Futures Betting Guide

After each of the major North American sports leagues closes a season, betting odds for the next year’s champion automatically are the subject of media attention. For example, mere moments after a team wins the Super Bowl each year, odds on the following year’s game start to float around social media.

That is one of the most popular forms of futures betting. A futures wager is a bet you place on the outcome of an event scheduled to take place in the future.

Live Futures Odds at TN Online Sportsbooks

See our feed below for live futures odds at Tennessee online sportsbooks. Use the drop-down menus to toggle between sports (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NCAAF, NCAAB available) and the different futures markets. Click directly on any odds to go straight to the sportsbook and set up your new account.

How do futures bets work?

Futures markets are essentially moneyline markets set on an event. 

Examples of the events used for these markets include which team will win a division title in a particular season. Most bettors will consider these markets depending on how tempting the odds are or which team is their favorite. It can be a fun way to support your team or set yourself up for a great payday.

Those may not be the best strategies in terms of making a profit, however. With futures wagers, knowledge of the subject matter and timing are crucial to winning.

How other events cause the odds on futures markets to move

Since the market for futures bets is often ongoing, oddsmakers at TN online sportsbooks monitor the league and each team closely. 

Sportsbooks will adjust futures lines in response to such factors:

  • Player injuries
  • Coaching hirings/firings
  • Free-agent acquisitions and trades
  • In-season performance in terms of statistics, wins, and losses
  • Strength of schedule

If your wager wins, the sportsbook will pay out your bet as your ticket shows. The sportsbook will not adjust the odds on your ticket if the lines move after you have placed your wager.

While that can work in your favor, it can also work against you. That depends on whether sportsbooks lengthen or shorten the odds on a market. The timing of your bet is of crucial importance. Suppose you put a bet down on the Nashville Predators to win the Western Conference in the 2020-21 season. Then suppose you placed your wager in July of this year.

Let’s say the odds on Nashville accomplishing that feat were +250 when you placed your bet. Then assume that the Predators goalie Pekka Rinne suffers a serious injury at training camp. The sportsbook may lengthen Nashville’s odds in this market to reflect that, say to +400. Should the Predators win the Western anyway, the sportsbook would still pay out your bet at +250. In this case, you technically placed your bet too early. Of course, there’s no way you could have known that Rinne would get hurt. This is part of the risk in futures betting, though.

Regional bias can impact futures betting odds

Another factor that could cause odds to move is the amount of money wagered on a specific contender. If a sportsbook takes a lot of action on the St. Louis Blues in the same market we’ve been referring to, it may shorten those odds to limit its liability.

Most sportsbooks will do that preemptively for the favorites in such markets. Just like you, they are in this business to make money. There is also a regional influence on these markets. Since bettors are more likely to be fans of and have an emotional connection to athletes and teams who are in geographical proximity to them, they are more likely to bet on those contenders in futures markets.

Because of that, you may see shorter futures odds on teams in and nearby Tennessee on TN sports betting apps as compared to those you may find in Las Vegas. Remember that the sportsbook will hold the amount of money you wagered for months. With that in mind, it may not be the best use of your betting dollar. That also applies if you’re betting for fun and whether you win any money is a secondary concern.

You’ll likely have to wait months to find out whether your wager wins, so these markets may not provide the thrill you’re seeking. If you are looking to make money on these markets, however, it’s helpful to consider the house’s edge. Figuring that out will aid your decision on whether these markets are a solid investment.

What is the house edge on futures bets at TN sportsbooks?

house edge is essentially a percentage of your wager that you pay as a fee to the sportsbook for booking your action. Suppose the moneyline at your favorite sportsbook on a Vanderbilt football game is -110 on the Commodores winning. That line tells you that if you want to make $100 in profit on your bet, you have to wager $110.

Oddsmakers try to set markets to attract equivalent action on both sides, so their liability is limited. To figure out the house edge, you have to assume that for each dollar you bet on one side of a market, someone else put a wager down at the same book on the other side.

So, let’s go back to our example and assume you put down $110 on Vandy. You then think that another bettor put down the same $110 on the Commodores’ opponent in the game, which means the house has taken a total of $220 in wagers. The sportsbook has to pay out one of the wagers because one of these two teams will win the game. 

At those odds, that takes away one of the wagers ($110) plus the profit ($100) or $210 in total. The sportsbook keeps $10 as its edge, which works out to be 4.5% of the original $220. The house edge in futures markets can be a lot higher than 4.5%, however. Books adjust these odds for many factors. As a matter of fact, house edges in these markets can be upward of 20%.

For that reason, other types of bets may be more profitable. Even if you put down money on a line of +8,000 and that bet pays off, you might have been able to use the same amount of money on markets with more immediate outcomes to earn a better return during the months the sportsbook held your wager for a futures bet.

Another distinction to note is the nature of your bet. While it may be inconsequential for casual bettors, learning the jargon is important for wagering successfully long-term.

Is your bet a prop bet or a futures bet? Yes

It’s worth distinguishing the difference between a futures bet and prop bets that are similar to futures bets.

For example, a futures bet on which team will be the next NBA champion will have a field of all 30 teams and the odds on each team winning the NBA Finals. You pick one contender and decide how much you want to wager.

A prop bet on the same event, on the other hand, will ask you whether or not you think a particular team will win the NBA Finals. The options are either yes or no, which makes this a futures bet and a prop bet simultaneously. Other examples of markets that are both futures and prop bets are whether a team will make the playoffs in a season. Wagers on a number of wins for a certain team in a given season can also be considered both prop and futures bets.

It’s important to note that not all prop bets are future bets. By the same token, not all futures bets are prop bets. A market can represent one or the other or both. These markets exist for awards and individual sports as well. 

An example may be a market that asks you to predict whether Brooks Koepka will win more money than all other PGA Tour competitors in a year. Sportsbooks can get creative with these markets, typically only restrained by what Tennessee sports betting law allows and what the TN Lottery approves.

While futures bets may not be the most lucrative, a lot of bettors like them simply for the unique experience. There’s nothing like putting money down on your team to win a championship and have that bet pay off or correctly wagering on which athlete will score the most points in a season. It also allows people to sweat a small wager for an extended period of time.