Standard sports wagers fall into one of four categories: straight bets, accumulators/parlays, proposition bets and future bets. Straight bets can be further broken down into money line wagers, over/under wagers and point spread wagers. This page will focus on accumulators/parlays.
It comes as no surprise that experienced sports gamblers believe accumulators (parlays) represent a significant risk. The returns can be quite attractive, but many top handicappers don’t want to accept the risk associated with having to hit more than one game or match to cash a ticket. With that said, a majority of the sports gamblers in the world are just ordinary sports gamblers with limited bankrolls.
For the everyday novice sports gambler, accumulators provide a way to bet more games with a smaller investment. If they hit a nice winning streak that includes an accumulator or two, they can actually win a significant amount of money with a reasonable investment. That’s the typical mindset of a true recreational sports gambler, more for less.
When to Bet Accumulators
The primary reason accumulators are unattractive to serious sports gamblers is because three winners on a four-team betting slip is a loser. Four equal straight bets on those same four matches or games would return a decent profit. The best use of an accumulator is in conjunction with straight bets. It makes more sense for a sports gambler to bet four equal straight bets, using the games on which they have a strong opinion. If the gambler still wants to bet an accumulator, then they can tie at least three of the same games together on a single betting slip. If the bettor wins all four games, they collect on the straight bets and the accumulator will bring the icing on the cake. If they hit just three games, they still stand to make a small profit. If they hit 50% of their selections, the only loss would be the amount wagered on the accumulator, plus a little commission. This use of accumulators offers a better risk/reward balance and shows why accumulators shouldn’t be used as the only form of wagering.
How to Calculate an Accumulator Return
Here’s an explanation that shows how to calculate the return on any given accumulator. Let’s say a gambler bets a three-team accumulator on the NFL. The return is calculated by taking the return amount from each individual game, based on the amount wagered for the accumulator, times each other. Example. The accumulator will be $100. A $100 straight be on each NFL game with a point spread and standard money line of -110 would return $1.91 for each dollar wagered. Here the accumulator
New England Patriots -7.5
Philadelphia Eagles -3.0
Chicago Bears +6
Here’s the calculation: 1.91 x 1.91 x 1.91 x $100 = $697 for a $597 profit. Not a bad return on investment. With a limited bankroll, a gambler could create a nice betting account while risking only a small portion of their bankroll. FYI: three straight bets of $100 each on the same three games would only return a profit of $273.