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Futures Betting Guide: How To Bet With Futures Across Sports Leagues

Publish Date: 16/05/2024
Fact checked by: Josh Schwartz

In the exciting realm of sports betting, there’s a multitude of bet types and interesting markets across various sports. Among the available betting types, we find pre-match bets, live bets, and futures bets.

In this futures betting guide, we will focus on futures bets, explaining how to bet with futures, how they function, and offering insights into considerations to make before placing them.

What are futures in betting?

So, what are the future bets? Future bets are wagers that are based on longer periods, lasting the course of an entire season, pre-season, or playoffs. Futures can be found in all leagues and sports, as well as outside the world of sports in politics and other televised competitions such as America's Got Talent, American Idol, and Dancing with the Stars.

The most common future bets are those where you can wager on the winner of a specific league, tournament, or competition. These future bets can be placed at the beginning of a season or even before it starts, as well as throughout the season as it progresses through its various stages.

However, it's important to note that the odds will change based on factors such as a team's performance, injuries, and other variables affecting their likelihood of any specific outcome.

Futures betting guide

Future bets, as the name implies, are wagers that hinge on forthcoming outcomes, extending beyond individual games to encompass entire seasons or competitions.

Among these future bets, the most popular markets include,

  • Teams to win the league or tournament
  • Player to win MVP
  • Players to score the most points

Each of these markets offers an exhilarating form of long-term betting that spans the course of a season, catering to all types of bettors, whether they prefer to wager on a team's overall performance or on the individual success of a specific player throughout the season.

In these future markets, you'll discover excellent opportunities in terms of the available odds.

For instance, if you have confidence in a team's potential to clinch a title or a hunch that a particular player will shine and secure an individual award, you stand to gain a substantial profit.

Every year, there's a surprise team performance in one of the leagues, and each season brings breakthrough prospects and comeback stories of players who leave a lasting impact. It's all about anticipating these events and having a bit of luck to secure a successful bet.

NBA future betting guide

Basketball ranks among the world’s top sports, and with the NBA being the biggest and best  basketball league globally, it draws viewing and betting interest from all the continents.

Among all the exciting NBA future markets there are available, we have picked some interesting ones and explained them below.

NBA Champions

The winner's market is very straightforward. Here, you are betting on which team will win the NBA championship. This bet can be placed from the start of the season, when the odds are most favorable, and also throughout the season, even once the playoffs have started.

This is the most popular futures market, which you will find available for all sports and leagues on most sportsbooks that offer odds on the respective sport.

Division to win the NBA finals

In the "Division to win the NBA Finals" market, you are betting on which division the NBA champion will emerge from. It's essential to be familiar with the teams within each division and their performance levels.

The appeal here lies in the ability to bet on multiple teams within a single wager.

The divisions of the American sports leagues

The American sports leagues are structured around two conferences: the Western and Eastern Conferences. These divisions roughly correspond to geographical regions, with teams in the west competing in the Western Conference and those in the east competing in the Eastern Conference.

Within these conferences, teams are further divided into divisions, typically comprising teams in close proximity to one another.

For instance, here is how the NBA divisions are organized:

Atlantic Central Southeast Northwest Pacific Southwest
76ers Bucks Hawks Jazz Clippers Grizzlies
Celtics Bulls Heat Nuggets Kings Mavericks
Knicks Cavaliers Hornets Thunder Lakers Pelicans
Nets Pacers Magic Timberwolves Suns Rockets
Raptors Pistons Wizards Trail Blazers Warriors Spurs

If you were to bet on the aforementioned market ("Division to win the NBA Finals"), you would wager on one of five teams from the selected division to secure the NBA title.

For instance,

if you placed a bet on the "Central" division at +550 odds, your bet would be successful if any of the following teams,

  • Bucks
  • Bulls
  • Cavaliers
  • Pacers
  • Pistons

emerged as the NBA champions.

This betting principle can be applied across all four major sports leagues in the USA: football, basketball, ice hockey, and baseball, at both the professional and collegiate levels.

To understand how the various leagues are structured into conferences and divisions, you can refer to the official websites of the respective leagues, NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB.

Conference to win the NBA finals

The “Conference to win the NBA finals” market works in the same manner as the one above. The difference here is that you bet on fifteen out of thirty potential champions, as each conference holds fifteen teams each.

This leads to the odds and a potential payout being lower as your bet has more potential winning outcomes. Before placing these bets, it is important to know what teams are in what conference and to highlight which teams are most likely to win the championship from both conferences.

Team specials

In addition to betting on long-term team performances, you also have the opportunity to wager on individual player performances throughout the season. These markets include a wide range of options, such as predicting the number of points, triple-doubles, or awards a player will win by the season's conclusion.

NBA futures bet markets also feature some intriguing proposition bets.

For example, you can bet on Victor Wembanyama to achieve a quadruple-double in any game during the season (above image).

This feat would require Wembanyama to attain double-digit figures in four of the five statistical categories: points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals. Such a milestone could occur in any regular-season game, and the bet would be settled as a win if and when Wembanyama accomplishes the feat, rather than waiting until the end of the regular season.

