Sports Betting Strategy 101

How To Win At Sports Betting Online

Beating online sportsbooks isn’t an easy proposition, and it’s one that most sports bettors will never attain. Bookmakers have a built-in house edge on all of their markets (of course, some more than others), and profiting isn’t easy.

The standard vigorish on a straight wager on a side or total is -110. For bettors to break even with a 10% juice, they need to win 52.38% of their bets. While this number may seem easily attainable to some, the bookmakers rake in profits every year because of this simple edge. That isn’t to say they can’t be beat, however.

There are a number of ways to decrease the house’s edge when it comes to betting sports. In some cases, bettors can eliminate the house edge and throw the odds back in their favor. In this article, we’ll examine the best ways to beat the bookie’s vig and to win at sports betting.


Line Shopping

This is far and away the most important aspect of winning at sports betting. Getting the best price on your wagers will go a long way to making you a profitable sports bettor. Even the best handicappers in the world can’t overcome getting weak prices on their wagers.

Think about it, would you purchase a new television at a higher price if you could simply drive down the road to another store and get it for a cheaper price? The answer is no. The same reasoning should apply to sports betting. You’re searching for the best price when it comes to other products and services, why not sports betting? Using the best odds available for each one of your wagers is simply the best way to profit long term from sports betting.

The fact is, most bettors are much too lazy to even line shop for the best price. If they have money in Sportsbook A, but Sportsbook B has a better price, the vast majority of bettors would still bet the wager at Sportsbook A. This is a massive mistake.

The difference that comes from getting the best price might not be apparent when it comes to each individual wager, but over the long term, it adds up to thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars lost, depending on how much you bet. In fact, astute line shopping can make the difference between a losing year betting sports and a profitable one.


Betting Within Your Bankroll

This is another area where a profitable sports bettor has a plan and specific bankroll requirements, but a losing bettor rarely considers it. Even if you’re an excellent line shopper and are meticulous about getting the best price, if you’re wagering too much on your bets, you may put yourself out of action. Whether you’re a profitable bettor or a losing one, you still face the risk of ruin, also known as running out of money.

Bankroll strategies will vary among different schools of thought, but few handicappers will wager more than 1 or 2% of their bankroll on a single bet. Some prefer to flat bet while others vary their wagers depending on how much they like each market. Some players may choose to use an exact science, via the Kelly Criterion, to figure out how much to bet down to the cents.

Whatever strategy or bankroll management system you decide to use will depend on the amount you’re comfortable risking versus your profit potential. Sports betting without bankroll management is a dangerous proposition. Money is your tool of the trade when it comes to betting sports, and you need to protect it.

If you hit a losing streak, it’s perfectly fine to lower your bets until you make it back. The worst possible outcome is being out of action completely.


Utilize Bonuses

Taking advantages of bonuses and promotions is colloquially known as “bonus whoring,” which means signing up for sportsbooks or other gambling sites to clear their deposit and reload bonuses offers.

This is something that millions do every day across the online gambling world, and it’s an excellent strategy for bettors who are looking to add money to their bankrolls. This especially benefits newer players who are just starting out their career in sports betting. They will be able to make new accounts with loads of different online sportsbooks and add some much needed money to their roll.

Players can easily make thousands of dollars clearing various deposit bonuses and freeplays, so it’s certainly worth your while to go after bonuses. However, be sure to read the fine print when it comes to bonus rollovers and requirements. These differ depending on the bookmaker and have specific requirements on how the bonus must be cleared and when it can be withdrawn.


Tail A Respected Handicapper

I don’t advocate paying for picks for a number of reasons. Most prominently is because pay-per-pick services, otherwise known as touts, can’t be trusted to be honest. Instead, bettors have other options if they want to get into the minds of a profitable handicapper.

There are dozens of sports betting forums online and even more sports-betting-related sites that give their picks away for free. Members will post their records along with their picks (of course, no guaranteed that these are accurate either, but, hey, they’re free), which also allows for a discussion on the odds and matchup.


Be Selective, Don’t Chase Your Losses

This falls a bit under bankroll management but bears its own section because of how often bettors fall into this trap. It’s important to remember that sports betting is all about the long run. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Being selective about your plays and only betting on games when you feel you have spotted an inefficiency or advantage in the line is a sound strategy. Chasing your losses, betting more games, or increasing your bet size to make up for losing bets is something that is going to get you killed.

