Tote Bet Explained

A Tote bet can be one of a variety of different bets types. It is not the bets themselves that are different from regular bets, it is how the payout is operated. In regular betting you are wagering against the bookmaker, whereas a Tote can basically be thought of as pool betting. Everyone places their stakes on a given event, say a horse race and from that, a prize pot is then built up and a Dividend decided.

If you then land a winner within that Tote pool, you will earn a share of the prize pot. Tote bets pay out as Dividends and you will see a familiar term of ‘declared at £1 stake’ in Tote betting. This means that for each £1 bet on a winning selection, that will be multiplied by the Dividend to get your winnings.

While some bookmakers do have set jackpots on some special Tote products like the Scoop6, regular Tote prize pot pools will vary depending on what the event is and how much punters have put into the pool.

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Pari-Mutuel Betting

Tote betting is a form of pari-mutuel betting. What is pari-mutuel betting? Imagine that you are hosting an exclusive horse race of six runners. You invite some of your best friends to join the Tote that you have created for the race. This is a straight forward Tote Win, each punter putting their stake against who they think will win.

There are no fixed odds in Tote Betting. Instead, punters put down however much they want on the selection they want. Here’s a table of how they put their money collectively on the race

Total Staked
Red Rum80.04
American Pharoah2.11
Man O’ War37.73


So that is a total of £167.23 placed on the race. Now, of course, you have gone to the trouble of arranging this race, so you need to take a commission (a vigorish) say, of a healthy 15%. So 15% of £167.23 is £20.08, so that would be your cut. That goes into your pocket.

With your commission taken out, that leaves the Tote pool at £142.14. But how do the punters know roughly what they are going to get back? Again there are no fixed odds in pari-mutuel betting. But now that we have the final Tote amount and you are accepting no more bets on the race, you can give them a potential payout.

Once you know the overall Tote value, you then divide by the Total Staked on a horse. That will give you the Payout Dividend for that runner.

Divided byTotal Staked Payout
(Per £1 wagered)
Red Rum142.14/80.04=£1.77
American Pharoah142.14/2.11=£67.36
Man O’ War142.14/37.73=£3.76

So now each punter knows the value of the payout Dividend on each horse. So Seabiscuit is the winner of the race and if one of your friends had only risked a £1 stake, then their return is £8.19. If another friend had put a £10 stake on Seabiscuit then their return would be 10 x £8.19 which equals £80.19 (the stake is returned as well).

As mentioned there are no fixed odds in Tote betting, but looking at the calculated Dividends (which are always based off a £1 stake), those are actually a representation of decimal odds. So Seabiscuit would have been 8.19 decimal odds (a rough 7/1 chance in fractional odds). Frankel would have been at 14.21 decimal which is around a 13/1 chance in fractional odds.

Why The Tote Is Popular

The thing about the Tote is that you don’t know what you are going to end up with exactly. The payout could quite easily be above what would have been gained from placing a £1 stake on the same horse in a regular betting market with a regular win single. From our example, Seabiscuit calculated out to roughly a 7/1 fractional price.

In the regular betting market for this same race, Seabiscuit may have only been 4/1 for example (a price indicated by the bookmaker). So the same £1 stake would have gone a much longer way in the Tote as the Tote Dividend value is determined by the value of the pool and how much interest Seabiscuit attracted in it.

The Tote really excels for punters when there are races with high interest, such as the Grand National or the Cheltenham Gold Cup because the pots will be a lot higher than usual, increasing the value of the Dividends.

Tote Win

This is the most simple form of Tote Betting. This is just a straight selection on a horse to win a race.

How does a Tote Win work?

For a Tote Win, you have to just select your horse, your stake and then sit back and hope to watch them cross the line first. There will be a minimum stake that will be needed, which is usually just £1 for a Tote selection.

Example of a Tote Win in Horse Racing

You place a £2 unit stake on a horse called Return To Sender in a race. If your selection wins the race then you will be paid out at whatever the Dividend on that horse is. If it doesn’t come home first, your stake is lost.

