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How to bet MLB Futures

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How to bet MLB Futures

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The MLB season is now in full swing, literally and figuratively. A little over a week of action is now in the books. This gives us a chance to look at the MLB futures betting market again and see where the value is.

MLB futures bets are different from the game day bets many bettors are familiar with. Futures encompass multiple different types of bets and understanding the pros and cons of each one will help you figure out which market to play in.

Betting MLB win totals futures

Every offseason, sportsbooks will release projected win totals for every Major League Baseball team. The totals will obviously be higher for the teams projected to be very good and much lower for the teams projected to be very bad. Most books price these bets at some half number so that you do not have a push. You either have a win or a loss based on the total number of victories for each team at season’s end. The upside for win-total betting is that you have all 32 teams to choose from and you are not just betting on who will be the best. In fact, if you have a strong feeling on which teams will be really bad, this is the best way to capitalize on that. Unlike some of the other bets discussed below, win totals have an over and an under. This allows gamblers to choose a side based on how they think a team will perform. Remember, gambling happens in a betting market and markets will adjust until they become efficient. If everyone is betting on a team to go over or under a total, the books will adjust that number higher or lower until the action stops being one-sided. Even though the season has started, you can still get bets down on win totals. With only a week of the season under our belts, the numbers have not made major adjustments due to on-field performances just yet. If you have a strong feeling about something the time to get money down on it is now. The further into the season you go the tougher it will be to beat that number in either direction by a wide margin and the payout for doing so is likely to be less as well.

Betting MLB divisional winner futures

The divisional winner futures is the first of the major team awards to discuss. Each team in every division has odds on them to be the eventual winner of that division and get the playoff berth. Each division has five teams, so you will not see massive payouts here, especially on any of the teams that have a legitimate shot. You might occasionally catch a big number on some team that everyone projects for 50 wins, but those are also the teams that are incredibly unlikely to ever pay off those odds. The more likely a team is to win, the shorter the odds are going to be and that means a much smaller payout.

Betting MLB league winner futures

Sportsbooks also offer you the opportunity to bet on who will win the American and National League pennants in any given year. You tend to get some bigger payouts here than you do with the divisional winners. The math has now changed from choosing the right one of five options in any division to 15 teams with varying chances to win in either league. The more teams involved in any futures pool, the better the payouts are going to be vs. a smaller divisional pool. The favorites are still going to pay the shortest prices, but those prices are going to be better than the prices you had to take for them to win their respective divisions. The longshots to win a division are still going to be longshots to win the pennant and the payouts on that end of the spectrum also go up with more team options in the player pool to choose from. I also want to make sure everyone understands how this pays out. In order to cash this bet, your team needs to make the playoffs and then win the chance to be the representative for that league by knocking out the other playoff teams to go on to the World Series. This is not a regular season award where you get paid out if your team wins the most games.

Betting MLB World Series futures

The biggest payouts will come from betting World Series futures. This is true of the biggest chalk favorites and the longest of longshots alike. It is the biggest futures pool for MLB baseball and includes every team no matter how big or small their chances of winning it are. The more teams, the more spread out the statistical chances are for any one of them to win and thus the better the payouts the sportsbooks will offer. Needless to say, you get paid out on this bet if and when the team you choose is crowned the World Series champion.

Tips for betting MLB futures

The teams most likely to win are rarely ever at good value. This is true from World Series favorites all the way down to the team with the best chance to win any division. Sportsbooks know who the favorites are and that those teams are more likely to have a lot of action on them. Therefore, in order to limit the liability any sportsbook will have on any one team, the payoff odds tend to be way below what the true odds of winning actually are. In practical terms, this means you probably should not be taking favorites in futures markets as that would be an unprofitable long-term strategy if they pay out less than the true odds.

The sweet spot you should be looking for is that layer of teams right behind the big favorites. Unlike the super longshot teams that have a 1% chance or less to actually win anything, the second layer of teams behind the favorites tend to offer the best value. These teams are not inflated prices like the favorites, but unlike the longshots they do actually have a reasonable chance of winning something if things break their way.

If you want to bet MLB futures, here is the quick cheat sheet for you to remember. The favorites are the most likely to win, but also offer the worst payouts and are likely shorter prices than they deserve to be. The longshots are longshots because the chances of winning are slim to none. Sure, the payouts on these teams look nice, but the combination of improbable events that needs to happen for them to payoff is rarely, if ever, worth the risk. The sweet spot for value, which is a good payout and an actually legit chance of winning to cash the ticket, tends to fall in the second wave of teams right behind the favorite. This is the part of the market where good bettors look for their plays.

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