Any serious bettor needs to have a grasp of tote prices and bets. They offer alternative payouts; value betting opportunities; and a range of interesting bets.
The nature of the tote (or totaliser) is simplicity itself. All bets made go into a pool, (and after a deduction for the cost of running it) the pool is distributed among the winners. The fewer the winners, the higher the return. Overall the tote will always pay out more in percentage terms than starting price (or SP, the industry market system) because it is not financing bookmakers’ profits.
While appearing confusing at first glance, tote prices are much easier to understand than SP. Prices are quoted as a monetary value, where this is the amount paid back on every £1.00 staked. So a £5.00 bet that wins at a tote price of £2.00, returns £10.00.
Tote markets lend themselves to computerization. At every horse and dog meeting the tote board flashes the tote prices on the next race in real-time. Given the nature of the system you cannot “take” a tote price quote like you can with an SP price, but price trends happen a lot faster than they do on SP. If you are not on the course you can tap into the tote board on-line. While SP dominates betting in the UK, the tote is the “universal” betting system, and prices work on it exactly the same way on an American dirt race as they do on the French Tote (the pari mutual.)
The UK Tote used to be a nationalised industry and operated a chain of betting shops in the UK, but these were sold by the government. Most bookmakers will accept bets at tote prices, but you need to state that when you strike it.
Checking tote results is easy. If you look in the newspaper after every race you will see a list of monetary numbers. The first is the tote win price on the winner, and the values after it are the tote place prices on the winner; the second; and so on. If relevant, the tote forecast and tricast values will also be shown. At the end of the meeting’s results the tote prices for the placepot; quadpot; (and if relevant) the jackpot will be given.
Some knowledge of the types of Tote bet will pay dividends for the punter.
WIN. The tote win involves selecting the winner in the race. As a general rule, tote prices are better than SP on outsiders, but worse the SP on favourites.
PLACE. This was covered in some depth in a recent blog on Betting Gods. You have to pick a selection that is “placed” which means usually coming first second or third. As long as it is placed you get the same return regardless of finishing position. There is no equivalent SP bet.
EXACTA. Pick the winner and second in the correct order. The SP equivalent is the CSF (Computer Straight Forecast.) Scan any results page and you will find that most exacta prices beat the equivalent CSF price, sometimes by a fair margin. The exception is small race fields.
TRIFECTA. Pick the first second and third in the correct order.
Some tote bets relate to one horse racing event:
QUADPOT. Select placed horses in 4 nominated races at the meeting
PLACEPOT. Select placed horses in 6 nominated races at the meeting. The placepot lends itself to covering more than one selection in one or more races (“perming.”)
JACKPOT. Select winning horses in 6 nominated races from the day’s meetings. If the Tote Jackpot is not won, the pool carries forward to the next day. If it has not been won for a while the pool can reach mouth-watering levels.
Every bettor should have a basic understanding of tote prices and the different bets to which they refer. Blindly playing SP in all situations is like buying all of your shopping at Sainsbury’s and walking past Aldi to get there.