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Accumulator Bets Unveiled: A Comprehensive Guide to Acca Betting

Dave Kuzio
Fact checked by: Mike McKean
Publish Date: 31.01.2024

There are many different sports bet types and markets, some of which are more straightforward than others. Then there’s accumulator betting, which is decidedly more complex and requires you to combine multiple selections in a single wager.

Despite their apparent complexity, however, accumulator (or acca) bets are capable of creating enhanced odds and value, even when backing short-price favourites and outcomes with a high probability of occurring. However, accas also incur significantly higher risk, as they’ll only pay out in instances where each individual leg wins. So, read on as we explore accumulators in more detail.

Accumulators Explained: What is an Accumulator Bet?

An accumulator bet can typically combine anywhere between two and twenty selections in a single wager. Each of these selections must win for your wager to be successful unless you leverage optional features such as ‘acca’ insurance (we’ll discuss this a little later in the guide).

Accumulators are available across all sports, although they’re most commonly used in soccer and horse racing wagering. In the US and Canadian markets, an acca may also be referred to as a ‘parlay’, but the terms and structure of this wager type remain largely unchanged.

The most popular type of accumulator bet will usually feature between two and eight selections, as these iterations of the wager help to minimise risk while still enabling you to pursue enhanced returns. So, when we answer the question “What is an accumulator bet?”, we must make special reference to the following wager types:

Number of SelectionsBet Name
4Four-Fold Accumulator
5Five-Fold Accumulator
6Six-Fold Accumulator
7Seven-Fold Accumulator
8Eight-Fold Accumulator

Of course, your level of risk increases with every additional selection. However, so does your potential return, which is why accumulator betting is so popular and complex in equal measure.

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The Meaning of an Accumulator Bet in a Real-Life Example

To understand accumulator betting in more detail, it’s important to see how it works in context. So, we’re going to build an example four-fold acca below, while understanding precisely how prices are formulated. We’re going to use soccer as the example sport and incorporate the following selections:

  • ⚽ Selection 1: Manchester United to Beat Bournemouth at Odds of 1.57
  • ⚽ Selection 2: Manchester City to Beat Luton Town at Odds of 1.25
  • ⚽ Selection 3: Brentford to Beat Sheffield United at Odds of 1.82
  • ⚽ Selection 4: Liverpool to Beat Crystal Palace at Odds of 1.55

We then combine the published odds by multiplying them together to create a value and final price of 5.53. This will be the price that you ultimately wager at, so if you stake £5 on these four teams to win and they ultimately do so, you’ll bank a total return of £27.68.

In theory, this creates a much higher return than betting on each of the matches individually. For example, wagering £5 on Manchester United to beat Bournemouth at a price of 1.57 would only trigger a return of £7.85 if the Red Devils were successful, while even an increased stake of £10 would only unlock winnings of £15.70.

Once again, the flipside here is that it only takes one of your selections to fail for the entire acca bet to collapse. This is why the balance between risk and reward is so delicate when engaging in accumulator betting, and why factors such as the number of legs included and your individual selections are so important.

Note that many sportsbooks offer bet builders, which are a form of an in-play accumulator wager that are super popular with sports fans. You can learn more about bet builders and other in play markets in our live betting strategies.

Accumulator Betting: Benefits & Drawbacks

A key facet of accumulator bets is the benefits that this wager type confers. Of course, there are also potential drawbacks and disadvantages associated with acca betting, and it’s important to consider each of these in detail before building your wagers. Here’s a summary of the key benefits and drawbacks attached to this type of betting:

✅ Benefit #1: You Can Boost Your Profits With an Accumulator

As the above example shows, you can boost your profits considerably with accumulator betting. By combining numerous selections and multiplying odds in a single wager, you’re increasing the potential payout in relation to your stake, even when backing short-price favourites. Acca wagering certainly unlocks enhanced prices, which can be leveraged to increase returns over time.

✅ Benefit #2: Target Various Match Outcomes and Selections

With acca or parlay bets, you don’t always have to focus on a match winner or result. Instead, you can incorporate various prop bets and outcomes, such as both teams to score or the over/under on total goals scored during a soccer match, which enables you to include even money wagers that have a high implied probability of occurring. This is ideal if you’re a knowledgeable punter who wants to include a high number of legs in your acca!

✅ Benefit #3: Increase the Excitement of Sports Betting

Accumulator bets are popular among sports fans as they increase the excitement of placing wagers. Rather than focusing on just one team, an accumulator incorporates multiple teams or outcomes into the same slip, adding much more excitement to the online betting experience.

✅ Benefit #4: Include Underdogs Alongside Your Favourites

Accumulators ultimately give you incredible freedom over the wagers that you include, although sportsbooks may impose some restrictions in terms of minimum or maximum odds. This allows you to attach underdog bets and picks to heavy favourites, as a way of enhancing the final accumulator price even further, given that the odds are much longer for them. So long as you make informed picks in this regard, you can pursue even higher returns and realise the full value of accumulator betting.

