What The Tote Is and How It Works

What The Tote Is and How It Works
© Racing Post / Patrick McCann
James Prosser
Thursday 3rd January 2019

What is the Tote?

The Tote is the traditional bookmaker for pool betting, founded by the government in 1928. Pool betting sees all punters putting their stake for their selection into a pool, which is then split between all winners equally.

One of the most well-known ways to bet on horse racing, the Tote can be found at both racecourses and online. It has marked differences from other bookmakers and offers plenty of pools that can give you lots of variety.

This guide will be going through how the Tote works, and the different ways you can make money from this way of betting. If you’re looking for a guide to picking winners, we’ve got you covered.

How does the Tote work?

Most bookmakers’ markets are determined by the volume of money coming for a certain horse, which is then altered by traders. The Tote works by having punters selecting which horse they think will win or place, with the money for each certain horse going into a cumulative pool.

If the horse wins or places, that money is then shared out between all the winning tickets. The same principle also applies for other bet types such as the placepot and the jackpot.

The Tote makes its money by taking a percentage of the pool.

What types of Tote bets are there?

The Tote offers plenty of variety, with each way to bet described below –

  • totewin/toteplace – The simplest options, this is betting on the horse to either win or place in a certain race.
  • toteexacta/totetrifecta – Working as the Tote’s version of the forecast bet, you can bet as a straight exacta or as a combination exacta, which works the same as a reverse forecast.
  • toteplacepot – To gain a return from the placepot, you need your selected horses in each race at a certain meeting to place. You can select multiple legs in certain races, depending on how much you want to stake.
  • totequadpot – To win the quadpot, you need to select the winners of four selected races at a certain race meeting. It’s one of the harder bets to land and yields a higher return.
  • totejackpot – A meeting each day is selected for the jackpot, with the first six races at that meeting making up the selected legs. You’ll need to select the winners of each race to gain a return.
  • totescoop6 – Our detailed scoop6 explanation can be found on site now, but this is very similar to the totejackpot, with the races being on Saturday. The pots tend to be bigger, with more players entering as the races are on terrestrial television.

Should I bet on the Tote or with a bookmaker?

The Tote does need plenty of close attention and it is good to compare the odds on the Tote to other bookmakers. With the prices determined solely on who is betting on what, the odds can be drastically different to those offered by bookmakers. This can work both ways, however, and horses that can be 11/4 other bookmakers can be 1.50 on the Tote if lots of people are choosing the favourite.

The Tote is usually very good for placing bets on outsiders, as the less popular bets tend to be much bigger prices. You can also bet on place only, which can give good returns for bigger priced runners

The flip side is of course that you aren’t guaranteed your price with the Tote. You might place your bet at odds of 2.5, but the Tote is always settled at the price at the off. This means you could be burned drastically if your horse shortens in the market.

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