The Truth About Futures Bets: Why to Avoid Them

August 1, 2023

Futures betting has gained popularity in the sports betting industry, offering the allure of massive wins for those who correctly predict long-term outcomes, such as league championships and individual awards. However, the success story of the Vegas Golden Knights in their inaugural NHL season exposed sportsbooks to significant liabilities, highlighting the inherent risks involved in futures betting. In this article, we will delve into the mechanics of futures betting, the impact of juice, and how bettors can use this market strategically.

What is a Futures Bet? 

Futures bets allow bettors to place wagers on events far in advance, such as championship winners or individual player accolades. These bets are common just before or at the start of a season, enabling sportsbooks to generate higher betting volume during the offseason. Odds for future bets fluctuate based on team or player performance throughout the season.

Misconception of Accurate Representation

Many novice bettors mistakenly believe that future bets reflect accurate rankings of teams or players’ chances of success. However, odds attached to futures bets primarily serve as a tool for sportsbooks to balance betting volume on different options rather than accurately reflecting probabilities.

Impact of Juice on Futures Bets 

Sportsbooks charge substantial juice or vig on futures bets, allowing them to secure profits and manage risk. Futures odds are highly volatile, and bookmakers adjust lines frequently to balance incoming bets. The juice on futures can be significantly higher than on conventional betting lines, making it challenging for bettors to achieve profitability.

Risk Management for Sportsbooks

Futures bets can expose sportsbooks to substantial liabilities, especially when unexpected underdogs make remarkable runs. In the case of the Vegas Golden Knights, their unexpected journey to the Stanley Cup Finals put sportsbooks at risk of paying out significant amounts to early-season bettors who wagered at long odds.

Understanding the Juice

Sportsbooks charge juice on futures bets to cover their expenses and ensure profitability. The juice is calculated by adding up the implied probabilities of all betting options, which typically exceeds the standard 105%-110% overground on conventional betting lines.

Using Futures Bets Strategically

While futures betting often favors sportsbooks due to the high juice, bettors can still use this market strategically. Hedging bets on underdogs early in the season can offer a chance to secure profits if those teams exceed expectations. However, choosing longshot teams with potential value is essential, as betting on favorites rarely provides favorable odds.

Futures betting can be tempting with the promise of significant wins, but sportsbooks strategically use high juice to secure profits and manage risk. While there are opportunities for strategic hedging, bettors should approach futures betting with caution, recognizing the bookmakers’ advantage in this market. It is crucial to strike a balance between risk and potential reward when navigating the futures betting landscape.

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