Who’s going to win the next Super Bowl? And will I be a millionaire after I bet on that team?
I don’t know what your Magic 8 Ball said, but ours just said “Better not tell you now.” Thanks for nothing, Magic 8 Ball.
Predicting an outcome of a game that is still months away is hard. Even if the Super Bowl was next week, you’d still have difficulty trying to pick the winner (ask Kansas City Chiefs fans about that). But your chances of being right increase as the day of the game gets closer — especially if you’re willing to wade through the available stats and make your bets based off that research.
That’s the key to sports betting futures. You’re placing a bet on an outcome that is still in the future. That might range from who will win the next NBA MVP award to which team will win the next NCAA Tournament. Every major sport offers some kind of futures to place your bets on, from team accomplishments to individual award winners.
Now that single-game betting is available in Canada, futures betting will be part of the wagering landscape. If you’re looking to prepare, the guide below will help you become more familiar with futures betting.
Where can I bet on futures in Canada?
When you’re ready to place a futures bet, check the feed below for a range of bets at the top online sportsbooks in Canada. To get started, simply click any odds listing. You can use the drop-down menu to see more futures options in your chosen league/sport or to see other sports.
What kinds of futures bets are there?
Depending on which sport you’re considering, futures bets range from individual awards to team accomplishments to league championships.
Let’s take a look at betting on the NBA, as an example. When it comes to NBA futures bets, here are some of the most popular options:
- Odds on which team will win the NBA Finals
- Team win totals (for the season)
- NBA MVP
- NBA Rookie of the Year
- Sixth Man of the Year
- Most Improved Player
- Coach of the Year
The odds on each of these will appear well in advance. The NBA Finals champion, for example, will usually have lines available nearly immediately following the last game of the previous championship series.
Those odds, however, change as the season progresses. The clearer a picture becomes — like which teams have been doing well and which ones are struggling — the more precise the odds are going to be.
That’s the case with any futures odds. The NFL Super Bowl champion odds come out immediately following the crowning of the previous champion. The odds all start out pretty long, but as the NFL draft, preseason and regular season unfold, the odds become more precise as oddsmakers begin to see which teams will be able to compete for a spot in the postseason and which ones are going to flounder.
Are futures bets complicated?
Not in the slightest, but they are hard to research. There are so many x-factors that can pop up between when sportsbooks release the odds and the actual conclusion of an event, it makes it difficult to foresee every possible outcome. But for those who do get it right, be it a combination of research and luck or a truly lucky guess, the return on the initial wager is pretty solid in most cases.
Placing a futures bet is one of the first wagers many new sports bettors try their hands at. Sometimes, it’s even the bet that brings them into the hobby.
Some sports bettors like to make an annual bet on their favourite teams to make a run at the championship. While you don’t want to make a habit of betting this way, there’s little harm in placing a small amount on your teams of choice.
Let’s look at what a New York Giants fan could win with a $10 bet on the Big Blue Wrecking Crew. Let’s say it’s just a month after the previous Super Bowl ends and the Giants have odds of +6600 to win the next one.
The fan bets $10 on that exact thing happening at a Canadian online sportsbook, and then lets the season unfold without thinking too much about it. If the Giants are destined to take home the Lombardi Trophy, then when all is said and done, the fan will be holding a winning bet slip.
That $10 wager, at +6600 odds, would end up paying out $660. A $100 bet would win $6,600.
Keep in mind, however, that a story like that is rarely going to unfold. Even if the Giants were favoured to win, all it would take is a significant injury to a key player to throw the entire season into chaos. There is no definitive way to tell the future, so until there is, it will always be a massive gamble when placing your money on odds for an event so far out.
Of course, the closer the Super Bowl gets, the more narrow the field will become. Research will become far more viable, and you’ll have the opportunity to make a much more informed, accurate prediction. There are still a lot of variables that could get in the way, but your chances of being right will definitely improve, especially as the field narrows.
Why do futures odds change so much?
The reason is simple. The farther away an event is from the time you make your bet, the more uncertainty exists.
If it’s the first day of spring training and you put money on the Toronto Blue Jays to win the World Series, then you’re going to get pretty great odds at that time. Once you get into the regular season and oddsmakers have had a chance to analyse how teams did in the preseason, those odds will shift based on the new outlook.
Teams that look great will climb the ladder toward being favourites, while those that struggled are going to drop beyond underdogs to long-shot territory. As the regular season unfolds, the division races become clearer and injuries and player difficulties start to play a factor in the outcomes, then oddsmakers are going to continue to make adjustments.
