Future Betting Strategy and Tips
In sports betting, players often make wagers on which team will win the Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup, NBA Championship, or even divisions and conferences (like the MLB). At online betting sites, these wagering opportunities are available either in specific league betting menus or in a separate section of the site labeled “Futures” or “Future Bets”.
In this article, we cover basic to intermediate strategies to sports betting futures, touching on line shopping, understanding juice and when future betting is and isn’t a good idea.
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Line shopping for the best odds.
No matter if you’re a recreational bettor or a sports betting pro, the most important strategy to future betting is simple and easy to understand: “Always bet with the best line”.
Most would be surprised to learn how greatly odds on future bets range between betting sites. At the time I am writing this article, it is the Thursday before the start of 2010 NFL season’s week 7. Today, I noticed Bookmaker.eu, under their section “NFL – Futures”, was offering 11 to 1 on Patriots winning the Super Bowl. Coming off a big win against the Ravens last week, I figured the Patriots chances were a bit better than this line reflected, so it appeared to be a decent bet.
However, knowing odds vary from site to site, and wanting to see where I stand, I went searching to validate whether or not this was a good line. After checking Bodog and seeing Patriots 9 to 1, and 5 Dimes seeing Patriots 10 to 1, I was feeling quite confident. Digging further, I found Sportsbook.com offering 15 to 1 on the Patriots winning the Super Bowl. Wow! While I’m a huge fan of Bookmaker.eu, by betting there instead of the site offering 15 to 1, my potential return is 75% less. Now glancing at the lines further, to Bookmaker’s credit, I did notice a handful of teams that they offered better odds on than the four sites mentioned for the Patriots, though I had to take my business elsewhere to get the best odds.
In sports betting, it’s always the best idea to use multiple sites and get the best line. However, when we’re talking of weekly match ups, the savings are rather small. In future betting “getting the best odds” is much more critical, as sometimes we can be talking 50% or 75% more payout. In fact, last week most sites were offering the Bucs at 80 or 100 to 1, while one site had 175 to 1 –again, talk about a major difference. If you’re going to remember one thing in this entire article, make it the importance of shopping for the best line.
Check out the football betting tips article for 5 tips on betting on the NFL in 2015.
As you are likely aware of, betting sites and sportsbooks make their profit by charging a markup called the “juice”. When betting against the spread, the juice is transparent and easy to calculate. On a line of Falcons -3.5 / Bengals +3.5 the bookmaker allows you to be either side at -110 pricing, risk 1.1 to win 1.
The bookmaker advantage is 4.55%, as it’s a 50/50 proposition where 11 returns 21 instead of 22. To calculate their edge, take 1/22 and we get 4.55%. When betting on futures, the juice is not as easy to decipher due to the multiple number of potential outcomes.
For example, here is a bet currently offered in the “NFL – Futures” section of Bookmaker.eu:
Odds to win 2010-2011 AFC South
- Houston Texans = +230
- Indianapolis Colts = -130
- Jacksonville Jaguars = +1500
- Tennessee Titans = +260
The average recreational bettor has no clue how to go about calculating the juice offered. To clue you in, there are only four teams in this conference where the probability that one of them wins it is 100%. So let’s do some math and see how often we need each individual bet to win for that bet to be break even against the odds offered.
The formula for calculating break even percentage is risk divided by return. The return is how much the ticket returns (stake + winnings).
BREAK EVEN = Risk / (Stake + Winnings)
So, for example: $130 risked on “Colts -130” returns $230 ($130 stake plus $100 win). The break even percentage is 130/230 = 0.5652 which is 56.52%. Doing the same on Texans +230, a $100 bet returns $330, because using 100/330 we find the Texans need to win 30.30% of the time for the bet to break even.
After doing the same math on each, we end up with:
- Houston Texans = 30.30%
- Indianapolis Colts = 56.52%
- Jacksonville Jaguars = 6.25%
- Tennessee Titan =s 27.78%
Now if we add these all up, the total is 120.85%. 100/120.85% shows us Bookmaker.eu is expecting to payout 82.74% of what they take in on bets, while the rest is their profit. Of course, that’s not exact, as in addition to building in profit, the juice gives them a margin of error to offset their risk.
