Accumulators are a great way to combine several bets into one large package, increasing the value of any possible pay-out should you be correct on all counts.
Almost every weekend there’s a story in the papers about how someone turned a small £5 punt into a five-figure pay-out all due to accumulators. They’re a great way to add more fun to betting on football, horse racing and other sports, but is winning big on an acca really that easy?
The simple answer is “no”, but a more nuanced answer would be “sometimes, if you’re careful”. You can’t guarantee that every single leg of your accumulator will play out as you predicted, and the more bets you add, the more precarious it becomes, which makes landing every part of an accumulator quite difficult. However, accumulator betting is an exciting option for many punters as it offers the chance to receive a bigger cash reward than if they had played all their bets separately.
Typically, you can’t combine bets from a single event - for example, most bookmakers wouldn’t allow you to create an accumulator for a face-off between Manchester United and Manchester City that involved the outright winner, first goalscorer, correct score and number of penalties. They have to be separate events, such as predicting that Arsenal will beat Tottenham in the Premier League, Villarreal will beat Rubin Kazan in the Europa League and that Juventus will beat Milan in Serie A.
Because accumulator odds are calculated by combining the separate odds of each leg, the potential pay-out can be quite favourable because winnings from the first event are then placed on the next, and so on. For example, the accumulator listed above (Villarreal, Arsenal and Juventus to win), might offer odds of 3/1 for Villarreal, 2/1 for Arsenal and 4/1 for Juventus. A single wager of £5 on the entire acca could net you £300 - £295 in winnings and your stake returned to you.
Had you wagered on these events alone, you would only receive £20 for Villarreal winning, £15 for Arsenal winning and £25 for Juventus taking the lead.
While placing two or three disparate bets together is technically an accumulator, these are usually referred to as “doubles” and “trebles” respectively. However, you can create four-fold, five-fold, six-fold and even seven-fold or eight-fold accumulators if you want. The only real limit is how much you want to wager and how much you are willing to lose - the more bets you place in an accumulator, the more likely it is that one or some of them won’t win.
Online bookmakers will often offer pre-made accumulators for the biggest sports, such as football, which makes it easy for new punters to get involved. You can also create your own accumulators if you wish to do so, carefully choosing the markets which you know well and think you can conquer come game day (or race day).
While you can definitely pick up a bigger pay-out on a large accumulator, netting bigger wins as you place more bets together, the disadvantage is that all of these bets must be correct in order to receive a pay-out. If Chelsea fails to deliver against Crystal Palace when you thought they would be victorious, but you correctly predicted that Aston Villa would win over Sunderland and Real Madrid would defeat FC Barcelona, you won’t see a penny. Had you made these wagers separately, you would have won the last two bets, but would have received a lower return.
However, most accumulators take into account “non-runners” - bets that cannot be fulfilled because the horse didn’t start, the player was out due to injury or the game was called off due to bad weather. If the Aston Villa - Sunderland match was called off because of heavy snow, that leg of the bet would simply be removed from your accumulator and the odds for the other fixtures would be adjusted accordingly.
You can also better your chances of winning on an accumulator by placing each-way bets for every leg. This means that you bet not only on a team, horse or player to win, but also to place. For horse racing accumulators, this can be a life-saver. However, the potential payouts on each-way accumulators are not as profitable as you are making additional wagers and stand a higher chance of your bets coming through.
Sometimes referred to as “Acca Insurance,” this is a promotion offered by some online bookmakers that gives you an extra bit of protection against one leg of your accumulator not living up to predictions. If all but one part of your accumulator lets you down, you won’t lose all the cash you wagered. Instead, you’ll usually receive your flutter back in the form of a free bet (up to a certain value), which is a far better prospect than losing your entire stake. For example, a bookmaker might offer insurance on a five-fold accumulator bet, giving you up to £25 in free bets if one of your five wagers doesn’t come through, but the other four do.