Come on, admit it: how many times has your football accumulator or horse racing multiple been let down by just one leg? The last minute equaliser, the fall at the final fence…placing accas can be a cruel mistress.
If only there was a way that we could protect our multiples from such disaster. Of course, many bookmakers have devised schemes to offer some form of payback to their customers in such scenarios – Acca Insurance is one such form of consolation prize, but you suspect these have been created to divert punters from one of the most reliable bet types available.
So few bettors outside of horse racing are taking advantage of ‘cover bets’ it’s almost as if you enjoy giving money away. Do you know why bookies turn over multi-million profits every year? Because ill-disciplined punters place multi-leg accas each week, and the chances of those landing are slim.
But cover bets? Well, these offer the perfect blend of lower risk but still excellent reward.
What is a Full Cover Bet?
A cover bet is a method of wagering that covers all potential outcomes of a multiple bet or acca. So, if your selection had four legs you would bet on a combination of doubles, trebles and a four-fold so that if two of your picks win and two lose, you will still walk away with a financial return.
There are two broad types: full cover bets, which include single legs as well as the multiples outlined above, and standard cover bets which don’t pay out on ‘single wins’.
There are numerous types of cover bet accepted by most bookmakers, although sadly these often get overlooked in favour of ‘death or glory’ accas.
Clearly, the main advantage that a cover bet offers over a standard accumulator is mitigation for a losing leg (or two). If one pick lets you down in an acca then it doesn’t matter if you were unlucky, if the referee had a shocker or the horse’s jockey rode a bad race, screw that coupon up and chuck it in the bin.
If you place any form of cover bet and two of your selections land (and it doesn’t matter if your coupon has four legs or 24) then you will trouser some kind of a return. Turning a profit is possible and some hefty returns can still be pocketed that are akin to accumulator payouts.
When you place an accumulator it’s almost as if you shake hands with the devil: ‘I’m placing this £1 bet, and to hell with the consequences.’
With cover bets, staking is slightly different. Here you have to cater for every single combination available in the bet type, which means that a) you may wager more than normal, or b) your stake for each leg of the bet will be lower than usual.
We’ll explain this in more depth later in this guide, but for now have it in your mind that while cover bets minimise your risk and enhance your chance of gaining a return of some kind, they generally eat into your bankroll to a larger degree as well.
Types of Cover Bet
There are a number of different cover bets available to punters with most firms of bookmaker, and for the purposes of this article we are going to stick with the six main and most popular forms.
Remember, there are two different types of cover: standard (does not include singles) and full cover (does include singles). We’ll start with the latter first:
As the name suggests, a Lucky 15 bet contains fifteen different legs pertaining to four selections; so, if you backed Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City and Tottenham to beat Burnley, West Brom, Swansea and Watford respectively, you could place an acca (a four-fold) or instead opt for a Lucky 15 wager.
The 15 bets you will place are as follows:
- 4 x Singles – Ars; Che; Man C; Tot;
- 6 x Doubles – Ars & Che; Ars & Man C; Ars & Tot; Che & Man C; Che & Tot; Man C & Tot;
- 4 x Trebles – Ars, Che & Man C; Ars, Che & Tot; Ars, Man C & Tot; Che, Man C & Tot;
- 1 x Four-Fold – Ars, Che, Man C & Tot;
The beauty of a Lucky 15 is that you only need one of these four teams to win to at least trouser some kind of return; although how much you ultimately depends on how the other three sides in your acca fare.
Of course, you will need to place 15 bets, and so your normal stake pattern will be altered. If you normally wager £1, then the closest you can get (in nice round numbers) is to stake £1.50 – 10p per leg. You can alternatively bet £3 (20p per leg), £4.50 (30p per leg) and so on.
There are also Lucky 31 and Lucky 63 variants. The former is made up of five selections (5 x singles, 10 x doubles, 10 x trebles, 5 x four-fold and 1 x five-fold), with the latter featuring six picks (6 x singles, 15 x doubles, 20 x trebles, 15 x four-folds, 6 x five-folds, 1 x six-fold.
Another form of full cover bet is the Patent. This, which works along the same lines as the Lucky 15, features only three selections – and so only seven bets are required in total.
- 3 x Singles
- 3 x Doubles
- 1 x Treble
There are other cover bets, and these are the standard types that don’t include single legs.
