Futures Betting Guide: How To Analyze Futures Odds And Find Value Bets

Betting Futures Odds

Gonzaga is the "favorite" to win the NCAA Tournament, but what chances would they have to have to be profitable? (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)

Futures bets, or just “futures” in betting parlance, refer to bets that you can make about things that will occur in the future, usually at the end of the regular season or playoffs. Some examples of things you can bet on with futures include:

  • NFL Super Bowl winner
  • NBA title winner
  • World Series winner
  • College Football or Basketball National Champion
  • Conference or Division winners
  • Individual Award winners, such as NFL MVP

Futures bets require you to commit your money in advance (sometimes several months in advance) of when the bet will resolve. They often, though not always, have longer odds than popular single game bets, because with futures there may often be numerous options to choose from, each with a relatively low individual chance of occurring.

We are going to go through some real-life examples of what you might see at a sports book when it comes to futures odds, and how to convert those odds and evaluate them.

Positive vs. Negative Payout Odds For Futures Bets

Here’s a summary of the top 10 teams in college basketball, by odds of winning the 2020-21 NCAA Title, from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Thursday, December 3, 2020.

TeamOdds
Gonzaga+600
Villanova+700
Baylor+800
Iowa+800
Kentucky+900
Virginia+900
Kansas+1100
Wisconsin+1200
Duke+1300
Michigan St+1500

What do those numbers mean? In this case, any odds with a plus sign (+) in front of it means that you will win the amount listed, if you risk $100. For example, a wager on Gonzaga to win the national title would pay out $600 for every $100 risked, if Gonzaga did win the title. That amount is proportional, so if you risked $20, you would win $120.

You’ll notice that all of the title contenders are at odds of +600 or more, because any individual team, even one of the favorites, has far less than a 50% of surviving through six rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

But you might see a negative (-) sign in front of some futures wagers. For example, Gonzaga is a huge favorite to win the West Coast Conference, and their odds are listed at -1000.

When you see that negative sign, the number that follows is the amount you must risk, in order to win $100. So you would have to wager $1000 on Gonzaga in order to win just $100 if they do win the West Coast Conference.

Converting Futures Odds to Break-Even Percentages

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