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The Way To Bet On The Tote

The Tote operates as both a bookmaker and as a monopoly supplier of pool betting on horse and dog racing. It was set up as a pool betting operation in 1929, but this now makes up only a small proportion of its total turnover.

From the astute bettor’s point of view, this is actually a little surprising, because the odds available about the same horse or greyhound in the Tote pool is often superior to that available with bookmakers at starting price, and on the average significantly better for less-fancied chances.

The basic way of betting on the Tote at the course is to approach any of the red-coated attendants manning the Tote terminals which are usually conveniently near to the paddock or hospitality areas of the racecourse. Tote Credit clients also have access to their own client area. Off-course, bets can be placed at any Tote betting office, or by telephone, or on the Tote web-site. There are also a number of so-called Tote Direct terminals in the offices of rival bookmakers, notably Ladbrokes and Coral, which accept bets straight into the pool.

The simplest bet is a bet to win. The minimum stake is £2, and the whole of the pool is shared out among winning bettors, save for a deduction of 13.5%. There is no maximum stake but in a small pool a large bet is likely to depress the odds about the selection too much to make betting sense. In the larger pools, however, characteristic of all-Tote countries, especially Hong Kong, even sizeable bets may fail to make a dent in the odds.

Other Tote bets include:

Place:    this is a bet on the horse to finish in the first three (usually),

although the number of finishers which qualify for a winning place bet can vary depending on the number of runners and the type of race.

Each way: this is a win and a place bet on the same horse. It is available on all races of five or more runners.

Exacta:    this bet requires selection of the first and second-placed

horse in the correct order.

Jackpot:    this bet requires selection of the winners of all six specified

Jackpot races (usually races 1 to 6). It operates daily at a selected meeting.

Placepot:    This bet requires selection of a placed horse in all of six

specified Placepot races (usually races 1 to 6). It operates at every meeting.

Quadpot:    This bet requires selection of a placed horse in each of four

selected Quadpot races (usually races 3 to 6). It operates at almost every meeting.

Trifecta:    This requires selection of 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the correct order

in nominated races of eight or more runners.

Scoop 6:    This requires the selection of the winners of each of six

nominated TV races, and operates on a Saturday only. The races may be selected from more than one meeting.

Multiple Bets

There exist a range of multiple bets, i.e. bets that yield a return if more than one part of the bet comes up. The simplest is a win double. In a win double, the bettor chooses two selections. To win, both of the selections must be successful. If both horses win, the odds are multiplied. If either loses, the bet is lost.


You select Horse A to win the first race on the card at 2 to 1. You select Horse B to win the second race on the card, at 10 to 1. You now ask for a £10 win double on these two horses.

The double is calculated like this. Your £10 stake goes first on to Horse A. If it wins, your return is £30 (2 times £10 plus your stake returned). That £30 is then placed on Horse B. If Horse B wins, your return is £330 (£30 at 10 to 1 yields £300, plus your £30 stake returned).

All multiple bets follow this principle.

A common alternative to the win double is the win treble. These operate exactly like doubles, except that there are three selections instead of two. Accumulators can be constructed in the same manner, built up of four or more selections.

To calculate your return, convert the odds on offer into decimal notation, if they are not shown that way to start with. To do this, add one to the traditional (or fractional) odds. For instance, odds of 2 to 1 are represented in decimal notation as odds of 3.0. Odds of 7 to 2 (3.5 to 1) are represented, in decimal notation, as odds of 4.5.

Now multiply these decimal odds together.

So, if you have three selections at 2 to 1, 3 to 1 and 4 to 1, these are converted into their decimal equivalents of 3.0, 4.0 and 5.0. If they all win the return is calculated by multiplying these odds together, i.e. 3 x 4 x 5 = 60.0.

On this basis, a £20 win treble, for example, at the odds shown above would yield a return of 60 X £20.00, i.e. £1200.

There are numerous multiple bets, usually with strange names, which simply combine a number of different multiple bets. For example, if you make five selections, these can be combined into doubles, trebles, four-selection accumulators, and five-selection accumulators. This is obviously rather more costly for a given unit stake, but the advantage is that you will get some return if only some of your selections win. Bookmakers often offer incentives to punters to make these sorts of wagers, usually by offering a bonus payout to winning bets.

Some common examples of this type of multiple bets are as follows:

Trixie    three selections, four bets (three doubles, one treble)

Patent    three selections, seven bets (three singles, three doubles,

one treble)

Yankee    four selections, eleven bets (six doubles, four trebles, one


Lucky 15    four selections, 15 bets (four singles,six doubles, four trebles,

one fourfold).

Canadian    five selections, 26 bets (ten doubles, ten trebles, five

fourfolds, one fivefold)

Lucky 31    five selections, 31 bets (five singles, ten doubles, ten trebles,

five fourfolds, one fivefold)

Heinz    six selections, 57 bets (fifteen doubles, twenty trebles, fifteen

fourfolds, six fivefolds, one sevenfold)

Lucky 63    six selections, 63 bets (six singles, fifteen doubles, twenty

trebles, fifteen fourfolds, six fivefolds, one sevenfold).

Super Heinz seven selections, 120 bets (21 doubles, 35 trebles, 35 fourfolds, 21 fivefolds, 7 sixfolds and one sevenfold).

