Betting Reviews

Accumulator Betting Explained

Ah, the good old accumulator bet. If you’ve been part of an amateur football club or even been down the pub on a Saturday lunchtime then you will have heard pre-match talk of “my acca returns £10k” or “last week I was one game away from”. All that chatter relates to the daddy of all football bets. The thing is, in order to understand the bet properly, most people need to have accumulator betting explained. So let’s get cracking.

What is an accumulator bet?

In the most simplistic of terms, an accumulator bet is a single bet placed on four of more different events. In order to win, all of your selections have to be correct.

For example, if you backed a England’s top four – Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea and Manchester United – to win their game all four of them would have to win. If three won 5-0 but Man United only managed a draw then you will lose your stake.

The good news is that, like a standard bet, most decent online bookmakers offer the option to cash out an accumulator during play.

Four-fold, five-fold, what fold?

You will often hear people talk about four-fold, five-fold, 10-fold and so on. Don’t stress about it, it’s really straight forward. The number the precedes ‘fold’ means how many legs are in your bet.

A four-fold means there are four selections whilst a 10-fold means there are 10 selections.

What is remarkable about the accumulator bet is that there is no limit on how many selections you can make – providing, of course, that you follow the rules of the accumulator. That means they must be different events.

Why are accumulators so popular?

Two words…money talks. The returns you can generate on an accumulator bet can be astronomical. Strangely though, the bookies love them just as much – if not more – than the punters. Why is that you ask? Well, when you think about it, it becomes quite obvious really and it’s one of the main reasons why punters should spend time getting accumulator betting explained.

Most people approach an accumulator with one thing in mind and, amazingly, it’s not actually winning. Instead, they think about what the potential returns will be. It sounds crazy but the prospect of winning £50 on a £1 four-fold accumulator doesn’t trigger the same giddy excitement as a potential £20,000 return on a 10-fold.

The fact is, very few of those turn into winners because only one of the predictions has to be wrong. In that scenario, the house wins. Of course, the 50/1 shot we mentioned isn’t easy either and that’s why people tend to lean towards the more life changing returns.

Can you really win huge sums?

The definition of huge varies from person to person. Even with that in mind, my answer remains unchanged. Yes, you can. People have been known to scoop jackpots worth seven figures – that is millions, by the way. They are rarities though that are newspaper worthy. People are regularly taking in hundreds and thousands of pounds though.

Let’s look at an example. We’ll use Ladbrokes’ odds and the English Premier League as an example as they’re both well-known brands.

On the opening weekend, there are eight games to be contested (The Manchester clubs are on extended breaks after their European games).

Crystal Palace Vs Southampton – Draw

Fulham Vs Arsenal – Away win

Liverpool Vs Leeds – Home win

Tottenham Vs Everton – Home win

West Brom Vs Leicester – Away win

West Ham Vs Newcastle – Draw

Brighton Vs Chelsea – Away win

Sheffield United Vs Wolves – Draw

A £1 stake pays nearly £300. Change Spurs and Everton from a home win to a draw and it becomes £545. Make it an Everton win and your returns become £645. All from a single £1 bet.

What about smaller accumulators?

I promise people do win bets like the one above – and also some with much better odds too – but I know the idea of winning an eight-fold might seem unrealistic to you. So, with that in mind, let’s look at the same group of fixtures with a smaller, less ambitious number in mind.

Crystal Palace Vs Southampton – Draw

Tottenham Vs Everton – Home win

West Brom Vs Leicester – Away win

West Ham Vs Newcastle – Draw

The above has the exact same predictions as the eight-fold but now we’re looking at just four matches. Your odds are greatly reduced – they’re now just under £30 from a £1 stake – but your chances of one team letting you down has reduced somewhat too. Again, switch the Spurs game from a home win to an away win and your potential returns increase – this time to nearly £64.

How are accumulator odds calculated?

I think the odds calculation is the main thing that turns people away from getting accumulator betting explained. It seems scary but, again, it’s not that complex.

For each leg of your accumulator, your odds get multiplied. We’ll continue with the four-fold example just shown.

It’s easier to explain with odds shown in decimal form, which is how they’re shown below in brackets.

Crystal Palace Vs Southampton – Draw – (2.9)

Tottenham Vs Everton – Home win (1.8)

West Brom Vs Leicester – Away win (1.85)

West Ham Vs Newcastle – Draw (3.1)

The calculation itself is simply your stake multiplied by the odds:

Stake * odds 1 * odds 2 * odds 3 * odds 4 = returns

In the example this means:

£1 * 2.9 * 1.8 * 1.85 * 3.1 = £29.93 including your original £1 stake

Am I limited to betting on match outcomes?

No, accumulator betting offers a wide range of options. The most common accumulators in football are placed on match outcomes, over or under goals or both teams to score markets but your options are huge – you can even spread an accumulator across different sports if you so wished.

Sticking to football though, you might opt to take a punt on the winners of Europe’s top five leagues, this would be a type of accumulator. You then come into touch with the option of an ‘each way’ accumulator too.

What does each way mean?

An each way bet gives you added protection in your bet – you pay for it though with a doubled stake I.e. a £1 stake each way becomes £2. Why?

Let’s say you think Man City will win the Premier League. You put £1 on that outcome with Ladbrokes at even money, however, you’re concerned Liverpool could pip them to the title and Ladbrokes’ each way terms pay for places first and second. By choosing this option, your bet becomes ‘I bet on Man City to win the title or to finish in the top two’.

The ‘or’ is treated as a second bet hence the additional stake. You’ve also increased your likelihood of winning so your returns will be reduced if the each way part of the bet comes true I.e. Man City come second.

How much the odds reduce by is based on the each way odds displayed, which will be defined by competition on the bookies website. This means that your each way calculation is the same if you back Man City (the favourites) or West Brom (the longest odds).

Are there any exceptional circumstances with accumulator betting?

Yes, there is. The main thing that can impact your accumulator bets is when a leg is cancelled. In this scenario that leg of your bet is ignored. Your bet goes ahead as if that selection was never played; if you had placed an eight-fold then it’s now a seven-fold and your odds reflect that.

Where your initial bet was a four-fold, you will now be playing a treble rather than an accumulator because to be classified as an accumulator you need to have four selections in place.

The other exceptional circumstance out there that is a regular occurrence is certain bookies offering what is usually marketed as ‘acca insurance’.

Once you’ve had an accumulator fall short by one selection you’ll understand the heartbreak it brings. This ‘insurance’ is usually worded in a manner that protects your stake – not your winnings – in the event of your bet losing because of one selection. Check the terms though because a few bookies offer something similar and have different conditions . Look out for stake limits, the number of minimum legs you have to bet on and minimum odds.

There you have it, you’ve now had accumulator betting explained and will be in a better position than most when it comes to game day.

Good luck and bet safe.