In sports betting, a future bet is a wager on anything that won’t be decided over the course of a single game. Which player or team will win a tournament, league championship, or division are all future bets. Other examples include over/under betting how many games a team will win in a season and which player will win the MVP Award, Heisman Trophy, Batting Title or any other season ending award. In this article I’ll explain types of future bets and the best way to approach them from a strategic standpoint.
Super Bowl Winner
Super Bowl winner is simply my chosen example. The points I’m going to make here remain valid in the future and also apply to betting the World Series, NBA Championship and Stanley Cup winner. That said, at the time I’m writing, NFL week 15 is upcoming and the 2012-2013 Super Bowl odds from three online betting sites are shown right. The first thing to notice is for 18 of the 22 teams still alive www.5dimes.eu has the best odds. This is true with nearly all future betting. 5Dimes has the best odds about 85% of the and for the other 15% you will find value shopping other sources. The bottom line, if you are going to use only one site for futures, 5Dimes is the one to use.
The next thing I’ll illustrate is the reason future betting is mostly for the benefit of recreational players. Let’s look back to the 2011-2012 season. The New England Patriots finished with 13-3 record and were the overwhelming favorites to win the Super Bowl at the start of the playoffs. Many sites had them -125, but the best odds that could be found were +140 (2.40) at 5Dimes. Let’s look now what moneyline betting offered for odds on their post season games.
- Division Round -588 vs. Broncos
- Conference Championship -286 vs. Ravens
- Super Bowl -135 vs. Giants
Let’s say we risked $100 and then rolled our stake forward each time. The first bet at -588 was $100 to win $17.01. We now have $117.01 and stake it on -286 which is $117.01 to win $40.91. We now have $157.92 to bet on -135 which is $157.92 to win $116.98. Winning all three we have $274.90 of which $100 was our stake. In short we got odds +175 (2.75) European on the Patriots winning the Super Bowl. This method was far better than the +140 (2.40) odds we could have had betting them at the start of the playoffs.
The point I want to make is the above is almost always true. This is especially true when dealing with big favorites and with teams that will only make the wild card. You will most often make more by manually rolling forward your bets than you will making an early bet on the Super Bowl winner. There are some exceptions to this where a professional bettor will accumulate a position on a team right after they get blown out or look weak. This is however rare, and this type of wagering is mostly for fans that want to get action down on their favorite team in order to gain a financial interest on following them over the season.
Regular Season Win Totals
Regular Seasons Wins (RSWs) is a form of betting many professional bettors specialize or minor in. This involves the bookmaker setting a prediction on how many wins a team will have in a season. Bettors can then wager over or under this total.
RSWs are personally one of my favorite forms of wagering. Let me discuss how I went about handicapping the Houston Texans expected win total from the 2012-2013 NFL Season.
The Texans finished the previous season with a 10-6 record. A mistake many players make is to look at a team’s record alone. There all sorts of happenings over the course of a season where some games end in lucky calls, fluke turnovers, etc. In other words, there is a lot of variance in record alone. Luckily there is a way to see what a team’s record most likely would have been if no luck was involved.
This is known as the Pythagorean Theorem for football. Its formula is (PF^2) / (PF^2+PA^2) * 16 = expected season win total. Note: PF is points for; PA is points against.
In this season the Texans scored 381 points and allowed 278. Putting this in the formula I get (381*381) / (381*381+278*278) *16 = 10.44. Again this tells me if there was no luck involved in NFL games the Houston Texans would have won 10.44 games.
The next item to consider was how the 2012-2013 Texans differed from the 2011-2012 Texans.
In 2011-2012 due to injuries they had to rely late on rookie TJ Yates who started the season as their third string QB. The coming season they were starting healthy with Matt Schuab back under center. The concern was while they do have star players in Andre Johnson, Arian Foster and Owen Daniels these guys are not getting younger. They also had several key losses on defense. They did however draft young defensive talent and have one of the best defensive coordinators in the league.
My conclusion was if the Texans stayed healthy they will win over 10.44 games. However, this was a “big if” and the lack of depth had to be considered. The final adjustment was looking at their schedule. Their division looked to be one of the weakest, and they only had only 6 quality opponents on their schedule.
With all factors considered I predicted the Texans winning 10.44 games sounds about right. The image to the left starts with what the odds were when I made my bet at Pinnacle and what they moved to shortly after. This supported the idea my opinion was sharp. I did far better than expected as the Texans started the season 11-1 to give me an easy win by NFL Week 12.
You now have the math and logic required to handicap regular season win totals. This should work for the 2013-2014 NFL Season and every season beyond.
Player Of the… Award
There are player awards available for future betting such as the Heisman Trophy winner for college football, the NFL, MLB, and NBA MVPs, etc. To comment quickly the odds for these are often well short with not too much opportunity to find an advantage. However, I’ll give you one tip: Avoid the Dead Money Bets!
For football simply evaluate the starting QBs in the league. Look at their team’ season schedule and decide which have the highest probabilities of finishing with the best stats. Then shop their odds at as many betting sites as possible, and wager with the one offering the best odds.
The reason why I limit handicapping to QBs is since 2001 the NFL has had 10 QBs win the MVP award and 2 running backs (no other position won). For NCAA that same period saw 11 QBs and 1 running back win the Heisman Trophy (and again, no other position won). Though it might happen in some future year, the current trend is bets on defensive players are dead money when we are talking the NFL MVP or NCAA Heisman Trophy winner. The bookies however do post odds for defensive players and these bets should be avoided.
Future Betting at Betfair
Another option for future betting is using the world’s largest betting exchange www.betfair.com. This option is not available to United States residents . This is a peer to peer betting where players make wagers against each other as opposed to with a bookie. How it works is covered in detail in my article on in-play betting which is a near must read if you are not familiar with this form of wagering.
One advantage to using Betfair is you can make wagers against a team winning on the future market at far better odds than you’ll find anywhere else. This can be highly profitable if you act as the market maker. There is also much strategy that can be used to buy a team, then sell them, or sell a team (lay) and then buy them back when the odds move. If you read my in-play article (already linked) and explore their website it shouldn’t be to develop strategies for trading sports betting futures markets.
Political and Entertainment Props
Finally understand future betting does not always mean sports. There are all sorts of wagering options offered online outside of sports such as who will win reality television shows. This includes American Idol, X Factor, Survivor and Dancing with the Stars and many others.
You can also wager over/under on how much a film will gross in the box office. Political markets exist too such as over/under on how many republicans there will be in the US Senate. The list of future betting opportunities is near endless. I’ve covered some of the options in my article on political, entertainment and television props.
Shopping the Odds is Key
My closing advice is no matter what futures market you are looking to bet, shopping the odds at as many online bookmakers as possible is the most important step. This is in most cases more important than having handicapping abilities on a given market. The same advice applies to all betting markets not just futures. However, with futures the juice (vig) is massive and odds vary greatly between betting sites. Always, Always, Always… shop for the best price. That said we at Intense Gambling as always wish you the best of luck.