Opinion: Accumulators Part 2
Finding Value In a Sea of Losses
In the first instalment of accumulator betting, I dropped the hammer of doom on accumulators by suggesting they are worse value than buying electronics and toys in the final week before Christmas. However, I also provided a tiny beam of light by showing you how to turn a money pit 5-team accumulator into a more sensible series of propositions. In this piece, I will continue to show you sensible ways to wager on parley bets although I will personally never extol their virtues.
Value Bets Only Need Apply
Aside from pure good fortune, the only way to succeed with accumulator bets in the long-term is to find value in every single bet. As you can imagine, it is tough enough to find a single value bet let alone seven or eight. The trick is to understand implied probability and utilise it in your betting. I have already spoken about it at length in previous articles, so I am going to provide a very quick explanation here.
In summation, implied probability is the likelihood of an outcome happening based on the odds provided by the bookmaker.
In this Slovakian women’s cup match between Union Nove Zamky and Spartak Myjava, the odds are 1.90 for over 4.5 goals. To calculate the implied probability of this outcome, simply follow this formula:
Implied Probability = 100/decimal odds
In the case above: 100/1.9 = 52.63
In other words, there is a 52.63% of this match having 5+ total goals.
As for whether this represents a ‘value’ bet, we have to check previous meetings and other statistics. What’s abundantly clear is that Nove Zamky has completely collapsed as a club. From being Slovakia’s representative in the Champion’s League in 2015, they lost 18 straight games and were ultimately relegated just two years later.
Myjava beat them 3-0 and 5-1 in their last two meetings, and it isn’t a stretch to say that an even bigger beating is on the cards here. Ultimately, I believe there is more than a 52% chance of this outcome happening and would classify this as a ‘value’ bet.
Using Longer-Term Trends & Specific Markets to Find Value
I will certainly not criticise anyone who believes the above bet relies on too many unknowns to be worth the risk. Well-known leagues such as the English Football League system have the advantage of offering a huge amount of statistical data. Of course, bookmakers have access to the same treasure trove of information (and more if truth be told) but even they make the occasional mistake.
One of the biggest enemies of accumulator betting is a tendency to include a series of outcomes that are risky on their own. For instance, trying to pick five winners in the EFL. I explained why such bets were poor value in Part 1. The unpredictability of match outcomes coupled with the bookmaker’s overround is a recipe for consistent failure.
If you really intend on taking accumulators seriously as a betting strategy, it is time to trim your number of selections and focus on shorter odds markets where the outcome is more likely. Sure, a 5/2 acca isn’t as ‘sexy’ as a 125/1 option, but last I checked, 126 multiplied by zero equals zero.
There are several markets worth considering, and I would recommend focusing on bets where there are only two possible outcomes rather than the three associated with win-only bets. A perfect example is over/under goals or Both Teams to Score. Most punters prefer to bet on over 2.5 or over 3.5 goals bets but what about the humble over 1.5 goal bet?
For example, in the English Championship 2017/18 season. 73% of bets had 1.5 goals or more. QPR and Fulham led the way with 83% of their games having a minimum of two goals. The main reason why people steer clear of such bets is because of the short odds. For the record, odds of 1.37 equal an implied probability of 73%. Who wants to go down that boring route when you can ‘win’ a 100/1 12-team acca instead?
Three bets at 1.37 equate to a 2.57/1 shot which is slightly better than 6/4 in fractional terms. Like I said, boring! The thing is, bookmakers, WANT you to have that attitude. It is what keeps them in business. Careless flutters at poor value float their boat; dull bets make them nervous.
Believe it or not, it is less difficult to find value in short odds bets than in medium odds bets (6/4 to 4/1 or thereabouts). Using www.soccerstats.com, I perused the English Football League to see if I could find any value over 1.5 goal bets. It isn’t easy because we’re still at the beginning of the season, but we can always fall back on last season’s statistics if need be.
First up I spotted that Fleetwood Town play Accrington Stanley in League 1. Last season, 91% of Fleetwood’s home games had 1.5+ goals. This season, it is 67% but based on a sample size of just three games. Stanley were in League 2 last year, and 83% of their away games had 1.5+ goals. In League 1 so far, 100% of their away matches have had 1.5+.
Over 1.5 match goals is 1.3, so there is an implied probability of 76.92%. Based on the above statistics, we have to consider it a ‘value’ bet. Ultimately, I found three bets that offered a semblance of value and the result was a 3-outcome accumulator at odds of 2.19/1. The implied probability of the bet winning is 45.66%, but by finding value in all three bets, the ‘real’ probability is a little higher.
Final Thoughts on Accumulator Betting
I reiterate the point that accumulator betting is not my favourite method, but it IS possible to make a long-term profit as long as you remain patient and understand the concept of value. Too many punters are so focused on the potential for mega pay-outs that they don’t realise they’re being taken for mugs.
Believe it or not, the actual odds of a bet are less important than whether or not it represents value. There is no point betting on a 50/1 accumulator with an implied win probability of 2% if your real chance of winning is less than 1%. In contrast, a bet at odds of 1.25 (implied probability of 80%) IS value if the actual chance of winning is over 85%.
Professional gamblers tend to focus on singles or doubles and thoroughly research every angle. If you wish to become a successful accumulator bettor, you need to apply the same principles, except for the fact that you have to find several good bets. As this is a difficult endeavour, it is best to focus on shorter odds bets to increase your chances of winning and reduce any potential losing streaks.
Resist the urge to back a lot of short odds bets in the mistaken belief that your bet is somehow more likely to win. It doesn’t matter if every bet is less than 1.20 to win, the overall odds of 2.5 means there is an implied probability of 40%. Even if every bet seems like a ‘banker,’ the odds suggest that you’re more likely to lose than win.
It shouldn’t need reiterating but here goes: The more selections you make, the more likely it is that something will go wrong. A red card, missed penalty, disallowed goal, crucial injury, etc. Look for value, keep the number of selections down, and stake responsibly!
One final thought: I have lost count of the number of punters who go for 6+ bet accumulators spread out over several days. On very rare occasions, the first five of the six bets win, and the final leg happens two days later. Punters ALWAYS ask: “Should I cash out?” If you knew this would be an issue, why add a bet on an event that takes place several days after all the rest? It makes no sense!
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Patrick graduated from the National University of Ireland, Galway with an MA in Literature and Publishing but decided he would rather have the freedom of a freelance writer than be stuck in a publishing house all day. He has enjoyed this freedom since 2009 and has written thousands of articles on a variety of topics but sports betting is his passion. While his specialty is finding mismatches in obscure football leagues, he also likes to use his research skills to provide punters with detailed winning strategies in horse racing. You can check out his personal blog on www.lynchthewriter.com or Twitter @pl1982 where he writes content to help small businesses achieve success.