Definition of Futures Bet
A futures or future bet is a wager made on the result of an event that will take place in the distant future.
The distinction here is between far and near future. After all, all bets are made on the results of events that have not yet happened. But futures are bets made well in advance of the event and therefore much more difficult to forecast.
What constitutes far and near? Well, the sportsbook determines that, but generally, it’s obvious to the bettor.
For instance, a bet on the football game this Sunday would be a standard wager, but a bet on the Super Bowl winner made in the preseason is a futures bet. The Super Bowl is a long way off, and “your” team may not even get there.
Due to this forecast difficulty, the odds are quite high, and this is the allure of the futures bet:
If you bet the Pittsburgh Pirates to win the World Series on the first day of the baseball season, odds may be as large as 500/1. As the World Series nears, those odds will drop, sharply if the Pirates are having a dream season.
Futures bets pay out very well. In the above example, if we bet $25 and the Pirates won the World Series, we’d walk away with $12,525 minus the vig. That’s an amazing payout based on the risk. Of course, the win chance is very low.
Futures are generally considered “fun” or non-serious bets. At the start of the season, the New York Rangers winning the Stanley Cup seems improbable. So to bet on that is “just for fun” and akin to purchasing a lottery ticket.
Improbable isn’t always the case though. Wagering on the Boston Bruins to win the Stanley Cup is much less of a risk. Because of that, a futures bet on the Bruins winning the Cup will have low odds more like a standard bet.