Remember, winning 55% of your wagers is all you need to do to make a modest profit at sports betting. If you wagered $100 over 1,000 bets and won 55% percent of these bets, you would profit $5,500, with the 10% vig included.

Trust your preparation and methods, and winnings will come your way.

Arbitrage Betting Strategy – What Is It & Does It Work?

Arbitrage betting is the only way to consistently make money betting on sports, regardless of the bets you make. Arbitrage betting is also known as surebets, surewins, or simply as arbs.  Unlike other sports, where handicapping and knowledge of the sport helps improve your odds, arbitrage betting is based purely on math. Bettors don’t need any prior sports knowledge to profit from arbitrage betting.


Putting It Into Practice

Betting on opposites of the same contests at the same online sportsbook or bookmaker will almost always result in a loss, provided that the odds are the same and players are charged the bookie’s 10% vig.

Arbitrage betting is sort of like line shopping on steroids, where players use sports with two possible outcomes to find differing odds at multiple bookmakers to lock in a profit for themselves.

When betting on arbitrage, it’s absolutely important that you’re aware of all the possible outcomes of each sport. Some sports, like tennis and basketball, have only two possible outcomes, but for instance, soccer and even NFL regular season games can end in a tie (albeit rarely in the case of the NFL).


Example Of An Arbitrage Bet

Here’s an example of an arbitrage betting opportunity using an NFL futures prop:

NFL Season – Quarterback to Throw Most Touchdowns

Sportsbook A: Peyton Manning (+350)

Sportsbook B: Not Peyton Manning (Field) (-200)

In this example, we’re betting on Peyton Manning at Sportsbook A and wagering on the other QBs in the league, the whole pool of players, “the field” that aren’t Peyton Manning, at Sportsbook B.

Here’s what our bet would look like if we wagered $1,000 on these two markets.

If we wagered $300 on Peyton Manning to win at +350, our winning wager would pay out at $1,050, including our $300 original stake. If we used our other $700 to place a bet on the field at -200, our bet would pay $1,050, including our original stake of $700.

$300 on Peyton Manning (+350) = $750 net profit, plus our original stake of $300 = $1,050.

$700 on Not Peyton Manning (-200) = $350 net profit, plus our original stake of $750 = $1,050.

Since we’ll lose our original stake on one of the bets, we would prefer to lose the $700 field wager, but regardless of which player throws the most touchdowns, we’ll guarantee ourselves a $50 profit.

This is a rather simple example of an arbitrage, but one that successfully guarantees a 5% ($50 for our $1,000 wagered) return no matter the outcome.

Arbitrage opportunities or percentages can range anywhere from 1% to however high your advantage might be between sportsbooks. Usually, sports bettors will have a hard time finding arbs where they are able to lock down more than a 15% profit, and even that’s on the extreme end. Most arbitrages have a profit margin of just 2–5%.


Why Arbitrage Opportunities Occur

There’s not a sole reason why arbitrage opportunities happen. In some cases, bookies may differ in opinion on games or markets, and other times it is because they need to balance their books from one-sided action. Either way, when linesmakers disagree or sportsbooks move their odds to layoff action, and their lines vary widely enough, arbitrage opportunities occur.


Do Sportsbooks Care If You Arbitrage?

Yes, most bookmakers have an unfavorable view of arbitrage betting. Few sportsbooks welcome it openly because in many cases you’re chasing a move or an off-market line. Many bookmakers will limit or ban players who bet a lot of arbitrage wagers, which can hurt players’ ability to exploit an arbitrage properly. Another pitfall is when one side of the arb is cancelled due to a line error, which happens more frequently than some think.


How To Win At Arbitrage Betting

Winning money through arbitrage betting isn’t some pipe dream; it’s something that sports bettors do every day. With that said, betting arbs is still a tough process to profit from heavily.

Today, there are services or software packages that bettors can buy that will help them analyze arbitrage opportunities and alert them to changes in the market. Even with these tools and if you made arbing your full-time job, you might still miss some opportunities. The chances to arb may stay on the board for less than 15 minutes.