The premise behind this bet type is straightforward enough: three selections and four bets: three doubles and a treble.
This is the next rung of the ladder up from a Trixie: four selections means eleven separate bets are placed in total – 6 x Doubles, 4 x Trebles and 1 x four-fold acca.
The big brother of the Yankee is Super, or a Canadian as it is sometimes known. This is five selections in total which requires 26 bets: 10 x Doubles, 10 x Trebles, 5 x Four-Folds and 1 x Five-Fold.
A six-selection cover bet is called a Heinz, and this features 57 bets (like the Heinz ‘57 varieties’ slogan from which it took its name). These are 15 x Doubles, 20 x Trebles, 15 x Four-Folds, 6 x Five-Folds and 1 x Six-Fold.
There are even bigger cover bets – a Super Heinz features seven selections and a Goliath eight – and hopefully you have gotten the gist of how these work.
How to Place a Cover Bet
Realistically, the actual process of placing a cover bet is the same as when putting on your accumulator. Find your selections and add them to your betslip as normal:
(This guide was written in the off-season, hence the odd selection of fixtures!).
The difference here is that instead of bulldozing into the four-fold box, we’re instead going to investigate the other bet types available when we click on ‘Multiple Options’ (this examples from bet365, but most online bookies follow a similar idea).
Because we have made four selections, we can now opt to play either a Lucky 15 or a Yankee. Remember when tapping in the amount you want to stake in the relevant box that you are wagering on the total number of bets, rather than the overall stake amount. So if you usually stake a fiver, backing the 11 legs of a Yankee at 50p apiece leads to a total outlay of £5.50.
Cover Bet Strategy
There is no specific strategy for making your cover bet picks, and as ever you are looking for value plays based on thorough research and odds that represent good value based on all the factors.
But with cover bets you may have to engage in an act that we normally discourage wholeheartedly: price chasing.
Let’s show you what we mean. We will place a hypothetical Heinz wager with six selections all priced at 11/10 (for the sake of argument). We will stake 10p per bet, so that’s £5.70 in total (remember that a Heinz is made up of 57 legs).
Here are the possible results:
- One leg wins: Loss of -£5.70
- Two legs win: Return of 44p, overall loss of £5.26
- Three legs win: Return of £2.25, overall loss of £3.45
- Four legs win: Return of £8.30, overall profit of £2.60
- Five legs win: Return of £27.48, overall profit of £21.78
- Six Legs win: Return of £87.39, overall profit of £81.69
So when betting on selections near the even money mark, we can see that we need 5/6 to land to make the Heinz really worth our while.
Now look what happens when all six selections are placed at 3/1:
- One leg wins: Loss of -£5.70
- Two legs win: Return of £1.60, overall loss of £4.10
- Three legs win: Return of £11.20, overall profit of £5.50
- Four legs win: Return of £60.80, overall profit of £55.10
- Five legs win: Return of £310.40, overall profit of £304.70
- Six Legs win: Return of £1560, overall profit of £1554.30
As you can see, the rewards here are obvious. Even with just a 3/6 success rate, we’ve earned ourselves a fish and chip supper, and when we land four or more legs the returns speak for themselves.
The conclusion? It’s not one we like to admit, but for those interested in cover betting longer odds prices are the way to go.
Of course, it’s not easy to pick out winners at 3/1 or greater, and that’s perhaps why cover bets remain more popular in horse racing than they do in football or any other sport for that matter.
But here’s the thing: most cover bets can be placed on combinations of sports, so you could back two horses, two football teams and two tennis players all on the same Heinz. At least in this way, you can seek out greater value across the board.
Can you use your Welcome Bonus on Cover Bets?
In a word: no. Bookies are very strict when it comes to the terms and conditions of their welcome bonuses because, at the end of the day, they are giving money away. So they have to protect themselves from being taken advantage of – they’re a business, after all.
That’s why most bookie bonuses come with terms and conditions that are as long as your arm, and those include minimum odds as well as your wagering requirements.
A cover bet takes its name because there is an element of ‘cover’ in your wager; if one leg or more lets you down then it’s not the end of the world. But the bookmakers aren’t interested in punters who mitigate risk – particularly when they are using free money to bet with!