Tote Betting Vs Fixed Odds: Which Is Better?

tote betting stall at uk racecourseWith sports betting, it is common for most people to think of going to a bookmaker. Whether in a retail shop or online, bookies offer betting on various sporting events. These often feature a variety of markets and odds, too. Yet it’s also the case that something known as Tote betting is possible. This relates to the United Kingdom and Ireland only, in general. Yet similar systems that fall under the name of parimutuel betting happens in many other countries.

Within the UK and Ireland, Tote betting operates in the world of horse racing more so than anything else. Yet football Tote betting is also available. The Tote serves as the best-known example of pool betting. In a simple explanation of it, pool betting adds up all the money bet on an event. The total is then used to pay out all those who chose winnings selections or combinations. With this being the case, the Tote return all depends upon the prize pool and number of winners, rather than your stake.

Fixed odds betting with bookies gives you a chance of winning a fixed amount of money. With Tote betting, your selections become a sort of lottery ticket, for lack of a better explanation. So, which of these is better to use your money on? Which one is able to provide better returns to you if you win? That’s what we’re going to take a look at in this guide to Tote bets versus fixed odds wagers.

How Do Odds Work on the Tote?

Betting OddsPlacing Tote bets differs to engaging in fixed odds betting. By this, we mean that it is different if you place a Tote bet online as opposed to offline. The way that it generates its odds is very different. Odds in a gambling market aren’t always indicative of the chance of a wager being successful. It is for this reason that odds can sometimes go by the name of ‘prices’.

While they may reflect some sort of chance, they aren’t true odds at all. To put it in a simple way, odds only show the payout you can expect to get from being successful. You can also see what it would cost you to win back a certain amount, should you indeed win. Bookmakers can also control odds in a manual way. They are, of course, looking to make a profit themselves from a race. They wager money for and against individual horses but this occurs on the bookies’ own terms, though. Hence the name fixed-odds.

When it comes to the Tote, the operator profit comes through commission. Or if the operator is state-owned, then it makes profits through tax. That commission/tax comes from the pot, rather than from wagering on the result of a race. It is for this reason that relative odds on each horse are likely to be fairer on the Tote. Odds aren’t fixed through it. Instead, they reflect the fraction of the total pot that gets wagered on each running horse. The bigger the part of the pot wagered on a horse, the shorter its odds will be. Vice versa, the less staked on a horse, the longer the odds for it.

Betting on the Tote

Cheltenham Racecourse Tote

Now that you know every bet affects the pot in Tote wagering, you also know something else. The odds are in a constant state of movement whilst the market is live. You would experience a similar setup with a betting exchange or a financial market. Once the race occurs, the market closes. Then, once the race is over, the pot gets split up between the players who backed the victor, minus a small commission.

Tote betting usually runs alongside the standard fixed-odds betting markets. Therefore, the prices at the head of the market tend to have a similar look to them. Because fewer people are backing outsiders, the prices stand out. They will often be longer at this end of the scale, in a significant way. At this point, it is prevalent to mention a golden rule for Tote bettors:

The more unique your placed horses are, the better your chance of an over-the-odds success.

You can see the number of places available at the top of the list of runners in a race. A ‘Guide’ price is usually displayed alongside the Totewin and Toteplace payout figures. That reflects the general industry price for each specific horse.

One final thing to remember is the way the odds show up. Decimal odds are often used in Tote betting, rather than fractions. These reflect your total return including the returned stake, in decimal format. So, as an example, 5/2 odds display as 3.5 when Tote betting.

Reasons Why a Tote Bet Is Better Than Fixed-Odds

how do bookies make a profit

We have touched on how the odds for Tote betting come to fruition. We have also looked at betting via the pools occurs. There are a couple of reasons why some people may prefer a win through the Tote than through fixed-odds.

First of all, the bigger returns for less well-fancied runners stand out. We highlighted this earlier, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this is a reason. Tote win dividends offer a true reflection of the relative popularity of the runners. This can mean that the forecast Tote Win dividend for less-fancied runners is a fair bit larger. At least when compared with the odds provided via fixed-odds bookies. That same logic dictates that popular horses may well have shorter odds in comparison. It is at this point that the Tote Guarantee comes into play.