Bettors will need a substantial bankroll to make six figures a year betting arbitrages, but making an extra $15k plus a year may be possible just doing it part time. Players can start arbing with as little as a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands or millions. However, the larger the bankroll, the tougher it will be to get the full amount down on your arbitrages. Using your bankroll effectively and getting all the money down you want becomes a lot harder as it grows.

Having funds at a lot of online bookmakers is an absolute must, the more, the better. Those who bet arbs seriously should have accounts at 10 or more sites. Players will be able to earn extra bankroll in the early stages because they can take advantage of sportsbooks bonuses.

Depending on your location, arbitrage betting can be a lot harder compared to other areas, or much simpler. This is due to differing online gambling laws worldwide.

For example, in the United States, where online gambling isn’t legal (nor is it illegal on the individual level), sports bettors will have a lot fewer chances to find arbitrage opportunities because a large percentage of online sportsbooks don’t accept players from the US. The same can be true for other areas.

On the opposite spectrum, places like the United Kingdom and Ireland have fully legal and regulated online bookmaking industries. Citizens from these countries can wager at just about any online bookmaker in the world, which makes betting arbitrage opportunities a lot easier.

Implementing The Pleaser Betting Strategy

A pleaser bet is extremely similar to NFL teasers. In fact, the bet is identical to a teaser, other than the fact that it allows bettors to subtract points instead of adding them. It’s the opposite of a traditional teaser wager.

The origins of pleasers came from sportsbooks in Las Vegas in the 90s, but the proliferation of Internet wagering has brought them to the mainstream. Not every sportsbook offer pleasers, but there are still plenty of options when it comes to these markets.

Pleasers, like teasers, can be for any of amount of points or teams; this is entirely up to the bookmakers offering the wager. These usually start at 5 points in basketball and 6 points for football and generally go up to about 10 points. They are usually only available for football and basketball, for both professional and collegiate leagues.

Example Of A Pleaser Bet

Here’s a basic example of a 3-team 6-point NFL pleaser. Below, is the spread of the three teams in our bet before we add in the pleaser.

Indianapolis Colts +7

Denver Broncos -10

Oakland Raiders +4.5

Now, after we add in our pleaser wager, the odds look like this:

Colts +1

Broncos -4

Raiders -1.5

We’ve simply subtracted 6 points from each side of the wager that is not in our favor.

Just like a teaser, all of these bets have to win for the pleaser to cash. In the event of a push, most sportsbooks will revert the pleaser to a lesser number of teams. For instance, if there’s a 3-team teaser where one leg pushes, it becomes a 2-team teaser. These rules may differ depending on the bookmaker, but this rule is somewhat standard.


Odds On Pleaser Bets

Payouts for pleasers will be much higher than that of teasers because players are subtracting points, not adding them. Keep in mind, these odds can vary depending on the sportsbook. Some sites will also have different odds selections depending on if ties reduce the number of teams or ties win. The odds below are listed as ties pushing or reducing the number of teams.

2 teams: +600

3 teams: +1750

4 teams: +4800

5 teams: 10.5/1

6 teams: 27/1

It’s plain to see that these payouts are much larger than teasers, but remember, pleasers are much tougher to beat. The payoffs are huge, but are the pleasers profitable? The no-nonsense answer to that question is no.

Like teasers, the odds increase as the number of teams increases, along with the house’s edge. They’re not advisable due to other betting options that offer a better chance at a return. For instance, in many cases, wagering the money line on two separate games instead of pairing them together in a pleaser offers a lot more EV than betting both in a 2-team pleaser.

Since our 2-team 6-point teaser pays +600, we have a breakeven percentage of 14.29%. This means that the bet will win our pleaser or go undefeated 14.29% of the time. This is not a profitable long-term expectation, and we would be much better off betting a 2-team parlay with the same bets. While the immediate payoff will be substantially lower, it gives us a long-term chance of winning, instead of betting against a large bookmaker’s vigorish.



While we would most likely tell bettors to avoid pleasers, there are some areas where bettors can minimize their edge against the sportsbooks and maximize their chances to win. That being said, I can’t stress enough that opportunities to beat the bookies for sizable sums on pleasers are few and far between.

