Excited football fansIn the world of betting, few wagers offer you the benefit of a large return for a relatively small investment quite like accumulator bets. It is not unheard of for bets as low as £1 to return hundred of thousands of pounds – such is the nature of accas. The flip side of that is that the risk is much higher, with just a single result not going your way resulting in your bet being a loser and your stake disappearing, even if all of the other legs are winners.

Accumulators don’t necessarily offer particularly good value, in the sense that a bet’s odds are probably much higher than what you’re actually offered, but then if you can win huge sums of money from a small stake what does it matter if that’s not the full amount you would be paid out if bookmakers offered true odds? Here we’ll have a look at everything you need to know about accumulators and how they work.

What Is an Accumulator?

English Premier League acca

Accumulator bets are single wagers that actually involve several different selections. What makes them so profitable when they win is the fact that all of your selections have got to be winners in order for your overall bet to be successful. If just one of the selections that you’ve made loses then your entire bet loses. With each selection that you add to your accumulator, the odds of the bet increase.

Technically, an accumulator has to have four or more selections in order to be called an accumulator, with just one selection being a Single, two being a Double and three being a Treble. We’ll cover that in more detail later on, but it’s important to draw attention to the language of the bet early on. They all work in the same way regardless, with all of the selections in your bet needing to win for you to be paid out.

The real joy of an accumulator bet is that you can place a relatively small stake but still stand a chance of winning a decent amount of money. A bet on the results of all ten Premier League fixtures over the course of a given weekend could give you odds as high as 6,000/1, for example. That would mean you could get £3,000 if you only bet 50p on the various outcomes that you think have the best chance of winning.

How Accas Work

It’s important to note that accumulator bets aren’t limited to football and can be placed on any sport. Indeed, many bookmakers will allow you to mix and match the sports that you want to bet on. As an example, a bet on ten football matches, a snooker match, the outcome of a tennis match, the winners of a golf tournament, a horse race and a darts match offered odds of 401,324/1 at the time of writing this article.

Looking at a selection of four events, with each bet having odds of 2/1, 2/1, 3/1 and 4/1, you’d win just £11 if you bet on each of the events individually. Put them together into an accumulator, however, and that increased to £120 thanks to the odds you’d receive of 120/1. Because you need all of the events to be winners in order for your bet to be successful, the amount of selections you have in your acca changes the odds.

The odds of each individual event also affects the accumulator’s overall odds. Adding a selection that is a 1/3 favourite to an acca is unlikely to increase the odds much, but choosing something that is 5/1 certainly will. Choosing a group of selections that all have long odds will increase the possible payout exponentially, but that’s because they chance of it being a winner is limited with every selection you make.

Each-Way Accumulators

Accumulators are much like straight Single bets in many ways, including the fact that you can place an Each-Way accumulator. This doubles your initial stake because it is one bet on all of your selections being winners and one bet on the selections finishing in the places. You can make the entire accumulator an Each-Way bet, or just individual selections within your acca.

If you opt for the former then you’re essentially saying that you’re happy to pay double the cost of the wager in exchange for an increased chance of winning but a smaller payout if one of your selections only finishes in the places rather than wins. The latter option, meanwhile, means that you think the selection in question might not win but the rest will, increasing your chance of winning the bet overall.

Each-Way accumulators are only available on sports that would typically allow an Each-Way bet to be placed. If you’re looking at betting on a horse race, for example, then Each-Way betting will be possible on your accumulator. Bets on football matches, meanwhile, don’t include the ability to turn your overall bet into an Each-Way accumulator wager. Equally, you won’t get the option if you mix and match football and horse racing.

The Different Types of Acca

English football fan
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The second you start adding more and more selections to your accumulator, the more you begin to increase the possible payout if it wins. This is entirely because the bet becomes harder to win the more legs you add to it, given that you need all of them to come home for it to be successful. More selections added to an accumulator also changes what it’s called, as demonstrated in the table below:

Number of Legs Name of Accumulator
2 Double
3 Treble
4 Four-Fold
5 Five-Fold
6 Six-Fold
7 Seven-Fold
8 Eight-Fold
9 Nine-Fold
10 Ten-Fold

As you can see, once you pass a certain point the accumulators stop having specialist names and instead just become X-Folds, with X being the number of legs in the acca. You will often see bets with weird names, such as a Yankee or a Super Heinz, but these are not accumulators. Instead, they are what are known as full cover bets, given that they offer a variety of different bets within the same wager.

