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Calculate multiples, Acca Insurance and how bookies’ margins can affect your returns
Are accas all they’re cracked up to be? Are you making money for the bookmaker or betting smart?
Published on 06 February 2019
Updated on 06 February 2019
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What is an acca bet?
The acca (i.e. accumulator) is the most famous type of wager in football betting. For the casual bettor, it might be the most popular too.
We all have a friend, or a friend of a friend, who’s won big on some ludicrously complex accumulator. Hell, perhaps you’ve gotten lucky yourself. Either way, it’s the possibility of hitting on one of these big wins that makes the accumulator so enduringly popular, and so irresistible.
Of course, you don’t have to be a genius to work out that these wins are very much the exception to the rule. The vast majority of multiples bets fail, usually on multiple selections.
Is there actually any value to be had in betting multiples? That’s the question I’ll seek to answer in this article. In the process of doing so, I’ll explain how bookies’ margins work on multiples bets, and how that affects the value you get.
Let’s get started.
An introduction to multiples betting
Before we go any further, I want to give a recap of exactly what multiples bets are.
In short, they’re single bets which have multiple selections within them. You need to hit on all of those selections in order to win the bet.
Multiples are known by different names depending on how many selections there are. Two selections is a “doubles” bet, three is a “trebles”, four is a “fourfold”, and so on.
An “accumulator” refers to any bet with four or more selections within it. If you want to be more specific about the number of selections you’ve got in an acca, you might say “a sixfold accumulator”.
Multiples are popular because they offer significantly better odds than single bets. They are also, however, much harder to win, and the chances of you winning become exponentially lower as you add more and more selections.
The bookie’s margin
I wrote about bookies’ margins in detail, here. I’d encourage you to read that article before continuing with this one.
In short, however, a bookie’s number one priority is to always ensure they make a profit. The main way they do this is by including a margin in their odds. This margin can also be referred to as a vigorish or vig, juice, overround, or simply as the bookie’s commission (link). [br
Basically, bookies’ odds are not a direct reflection of actual probabilities. They start as probabilities, but the bookie will then add in their margin, so that the percentages of each outcome add up to more than 100%.
If the actual probabilities on a Both Teams to Score bet are 60% and 40% - for example – the final odds might actually be 63% and 42%. That adds up to 105%, and the extra 5% is the bookies’ margin.
By doing this, a bookie almost ensures that they will make money overall on a given market.
Margins on multiples bets
So, you know what margins are, and why they’re included. Now, let’s look at how they work specifically with multiples bets.
As I mentioned, every single football betting market you see on a bookie’s website will have a margin baked into it. With every selection you put into your acca, of course, you’re increasing your odds, and therefore your potential payoff. Nice!
At the same time, though, you’re also doing two… less nice things.
Firstly, you’re making your bet exponentially harder to actually win. When you’re looking at four or more selections – as you are with an accumulator – the chances of you winning will almost certainly be slim, whatever your actual picks.
Secondly, you’re also increasing the bookie’s margin with each selection. On a typical single bet, you might already be giving the bookie a 5% vig. On a fivefold accumulator, you’re giving them a hefty 25%.
This is why most professional gamblers will steer well clear of accumulators. In most cases, they simply don’t offer good value. That’s because – even though your odds look nice and big – you’re actually paying a hefty commission on your potential winnings to the bookie… on a bet that you’re highly unlikely to win in the first place.
Calculating accumulators and multiples bets
Many bookmakers nowadays will have a calculator built in for you. It can sometimes be advantageous, though, to calculate the odds for yourself. This can be particularly useful when you’re trying to work out how much of a juice your bookie is putting on their odds.
For starters, you definitely want to use decimal odds for doing this. You might naturally be more comfortably with fractional odds, but the sums are much easier with decimals.
Let’s say you’re putting down a fourfold accumulator, all on teams to win. These are the odds you’re getting:
Team A = 1.55
Team B = 3.15
Team C = 1.74
Team D = 1.53
To calculate the total odds of your bet, all you need to do is multiply these numbers together. In this case, you’d be getting odds of 12.998. So, if you put £1 down on this bet, and it won, you’d get about £13 back. Take off your stake, and you’d have made a profit of £12.
If you want to better gauge your chances, here’s a quick tip. Once you’ve calculated your total odds for the accumulator, try converting them into a percentage. This gives you a rough idea of how likely you are to succeed. To do this, all you have to do is divide 1 by the odds. In this example, you’d do 1 / 12.998. That works out at 0.077, or 7.7%. So… you’d be very unlikely to win this bet!
