An ‘accumulator’ is a term used to describe a single bet involving at least four selections, though often many more than that. The most important thing that separates accumulators from full cover bets the fact that all selections must win in order for the bet to be successful, whereas full covers bets make provision for at least one selection losing.

Accumulator betting has always been popular in the UK, particularly when betting on football. Colloquially, the betting community refer to accumulators these days as ‘accas’ and are usually saved for busy weekend football fixtures, these bets having become more or less a ritual for many football fans since the dissipation of the football pools.

For most gamblers, the selling point of accumulators is first of all that the combination of various selections on the bet means combining all the odds, creating the potential for huge winning returns and odds that are impossible to find on standard match betting coupons by betting in singles.

The second majorly appealing factor for punters is the unadulterated excitement of having an interest in various simultaneous games or events. During the main football season in the UK, 3pm on Saturdays can mean over 100 games all kicking off at the same time. An acca can transform the experience of watching the scores of those games change when the potential for a big win is there.

Most have us have been there; the thrill of a last minute goal meaning the accumulator has been successful and this excitement is what makes accumulator betting so popular in football. Accumulators are a standard bet though and can be placed on various sports, sometimes even combining them across various events.

How Do Accumulator Bets Work?

horses race


Some bookies and punters include doubles and trebles when defining the word ‘accumulator’ and technically this is true, however with one of the most fun parts of accumulators being the ability to rack up long odds and very large potential winnings, it seems more accurate to focus on bets made up of 4-folds and over.

The best way for a layman to understand how accumulator odds are calculated is to think of a leg of the bet winning and paying out, before you then place those full returns on the next leg of the bet. So, if you have placed an acca bet on football games in the Premier League, your bet may look like this:

  • Newcastle to beat Everton at 7/2
  • Arsenal to beat Chelsea at 3/1
  • Watford to beat West Brom at 4/1
  • Man City to beat Liverpool at 3/1

So, say the punter stakes £5 on the accumulator above and all selections win, winnings would be calculated as follows:

  • The initial £5 stake returns £22.50 from the bet on Newcastle to beat Everton (£17.50 profit plus the original £5 stake).
  • That £22.50 essentially becomes the stake on the Arsenal/Chelsea and pays out £90 (£67.50 profit plus the £22.50 stake).
  • That £90 now carries over onto Watford to beat West Broom, when that result comes up our cash then becomes £450.
  • Last of all, the £450 is now automatically stakes on Man City to beat Liverpool at 3/1 meaning a total return of £1,800.

Accumulators, while chiefly the domain of football punters, are also very popular in a number of other sports including tennis, horse racing, cricket, rugby and more. As mentioned earlier, punters can even place accumulators across various sports, something made much easier in the age of online betting as we are no longer required to physically write out a rather challenging bet slip.

As long as we keep stakes small, accumulators are a great way to enhance our enjoyment of new sporting events, especially live ones, and an easy to understand way to enhance our betting odds to create sizeable winning returns.

Each-Way Accumulators and Non-Runners

people in front of a betting shop


When placing an accumulator bet, non-runners simply mean that the given selection is removed from the bet, the odds adjusted accordingly. Should one of your selections be cancelled, postponed or become a ‘non-runner’, the bet will still stand but at updated odds.

Each-way accumulators essentially involve two different bets; one on the selection to win and the other one on the same selection to be ‘placed’. If the accumulator includes each-way bets, punters can win the overall amount if the place bet is successful, but with the odds adjusted accordingly.

Each-way accas are a good way to increase the chances of a bet paying out, but they do bring down the total amount that punters stand to win. The potential winnings on accumulators are pretty much limitless, though naturally the more selections you add into the bet in order to rack up the odds, the greater the difficulty the lower the chances of the bet coming up.

Some huge sums of money have been won by horse racing and football punters over the years and I’m sure they’d admit that luck played as big a part as judgement when landing these prizes. Winnings of over £1million have been reported by bookmakers from punters staking as little as 50p, though these bets are extremely rare.

A typical successful football accumulator bet would probably have returns of around £100 – £150 from a £10 bet. This would still require around 5 or 6 selections, as in fact most winning football teams go off at very prohibitive odds. Nowadays though a lot of top firms offer ‘acca insurance’, meaning that when placing a bet consisting of 5 teams or more and one selection lets you down, you will get your money back as a free bet.

Innovations such as this have been a welcome addition to the world of football betting in the last couple of years and have done more than anything else to keep the traditional accumulator bet going. Many more complicated and confusing bets are out there these days but sometimes, a little bit of tradition makes us happy and the Saturday accumulator will be around for a long time to come.