
still great though and a lot higher on the long shots.
Let’s say you place a $100 wager on Newcastle to win. If they do anything but
win the entire league, you get $0. If they do win, though, you will get
$100,000! If you place $100 on the favorite Chelsea, you will get paid $187.50
profit on that bet. Not as big as the NFL payouts, but much more likely to be
Example #3 US Open Tennis
This screenshot is from a UK sports betting site on the winner of the 2014 US
Open Men’s tennis singles competition. Everything may look the same here, but
there is one small difference that we wanted to highlight here. These odds
actually came out during the quarterfinals of the competition. Futures bets are
not always only available at the beginning of the competition but are usually
These pay out exactly the same as the previous examples. You might notice
that the odds are a bit lower on these, but that is because there are only eight
players left with a shot of winning, so it becomes a lot more likely that you
will be able to pick the winner. Remember, the riskier and tougher the pick is,
the more the sportsbook is going to pay you for making a correct pick. Some
sports bettors will never make futures bets right at the beginning of a
competition but will wait until the competition begins to try and analyze and
get a better feel for how everyone is playing. They will forfeit the best odds
by doing so, but if that means they are going to be able to make a more educated
pick, it could be worth it.
Futures Bet Strategies and Tricks
While futures bets are one of the simplest bets you can make in the
sportsbook, there are still a few things that you can do that may help you to be
more profitable. Ultimately, the ability to pick the winners and losers will be
the key to being profitable at futures bets, but these tips can definitely help
you along the way. The tips range from basic betting strategy ideas to some
advanced concepts that you may not have heard of yet.
One of the best ways to take advantage of futures bets is to make more than
one of them. Let’s pull up our NFL example from earlier to help us explain what
we are talking about here.
In this example, let’s say we are confident that the Seattle Seahawks are
going to win the Super Bowl. We place our bet for $100 and the season begins.
If the Seahawks win, we make $650 and are happy campers!
If ANYONE else wins, though, we lose and are out $100.
Now, this is a perfectly normal bet to make and one you are more than welcome
to make. But let’s say you are willing to sacrifice a little bit of the
potential profits to give yourself a better chance of being an overall winner.
What you can do is place bets on multiple teams and give yourself a much higher
chance of coming out a winner. This doesn’t work in a single game because if you
try and bet on both teams involved, one bet will win and one will lose, and you
will ultimately lose because of the house juice. Because of the nature of
futures bets having multiple teams involved that pay out at higher amounts, you
have the option of betting multiple of them and still being a winner. Here’s
what we mean:
Let’s say you still think the Seahawks are going to be the winners. You
decide, though, that you want to cut your risk down a little bit and give
yourself more opportunities to win. You decide to pick two more teams you think
might win – the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots. You place a $100
wager on all three of these teams. Now let’s look at some possible outcomes and
show you what you have done here.
If the Seahawks win, you will be paid the same $650 as if you only made that
one bet. However, this time your other two bets lost and you lose $200 on those.
This gives you a final profit of $450 which is still a pretty good day.
Let’s say the Seahawks lose. In the first example, you’re out of the game.
There is no way that you can win any money. But, in our second example, we would
still have two other teams that could pull off a win for us. You’ve successfully
given yourself some more options to win your bet.
Let’s take a look at what really happened in 2015. The Broncos did not make
the Super Bowl so you would have lost that bet. However, the Seahawks AND the
Patriots made the Super Bowl. In our first example, you would still need the
Seahawks to win to make any money. In the second example, you would be
guaranteed to make money no matter who won the game as you had bet on both of
If the Seahawks were to win, you would make your $450 total profit that we
discussed above ($650 -200 in lost bets).
If the Patriots were to win, you would be paid out $800 for winning that bet
and lost $200 for the other two bets. This would give you a profit of $600
Ultimately, you would probably be rooting for the Patriots in this game as
you would make more money, but you wouldn’t be that upset if the Seahawks pulled
it out. This strategy does cut a little bit off the top of the maximum you can
make but gives you a heck of a lot more wiggle room to walk out the door as an
overall winner. It’s up to you what betting style you’d like to take with
futures bet, but this is a great way to lower your variance.
Hedging Your Bets
Let’s continue with the NFL example to discuss this concept. Here’s a
fictitious scenario for you to imagine. You get this crazy feeling that the
Jacksonville Jaguars are actually going to be amazing and the sportsbooks are
all terribly wrong. You decide to bet $100 on the Jaguars, and they have the
most incredible season and post season and somehow miraculously find themselves
in the Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos. Here are the two outcomes of the
If the Jaguars win, you win $20,000.
If the Broncos win, you win $0.
We don’t know about you, but this would probably make us pretty sick if our
normal bet size were around $100. We would probably need to win our bet just to
cover our hospital bills from the heart attack we have sweating the game.
Thankfully, there is an option that can be utilized that works particularly well
with futures bets. It’s called hedging your bets.
Let’s say the above scenario happens and $20,000 is way more than you’d like
to be risking on one game. What you can do is bet money on the other side
to “lock up” a win. For example, let’s say you would be more than happy to walk
away with $10,000 and not have to deal with caring about who wins the Super
Bowl. If you placed a $10,000 bet on the Broncos to win the game, you
would accomplish this. Bet $10,000????!!!! Sounds crazy, but you actually can’t
lose in this scenario. Let’s look at the outcomes to demonstrate.
You bet $100 at the beginning of the season as a futures bet on the
The Jaguars have made it to the Super Bowl, and if they win, you make
To hedge, you bet $10,000 on the Denver Broncos.
If the Jaguars win, you will get paid $20,000 and lose $10,000 on your
Broncos bet. You will profit about $10,000.
If the Broncos win, you will lose your futures bet and get paid none of the
$20,000. But, you will win your Broncos bet and make somewhere around $10,000
(depending on the odds). You will profit somewhere around $10,000.
Basically, you will set yourself up to win no matter who wins the game. Your
futures bet will continually be gaining value all season long the further along
your team makes it. Technically, you can start hedging earlier than the final
game; it just gets a bit more confusing because you have to place more bets as
there are still more teams. For example, if you wanted to bet during the NFC and
AFC Championships on the above bet, you would have to place three additional
bets as there would be four teams remaining. You would be cutting down the total
amount you could win even more, but would still be locking up a nice profit.
Keep in mind that you need to pay attention to the odds on each of these
hedging bets to make sure you are betting the right amounts to lock up your
investment. Also, most importantly, make sure that you fully understand what you
are doing before you look into hedging on a bet. If you make a mistake and bet
the wrong way, it would be extremely costly and put you in a world of hurt. Ask
for help if you are confused and make sure you fully understand and are
comfortable with everything before you do it. This is definitely a more advanced
betting move, but a great one that can help you lock up some winnings with some
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