We have looked at numerous different types of bets already on this site and the latest we are attempting to explain is the Alphabet. The Alphabet is not a wager that you will typically see offered by too many online bookies but you should be able to place it in a physical shop on the high street. Also, once you understand the wager properly, you should also be able to create your own Alphabet by combining other bets.
As with many of the articles we have written, there is a lot of crossover from one piece to another, with many of the wagers being related in some way. As such, and also because this is not a bet many punters will place, we will keep this feature relatively concise and point you in the direction of fuller articles that explain some of the bets and concepts in more detail.
What Is an Alphabet Bet?
An Alphabet is a relatively obscure wager that combines two Patents, a Yankee and a sixfold acca. You can learn more about all of those bets and what they entail by clicking on the links to the specific articles about them. However, in short, the bets involve:
- Patent – A Patent is widely available wager that uses three selections to create seven separate bets. It is an example of a full cover with singles bet because it covers all possible multiples you can make with three selections, plus singles on each of the selections. As such a Patent entails seven bets, each with its own separate stake. The seven bets are: three singles, three doubles and a treble (3-fold acca).
- Yankee – A Yankee has four selections and is an example of a full cover bet that does not include singles. This means it covers all possible multiples and as such requires 11 stakes to cover the relevant six doubles, four trebles and one fourfold acca.
- 6-Fold Accumulator – This bet has six unrelated selections, which must all win. One single stake covers the entire bet but unless all legs win you lose your bet. As the stake and winnings roll over from one leg to the next, big wins are possible from even a small stake.
Traditionally, Alphabets would most commonly be made on horse or dog racing but like with almost all bets of this nature they can really be placed on any sport or market. It is a bet that requires six unrelated selections (you can read about the notion of related contingencies in our article on doubles).
Whilst these six picks could come from a mix of sports, events and markets, let us use for our example an Alphabet placed on the winner of all six races at a given meeting. By remarkable coincidence, there is a horse in race one called Horse 1, in race two called Horse 2 and so on, up to Horse 6 in the last race. If we back all of the relevant horses our selections might be as follows:
- 1.30 – Horse 1 to win
- 2.00 – Horse 2 to win
- 2.30 – Horse 3 to win
- 3.00 – Horse 4 to win
- 3.30 – Horse 5 to win
- 4.00 – Horse 6 to win
As we have said, this particular wager is made up of two Patents, a Yankee and a single all-encompassing accumulator. Let us break each of those bets down in turn and see how they work with the six selections we have.
The first part of the bet is a Patent that uses selections 1, 2 and 3. This means that this piece of the betting pie includes the following bets:
- Horse 1 single
- Horse 2 single
- Horse 3 single
- Horse 1 and Horse 2 double
- Horse 1 and Horse 3 double
- Horse 2 and Horse 3 double
- Horse 1, Horse 2 and Horse 3 treble
The second piece of this bet is another Patent but this time one that uses selections 4, 5 and 6. As such, the second Patent within the Alphabet includes the following separate wagers:
- Horse 4 single
- Horse 5 single
- Horse 6 single
- Horse 4 and Horse 5 double
- Horse 4 and Horse 6 double
- Horse 5 and Horse 6 double
- Horse 4, Horse 5 and Horse 6 treble
As we have explained, a Yankee has four selections, rather than three and does not include the singles. For reasons unknown to us, and we suspect all but about seven very old men who used to bet in high street shops in the 1960s, the Yankee uses selections 2, 3, 4 and 5. As such, this particular section of an Alphabet is as follows:
- Horse 2 and Horse 3 double
- Horse 2 and Horse 4 double
- Horse 2 and Horse 5 double
- Horse 3 and Horse 4 double
- Horse 3 and Horse 5 double
- Horse 4 and Horse 5 double
- Horse 2, Horse 3 and Horse 4 treble
- Horse 2, Horse 3 and Horse 5 treble
- Horse 3, Horse 4 and Horse 5 treble
- Horse 4, Horse 5 and Horse 2 treble
- Horse 2, Horse 3, Horse 4 and Horse 5 fourfold acca
The final piece of this somewhat strange betting jigsaw is the simplest. As discussed, it is just a single bet on all six selections to win. Should any leg let you down then this wager will be settled as a loser.