There are several things we can do now that we know this 120.85% number. If we assume bookmaker has spread the juice evenly, and we want to see what their odds maker has for the true chance of each team winning the AFC south at, then here is the math:
- Houston Texans = 30.30%/120.85% = 25.07%
- Indianapolis Colts = 56.52%/120.85% = 46.77%
- Jacksonville Jaguars = 6.25%/120.85% = 5.17%
- Tennessee Titans = 27.78%/120.85% = 22.99%
Notice all the probabilities now equal 100%. We’ve removed the juice to create a true probability.
We can convert these back into American odds format (moneylines) by plugging in a stake and giving a return. Let’s take a $100 stake on Texans 25.07%. $100 risked divided by 25.07 gives a return of 3.99 times our bet, so $100 returns $399. $100 of that was our stake, so the bet was $100 to win $299, which means the American odds are +299.
Doing that same math on each we get:
True Odds of winning 2010-2011 AFC South.
- Houston Texans = +299
- Indianapolis Colts = +114
- Jacksonville Jaguars = +1834
- Tennessee Titans = +335
Repeating this same process at several sites, perhaps with the use of a spread sheet to strip juice and take averages, is something an advanced bettor might do. If you’re a recreational bettor, remember the most important thing is shopping each future bet at multiple sites. On odd props bets such as “next manager to be fired” or “who will Dancing with the Stars?” there are far less sites offering the same bet, so the value of line shopping is reduced.
Knowing how much juice a site is charging might be helpful in deciding whether or not to bet. At the very least, you can use this information to impress your friends when it comes to talking strategic sports betting knowledge.
Future Betting isn’t always the best idea.
Here is a common scenario where a futures bet does not make sense:
It is week 17 of the NFL season, and a team is in a must win game to make the playoffs. Let say in this particular game they are a large favorite priced at -250. In such a scenario, a betting site might list them at 40-1 to win the Super Bowl. Let’s say we expect they’ll be even money in the first two playoff rounds and a 2 to 1 dog in the remaining two.
Here, essentially, what we have is a 5 team parlay of -250, +100, +100, +200 and +200. If you bet them each week and roll your profits forward, this bet would pay 49.4 to 1, as opposed to the 40 to 1 the future bet offers. When considering future bets, it is important to consider what the odds would be if you bet the team the rest of the way as opposed to putting them in a future bet.
There are several scenarios where future bets do make sense. Many pros will bet on futures throughout the season as a method of hedging bets. For example, there are times when a long shot team’s odds might double or get cut in half with a win or a loss for certain games of the season. This gets a little complex, but it’s just some food for thought that you might use in your overall sports betting strategy.
Where a future bet might make sense.
A true example of where a future bet makes sense comes in a bet I just made moments before writing this article. As it stands right now, the Patriots record is 4-1 and my database projects them to finish the season with an 11-5 record. They are trailing the Jets, however, who I am also projecting an 11-5 record for.
I predict one of these teams will be the two seed, while the other is the five, and while probabilities slightly favor the Jets, ultimately it’s a close race. If the Patriots end up the two seed, they’ll play one less playoff game. If their division race is decided early there might not be a betting opportunity late in the regular season on a playoff clinching game.
All things considered, the 15 to 1 odds on Pats winning the Super Bowl now could very well be the best bet I find on them the remainder of the season, and with realistic chances of having no opportunity to manually parlay them at better odds, locking them up now at 15 to 1 is my best option.
Future betting tips final thoughts.
Future betting as a strategy can get a little tricky. Fine points to remember are how to calculate juice and how a future bet might payout if the returns are rolled forward instead.
Ultimately, though, the most important thing in future betting strategy, which we’ve already mentioned several times, is “always bet with the best line”. To do so, you’ll need several online betting accounts, and one of the most important ones to have in your arsenal due to their large markets and volumes that shift the lines is www.Bookmaker.eu.
If you’ve never had an account at Bookmaker before, be sure to sign up using bonus code FRESH which will get you a 15% free play on your initial deposit amount. That’s a sure way to get better odds future betting. Now, no matter which team you pick, we wish you the best of luck.