Full Cover Bets

Full cover bets are actually wagers that often include accumulators, but you’ll pay a lot more to place then than you would an accumulator. Accas are bets that need every single selection to come home in order for them to be a winner, whereas full cover bets actually see you get a pay out if only a couple of your selections are winners. The trouble is that you’re paying to place them as individual bets, making them more expensive.

Here’s a look at some of the more popular full cover bets that you can place with bookmakers, which are well-known and common enough wagers to have been given a specific name:

Name of Wager Bets Included Cost With £1 on Each Bet Number of Selections Number of Successful Selections Needed to Win Something
Trixie 3 Doubles, 1 Treble £4 3 2
Patent 3 Singles, 3 Doubles, 1 Treble £7 3 1
Yankee 6 Doubles, 4 Trebles, 1 4-Fold Acca £11 4 2
Lucky 15 4 Singles, 6 Doubles, 4 Trebles, 1 4-Fold Acca £15 4 1
Super Yankee / Canadian 10 Doubles, 10 Trebles, 5 4-Fold Accas, 1 5-Fold Acca £26 5 2
Lucky 31 5 Singles, 10 Doubles, 10 Trebles, 5 4-Fold Accas, 1 5-Fold Acca £31 5 1
Heinz 15 Doubles, 20 Trebles, 15 4-Fold Accas, 6 5-Fold Accas, 1 6-Fold Acca £57 6 2
Lucky 63 6 Singles, 15 Doubles, 20 Trebles, 15 4-Fold Accas, 6 5-Fold Accas, 1 6-Fold Acca £63 6 1
Super Heinz 21 Doubles, 35 Trebles, 35 4-Fold Accas, 21 5-Fold Accas, 7 6-Fold Accas, 1 7-Fold Acca £120 7 2
Goliath 28 Doubles, 56 Trebles, 70 4-Fold Accas, 56 5-Fold Accas, 28 6-Fold Accas, 8 7-Fold Accas, 1 8-Fold Acca £247 8 2

The Lucky bets are so-called because bookmakers usually offer promotions such as receiving double the odds if only one your selections comes in. It’s really important to realise that there is a difference between accumulator bets and full-cover wagers if you’re hoping to keep your costs low. You could have an acca with 8 selections that would cost you £1 to place, whereas it would cost £247 to place it as a full cover bet.

Are Accumulators Good Value?

It’s always difficult to decide whether a bet is good value or not. On the one hand, if an accumulator has odds of 140/1 for four selections then that would be an excellent return on a £1 investment. On the other hand, if the ‘true’ odds of those selections all winning is more like 700/1, then you’ll feel as if you’re being screwed out of a good chunk of money. The problem is, if no bookmaker will offer ‘true’ odds then what does it matter?

The way bookies work involves calculating what they believe to be the ‘true’ odds of an outcome and then offering customers odds that are slightly worse than this. When you’re talking about accumulators, the ‘true’ odds go up exponentially with every selection that you add to it but the bookmakers will only increase the odds they put forward to customers in a small, incremental amount that doesn’t reflect those ‘true’ odds.

If you’re only betting with small stakes, the truth is that an accumulator that pays 140/1 will still seem like a decent investment when you weigh it up against how much you’d win if you placed a 25 pence stake on the four selections individually. Value is, after all, a personal thing and no one else can tell you whether or not a bet is good value to you. That is something that you’ll be able to work out for yourself based on your circumstances.

One thing that you can do to make an accumulator better value for yourself is keep an eye out for bookmakers offering either Acca Insurance or else bonuses / free bets alongside your accumulator. Acca Insurance is something whereby you’ll get your stake back if, say, only one of your legs is a loser. Offers and free bets will often involve you getting your entire stake back if it’s a loser. These promotions aren’t common, but they’re things that make accas work for you.