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Future Betting Strategy

Most online betting sites offer players the opportunity to bet on which team will win the World Series, NCAA National Championship, NBA Championship, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, and other league championships. These betting options, known as future bets, open up for betting before the season begins and remain open right until the start of semi final play. Over the course of the season, or even midway, the odds on a team winning their championship changes, due to market opinion and odds maker reactions. In this article, we’re going to give you some tips to help make future betting more profitable.

Line Shopping

Each sports betting site offers unique odds on teams winning league championships, so odds vary from site to site. For example, Bodog might have the Baltimore Ravens at +700, while Sportsbook has them at +750 and 5 Dimes has them at +825. To get the best odds, it’s important to shop site to site. In fact, sometimes you’ll find a line well off the market price. After Week 5 of the 2010 NFL season, Bodog was offering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 100 to 1 and every site I checked had similar odds or less, until I stumbled across the Bucs 175 to 1 at 5Dimes. Had I just settled for 100 to 1 after checking half a dozen sites, I’d have ended up with 75% less payout potential. To win at any form of sports betting, you need to get the best price; in future betting not only is this no exception, it is even more crucial.

Understand Value

At the risk of getting too advanced, I’m going to reveal how a sharp bettor might determine value of a future line. To keep this simple and to use a real example, I’ll look at the lines before Week 6 of the 2010-2011 NFL season on teams winning the AFC West taken from Bodog.com.

Lines at Bodog: Cowboys +350, Giants +180, Eagles +220, Redskins +300

What we need to do next is determine what the fair line of a team winning is without the juice. The first step is to convert each team’s moneylines to a percent. The math for this is: risk divided by payout equals percent. For example, a $100 bet on the Cowboys +350 would payout 450 (our $100 stake + 350 winnings). Here the math is 100/450 = 22.222%. After doing that for each we have Cowboys 22.222%, Giants 35.714%, Eagles 31.25% and Redskins 25%.

Now you’ll notice when we add all these together we get 114.186%. This is how Bodog makes their money taking future bets. To see the true odds offered with no juice, we need to divide each figure by the 114.186% total (example 22.222%/114.186%) to determine the Cowboy’s percentage. Doing this, we come up with Cowboys 19.46%, Giants 31.28%, Eagles 27.37% and Redskins 21.89% (notice all options now total 100%).

Most gamblers are used to looking at bets in moneyline format, so we’ll go ahead and do that. To show my work, we’ll take Giants: 100/31.28 = 3.197. This means a $100 ticket on Giants would pay back 3.197 times, which is exactly how the odds would be listed in European format. For American format, we need to remove the stake, so a $100 ticket paying $319.70 is $100 to win $219.70, meaning the American odds are +219.7

Doing the same for each we get the no juice pricing according to Bodog as follows:

Cowboys +413.9, Giants +219.7, Eagles +265.4 and Redskins +356.8

Why is this important? Many betting sites offer future bets with a lot of juice built in, and they can get away with extra juice simply because most bettors don’t understand how to figure out how much juice is being charged nor can they determine the pricing without juice. Now that we showed you how, you’re not one of those bettors. Now let’s say you’re looking into futures blindly and not sure which bets might have value. From naked eye price shopping, you see several sites with Eagles +220, and then find one with Eagles +270. It seems like a great find, but without breaking things down to a true no juice price, we wouldn’t have known that – yes, this has value, as it pays better than the +265.4 true market price.

To gauge the future market it is important to break the odds down at each site no matter how poor one site’s odds appear. This is because perhaps you’re shopping odds at one site with 10 percent juice, another with 20 and another with 40. The site with 40% juice has poor odds for almost every team, so a novice gambler passes them up, where a sharp gambler at least looks to see what their lines are saying. That sharp bettor does the same thing we did here in removing the juice so he can use that later in his analysis.

For those who want to get real picky, you can use exponential weight and assign a higher likeliness of accuracy to the books with low juice as they have tighter margins, and lower likeliness of accuracy to books with larger juice as their margins allow more flexibility for sloppiness when creating the odds. Once all this analysis is done you end up with a close to true fair price of each team to win that is based on what several betting sites are offering.

Future Betting is Often Not the Best Option

What we’ve covered so far is not an exact science, and it’s part of the reason why future betting is not always the best option. The reason why might seem complex to some, but to hint at it: While odds makers initially base their lines off a computer analysis that caps every future game and possible playoff scenario, as time passes these lines are heavily influenced by correlated markets (derivatives) and bookmaker’s exposure on this specific market. With so much flux, the bookmaker has to build in large juice to future bets, quite often 18-35%. The futures betting market is largely one of the most inefficient in sports betting, but with high juice it can afford to be.

To give a more simplified explanation, let’s say mid season you’re interested in a long shot to win the Super Bowl who you figure will probably be a five or six seed should they make the playoffs. You could risk them now at 1 to win 44, if that’s the odds. Or you could wait till later where perhaps in the final game of the season they’ll be in a must win to make the playoffs game at -150, where you have also calculated the lines in each three post season games they’ll need to win to be around +150, +400, +285. If you followed this progression and parlayed your winnings forward each time, then your payout will be around 59 to 1 instead of the 44 to 1 offered earlier, plus if they never make it this far (getting eliminated early) you’ll have saved the bet.

These scenarios are often true. There is generally more value betting a team every game of the post season forward than there is betting them on the future lines. This is also especially true of large favorites and popular underdogs in big markets.

Now of course if you’re just looking to have some fun betting your favorite team, then a simple approach would be to shop a few recreational betting sites such as Sportsbook.com and Bodog.com against a sharper site like 5Dimes, and then bet your favorite team at best odds. At the very least, we hope this article has drilled the importance of line shopping home, and perhaps given you some more smarts you can use to impress your friends with when talking sports betting expertise. No matter which way you go, we wish you good luck when betting the future markets.