The Tote Guarantee is that it will “never be beaten by SP on Win bets”. This means that there is little reason to avoid the Tote Win wager if you’re backing favourites. Should you back a winning horse with Tote Win, you will only ever get the industry-wide SP or better.

The Tote has made various millionaires over the years of its operation. In March of 2011, a racing punter placed a £2 bet on six horses. From doing so, he walked away with $1,445,671.20 to his name. The self-confessed amateur bettor from Devon backed horses due to the jockeys’ names. He said that they stuck in his head and that’s why he chose them. His attendance at the races in Exeter occurred on a day off from his heating engineering job.

While nobody has managed to equalise or exceed his big Tote win (at least up to December 2021), it does happen. Plus, you don’t always have to stick to simple bets or multiples in the way that he did. Tote betting has various options open for you to get involved in like fixed-odds betting. Each-way wagers on horse races are very much possible. Scoop 6, Placepot and Survivor remain popular options for gamblers, too.

What Type Is Actually Better?

considerationsAs with many things, personal preference has a lot to do with the answer to this question. Some people go for one type of betting over another because they like it more. Yet there are positives and negatives to both Tote betting and fixed-odds betting.

Fixed odds are ideal if you can identify early value when the markets open up. If you think that a horse paying £10 will drop to £5 by start time, then it’s good to lock that in. Should your assumptions on the horse be correct, you receive the benefits from that price. That’s one of the key factors when it comes to making money on horse racing bets.

Unfortunately, that works against you if the opposite outcome occurs. Your horse could drift out in the market, and you’re stuck with the locked in odds selected. Some bookmakers do provide punters with the best fixed-odds throughout the market. This counteracts that particular issue of your horse being a drifter. Why would you bet on the Tote if a bookmaker gives the best fixed odds this way?

Well, placing bets on the Tote can be rewarding, too. Often, a runner pays out much more on the Tote than what you back them at on fixed odds. You never know about the odds you will get until they cross the finish line, though. Tote prices are also subject to big late bets. These can alter the odds in a significant way. All-up bets will also affect Tote odds. In essence, if one punter places a huge all-up bet finishing on a runner paying £4 on fixed odds, you can expect around £2.40 on the Tote. This is because of the weight of Tote money.

To avoid this, you can find some Tote betting options that provide Top Fluctuation bets. This provides you with the best Tote price from all official on-course bookies. That grants you a certain sort of security on your wagers.

In the end, there is no right or wrong way to go about sports betting. Like we mentioned, it can often be about personal preference more than anything else. How rewarding your bets are depends upon various things. You need to know the difference and when to place bets in what way. It’s not uncommon for sports bettors to wager on both fixed odds and Totes for this reason.

Big Wins On Tote Still Happen

cash out - pile of money on a palletFixed-odds betting may be a lot more known around the world than Tote. Yet this doesn’t mean big winners aren’t created from the latter option. In December of 2020, a large £740,000 Tote jackpot paid out after a nine-day rollover. The person who received it had placed a simple £1 stake on the Tote jackpot pool. The win came about after the 15-2 horse Soar Above came in first place at Kempton races.

In March of 2022, a punter placed a £2 bet via Tote Placepot and received a £180,000 payout. That occurred during the Cheltenham Festival, and the player didn’t select a winner. He instead chose six horses to place, and they did exactly that. His small stake on the races landed him a big payout. Instances like this have led to people describing the Tote Placepot as enjoyable. The main reason behind this is due to the fact that you don’t have to choose the winning horse. Thus, you can win money from the Tote despite not betting on a winning horse.

To bring things into a simpler world, Tote betting is usually better for backing an outsider. It’s less so the case if you intend to back a favourite instead. If you want to engage in wagering on favourites, then fixed odds betting is usually better. That’s because with the Tote, the best price you are likely to get is the SP. With bookmakers, you may be able to lock in a superior price via fixed odds.

Both standard sports betting and the Tote have their unique markets and ways of wagering. As highlighted, being able to place horses, rather than bet on a winner, can be ideal for some. This is available via both fixed odds betting and Tote betting.

To conclude – it’s Tote betting for the outsiders and fixed-odds for favourites. The Tote may not offer much appeal for ‘win’ only or each way gamblers. Yet those gamblers looking to place forecasts have a different experience with it. Forecast Tote betting can provide greater returns in the long run, in comparison to fixed-odds.