Throughout the season, you'll encounter numerous markets where you can wager on similar or different outcomes involving players from various teams.

If there's a specific futures bet that you can't find in your sportsbook, you can always contact the sportsbook directly to request the market. Many of these sites are willing to accommodate such requests and will be happy to assist you!

NFL future betting guide

American football is America's sport, and the NFL is one of the most exciting leagues for viewers and bettors in the whole world.

In the realm of NFL future bets, you'll discover a wide range of markets centered on team performance and player achievements. Similar to NBA future bets, NFL futures include team specials, Super Bowl winners, and predictions on which conference or division the Super Bowl champions will emerge from.

These markets are commonly available at most sportsbooks that offer NFL betting options. Below, we will have a look at some other interesting NFL future bets that can be found.

First team to win

In this market, you are wagering on an NFL team to clinch its first Super Bowl victory in franchise history. Here, it's crucial to identify which teams have yet to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy and to assess their past performances, offseason trades, signings, and other relevant factors.

Like most NFL futures markets, this market is typically available at the start of an NFL season and remains open as the season progresses. However, placing this bet earlier in the season may yield more favorable odds, as the odds tend to be higher when more teams are still in contention.

To reach the playoffs

In the world of sports, it is all about being the best. And to be among the best, you have to reach the playoff stages of your league.

This offers some exciting betting markets where you can bet on which teams will reach or miss the playoffs.

To participate in the wildcard

This market is similar to the previous one, but instead, you wager on which teams will advance to the wildcard matchups.

To qualify for the wildcard, a team must rank among the top three teams in their respective conference that did not win their division. Typically, these teams finish second in their division, although a team that finishes third may also qualify if it has a superior record compared to other second-placed teams in the conference.


The draft is a pivotal event across all American sports, providing teams with the opportunity to secure future talents for their franchises. It offers intriguing betting markets, with the "No. 1 overall pick" being the most popular one.

In addition to betting on the first overall pick, you can also wager on selections for the second, third, fourth, and beyond. There are also other prominent markets in the NFL draft, such as "first non-QB drafted," which allows you to bet on the first player other than a quarterback to be selected.

Before placing bets on the NFL draft, it's essential to research the draft-eligible players to identify the top prospects available.

Additionally, consider which team holds the first pick and what position they aim to reinforce. However, if there's a generational talent in the draft pool, these factors become less significant, as every team will be eager to acquire such a player.

MLB future betting guide

The MLB is the world's most popular baseball league and draws huge interest from other big countries such as Mexico and Japan.

Among the MLB future bets, you will find the same as you would when looking at NBA, NFL, and NHL bets. There could be some small variations, but in essence, all of the markets mentioned  can be applied to all of the major US leagues.

Some of the futures markets you can find in both the MLB and the other leagues are the following:


Here, you're betting on which player will win the MVP (Most Valuable Player) award throughout the season. It's important to note that there are different types of MVP awards, although not all exist in every league. Regardless, it can be beneficial to understand each type.

  • MVP regular season: This award is given to the player who is deemed the most valuable for their team during the regular season
  • MVP Playoff: This award recognizes the player who is most valuable for their team from their first playoff game until their last
  • MVP Finals: This award is bestowed upon the player considered the most valuable for their team during the finals series

It's crucial to remember that scoring the most points for the team isn't the sole criteria. Factors such as assists, turnovers, leadership qualities, and other contributions to the team are also taken into account.

Player performance

This futures betting guide would not be complete without mentioning futures scoring markets. Here, you can bet on almost any metric during the regular season or playoffs. These metrics may include the number of points a player will make or score, the number of turnovers, and more.

Future bets: what to consider

When it comes to betting on futures, one must consider a multitude of factors. Since these bets span over weeks or months, various elements can influence the odds and the outcome of a futures bet.

To engage in futures betting successfully, one needs to be well-informed about team and player performance, both historically and in recent times.

Additionally, staying updated on trades and signings is crucial. Understanding different players' fitness levels and injury tendencies throughout the season is also important.

Essentially, the more knowledge you possess about the sports and leagues involved, the better prepared and informed you'll be. This, in turn, enhances your chances of success when placing futures bets.

Conclusion: Futures Betting Guide

To conclude, futures betting offers a wide range of exciting markets that don't necessarily tie you to predicting the outcome of a specific game. Instead, it provides the opportunity to wager on a particular team or player throughout the course of a season or playoff.

There are favorable odds available in futures markets, especially if you, as a bettor, are ahead of the curve in terms of understanding trends and developments. This allows you to place bets on surprise candidates, such as a team emerging from their division to reach the playoffs, at more profitable odds.

Future bets FAQ

How do I bet on futures?

Future bets are available on most sportsbooks and can be found on the respective league pages on that site. While being on the league side of the sportsbook, you should be able to find prop bets, players: futures bets and teams: futures bets.

What are future bets?

Futures are bets that are determined in the future and can be bets that are based on player or team performances.

What type of future bets are there?

The futures market offers a wide range of options. The most common futures bets are placed on player performances, awards, and achievements over a season, as well as team performances regarding whether they reach the playoffs or ultimately win the championship.

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