✅ Benefit #5: Use Acca Insurance to Safeguard Your Bet

Some sportsbooks offer so-called “acca insurance”, which is applied to your accumulator and guarantees a payout in instances where one leg fails. This helps to minimise risk and safeguard your accumulator bet, while it also allows you a little more scope to include one or two underdog selections.

❌ Drawback #1 – There’s Minimal Room for Error

Accas are risky, and there’s minimal room for error. Actually, there’s virtually no room for error when engaging in accumulator betting, as even so-called “acca insurance” only protects you in instances where one of your legs fails. This provides only slight protection (especially when building eight-fold accas or larger), while there’s rarely an option to cash out if your wager starts to go south! So, accas aren’t necessarily a good strategy at cash out betting sites either.

❌ Drawback #2 – Accumulator Betting Isn’t Suitable for Novices

Of course, anyone is free to place an accumulator, but this type of wager is best utilised by experienced and knowledgeable punters. After all, all your accumulator selections must be informed and insightful, while also being capable of increasing your potential returns without exposing you to excess risk. Ultimately, successful acca betting is built on the ability to identify value in published odds and predict outcomes, so it isn’t for the faint-hearted or casual punter.

Our Acca Betting Tips – How to Wager Successfully

By now, you should understand how accumulators work and their unique pros and cons. If you’re still with us and you’d like to utilise this wager type, it’s important to think strategically and learn the underlying accumulator bet meaning. So, here are some acca betting tips to help you on your way:

Cap Your Number of Selections

In theory, an acca wager can include up to 20 selections, while many sportsbooks will enable you to build an even larger accumulator so long as the potential payout amount isn’t prohibitive (you can check each sportsbook’s acca T&Cs to learn more). However, a key element of successful betting is balance, as you’ll want to include a sensible number of selections that are still capable of delivering significantly enhanced odds.

So, we’d recommend capping your number of acca selections between six and eight on average, depending on the tournament or competition you’re betting on. For example, it’s reasonable to back eight (or maybe more) winners during extended horse racing meetings such as the Cheltenham Festival, whereas you may want to reduce your number of selections to four or five when betting on individual games in one of Europe’s big five soccer leagues.

The most important thing is that you prioritise quality over quantity and focus on strategy when acca betting, as this enables you to naturally cap your number of selections and create balanced wagers.

Prioritise Short-Price Favourites

You can also improve your chances of building winning accas by prioritising short-price favourites. Sure, there’s always scope to include one or more underdogs (especially if you employ acca insurance), but your wager is always best served by prioritising short-price favourites that have a high implied probability of winning.

This certainly enables you to optimise the number of selections in your acca, while unlocking incrementally higher prices that increase your potential returns. By making this a key part of your acca wagering strategy, you can pursue increased returns without overly compromising your chances of winning. This is preferable to building huge and high-priced accas that feature multiple underdogs, which tend to offer eye-catching prices that have little chance of winning in reality.

Make Use of Bet Boosts

Whenever you look to engage in sports wagering in general, the best betting bonuses and existing player promotions offer you the opportunity to access free play, complimentary wagers and enhanced odds.

The same principle applies when building accumulators. More specifically, sportsbook features like acca price boosts can help to both secure your wager and optimise your potential payouts, and while they may incur additional terms and conditions, they won’t require you to wager more or increase your risk.

Acca price boosts may also increase your potential returns without compelling you to increase your stake amount, which again makes an incremental but positive difference to your overall wagering experience!

Accumulators Explained: Are Accas Right for You?

So, there you have it; our comprehensive guide to accumulator betting, how it works and its unique pros and cons! We’ve even provided some accumulator wagering tips, which should help you to navigate available markets.

The main caveat here is that acca betting shouldn’t be taken lightly, as it’s often best utilised by seasoned punters or those of you with detailed knowledge of a particular sport. To learn more, why not check out the top betting sites and browse the available acca markets and features?

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Accumulator Bet FAQ

⚽ How do you win a football accumulator?

To win a football accumulator, all of your selections need to win. If just one of your legs loses, you will lose the entire accumulator, which is why it’s a good idea to opt for acca insurance where it’s offered.

💸 What is an accumulator?

An accumulator is a wager type that includes between two and 20 selections in a single wager. Usually, each of your picks must be successful for the bet to deliver a payout.

💲 Can I cash out an accumulator?

While acca T&Cs often vary from one sportsbook to another, you generally won’t be allowed to cash out your acca bet online. Check with your chosen sportsbook ahead of time though!

🦺 Can I always access acca insurance?

The short answer is no, as not all sportsbooks offer this feature. When it is available, there may be unique T&C s attached pertaining to the number of legs and minimum selections.

🥇 Are acca bets worth the risk?

This is entirely up to you! When done well, acca bets can unlock higher returns without dramatically increasing your risk. The selections you make, such as grouping in your favourites or going for underdogs, will certainly play a significant role in how likely your acca is to succeed.