Pleaser bets that are wagered on double digit favorites improve your chances of winning in the NFL, but be sure to stay out of range of the 3 and 7. For instance, pleasing a team that was +3.5 to -3.5 is brutal for your chances of winning. 3 and 7 are far and away the most common margins of victory in the NFL, and getting on the wrong side of these will cost you.


In Closing

Pleasers aren’t advisable wagers if you solely care about your bottom-line profits, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be a fun wager for recreational bettors. They offer some of the highest payouts around and are a fun and unique bet type where they’re offered.

So, while money line betting, parlays, and teasers are the much more profitable path, bettors who just want to have some fun and hit it big should have a good time sweating their pleaser bets for a large payoff. Just don’t expect to profit from it long term.

Prop Betting Strategy Explained With Examples

Props, short for propositions, have exploded in recent years and are now one of the top betting markets for sports gamblers. Originally invented as novelty wagers by Las Vegas sportsbooks for Super Bowl wagering, prop markets have caught on in a huge way.

Today, the bets extend far beyond the Super Bowl and even the NFL and are available for just about every major market sport. Player and team props are now updated daily across many different sportsbooks for just about every sport.

Prop markets are geared toward recreational bettors but offer a unique option for betting with a +EV mindset to take advantage of potentially some of the softest lines that bookmakers offer. It’s one of the best ways to find profitable markets early on and build your bankroll up.


Example Of A Prop Bet

Props, by definition, are betting markets that occur during a game, but do not directly affect the game’s final outcome or score. One of the most common props in today’s market is, “Which team will score first?”

Here’s an example of this fundamental prop:

Who Will Score First?

New England Patriots (-130)

Buffalo Bills (-110)

This is what we would call a team prop; a player prop is centered on one or more players. Again, an example:

Total Receiving Yards – Calvin Johnson

Over 80.0 Yards (-110)

Under 80.0 Yards (-110)

This player prop focuses on a player’s reception yards. In this case, it’s the total yards receiving by Detroit Lions’ receiver Calvin Johnson.

The above examples only scratch the surface when it comes to player and team props. Players can be pit against each other in terms of stats (even between sports), even if they’re not playing the same game. The number of props a sportsbook can offer is endless and is entirely up to the oddsmakers’ imagination.

Remember, propositions can be related to any aspect regarding a sporting event, even stuff that happens before the game, at halftime, etc. Bettors can wager on who will win the coin toss or on the length of the National Anthem.


Are Props Profitable?

Propositions are much smaller markets compared to sides, totals, and even money lines betting on an average game. Bookmakers only have so much time to devote to keeping accurate lines; they’re much more interested and keeping their massively bet markets sharp, rather than smaller markets.

Furthermore, props are generally bet by novice bettors, meaning that sportsbooks can throw out some weak lines, use their vigorish edge, and collect an easy profit most of the time. However, this is also the reason why propositions might have lower limits compared to other markets.

Many sharp bettors have realized that propositions are excellent markets to target, especially for players looking to build a bankroll who bet lower stakes. The reason props have much lower maximum bets compared to sides and totals is because, while they’re moneymakers for the sportsbooks against the public, they offer loads of expected value for experienced bettors.


Large Differences In Odds

One of the biggest reasons for inefficiencies in prop markets is because of how vastly different the odds can be depending on the sportsbook. It’s almost impossible to find odds that differ so wildly when it comes to larger markets, such as side and totals.

Bettors will sometimes get a half-point advantage on their prospective side, but when larger markets shift, the lines move everywhere across worldwide betting markets. This is not always the case with proposition markets.

While some bookmakers are much sharper than others when it comes to keeping an eye on their propositions, many sites are slow to move props, and some may not move them at all. Also, since propositions are drawn up in the minds of oddsmakers, there will be some stark differences in pricing, especially when they are first posted.

This allows bettors to find inefficiencies much easier compared to other markets, therefore making propositions potentially lucrative.


Individual Matchups

As I mentioned above, sportsbooks simply don’t have the time to put a lot of thought into their proposition markets. When bettors combine line shopping with their knowledge of the sport, it can be an excellent combination.