Large Stake, Large Potential
This means that an Alphabet is made up of 26 separate bets in total. All of these 26 component bets have the same stake, so if you wanted to place a £10 Alphabet the total stake would be a sizeable £260. Of course, to win all 26 bets you would need all six of your picks, in our example horses, to win.
If they did your win would be huge because you would land a sixfold acca as well as a host of doubles, trebles and singles, as well as the single fourfold from your Yankee. If we imagine that all six of our horses were favourites, priced at 2/1, 11/10, 5/4, evens, 6/1 and a nice odds-on shot at 4/6 to bring it home, a £10 (£260) Alphabet would return a massive £6,605.
Returns drop quite steeply should only five of your predictions prove correct though. The returns would, of course, differ according to the odds of the horses that won and which bets these were involved in but let us imagine that it was 2/1 shot that let us down on this occasion. In this scenario, a five-correct Alphabet with a £10 stake would return £2,995.25. If we then imagine that the 5/4 shot also lost that would drop further still to £1,274, whilst if you only got three picks right and we remove the 6/1 winner from the equation your returns are way down to £133, meaning an overall loss of £127.
In this last scenario your winners at 11/10, evens and 4/6 do not return enough to cover the sizeable stake. However, if the 4/6 horse had lost instead of the one at 6/1, your returns would be £293, leaving you up even though half of your selections lost. Once an Alphabet goes below three of the six legs winning your chances of winning overall become slim. That said, even a solitary success at 25/1 would see you break even, whilst perhaps surprisingly, a 3/1 winner in the second pick combined with a 2/1 winner in the third would see you £50 up.
Order of Selections Important
This highlights one feature of an Alphabet that is especially unusual – which of your picks win is important. Legs 2, 3, 4 and 5 all feature as part of both a Patent and the Yankee. So for example should you land the second and third selections, these are winners as a double in both bets, as well as being winning singles in the first Yankee. If, instead of getting the winner in the second and third race, you got them in the first and second, rather than taking £50 from the bookies you would actually be £70 down.
This introduces an element of strategy into how you order your selections. Picks 2-5 inclusive are involved in the most separate bets, so it often pays to have your best bets here. For some punters that will mean the ones at the shortest odds and that they are most confident about, whilst for others it will be the ones where they feel they have found the best value, even if the actual chance of winning may be slightly worse than one of the other picks.
Can I Place an Alphabet Online?
As with other bets we have covered, such as the Round Robin, as far as we are aware, you cannot place an Alphabet with most major online betting sites. Saying that, however, Betfred (at the time of writing) allowed us to make an Alphabet, as you will see from the screenshot above. But, if you aren’t given the option, what can you do if you’d like to give an Alphabet a try? Well, you can DIY an Alphabet, that’s what!
How to Build Your Own Alphabet
Given this bet is essentially just two Patents, a Yankee and a sixfold, you can make the individual elements of the bet separately to build your own Alphabet. Admittedly, it will take a little bit of doing but there is nothing to stop you adding the first three selections you fancy to your online sip and then selecting the option to place a Patent. Then just add the next three you fancy and create your second Patent, then whichever four you want to use to form a Yankee and then, last of all, all six for your acca.
Whilst this is a relatively laborious way of creating an Alphabet, as far as we know it is the only way to place this bet. On the plus side, however, rather than making a traditional Alphabet where the stake on all of the component 26 wagers is the same, you can go a little more bespoke.
Know Your Options
You might, for example, decide that the chances of you hitting the sixfold are so slim that you do not want to risk the same stake. Whilst you might decide to back each bet within the Patents and the Yankee for £10 a go, for the single acca you might decide to only risk £5. Afterall, should you land this bet, the winnings are going to be substantial anyway, not least because it means all your other bets will be winners too.
Alternatively, you may feel that you have three really strong selections that you have a lot of confidence in. If that is the case you could double the stake on the Patent involving those three and risk slightly less on the other bets. The choice is yours and so, whilst placing the bet this way might be a little time consuming, the greater flexibility means it isn’t so bad an option anyway.