What Is An Accumulator or Parlay?

Last updated February 12th, 2020

An accumulator (sometimes called in slang an ‘acca’) and a parlay are the same thing. ‘Accumulator’ is the term most favoured in Europe while ‘parlay’ tends to be the term used in America.

A double or treble is actually an accumulator. But an accumulator is more than that because it can have any number of legs (or linked events) from two upwards. For instance it may be four or five or six events that all need to win. These events are linked into a single bet called an accumulator, or parlay, bet.

For instance, if there are six legs to your accumulator they must all win as the winnings from each leg then goes on to the next. One losing leg of the accumulator loses the bet.

If your accumulator or parlay has one leg of the bet that is a ‘non-runner’ then that part of the leg is ignored.

Let us demonstrate with an example:

Here is a four-leg accumulator that you might place:

Stake: £10 win (or $ or euro or whatever currency you are dealing with) on the following:

  • Leg 1: Man Utd to beat Arsenal at 2/1 (decimal odds equivalent: 3.0)
  • Leg 2: Cigar to win The Kentucky Derby at 4/1 (decimal odds 5.0)
  • Leg 3: New York jets to win The Superbowl at 4/1 (decimal 5.0)
  • Leg 4: Serena Williams to win The US Open Tennis at 3/1 (decimal 4.0)

If all four eventualities win, this is how you calculate your winnings: You treat each as a single bet with the winnings from the first leg running up onto the second leg and so on.

Let’s put it another way. Just imagine you bet on these four events individually and you collected the winnings and returned stake from the first bet and then placed the whole lot on the second bet. That won, so you collected all the money the bookie gave you and put the lot on the third bet. Then when that won, you got the cash back and put the whole lot on the fourth bet. In effect you have had a four-leg accumulator / parlay. However you just did it as four individual wagers.

Let’s work out the winnings from our example above:

  1. In our example above your stake is $10 (or any currency) and you back Man Utd at 2/1. When that bet wins you have $30 running onto the second leg ($20 winnings + your $10 stake returned).
  2. So now you have $30 going onto Cigar to win The Kentucky Derby. When Cigar duly wins the race you have $150 going on to the next event. You got to the $150 by multiplying the stake running onto that second leg by the winning odds of 4/1 = 4 x $30 = $120 + your stake of $30 “returned” in theory = $150.
  3. The New York Jets win the Super Bowl, so multiply the $150 by the 4/1 odds = $600 but don’t forget to add your stake back in, so $600 winnings + $150 stake = $750.
  4. So now you have $750 going onto the final leg at 3/1 (Serena Williams). When she wins your accumulator has finished and you get 3/1 x $750 = $2250 + your stake of $750 = $3000.

So when all four legs of that accumulator / parlay bet win then you get $3000 returned for your $10 stake.

That is the equivalent of $300 for a $1 stake. So the odds of that successful 4-leg accumulator were actually 299/1. This is because the $300 to a one dollar stake is what you got back, but you had to actually bet $1 and that is included in the return. So the odds are 300 returned – your stake of 1 = 299/1.


An accumulator (parlay) does not have to be in any order. In our example, it doesn’t matter what order the events are played in.

A non-runner is ignored, so in our example if Cigar never ran and was treated as a non-runner then just ignore that leg totally. The 4-leg accumulator becomes a 3-leg accumulator and is worked out accordingly. However if Cigar was bet on in the futures or ante-post market, rather than daily market, he would be a loser. If that was the case the bet loses, because:

One loser means the accumulator or parlay has lost. This is a bet where all the winnings from one leg go onto the next leg automatically. It follows that one losing leg means the accumulator has lost. There are no prizes for getting your accumulator or parlay almost right!

Each-Way Accumulator

You can do an each-way accumulator. If you placed an each-way accumulator that is basically two bets: A win accumulator and a place accumulator. So if they all place but one does not win then you will have won your place acca but lost your win part of the wager.