In the age of technology and social media, getting up-to-date information on injuries is now easier than ever, which can be used to your advantage when it comes to betting props. News breaks quickly and affects teams’ and coaches’ game plans against each other. Monitoring injury reports and news will give you another tool in your arsenal.

General knowledge of the league and players also can’t hurt. Getting the best price on your prop wager is going to be your best tool to win consistently, but understanding the game plans of coaches and how teams match up against each other can’t be understated.

Everyone can read an injury report and see who is suiting up to play that day, but few can understand how that injury will affect the rest of the team’s play. Doing your best to figure out the “game script” and taking into account matchups, advanced data, and coaching decisions is the best way to see the whole picture.

Sweetheart Betting Strategy Explained

If you’re an avid sports bettor, there’s no doubt that you are familiar with teaser wagers. These are among the most popular bets for football and basketball markets. Teasers have plenty of options, such as the number of teams and points added. One variation of traditional teasers is the sweetheart teaser.

Sweetheart teasers, also known as monster teasers, are one of the top choices for sports gamblers. Sweetheart teasers work exactly the same as a regular teaser but are designed to offer the option of shifting the line even further. Bettors can move the line either 10 or 13 points in their favor but must bet a 3-team or 4-team teaser.


Example Of A Sweetheart Teaser

Let’s take a look at an example.

3-Team 10-point Sweetheart Teaser

New England Patriots -10(-110) moves to New England pk (-110)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers -7.5(-110) moves to Buccaneers +2.5 (-110)

San Francisco 49ers +3(-110) moves to 49ers +13 (-110)

Each point spread has moved 10 points in our favor, giving us a much more lucrative chance at covering. The one area where sweetheart teasers may differ is what happens if there is a push. Most sportsbooks give players a loss if one of their bets pushes in a sweetheart teaser. This is contrary to normal teasers where pushes are allowed.


Are Sweetheart Teasers Profitable?

The odds for a 3-team 10-point teaser can range from -110 to -140, but can still be found at -110 and -120. This requires a breakeven percentage of nearly 81% for our teaser. Despite only laying -110 or -120 for this bet and buying ourselves 10 points on our sides or totals, these are extremely tough to beat. The breakeven percentage for 13-point teasers is even tougher. Adding another team to make it 4 teams also decrease your chances of winning long term.

Any sports gambler that is systematically betting sweetheart teasers is going to lose money long term. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t vulnerabilities when it comes to this bet type.

Something that is necessary for not only sweetheart teasers but other teaser strategies, such as Wong teasers or basic strategy teasers, is where most of the updated point spreads land after we apply the teaser.

Nearly 40% of all NFL games fall between a 3–7 point margin of victory. With the odds already stacked against us on sweetheart teasers, we need to do our best to fall between this range of points when we apply the 10 or 13 points to our sides.

There’s little reason to even consider sweetheart teasers that move the spread to pk, +1 or -1, since these margins of victory are so rare in the NFL. Underdogs also aren’t advisable since we could hit the 3–7 range with a regular teaser and have no need for the 10 or 13 points.

For instance, an ideal target for a 10-point 3-team teaser would be a team that has a point spread between -10.5 and -12.5. Remember these have to be favorites. Our 10-points-added sweetheart teaser to a spread of -12.5 puts us right at -2.5 points, and we’ll be able to capitalize if our team wins by a margin of 3 points.


With That Said…

Sweetheart teasers are going to be extremely hard to beat if the odds are worse than -110 and -120, even if bettors do manage to get the point spreads surrounding 3 and 7. However, very few online bookmakers offer sweetheart teasers at this price anymore.

Most online sportsbooks that take higher limits will have pricing at -130 and -140, depending on the sweetheart teaser’s points and number of teams. They realize the potential profits that bettors could reap if they lowered their odds to -110 or -120. At -130 or higher, sweetheart teasers should be avoided.

Teaser Betting Strategies

Teasers have become one of the most sought-after forms of wagering when it comes to basketball and especially football markets. While teasers make bookmakers across the world millions, savvy bettors can use these bets to their advantage.

Understanding teasers is essential to reducing your edge and exacting profits from these wagers.


What Is A Teaser?

Teasers are multi-leg bets similar to parlays and accumulators, except bettors will be able to add points to their side of the wager. Teasers can only be used in sports with point spreads or totals.