Goliath    eight selections, 247 bets, 28 doubles, 56 trebles, 70 fourfolds,

56 fivefolds, 28 sixfolds, eight sevenfolds, one eightfold.

In addition to win multiples, bettors can also stake each way multiples. Each part of the selection is then treated as an each way bet. Since the each way bet is made up of a bet to win and a bet to place, naturally the number of bets is doubled when placing the each way equivalent of each of the above.

When betting tax was levied on the stake, the advantage of the multiple bet option was that the same tax was levied on a multiple of a given stake, say £10, as on a single of the same stake. The potential winnings were higher, therefore, for the same tax.

Since the abolition of betting deductions, there is no advantage to be gained from placing a double on two horses over placing two single bets, except perhaps in terms of time saved and convenience. To convert two single bets into a double, one need simply bet on the first horse. If it wins, stake all the winnings on the second horse. This is exactly what the double does automatically. However, by placing two singles you are able to control when and how much you bet on the second horse.

The same logic applies to a treble (all three selections have to be successful) or indeed any multiple bet.

Sometimes, however, the bookmaker will try to encourage multiple bets, by adding a bonus to any that win. The bookmaker’s reasoning is that any advantage over the punter is multiplied in multiple bets, and so these bets tend to be especially profitable from the bookmaker’s point of view. Unless you are confident that the advantage is actually in your favour at each stage of the bet, therefore, think very hard before placing a multiple. After all, the great flexibility of choosing when and how much to bet, and at what odds, is diminished once you lock your money in early.

The Way To Bet With The Bookmaker

The first thing to remember in the battle with the bookmaker is that there are many of them, but only one of you. Properly played, that advantage can prove decisive.

The first thing we shall do in this chapter, therefore, is to highlight the number of bookmakers populating the market, and how best value can be obtained by taking full advantage of the choice on offer.

First, take note of the so-called ‘Big Three’, which has traditionally been made up of betting shops operated by Ladbrokes, William Hill and Coral, and arguably a ‘Big Four’, which includes Tote bookmakers.

These bookmakers currently operate in four distinct sectors: off-course betting at licensed outlets (the biggest share of the market), on-course betting (betting at the racetrack), betting by telephone (through deposit or credit accounts, or via credit or debit cards), and betting via the Internet.

Bookmakers operate, especially on-course, by offering odds which are fixed when the bet is struck. In this case, it doesn’t matter when the event takes place, the bet will be settled at the odds in place when the bet was agreed. If, for example, you bet on a horse at the track to win at 6 to 1, you will be paid out at this price regardless of whether the odds offered by the same or any other bookmaker get bigger or smaller. In other words, you are able to lock in a price. This is usually known as taking a price or taking the board price, the latter term deriving from the historic practice of chalking up the price on boards. This facility is also available off-course, in betting shops, by telephone and on the Internet. A growing number of bookmakers also offer their own set of early prices in the hours before a race, or at least before the on-course market opens. The on-course market for horse racing usually extends for about ten to twenty minutes before the start of the race.

Despite the availability of this option, most bets placed in betting shops on horse or greyhound racing are struck at what is known as the starting price (SP). The precise method of determining the starting price has changed following recent reforms, but basically the starting price represents the odds which independent assessors at the racetrack determine are generally available from bookmakers at the start of a race.

The starting price about most horses is, on average, as long as it will ever have been during the on-course market. This is because bookmakers are naturally very cautious when they display odds for the first time. It is only when they are able to gauge the relative support for different horses that they will start to offer better odds so as to attract customers. The starting price will also usually be longer than the typical ‘early price’ offered by any given bookmaker about a horse.

There is one exception, however, and it is an important one. Horses that go on to win tend to attract significant support from clued-up bettors before the start of the race. For this reason, the starting price about these horses is often shorter than prices that could have been taken earlier. The problem, of course, is that unless you know in advance which horse is going to win, you will lose out in the long run by grabbing the earlier odds.

Finally, there is no convincing evidence that the last board price available before the start of the race is significantly better or worse than the officially returned starting price.

In addition to board prices or early prices, most bookmakers also offer ante-post prices, which are odds laid before the day of the race or the event. These prices will often be more generous than the subsequent early price about the same selection or the sequence of board prices or the starting price. There is a critical disadvantage in taking an ante-post price, however, in that if your selection withdraws, for whatever reason, after the bet is struck, you will in most circumstances lose your stake.

If you take an early price or a board price on a horse, however, and it subsequently withdraws (technically, does not come under starter’s orders), your stake is returned. This sometimes happens after an early price has been taken, or in the case of the starting price so late that bookmakers are unable to compile a fresh set of odds to allow for this. To compensate, bookmakers deduct some of the payout to the winning bets. This so-called ‘Rule 4’ deduction is calculated on the basis of the odds prevailing about the withdrawn horse at the time it was withdrawn.

In addition to straight win bets, there are also a wide range of other bets available, of which ‘each way’ bets lead the way. These allow the bettor to nominate a horse either to win or be placed (usually, but not always, in the first three). There are also multiple bets on cumulative outcomes and forecast bets such as the Computer Straight Forecast and Tricast, which involve nomination of the first two or three past the post in the correct order.

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