Tote betting

The Tote is the only bookmaker in Britain which is allowed to offer pooled bets on horseracing. Other bookmakers offer a Tote service through syndication, while other bookmakers will accept a Tote bet and pay out on exactly the same terms as the Tote.

The pooled bets offered by the Tote are:

Win, Place, Exacta, Trifecta, Quadpot, Placepot, Jackpot, Scoop6 and Swinger.

The Placepot is one of the most popular of the more exotic bets and it affords the gambler an opportunity to get involved with an afternoon of action, rather than just one race. As other bookmakers can offer similar gambling services it is necessary to disambiguate the bets. A bookmaker win-only bet (on-the-nose) isn't the same as a Tote Win bet, as the bookmaker is offering fixed odds for that particular outcome, whilst the Tote is a dividend paid out from the betting pool. The betting pool is generated from individuals placing money on a Tote bet.

Tote Win

The minimum stake for this bet is £2. You select a horse from the field that you believe will win the race. This can be on any horse at any race meeting. The betting slip can be denoted with the horses race card number, or the horses name, or it can be marked as the 'favourite', where you don't nominate the name of the horse, your bet is on the horse which is favourite at the start of the race.

It's also possible to have an each-way bet, which combines a Tote Win with a Tote Place bet. A £1 e/w (each way) bet is a total of £2, £1 of this is for the Tote Win and the other £1 is for the Tote Place.

A price quote for a horse on the Tote is the current dividend payout on the event of that outcome happening. This tends to track normal Bookmaker odds but is usually more favourable to the gambler as there is no over-round in a pooled bet (The Tote take a small percentage of the pool for operating it, which is akin to an over-round). As bookmakers quote a market before anyone has placed a single bet the prices are usually indicative to the level of stake that a gambler may wish to put on the Tote Win, but the Tote price is normally indicative for bookmakers after the initial market opening. The mechanics of market quotation and pricing is beyond the scope of this article.

Tote Place

Bookmakers outside of the Tote don't generally offer a place-only bet. The advantage to this bet over that of the e/w bet is that you may believe your selection will finish 2nd or 3rd but it won't go on to win. An e/w is therefore a waste as half of the value must be placed on the win. The Tote Place has no win component. As it is easier to pick a horse to finish in the places the payout is correspondingly less. A non-Tote bookmaker will offer a quarter of the odds (or much less commonly a fifth) for the e/w component, the Tote payout is as always the betting pool dividend but improved prices over a quarter of the odds are often seen.

Not every race qualifies for this type of bet. There must be a minimum of 5 horses in the field, the minimum stake is £2 and then the following rules apply:

Tote Exacta

The Tote Exacta operates in the same way as a normal Bookmakers straight forecast, the Tote price for the forecast is always based on the betting pool dividend. A forecast is to predict the correct order of finishing for the first and second place horses. The minimum bet is £2 and the multiples of 10 pence over this, multiples can also be used to reach the initial minimum of £2. If the bet contains a non-runner the bet becomes void and un-named favourites are not allowed.

There are three Exacta bets:

Single Exacta (straight forecast). Pick in the correct order the horses which will finish first and second.

Combination Exacta (reverse forecast). Pick in either order the horses which will finish first and second. This bet is actually two bets in one, it is exactly equivalent to two straight forecasts, the first of which you select horse A to beat horse B, and then the second is for horse B to beat horse A. It's possible to specify more than two horses, at which point the bet becomes more complex, for example with three horses the individual bets are now a-b, a-c, b-a, b-c, c-a, c-b.

Banker Exacta (banker forecast). Pick a horse which you think is going to finish first, and then any number of horses to finish second. For instances, with a banker horse a, and with three additional horses, the bets are a-b, a-c, a-d.

Bookmakers that are not Tote-syndicated will offer their own forecast prices based on their own fixed-prices that they are quoting. However bookmakers will normally allow you to place a 'Tote forecast' and will payout the value to whatever the Tote dividend payout was.

Tote Trifecta

Also known as a Trifecta. The idea is to pick the first three horses in the right order. This is quite difficult to do and the dividend for getting it right is correspondingly better. The Tote can nominate races containing more than 8 runners as Trifecta races. There are three types of Trifecta, the Single, Combination and Banker and they work the same way as normal Exacta bets. The minimum stake is two pounds.

Tote Quadpot

A Quadpot is operated over every race card in the UK and takes it place over races 3-6. The idea is to pick a horse that will be placed in each one of these races, according to the placing rules stated in the Tote Place section above. The minimum bet is 10p. The dividend is declared after the result of the last race is known and thus the betting pool divided by the remaining stakes which are left. Un-named favourite selections are allowed.

