by Mike Hayes - 10/10/2005
There are several reasons the casual bettor stays away from futures wagers, but the main reason is that they don't want to have their money tied up for the course of an entire season. But some bettors have found value in playing futures and some lucky bettors have had huge paydays by picking a longshot early in the season.
The key to finding value in futures betting is to shop early and often - looking for a team with a realistic chance of competing for a title at inflated odds.
Jimmy Mason, spokesman for Nine Sportsbook, said future bets account for less than 1 percent of his book's handle with the bulk of futures action on the NFL. "Sharps tend to play more futures as they tend to have a larger bankroll to play with and the recreational players don't like to tie their money up long-term," Mason said. "Casual bettors tend to make one or two futures bets a year. Typically they bet on their home team and the team they actually think will win the Super Bowl with maybe a long shot thrown in for fun."
The risk-reward quotient involved in futures betting can be appealing with the possibility that a real long shot could win and a casual bettor or fan can place a small wager with the potential for a huge payoff.
Recent examples of this are the 2003 Florida Marlins who won the World Series at odds of 120-1 and the 1999 St. Louis Rams, who won the Super Bowl that year at preseason odds of 200/1. "We had a max payout on that one (Florida) and a number of sports books took a beating when a little known arena QB named Kurt Warner came from nowhere and destroyed many books when they won the Super Bowl," Mason commented.
To protect themselves against huge losses that could result from a longshot, Mason said, most books have a maximum payout on any single wager. In the case of Nine, Mason said, that payout is $50,000.
Because odds are updated until whatever point a sports book decides to close wagering on an event it is important to check odds often especially immediately following a significant change in circumstances such as a player transaction or injury. The astute bettor can take advantage of such change by acting quickly after learning of the news.
"Future odds are typically set and adjusted before the season starts and then updated weekly depending on team performance, player movement and maybe most importantly player injuries," added Mason.
An example of this fluctuation can be seen in the case of the New York Jets, a team with Super Bowl aspirations before the season that now finds themselves with 41-year-old Vinny Testerverde as its starting QB. BetCris has adjusted the odds accordingly and know has the Jets at 200-1 to reach the promised land compared to the 23-1 being offered at Legendz.
Some value to be had this year in the NFL might prove to be the Tampa Bay Bucs who at 4-0 are well on their way to the playoffs and could have been had at Bodog at 40-1 to win the Super Bowl in late July and were listed at 35-1 this week at Legendz. The nationally syndicated Americasline currently has the Bucs as an 8-1 choice to win the Super Bowl.
While some future bets offer long odds they don't offer what might be considered true value. Take for example the Arizona Cardinals, a 125-1 shot to win the Super Bowl according to Bodog.
Now if you really hate money and feel compelled to bet the Cards to take the Vince Lombardi Trophy back to the dessert come February, don't you think you ought to get more than 125-1?
Bodog also has the Air Force Academy as a 200-1 shot to win the NCAA Tournament. Considering Air Force has three tournament appearances all-time, and just once since 1962 (2004), I couldn't see wagering $1 at 200-1 even if they threw the rest of the Mountain West in with the Falcons.
When making a future bet it is important to shop around because the odds almost always differ from book to book and the difference can be dramatic. A look at NHL futures shows a bet on the New York Rangers to win the Stanley Cup can get anywhere from 36-1 to 80-1. While the Rangers probably don't stand much of a chance at competing for the Cup a diehard might consider plunking down $25 or $50 on the Blueshirts at 80-1.
Considering what goes into winning a championship and all the variables involved favorites on the future line don't offer much value to the casual bettor.
Canbet lists the Spurs as 5-2 favorites to repeat as NBA champs with the Miami Heat second choice at 4-1. The Philadelphia Flyers are the favorite to win the Stanley Cup at 5-1 or 6-1 at most sites. Tying up money for an entire season at those odds isn't all that appealing to most people, but might be to the large bettor who can afford to make a sizeable bet.
Also take into account where you place your future bet. It is one thing if you place it at a bricks and mortar casino in Vegas or Jamaica but when placing a future bet online it is even more important that usual to know how reputable the site is because you want to be sure they are still in business when its time to collect.