For some sports fans, betting is something of an art form. For them, in fact, it’s not always about the winning and losing of money. Rather, it’s the gamification of betting, the fact you see something that nobody else does, particularly something the sportsbooks and odds-setters have overlooked. And the most obvious opportunity for this usually lies with ante-post betting. You might call it futures betting, but the term ante-post – deriving from the horse racing term, i.e., before the horses have gone to post – has a nicer ring to it. 

Anyhow, when we talk about ante-post betting, we mean placing a long-term wager on a sports event. Say, for example, a bet on the Super Bowl winner next February or the Melbourne Cup winner in November. The point, as such, is that it’s a long way away, and the odds you are taking, more often than not, should reflect that distance between the placing of the bet and the date of the event. Horse races are usually the best way to view this. The odds of any horse running a championship-level race, say in six months’ time, will inevitably factor in that a lot can happen in those six months, including injury or a loss of form. 

Anticipation is key

The key for the ante-post bettor is anticipation, or at least trying to anticipate what will happen between the time of placing the bet and the start of the event. Consider today in the spring: the online betting markets for Super Bowl LVIII tell us that the Kansas City Chiefs are favorites, understandable given they are the champions. But much can happen between now and the start of the NFL regular season. What if Patrick Mahomes got injured in the preseason? Or what if Andy Reid suddenly resigned his post as Head Coach? Those are some of the pitfalls that can strike when you place a long-term bet. 

However, shrewd ante-post bettors are not the ones that blindly bet on the favorite six months before an event gets underway. As we said, it’s about anticipation. To explain, transport yourself back to early spring 2020 and take a look at the Super Bowl LV odds for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team was something of a joke in the NFL, and they were among the rank outsiders for Super Bowl LV. You could get odds of +7000 with some Vegas sportsbooks before March 20th, 2020. The odds plummeted soon after as Tom Brady arrived in Tampa. You can see similar trajectories for teams like the LA Lakers, whose odds were cut significantly for the NBA Championship the moment Lebron James arrived. Sure, Tampa and Brady succeeded where Lebron and LA failed, but the point still stands. 

Who will make a splash?

Now, we are not saying that you need some insider knowledge that Tom Brady is coming to your hometown team. Rather, it’s anticipating that a team is going to make moves in the offseason. It happens time and time again in all sports. Consider a soccer team like Manchester United – coincidentally owned by the same owners as Tampa Bay, the Glazer Family. However, in this case, the Glazers are trying to sell the team, with the most likely new owner set to be one of the world’s richest people, Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al-Thani. The club is already a formidable force in soccer, albeit not quite considered the best in the world, but the new injection of funds from the Qatari Sheikh will likely lead to a new influx of quality players at United. You can be sure that United will be challenging for Premier League and Champions League titles again soon. Smart punters will be getting in on United’s odds before the new players start arriving. 

Of course, there’s always risk involved. As we mentioned earlier, you might have some inkling of knowledge that an underrated superstar horse is going to blitz through the season before taking a tilt at a big race like the Kentucky Derby. With each prep race, their odds might drop. But the opposite is also true. It might stink the place out, and the odds will inflate over the racing season. But it’s a risk that ante-post bettors take, trying to anticipate what will happen so they can wring the maximum value out of their wager.