How Baseball Futures Bets Work

Baseball Game. Photo Courtesy (Nevada Casino History)

A futures bet is any wager placed on a sporting event that hasn't even chosen which teams will compete. The biggest draw to making a futures bet on baseball's World Series is that you get paid very long odds when you choose correctly. In addition, you'll have action all season long and have a team to root for from opening day until the end of the playoffs.

Winning the World Series

To win the World Series a team must progress through a series of playoffs in their league and then beat the winning team from the other league.

There are 30 Major League baseball teams, divided into the American League and the National League.

American League - by Division

East: Toronto, NY Yankees, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Boston

Central: Kansas City, Minnesota, Cleveland, Chicago White Sox, Detroit

West:Texas, Houston, LA Angels, Seattle, Oakland              

National League - by Division

Central: St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Chi Cubs, Milwaukee, Cincinnati           

East: NY Mets, Washington, Miami, Atlanta, Philadelphia      

West: LA Dodgers, San Francisco, Arizona, San Diego, Colorado        

How Major League Baseball Playoffs Work

The team that wins the most games during the year wins their division. The two next-best teams by win percentage play each other in a single-game elimination. Then, the winner of that game plays the division champion with the most wins.

The two other division champs play each other in a five-game series. The two winning teams play each other in a best of seven series for the league championship - or pennant.

The winner goes to the World Series.

Choosing the World Series Winner

As you can see, any team you choose has to be one of the five-best in their respective league and then win at least two playoff series events just to get to the World Series.That's a tall order. Teams that made the playoffs last year are likely to be in the hunt the following year, unless they lost their best hitter or pitcher, or have multiple losses of key players.

Watching Spring Training games in March will also provide clues to how well teams have improved their starting lineups. Remember that the main focus of games in March is to evaluate talent, not win games, so you'll have to actually look at how each team's final roster of 25 players will look before making a wager on a World Series future bet.

Teams in turmoil where the manager and general manager are at odds can often be eliminated from your choices. Fortunately, these teams are usually perennial disappointments, finishing last or near last in their division the year before. That means it is highly unlikely that a team that didn't finish first second or third will have any chance to make it to the World Series.

This usually includes small-market teams that don't spend much money (like Oakland) to build strong rosters. Once you narrow down your choices to teams with a history of being close to winning their division, look at their likely starters. Did the team add new players? Did last year's players resign with the team and were they happy? Will they be healthy? Often a top-notch team is one that had a disappointing season due to injury, but rebounds with a new star-player and a healthy roster full of quality players.

If a  team stands-pat on their team from last year,  can they win more games to reach the playoffs and get to the big show? Not likely unless they won the division or were playing hurt. Otherwise, they are out!

Narrowing your Choices

Choosing who the top ten teams in major league baseball will be for any season isn't that tough. Past performance is key to your choices. The top two teams in each division is a good start, then add-in the teams that improved their roster with big-name additions or have quality minor-league players you saw during Spring Training joining the big club. And then, look at the odds.It's a long season with lots of 3-game series.

Obviously you want to win, not just play for big bucks, so don't be enticed by the 100-1 odds teams that win the World Series so rarely. From your top ten picks, look at their depth.

A team with only a few quality starting pitchers is unlikely to last through the year, much-less the playoffs. If they are playing well and a top pitcher gets hurt, what happens?

A team that spends money at the All-Star break can bolster their roster. A team that doesn't, will let you down half-way through the year. The same happens with the team that won''t replace a hurt starter or big RBI man. Count them out of your choices.

The Odds

Although you might settle for a big favorite to win the World Series (you just want to win, right?), the odds you will get are likely to be low. If you choose a popular team like the Yankees, Dodgers, Giants, Cubs or Red Sox, you'll be disappointed by odds of 10-1 or less. If you were going to risk $100, instead of betting the Cubs at 4-1, wait and see if they actually make the playoffs first.

If they do, bet $50 on the division championship series. If they win that, bet the same $50 plus whatever you won, on the League Championship series. If they win that too, do the same on the World Series. You'll make more money while risking less!

As for the teams in the 10-1 to 25-1 group, that's where the money is. You don't have to be right very often to enjoy the fruits of your labor, like the horn bets at craps. Sometimes the best bet is to just choose a team that can win their division and then hope for the best! You also might want to consider betting them during winning streaks, it's a long season.

As for actually wagering on your team, Nevada is your place to bet, unless you hookup with an online site.

Choose your best team or two, go to the sports book and then compare odds - they can vary greatly from casino to casino! The good part is you can bet on the World Series winner for months, and even a $10 wager is fun. After the All-Star break the futures bets are usually taken down.

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Your Citation
Moe, Al. "How Baseball Futures Bets Work." ThoughtCo, Feb. 28, 2017, Moe, Al. (2017, February 28). How Baseball Futures Bets Work. Retrieved from Moe, Al. "How Baseball Futures Bets Work." ThoughtCo. (accessed November 19, 2017).