Most of us have placed a weekend football accumulator at some point in our betting lives.
We spend ages picking out a bunch of sure winners, but there's almost always a shock result which lets the whole thing down. It's really annoying!
Football accas are tough to win and that's exactly why the bookies love them. The more selections we add to our accumulator, the more likely we are to hit a shock result and, mathematically, the bookmakers have the advantage.
There are ways to improve your chances of winning but firstly, how does an accumulator work and how do you work out accumulator odds?
What is an Accumulator Bet?
An accumulator is one bet made up of multiple events.
The betting odds for each event accumulate, but all of them have to win in order for you to receive a return on your bet.
The events which make up an accumulator bet could be a series of football matches, horse races, election results, Big Brother winners or any combination of - pretty much - anything.
The only exclusion is that you can't include related events. For example, you couldn't back Harry Kane to score first, Harry Kane to score at any time, Tottenham to win, Tottenham to be leading at half-time and Tottenham to win 1-0.
A bet on one event is known as a single, two events is a double, three events is a treble, four events is a four-fold (or quadruple) and then five events or more becomes an accumulator.
Accumulator bets - also known as 'accas' - can have gigantic odds, but they are very difficult to win.
How does a Football Accumulator Work?
It's already tough enough to find consistent winners at decent prices, so you can imagine that combining multiple teams into one bet quickly moves the advantage even more in favour of the bookies.
The best use for a football accumulator is to combine short-priced favourites.
For example, you would have a hard time justifying a bet on France to beat Romania at 3/10 here as the risk/reward is ridiculous. You would be risking £10 in order to win just £3.
However, if you were to also back England to beat Russia, Germany to beat Ukraine, Spain to beat Czech Republic and Portugal to beat Iceland in an accumulator, the odds become more appealing.
The compounding effect that an accumulator has is pretty spectacular.
If you were to back these five teams at £2 each (£10 stake) and all five won, you would have £15.44 in your pocket.
However, put them into an accumulator (£2 stake) and you would end up with £16.96.
More return for much less stake!
Before you get too excited though, keep in mind that the more teams you have in your acca, the greater the chance of one letting you down which results in the entire bet failing. If even one of those five teams didn't win, your accumulator bet would lose.
How to Work Out Accumulator Odds
As you add selections to your online football accumulator, you will see the potential return automatically calculated.
Working out an accumulator bet is easy though, so you can do it manually - or click here and use our free betting calculator.
In the example above, these are the five selections:
If you remember learning common denominators at school you can add up the fractions, but it's easier to convert the odds into decimals.
Betfair uses decimal prices and most bookies give you the option to switch fractional prices into decimal, so you'll probably never need to do this manually. However, if you do end up having to convert fractional odds to decimal at some point, this is the simple calculation.
In order to convert France's odds from a fraction to decimal, divide the 10 into the 3 and add 1:
So following that same formula, the decimal price for each selection is:
All you do now is multiply the decimal prices together:
Therefore, every £1 you stake on the accumulator would return £8.48 if all five teams win.
If you were to stake £10 all all five teams won, you would end up with £84.80.
You may find that calculating accumulator returns manually doesn't agree exactly with what's on the betting slip. This is because of rounding up/down and it will only be pennies out.
How Does 'Draw no Bet' Work in an Accumulator?
A traditional football accumulator system revolves around the Match Odds market.
You pick out a series of home wins, away wins and/or draws then wait for the results to come in.
However, there are other accumulator types growing in popularity, such as Both Team to Score (BTS) and Over/Under 2.5 Goals.
These accas can be alive right until the final whistle as you're not relying on match winners, but goals.
You can even use a combination of Match Odds, Both Teams to Score and Overs/Unders in one bet (as long as they're different matches, of course).
Perhaps the fastest growing type of acca in recent years has been the draw no bet accumulator.
A 'draw no bet' wager means that your selection is void if the match ends in a draw. It's similar to 'Double Chance' in which you select two of the three Match Odds outcomes, but you get better odds with draw no bet because only one outcome returns winnings.
Draw no bet in an accumulator gives you some insurance should one of your teams fail to win - as long as they at least manage to draw.
In the example above, if all four teams won you would receive the full 24.47 return.
If three of the teams won and the last drew, your bet would become a treble on the winning teams only. If two teams won and two drew, then you would get the same return as if you'd placed a double in the first place.
However, if any one of the four teams lost their match then the entire accumulator would lose.
Best Way to Win a Football Accumulator
How to win a football accumulator, then?
Unfortunately there is no easy answer, otherwise we would all be billionaires!
A good starting point when putting together football accas can be to think of odds in terms of percentages.
For example, a team that is priced up at 6/4 with the bookmakers to win a particular game should have a 40% chance of winning that match, if the odds are fair. If you think that the team has a much better chance of winning than 40%, you can consider adding it to your accumulator.
This logic works both ways. If Arsenal are at home and priced at 1/9 to win, it means there is a perceived 90% chance of a home win.
While that may be highly likely, there is always that chance in football that a shock result happens. Perhaps Arsenal pick up a red card, concede a late penalty or just play badly. Perhaps it is safer to avoid the very short-priced teams.
Also keep in mind that it's important to get the best possible odds when placing any football bet.
It doesn't take long at all to visit Oddschecker and make sure that you are getting the best possible return on your bets. Odds for accumulators can vary wildly from bookie to bookie and, with the compounding effect, can hugely increase your potential profit.