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What is Tote Betting

Tote betting became popular around 1928. This type of betting was initially offered by a company called "The Tote" before Betfair bought it in 2011. Following a decision by the British betting industry, the monopoly on Tote betting ended in 2018, which has led to the rise in the popularity of Tote betting online.

How Does Tote Betting Work?

BMB_Question MarkTote betting is another name for pari-mutuel betting. This is a term used to describe a type of pool betting whereby the odds/payouts are determined by the number of entrants and the money collected. Before we answer the question "What is a Tote bet" it’s important to note that operators take some money from the pot.

Technically, this is known as tax or vig. Given that operators are running a business, charging a small fee is normal. So, it’s crucial to note that some money will be deducted from the pot. The main premise is that every bet made goes into a communal pot which the winners then share among themselves.

Let’s assume £10,000 is wagered on a race via the Tote. The operator's vig will be approximately 15% of the pot. This means the total amount of prize money up for grabs is £8,500. From this, let’s say that £1,000 was wagered on the eventual winner. Based on this, the payouts for everyone that picked the winner will be calculated on the following basis:

Divide the prize pool by the amount wagered on the winner, e.g. 8,500/1,000 = 8.5

The result of this calculation is the return per £1 staked. In other words, each person that bet money on the winner would receive £8.50 for every £1 wagered on the winner. So, if someone bet £10, their Tote payout would be £85.

What are the Types of Tote Betting?

To make Tote betting more interesting, you can make three main types of wager. Of course, you can choose anyone you want depending on the payout you are aiming at or the risk you are willing to take:

Tote Win Bet: With this type of wager, you’ll receive a payout if you pick the winner only. The dividends will differ from race to race depending on the total amount in the pool.

Tote Place Bet: With this type of bet, you’re betting on a horse to finish first, second, third or fourth depending on the number of runners in the race. To calculate the payouts divide the prize money by the number of bets made on the horses that place. 

Tote Each Way Bet: These wagers are the same as standard each-way bets made with a bookmaker. In simple horse racing betting terms, these wagers have two components: the win portion and the place portion. You can calculate the payouts in the same way as to place bets, i.e. divide the money by the number of bets made on the horses that place.

What is a Tote Exacta Bet?

BMB_Best IconIf you want to improve your odds in Tote, you can make an exacta. What is an exacta bet? Simple: exacta bets require you to choose the top two finishers. In this instance, you need to predict which horse will finish first and which will finish second.

What is a Tote Trifecta?

Regardless of whether it’s a Tote bet or a wager with a bookmaker, trifecta means three horses. In other words, trifecta bets are ones that allow you to predict the first three finishers in a race with 8+ runners. The most popular type of trifecta is straight trifecta. This bet requires you to select the top three finishers in the correct order. Other types of trifecta bet include:

"boxed" trifecta, where you have to predict the top finishers in any order. This particular type of bet offers you more versatility since you don't have to predict the exact final position of a horse, but in return the payout is smaller.

"standout" trifecta, where you have to predict the horses that will finish first, second and third by selecting multiple horses. So, instead of choosing just three horses, you elect at least two horses that you believe will finish first, at least two horses that could finish second etc.

What is a Tote Swinger?

BMB_Versus_IconThis is another type of forecast bet that’s available in races with six or more runners. A Tote swinger allows you to select horses you believe will finish first, second or third. You’ll earn a return on your investment if at least two of your picks horses finish in any position within the top three.

The beauty of this bet is that you can choose more than two horses. Therefore, you can give yourself more ways to win if you’re willing to pay the cost of picking multiple runners.

Other Types of Pool Bets

Besides Tote, a large number of UK bookmakers provide additional options for those who are interested in pool betting. Among the top alternatives, we have the placepot, where you must predict which horses will place in the selected races of the day, alongside Scoop 6, where you must correctly pick the winner of six events. For more info, follow our detailed guides:

What is a placepot bet?

Scoop 6 races explained 

Best Tote Betting Sites

✔️ Bet365: The Bet365 Tote covers all types of pool betting for UK races. This includes win bets, place bets, swingers, exactas, trifectas and accumulator Tote bets such as ToteScoop6. Alongside Tote betting for UK races, Bet365 also runs an Australian Tote.

✔️ Coral: Like its peers, the Coral Tote offers betting service for all races taking place in the UK and Ireland. This means you can make singles, places bets and jackpot Totepool wagers. Coral also offers an international Tote for races in countries such as Australia and the US.

✔️ William Hill: The William Hill Tote is easy to use. Located inside the horse racing page, the “Tote” tab allows you to enter your stake for your chosen horse and view a projected return rate per £1 wagered.

✔️ Betfair: The Betfair Tote is one of the most established thanks to the deal this company did back in 2011. Today, Tote betting at Betfair includes singles and accumulators such as Scoop6 and ToteJackpot. The minimum stake for virtually all Tote bets at Betfair is £2 and place bets are available on races with 5+ runners.

Full List of Tote Bookmakers

A lot of people are wondering, 'Can I bet on horse racing online' for Tote? The answer is yes. Though the number of online bookies that offer pool betting markets is limited mostly to the UK and Ireland. Below, you can find a full list of the top alternatives.  

Q: Can you only bet on singles?

No. If you scroll back through this guide, you’ll see that we’ve answered questions such as “what is an exacta bet”, covered trifecta meaning and more. Additionally, you can make jackpot pool bets such as ToteSuper7 which require you to predict the outcome of seven pre-selected races.

Q: How is money pooled?

Money is pooled by collating every Tote bet made on a race/s. This pool of money is distributed among those that make a correct pick.

Q: Can I bet SP on the Tote?

No. In answering the question “how does Tote betting work”, we explained that odds/payouts are determined by the total amount wagered divided by the money bet on the winner. This model doesn’t use SP, i.e. starting prices. 

Q: What will happen to Tote betting after 2025?

Under the current rules, the Tote will continue to lead the market until 2025. In practice, this means UK operators can offer Tote’s service via their own platforms but not set up their own pool. However, after 2025, all licenced operators will have the option to set up their pools. 

Q: Does Tote betting offer better odds than bookmakers?

It depends. If the Tote pool is large and the number of people that picked a winner is low, the returns can be fantastic. In addition, there are no limits to the amount you can win via Tote betting.

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