The more games the teams play, the more clear the picture for a potential World Series run is going to become. By the time teams start clinching playoff spots, those odds will become extremely tight. And once the first-round series start, they will be as close to accurate as any oddsmaker can get them.
There is less and less value in making a futures bet the closer you get to the event on which you are wagering. That doesn’t mean you should just wing it without a care in the world as soon as the sports lines are released, but keep in mind that the longer you wait to make a futures bet, the smaller your payout is going to be if you’re right.
Once you’ve made your futures bet, however, those odds are locked in. You don’t have to worry about how the lines will shift from that point on.
Popular futures bets in major sports
Every sport has its own futures bets that oddsmakers focus on and sportsbooks list. While all of them are essentially the same concept, you will want to be on the lookout for specific bets if you follow a particular sport.
Major League Baseball
You’ll find a large number of futures bets out there for MLB, ranging from which team will be the first to lose 90 games to which team will have the best regular-season record to which team is going to walk away on top after the World Series. Here are some of the most common Major League Baseball futures:
- World Series winner
- Team win totals
- AL and NL Cy Young awards
- AL and NL MVP awards
- Player with the most home runs
National Football League
The NFL is the sport that gets the most betting action in North America. Because of that popularity, the options for futures bets can seem endless.
Beyond the always popular weekly NFL game odds, you can expect to find futures bets that focus on the NFL draft all the way through to the Super Bowl champions. The most common futures bets for the NFL include the following:
- Super Bowl winner
- Division winners
- Over/under for win totals
- Team to make the playoffs
- NFL MVP award
- Rookie of the Year (offensive and defensive)
- First overall NFL draft pick
See our How to Bet on the NFL page for more information.
National Basketball Association
We discussed the basics of NBA betting above, but you can expect professional basketball will have similar betting options to those of other major sports. Here are some of the most common NBA futures at sportsbooks:
National Hockey League
The NHL odds market has a nice variety of options, especially when wagering on individual players. You’ll often see bets that focus on things like saves for goalies, assists, goal scoring and more. In addition, here are some more popular NHL futures:
- Stanley Cup champion
- Harty Trophy Winner
- Rookie of the Year
- Coach of the Year
- Division winners
- Norris Trophy winner
- Vezina Trophy winner
Professional golf is an individual sport with few exceptions, so futures bets are focused on individual performances only. When betting on golf, most of what you find when looking at PGA futures is going to be centred on the winner of major tournaments. Expect to find a full range of odds on the winners of the following tourneys:
Like the NFL, NCAA football is very popular in North America, which means there are a lot of NCAAF futures you can bet on, like conference champion, College Football Playoff qualifiers and more. The most common futures that bettors and sportsbooks focus on include the following:
- National champion
- Conference champions
- Win totals
- Heisman Trophy
Trying to predict the future in most sports is incredibly difficult. Somehow, that is multiplied when it comes to NCAA Division I men’s basketball. While still very popular with bettors, college basketball has a massive array of teams and players to keep tabs on.
How hard is it to predict NCAA basketball futures? Well, most sports fans have given it a try at least once when joining in on a March Madness pool. The end result? The staggering majority of us are always wrong.
Sportsbooks tend to focus on certain areas when it comes to NCAA basketball betting:
- NCAA Tournament winner
- Team to make the Final Four
- Get a No. 1 seed in the tournament
- Naismith Award
- Win totals
- Conference regular season/tournament champion
Are there any downsides to betting on futures?
There are downsides to every type of sports bet, and futures are definitely not an exception. First and foremost, you have to remember that nothing is guaranteed. In fact, futures bets, just because of their nature, are incredibly hard to research and handicap, in a way that’s different from even moneylines, totals and point spreads.
The absolute truth about futures bets is that the house has a pretty solid edge in most cases. This is especially true if you’re placing a wager on an event that won’t happen for some time. The more distant the event, the better the odds are for the house because of all of the variables that can impact your wager between now and then.
In most betting scenarios, the house has below a 5% edge over the bettor, especially those who do their homework and have a solid betting strategy. In some futures bets, like those on March Madness or a league championship, the house edge is sometimes as high as 20%, maybe even more in some cases.
The other downside is that sports bettors really should have a bankroll management plan, and that should include a limit on how much they wager on bets at one time. Placing a futures bet on something that won’t take place until months and months later means a portion of that bankroll is tied up and unavailable. While that bet may pay off and later add even more to your bankroll, it won’t be available until after the event concludes and the bet slips are paid out.
Make sure to keep yourself within the boundaries you’ve set for your bankroll. If you’re having difficulty doing that, consider reaching out to one of the many groups dedicated to helping prevent problem gambling.