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Types of Sports Bets: Accumulator

A parlay or accumulator is one very common type of sports bet.  It involves a series of single bets (if you don’t already know what a single bet is, read up on it so you know the basics).  The group of single bets which make up an accumulator can include points spread bets, money line (ML) bets, or a combination of both.  The advantage of an accumulator is a higher payout should you win—a great deal higher if you are betting on a large number of teams simultaneously.  The disadvantage of course is the higher risk associated with such a complex bet.  For your accumulator bet to win, you need to win each of the straight bets you have selected as part of the accumulator group.  Lose a single bet and you lose them all.


Here is what common accumulator payouts look like (odds do vary though depending on the sport or event):


  • 2 Team:  13/5
  • 3 Team:  6/1
  • 4 Team:  10/1
  • 5 Team:  20/1
  • 6 Team:  40/1
  • 7 Team:  80/1
  • 8 Team:  150/1
  • 9 Team:  300/1
  • 10 Team:  700/1


So basically, if you wager £5 on a 2-team parlay, you would win £13.  If you wagered £10, you could win £26, and so on.  As you can see, the higher you go, the higher the potential payout, and if you won a 10-team accumulator, it would be quite lucrative (put down £1 for a chance to win £700).  It would also be incredibly unlikely.  It is hard enough just winning a single straight bet.  You will find two- to 10-team parlay wagers on most online betting sites.  A few sites may even offer you higher accumulator payouts on more teams. 


So what happens if one or more of the bets in your parlay wager amount to a tie?  At that point, the accumulator is dropped to the next lowest payout level.  If you are at a two-team parlay level, and there is a tie, push, cancellation or no action, your bet reverts to a single bet. 


In the US you may also sometimes see what is known as an “open parlay.”  Open accumulator bets can only be placed online or over the phone.  Basically, with this type of bet, you are allowed to leave one or more of the team selections in your wager open until a later time.  If any of your selections lose in the meantime, you will of course lose the open parlay bet.  But if you are still in the running, you can call back later to fill in the selections.  You will find open parlay bets online with up to 24 open spots, but you must fill at least 50% of the spots when you make your initial call.  You can fill the remaining open spots at any time you like (so long as you have not already lost one of your selections). 


You can easily see the advantage of this type of bet; you can add selections you feel truly confident about on an “as-you-go” basis.  Open parlays are much more flexible than other types of parlays, and have the potential for even higher payouts.  They are still quite risky though, and can get complicated quickly. These type of accumulators are not typically offered in the UK though.


If you are new to sports betting, it is a good idea to try your hand at a few single bets and get used to doing that before you start messing around with accumulator bets.  When you do decide to try a parlay, try a two- or three-team accumulator to get used to it.  The action is already pretty complex at just that level, and it only becomes harder to follow the more teams you add to the mix.  While accumulator bets are unlikely to win, they can be fun and may on occasion pay off handsomely.  They are definitely something to think about trying at some point down the line, especially if you are particularly confident about the outcome!


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Gambling on the Internet

A few things to consider when gambling online:

  • Take advantage of first deposit bonuses
  • Have a budget and stick to it
  • Don't lose more than you can afford
  • When drunk, don't bet!
  • Don't chase losses
  • Bet on markets you know well
  • Don't abuse bonuses