Their recent rise in popularity is mostly due their explosion in popularity in the NFL and NCAA football markets, but teasers are also available for both NCAA and NBA basketball. Here’s an example of a 6-point NFL teaser:

Odds before teaser:

Pittsburgh Steelers +3.5 (-110)

Seattle Seahawks -7 (-110)

Odds after teaser:

Steelers -2.5

Seahawks -1

As you can see, our above point spread wagers went in our favor by a margin of 6 points. The Steelers moved to -2.5 instead of +3.5, and our other leg, the Seahawks moved from -7 to -1. A typical two-team 6-point teaser pays -110, so we would have to wager $110 to win $100.

As the number of legs in your teaser increases, so do the odds. For instance, a three-team 6-point teaser has payout odds of +165 at most sportsbooks. A 4-team teaser comes in at +265 and so on.

Like parlays, teasers are losing bets unless all the legs or bets in the teaser win, unless a push occurs. Our above teaser wouldn’t be eligible for a push because it’s just two teams, but also because the Steelers are favored by -2.5, which by default can’t end in a push.

Generally, a pushed leg in a teaser would simply mean the bet would revert to a smaller teaser. For instance, if a player bet a 6-team teaser and one of the legs pushed, it would go to a 5-team teaser. I say, “generally” here because not all sportsbook grade their pushes this way; some may count it as a loss.


Betting Teasers

Teasers can range from 4 points when betting basketball teasers to up to 20 points at some sites. Of course, these massive 20-point teasers have some crazy to-win odds, but some sportsbooks do offer them. With teasers, if a sportsbook offers it, sports bettors can wager on it.

Teaser Size6 Points6.5 Points7 Points

Above is a basic table showing the payoffs for NFL teasers from 6 to 7 points and up to 6 teams. As you can see, the odds start to increase rapidly as the number of teams get higher. The jump from two teams to three teams is substantial (and comparatively in the bettors’ favor), but as we start to move up, the odds increases and don’t catch up with the true odds, giving sportsbooks a large edge as the number of teams continues to rise.


Profitability Of Teasers

For the most part, teasers are not profitable for the vast majority of sports bettors. However, this is mostly because they’re betting on too many teams and failing to line shop for strong odds. While the above table shows the standard odds for teasers, there are bargains to be found online at a number of operators.

Many sites will offer two-team 6-point teasers at +100, instead of the standard -110. This, of course, makes these bets all the more profitable. Likewise, some sites may offer -120 on two-team teasers, making them nearly impossible to profit from.

Since bettors will primarily be focusing on two- or three-team teasers, it’s of upmost importance that they check the odds at their sportsbook before choosing that as their spot to bet teasers. Adopting a strategy also helps. For example, basic strategy teasers for the NFL, known as “Wong Teasers,” are an excellent option for NFL teaser betting. However, sportsbooks have adapted to these over the years and are quick to limit bettors who are profiting from these.

Two- or three-team teasers have somewhere between a 10–20% edge for the sportsbooks, depending on the odds at your current sportsbook. These aren’t terrible, but bettors are still at a disadvantage.

As we look at four teams or higher, the odds get considerable worse. Most long-term studies and databases give sportsbooks a gigantic edge when it comes to teasers larger than four legs or teams. Some shops have gargantuan advantages, with edges as high as 50% in some cases. Overall, teasers larger than three teams are almost always a bad bet.

The rare case where betting teasers larger than 2–3 teams may be profitable is when clearing a bonus or freeplay. The bonus clearing adds an extra advantage to the wager because bettors are playing with house money.

In short, the vast majority of teaser bets above 2–3 teams are what profitable sports bettors call “sucker bets.” These bets are very rarely +EV and should be avoided. With that said, there are many who profit heavily from teasers, especially using basic strategy teasers and line shopping for the best odds on their 2–3 team teasers.

What Is The Future Betting Strategy?

A future bet is a wager that is placed on an event that usually takes place several weeks or months later. Like other betting markets, future markets have exploded since the rise of online betting.

Unlike betting on a game via point spread or total, future markets have finality to their results. Pushes aren’t possible and gamblers will either lose their stake or profit. Most commonly, future wagers are bets centered on the champions of prospective leagues, such as the NFL’s Super Bowl Winner, or winner of the English Premier League, but have expanded to loads of other markets.