Tote Placepot

The Placepot is identical to the Quadpot except it operates over the first six races of a race card. All UK race meetings have 6 races as a minimum, occasionally 7 and rarely 8, but the Placepot is always operated on the first six. This bet is very popular as it has the potential to allow a gambler involvement in the whole of the race card. The minimum bet is 5p.Here is a worked example:

The first race the gambler has opted to choose two horses. Maybe the gambler isn't confident of his abilities or maybe it is a large field and the gambler feels unable to just place one horse. On race two the gambler has elected to roll with the favourite, whatever it may be. In the final race the gambler has chosen three selections. This is often driven by the motive that if the gambler reaches the last race and still has a bet on, he doesn't want to lose out in the last race by only having one selection. The number of combinations in this bet is therefore 2 x 1 x 2 x 1 x 1 x 3 = 12. The gambler has decided to risk 20p per bet, so the total cost of this bet is £2.40.

If after the first race the gambler has failed to pick a selection which was placed then the bet is over. If a selection is placed, then the bet continues. In this example, horse 2 may be placed and horse 7 unplaced, which means the bet continues - but there are now only 6 valid combinations for winning left.

If the gambler is lucky and managed to get through to the end, then the Tote will calculate the dividend for a £1 unit stake. In this example the Tote is going to declare the dividend as £30.00, and the lucky gambler has 2 winning combinations. Two combinations at a stake level of 20p is 40p, so 40% of £30.00 is £12.00, a profit of £9.60.

If a favourite is placed in every single race the Placepot payout is typically as low as it can get, and it could be anywhere from £3.00 to £15.00, although anything less then £6-£7 is quite unusual. If favourites fail to finish in the places for half of the races then something around the £40-£200 could be anticipated, placepots of £25,000+ have been known but they are extremely uncommon. However there isn't a science to guessing what the placepot might be, the placepot dividend is the calculation of the number of tickets left divided by the pool money.

There are a couple of additional rules which affect the operation of the Placepot (and indeed the Quadpot/Jackpot/Scoop6). If a selection becomes a non-runner it will be replaced by the Starting Price favourite. Where there are joint favourites and the gambler has selected to roll on the Favourite, then the horse with the lowest race card number will be taken. If the favourite withdraws (for instance, the horse refuses to enter its starting gate) and the market has no time to select a new favourite the horse with the next shortest odds will become the favourite. It's rare for a race card to progress without a couple of non-runners so a gambler will be affected by these rules from time to time.

Tote Jackpot

The Tote Jackpot is in essence a more sophisticated Placepot. The Jackpot is operated over one race course a day from races one to six and is nominated in advance by The Tote, except on Saturdays where it is replaced by the Scoop6. The idea is to choose a winning horse in each race, where as the Placepot the idea is to just get a horse placed. In every other aspect the bets are identical. The minimum stake is £1 and multiples are in units of 50p. Typically the payouts are very good for the Jackpot as it is fiendishly difficult to pick six winners in a row. The betting pool will roll into the next Jackpot event if there is no dividend to pay.

Tote Scoop6

Identical to the Tote Jackpot except it is ran on Saturdays only and has been branded this way for television audiences, generally Scoop6 races are televised on terrestrial programming in the UK. As the pool will roll-over in the event of there being no dividends to pay the pool can become very large and wins in excess of £500K have been known. There is also a bonus fund whereby the winner of a Scoop6 event can attempt to pick the winner of the most difficult race in next week's Scoop6. This bet is also a Placepot bet, as the Tote also payout a dividend for selecting a horse to be placed in each race. According to the Tote, the average dividend is over £500 for a £1 bet.

There is a major operational difference to this bet as compared to the Jackpot/Placepot/Quadpot - the six races on the Scoop6 card are nominated by the Tote from any of the race meetings on that day, typically the Scoop6 card will have a number of very difficult races such as 20+ horse handicapped fields and 2 or 3 year old races where many horses have no track record, making it difficult to select a winner, and is also the reason why the placepot payouts are correspondingly higher than a normal placepot as well. The televised coverage usually announce how many Scoop6 tickets are left after each Scoop6 race, it isn't uncommon to be left with only three or four tickets after the first four races.

As with other Tote bets, non-syndicated bookmakers will normally accept a Tote bet and pay out in line with the Tote dividend.

External links

* [http://news.independent.co.uk/business/analysis_and_features/article2466072.ece| Analysis on the government's efforts to privatise The Tote]
* [http://www.racingpost.co.uk/c4/blank.sd?page=The%20Tote| An introduction to Tote betting]


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