Using your calculations to find value
Based on what you’ve read so far, you might guess that I’m completely anti-multiples.
Not so! I simply think that most people put them down unthinkingly, and are destined to almost certainly lose their money. With a little thought and effort, you can actually find good value in accumulators.
Value: That’s the key word here. As I mentioned earlier, you can often end up paying something like 25% commission on your accumulators without even realising it. Given that the chances are already stacked against you actually winning, that is not good value.
By making similar calculations to the one in the previous section, however, you can actually try to find some worthwhile multiples. Specifically, you need to take the actual probability of the bet you’re taking, and compare that to the percentage chance you’re getting from the bookie. This will help you to understand the commission you’re paying.
For example, let’s say – again, using the formula above – you work out that you’re getting implied odds of 7.7% on your fivefold accumulator. Then, using the actual probabilities (I’ll address how you get those soon), you calculate that there’s really an 18.4% chance of your bet winning. In this case, you’d be paying a 10.7% commission, and getting very bad value. But, if you calculated there was really only a 5.2% chance, you’d actually be getting good value!
The key question then becomes, “how do you get the actual probabilities”? Well, you have two main ways to do this.
The first way is to work them out for yourself. This is what professional gamblers do. They take all the available statistics and indicators available to them, and work out the percentage chance of each outcome.
The second way is to get them from somewhere else. There are lots of websites out there offering statistical predictions for matches all around the world. A quick Google search for “football percentage predictions” will give you plenty of options.
You still have to work out which sites actually know what they’re talking about, of course, but this is still a quicker way to get statistical probabilities than calculating them yourself. The downside is that you won’t necessarily know how the tipsters arrived at those predictions – you simply need to have blind faith in them.
However you come by these probabilities, the method remains the same. Compare these percentages to the implied odds you find online. If your preferred bookie isn’t giving good value, but you love the accumulator, use a website like Oddschecker to find a bookie which is giving fair odds.
Accumulator insurance (acca insurance)
Before wrapping up this post, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention one of the great equalisers in multiples betting – accumulator insurance.
What is acca insurance?
Acca insurance is one of the most common promotions which bookies offer. It’s also one of the best. While the specifics vary from site to site, the general idea is that if one selection on your acca fails, but the rest come in, you still get your stake back.
Pretty much all of the major sports betting websites will provide their version of insurance in one form or another, you just have to search for your favourite bookmaker to find if they offer insurance. The table below provides a few more details for each bookmaker about their acca insurance:
|Bookmaker||Acca Qualifies||Bookmaker Offer|
Betfair acca insurance/acca edge
| 1 team loses in acca|| money back|
William hill acca insurance
| 1 team loses in acca of 5 or more|| free bets provided|
Betfred acca insurance
| 1 team loses in acca of 5 or more|| money back and free bet|
Paddy power acca insurance
| 1 team loses in acca of 5 or more|| free bet|
Sky bet acca insurance
| 1 team loses in acca of 5 or more|| free bet|
Ladbrokes acca insurance
| 1 team loses in acca of 5 or more|| free bet|
Coral acca insurance
| 1 loss in 6-8 fold - 2 losses in 9-10 fold - 3 loses in 11 or more|| money back and free bet|
Note: The above acca insurance information was correct at the time of publishing.
While it doesn’t help you to win, this offer boosts your chances of not losing an acca significantly. If you can get it on a fourfold acca, you only need 75% of your bet to come in, instead of 100%, to ensure you don’t lose your money. That 25% boost is massive.
I would still absolutely recommend you carry out the proper calculations on your accas. That said, accumulator insurance does give you some leeway, and you should be comfortable taking on a little extra risk – and/or getting a little less value – with it in place.
A few thoughts on accas and accca insurance?
I don’t want to be seen as a party-pooper when it comes to accumulators. I recognise that most people simply see them as fun little bets, and that’s fine. If you want to essentially throw your money away, that’s your choice!
If you’re interested in actually winning your multiples bets, however, I’d highly encourage you to actually put some thought into them. Firstly, take into account the margin you’re paying on your wagers. Secondly, calculate whether you’re actually getting good value on your odds, rather than simply being seduced by the potential for a sizable profit.
Remember, multiples pay out big money for a reason – it’s because they’re incredibly hard to win. I can’t change that for you… but I can encourage you to make smart multiples bets, and always ensure you’re actually getting value on them.
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