While futures are normally bets on events to happen later in the year, they update throughout the season and postseason based on recent play. If there’s a key injury or a crushing loss or string of wins, the futures’ markets will respond. Depending on when you wager, your price on each team can be drastically different.


Future Markets Are Now Mainstays

If there’s a league available, there’s likely at least one futures market available. We can even find futures in lesser-known sports such as Japanese Soccer, European Handball, and the WNBA.

Once only centered on league championships, there are futures for conference, divisional, and their equivalents. Just about every sporting league in the world has at least one futures market.


Examples Of Future Markets

One of the most common futures markets is betting on who will win the Super Bowl We’ll take that down a level for the sake of brevity and offer another smaller, but similar, example; NFL Divisional betting.

Odds to Win the 2014 NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles -125

Washington Redskins +400

Dallas Cowboys +450

New York Giants +450

Above are the odds listed for each team to win the NFC East. One important aspect to remember when betting futures is that sportsbooks have an advantage through vigorish. Just like they charge -110 (10% vig) on straight wagers, there is a price to pay for betting futures, and in many cases, they have a much larger house edge than the 10% charged on straight wagers.

Before you wager on futures, calculating the house edge on the market is crucial is maximizing your edge. Since we’re using money line odds, calculating our edge on each bet is simple.

For the Eagles at -125, we’re risking $100 to win $80, which means we’re dividing our amount risked by the total payout to get our no-vig line.

100/180 = 0.55 or 55%

Let’s figure out the rest of the percentages:

Redskins: 100/500 = .2 or 20%

Cowboys: 100/550 = .18 or 18%

Giants: 100/550 = .18 or 18%

When we add these numbers up, we uncover the bookmaker’s edge on this particular futures’ market. When these percentages add up, we get a number of around 111%. The bookmaker’s edge on this part is a little above the standard 10 % vig and stands at 11%.

To figure out the no vig win probability and remove the juice, we’ll divide each of these percentages against our breakeven percentage of 111%.

Eagles 55/111 = 49.5%

Redskins 20/111 = 18.0%

Cowboys 18/111 = 16%

Giants 18/111 = 16%

Added up, these numbers equal 95.5%, but since we rounded down some of the decimals above to make this example easier to understand, we’re basically at 100%. Our true, vig-free money line odds for this future would look something like this:

Eagles -102

Redskins +455

Cowboys +525

Giants +525

Compared to the bookmaker’s odds, the Eagles actually provide the best odds compared to the true line. We’re only 23 cents away from the true Philadelphia line of -125 at our true line of -102. The bookmaker’s line for the Redskins was +400, but the true odds are about +455, a 55-cent difference. The Cowboys and Giants are both listed at +525, compared to the +450 odds listed above.

Removing the vigorish is important to determining if a futures market isn’t too one-sided when it comes to the bookmaker’s edge. It also allows players to determine where the best odds lie with each individual team.


Further Strategy

While future betting is extremely popular, many bettors shy away for the mere fact that it occupies parts of their bankroll for months. While this is a valid concern for those with smaller bankrolls that would rather use them for daily wagering, it’s shortsighted for most everyone else.

Bettors should do their best to make futures a part of their wagering arsenal. There can be some excellent values and inefficiencies to spot between sportsbooks. It’s rare that bettors can hit it big without the odds stacked against them, but futures are a market where that’s more than possible. Hitting it big on an underdog that pays 10/1 is more viable when it comes to betting futures, compared to betting parlays, teasers, and host of other markets.

One area that players can lock in a profit betting futures is hedging. This involves locking up a profit by betting the opposite side of the wager at another sportsbook.

For instance, if I have the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series at +400 for $500, my bet would pay out $2,000, including my original stake of $400. I can also bet on the Cardinals’ opponent, guaranteeing myself a profit.

Some bettors may choose to hedge exactly down the middle or favor their original bet. This is a great way to lock up a profit when a wager has come down to the final leg. Hedging is a crucial part of futures wagering and is an absolute must-do when the situation calls. No player should ever walk away from a guaranteed profit when that option is on the table.