Tote betting is a popular form of pool betting that can be used for horse racing. This is pari-mutuel wagering rather than taking fixed odds prices from the bookies. We’re going to delve into the question of what is Tote betting, showing exactly how it works, the different type of bets available and even giving you some strategies and tips.
The Tote is a betting organisation that was founded way back in 1928. Subsequent wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill was involved in establishing it. This company is still thriving today, though it has seen many changes over the last century.
It was originally set up by the UK government, offering on-track pool betting at British racecourses. The Tote expanded to include High Street shops in the 1970s and was eventually privatised in 2011, when it was bought by Betfred.
In 2019, it was sold again to the UK Tote Group, so it trades today online as Tote. They concentrate on their traditional betting pool products, which are available for betting on football as well as horse racing. In addition, they offer fantasy horse racing, virtual markets, a season-long Flat race betting competition and an online casino.
The Tote is the only company that are legally allowed to run betting pool markets on horse racing. Yet through ‘Tote Direct’ the Tote pools markets are licensed and outsourced to other bookmakers. You can therefore place bets on Tote markets, without having an account with them.
Most people are familiar with the concept of sports betting sites with fixed odds. Traditional bookmakers price up a market and when you place bets you take the odds available at the time. If your selection wins, you get paid out at those odds.
So what is Tote betting? Let’s recap. When betting on the Tote, all the money placed on a horse racing betting market goes in to a cumulative pool. Once the Tote has subtracted their commission, which is currently 27%, the remaining money in the pool is shared out amongst those with every user that has a winning bet. It’s shared based on the stake, so if you bet £20 on a winning horse, you would get paid twice the amount of someone that bet £10.
The winning Tote dividend can be more generous than what you’d receive from fixed odds bookmakers. While you don’t know exactly what you stand to win with these sort of racing bets, you can very often get a pleasant surprise, should the figure be above that of the dividend guide when you placed the bet.
In this section, we’re going to run through some of the different types of pool betting that you can find at the Tote.
A win bet is one of the most common forms of wagers placed at the Tote. You are simply betting on a particular horse to win a single race. Should you be successful, your winnings are paid from you share of the pool, based on the size of your stake.
You can also put a Tote place bet on. If there are between five to seven runners in a race, then the hose must place in the top two positions. Between eight to 15 and it can place in the top three. Non-handicaps with 16 or more runners also pay out on a top three place, while handicaps with 16 or more, give the option of a top four finish.
By putting on a Tote place bet alongside backing a horse to win, you can create the equivalent of an each way bet with these two wagers. There are also types of Tote bets known as exotics and multiples. In our next section, we’re going to explore those type of wagers.
Here are some of the types of racing bets at the Tote, that fit into the exotic betting category. These bet types all involve backing multiple horses in the same race.
This is essentially the same as a straight forecast in fixed odds betting. You have to pick the horse that will win the race and the horse that will finish second. That is a Straight Exacta. With a Reverse Exacta or Quinella, you pick two horses and they can finish in either order in the top two, for you to win.
With this type of exotic bet, you have to pick out the horses that will finish in the top three in a race. You have to choice of a straight Trifecta, also called a Tricast bet with fixed odds bookmakers, where you place the horses in a specific order. Or a combination, where they can finish in any order, or a banker Trifecta, which is where you pick the winner and the other two horses can finish in either order.
With a Swinger, you bet on two horses, which must finish within the top three places in a race. The selections can finish in any of the top three places, in any order.
Now we’re going to take a look at the Tote bets that require you to pick out multiple legs. Many of these bets have the benefit of you being able to wager a low minimum stake, with potentially big rewards.
With a Double on the Tote, you choose one of the available meetings and then pick out one or more selections from the two races that are available. You need to pick the winners in both races to win your share of the double.
With a Quadpot, you select a particular meeting and have to pick out horses that will place from four of the races, which are normally races three to six. All the bets must place to receive a share of the Quadpot.
A Placepot sees you tasked with picking out six horses that will place from a specific card. Generally it’s races one through to six. A horse from all six of the races must place, for you to win a share of the Placepot.
Each day, a horse racing meeting is selected for the daily jackpot. You pick out a minimum of six horses and amongst them you must pick six winners to win a share of the Jackpot pool.
This type of bet is only available on Saturday. The Tote picks out six races. Punters much choose at least one horse from each race. You must pick out the winner of the first race, to go through to the second. You must then have picked the winner of the second race, to go through to the third and so on. If you fail to pick the winner in a certain race, you drop out. The pool is won by the last punter standing. Should more than one player survive for the same amount of time, then the pool is split between them.
Now that you have learned about the different types of bets available at the Tote, we’re going to show you how to put one on. We’ve chosen a Placepot bet, to illustrate and we’re going to take you through the process step-by-step.
Now that you understand what is Tote betting, you may be wondering what are the strengths of this type of gambling and what are the weaknesses. Plenty of punters see an upside to pool bets with an increase of £11,800,000, up 126.5%, reported in the UKGC industry statistics published in November 2022. Here are the pros and cons as we see them.
As we’ve said, you don’t know what you’re going to win when you place a bet at the Tote, though the betting pool dividend guides do give you a rough idea. So too, can odds from regular bookies.
You can use a free bet calculator before a race, to work out roughly what you might win. Though you may get more, or slightly less at the Tote, but you will at least have a general notion of what sort of money you can win.
Play around with the staking, from the minimum stake upwards, to see what will be a comfortable amount for you to bet, given the potential rewards. You can also use a bet calculator to fully understand the details of your settled bet at the Tote.
Here are some tips and strategies that will help your profitability when betting with the Tote. These are some ways of how to bet on horses through pari-mutuel pools and do well:
You may have noticed that there are less fixed odds bookies offering Tote betting meaning that punters increasingly have to use the Tote directly. Bookies have to agree a license with the Tote to gain use of their products and this only really makes sense for the biggest bookmakers, that want to provide a full compliment of betting options for their punters. For many smaller bookies, it’s not really in their interests to promote a competitor and they prefer to concentrate on their fixed odds product.
With the Tote, all the money stake on a race goes into a pool. Once the Tote has taken their commission, the rest of the money is paid out to the punters that have backed the winner, with their share of the prize pool based on their stake.
Very often, the winnings that you get from the Tote, are bigger than with the odds provided by bookmakers. The dividend is based on how much money has been staked on the winning horse, which can result in a more generous payout.
You can either set up an account at the Tote itself, or use an online bookie that offers Tote markets. There’s also the option of placing these sort of bets in shops, or at a racecourse.
A bookmaker quotes the odds before a race, so you know exactly how much you could win, when you place a bet. The Tote pays out on a dividend basis, based on the amount of money staked on the winner. Winnings are paid out from a prize pool.
You have to place two separate bets. Back a horse to win and then put on a Tote place bet on the same selection.
The Tote’s World Pool brings together the international racing community, allowing punters from the UK, US, Australia, France and Hong Kong, to all bet together in the same pool system.