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Sports Betting 101: What are futures?

Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper. Getty Images

While moneylines, point spreads, and totals generally focus on the short term and specific matches, futures are long-term betting odds. They focus on events that will happen further down the line—in the future. In this case, you’re betting on things like who will win a division or who will win a championship well in advance.

There are some benefits and some risks associated with betting on futures. If you win, you can earn a hefty payout. On the flip side, however, your money is locked up for a long period of time. During that time, a lot of things can go wrong. If you bet on a particular team to win the championship and one of their star players is injured, suddenly their prospects of winning do not look quite as good. Sometimes, the team may just hit a slump partway through the season and lose a lot of valuable momentum. Just like with all betting, it’s important to calculate the risks and possible rewards.

In this kind of bet, the odds are set at the beginning of the season, but they can go up or down as time goes on. Once you make your bet, however, it is locked in at whatever the odds were at the time you placed the bet. This is why making a bet on a long shot early on can bring a potentially substantial payoff. At the beginning of the season, it isn’t entirely clear how well the team will do over the season, and so the odds are longer, offering higher rewards. If, over the course of the season, though, a team is showing that they’ve got a good chance of winning, the odds for them improve, the risk goes down, and the payoff gets smaller. Choosing exactly when to make this sort of bet is important.

Futures betting can be applied to more than just national championships. It can also be applied to things such as who will win the MVP award or other events that might happen down the line.

 

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