An 'accumulative bet', or 'accumulator', is a wager consisting of two or more selections in which the return (winnings + stake) from each successive 'leg' is automatically re-staked on the next. If there is a losing leg, the wager fails. Accumulators are known as 'doubles', 'trebles', 'fourfolds', and so on, depending on the number of legs.
Linking bets together in accumulators necessarily makes it much more difficult to win. A treble consisting of 3 one-in-3 chances has an overall chance of only one-in-27 of succeeding. The bettor considering accumulators must therefore be prepared to experience many disappointing near-misses while waiting for a bonanza! Since some accumulators, if successful, may land substantial odds, bettors should check beforehand that the bookmaker's payout limits are sufficient to assure that winnings will be paid in full. Accumulative odds may be calculated in the manner shown below.
Bettors should also be wary of 'across-the-card' limits - a special limitation on payouts, imposed by some, mainly smaller, firms on accumulative bets involving successful selections in events run within a certain interval (say, 15 minutes or less) of each other. Thus, a fivefold consisting of bets at 1.30, 1.45, 2.30, 3.00 and 3.30 could, where a 15-minute across-the-card restriction applied, be liable to the special limit on account of the bets at 1.30 and 1.45. Likewise; accumulative bets including an event run outside betting shop hours may be subject to a similar, if not more restricting, payout limit. Check the rules!
From the bookmaker's point of view, especially if the firm is a small one, such rules are necessary as a protection against excessive liabilities incurred under circumstances which make the normal mechanism of 'laying-off' liability difficult or impossible.
Accumulators may be 'win only' or 'each-way'. Normally, each-way accumulators are settled win-to-win and place-to-place. But in some regions, 'equally-divided settlement' is customary. By this method, the total return, win and place, of each leg is equally-divided and re-staked, half for a win and half for a place, on the next leg. The methods obviously produce different returns. Which is more favourable depends upon the nature of the result.
In the event of a non-runner in an accumulative bet, the non-runner is ignored and the bet stands on the lesser number of legs. A fourfold, for example, with one non-runner becomes a treble; a fourfold with two non-runners becomes a double. Accumulative bets are extremely appealing to the betting public because they seem to offer the prospect of big payouts for small stakes. But, in life, one rarely gets anything for nothing!
How to calculate accumulative odds
Let us suppose a treble landing the following odds: 7/2, 13/8, and 10/11
(1) Convert all the odds to odds-to-1 by dividing each lefthand figure by its righthand figure: 3.5/1, 1.625/1, and 0.909/1
(2) Add 1 point to each new lefthand figure, ignore the righthand figure (1), and multiply: 4.5x2.625x1.909 = 22.55
(3) Deduct 1 point to give the accumulative odds-to-1: 21.55/1
A £1 bet at those odds would return £22.55 (21.55 winnings + £1 stake).
In reality, the stakes involved may be quite substantial - simply because winning returns, from successful legs, are automatically ploughed back into further bets rather than being tucked away in the bettor's savings account, so increasing the bettor's average investment over the whole bet quite dramatically.
That is why, for the bookmaker, accumulative bets can bw quite a profitable form of business. In the early days of bookmaking, in the 19th century, vast fortunes were made out of laying 'double' prices, a time when accumulative odds were not very well understood. Today we are much better informed but accumulative betting is just as popular!
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