Assuming the Dividend on Return To Sender is £123.10 for example, then that will be multiplied by how many units of the stake that you played. In this case, you played £2 unit stake so that is £2 x £123.10 = £246.20.

Tote Win Strategy

This is the same as picking a winning selection with a regular win single bet. When it comes to the Tote it is still focusing on the horse that you expect to win, and hoping the Tote returns well.

Tote Place

This is another straightforward bet type, just operating on the Tote system of payouts as opposed to regular betting. The goal of a Tote Place is to select a horse in a race that you think is going to come home in a Place finish (1st, 2nd or 3rd depending on the race).

How does a Tote Place work?

This is just a selection from a race on a Place finisher from that event. The number of places that are on offer in a race varies depending on what the race is. Basically, if your selection finishes within the designated Places for that race, you win.

Number of Runners in the RacePlaces on Offer
1 – 4Not applicable
5 – 71st or 2nd
8+1st, 2nd or 3rd
16+ Handicap1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th


Example of a Tote Place in Horse Racing

You make your Tote stake on Locked Door and he comes home second in a race which has six runners in it. For each unit of stake you played on that selection, it will be multiplied by the Dividend that the bookmaker has calculated at the conclusion of the race. Note that because it is easier to pick a horse to just finish as opposed to picking it to win outright, the Dividends are going be at less value in Tote Place than in a Tote Win option on the same horse in the same race.

Tote Place Strategy

This operates just the same as it would as if you were picking out a selection in normal horse racing. It’s choosing the horse that you fancy to make a strong finish. Note though that you won’t earn a bigger Dividend in this bet if it wins the race as opposed to Placing. The bet is just backing a top three finish regardless of position.

Each Way Tote

An each way Tote offers the best of both worlds in a way, as it combines a Tote Win and a Tote Place into one bet. This is just like backing a horse with a normal each-way option, which offers coverage in case they do fail to land the victory.

How does an Each Way Tote work?

In an Each Way Tote, you have the Tote Win and the Tote Place. So that means if your horse comes home first in the race then you will receive the different Dividends that are offered for the Win and the Place. If your selection only placed then you only receive the Place Dividend, multiplied by your stake.

Note that the minimum of stake on a Tote Each Way is £2, with half of it going to the Win and half to the Place. Or basically, it is a £1 Win and a £1 Place combined, whichever way you want to look at it.

Example of an Each Way Tote in Horse Racing

You have selected Altior in a race and the Win Dividend is at £10.00 and the Place Dividend is at £5.00 for the race. You place a £2 Tote stake.

If Altior wins – £1 will be multiplied by the £10 for the Win Dividend and £1 multiplied by £5 for the Place Dividend.

If Altior Places – The £1 stake will be multiplied by only the £5 for the Place Dividend. The other £1 stake on the Win loses.

If Altior had a really bad day at the office and finished outside of the designated places, all stakes are lost.

Each Way Tote Win Strategy

The strategy for an each way Tote really didn’t vary from a normal strategy in trying to pick a winner in a horse race. The slight contingency with an Each Way Option is that it is better suited to backing a horse which is deemed to be a strong contender as opposed to being at the head of the market.

Tote Exacta

A Tote Exacta can be compared directly to a straight forecast bet. A straight forecast bet is where you have to correctly predict the 1st and 2nd horse in a race in the exact order. In the Tote though, the payout is based on a Dividend as opposed to fixed odds.

How does a Tote Exacta work?

You make two predictions in a Tote Exacta, namely which horse finishes first and which finishes second. The minimum stake on a Tote Exacta is £1. There are variations of a Tote Exactas.

Reverse Exacta

A Reverse Exacta creates two Exactas, the second a reverse of the first. So if the first bet is Red Rum 1st, Cue Card 2nd, the reverse is Cue Card 1st, Red Rum 2nd. So you just need your two selected horses to both make the top two. Each bet needs its unit of the stake so the minimum on a Reverse Exacta is £2.

Combination Exacta

A variation of the Reverse Exacta but you take more than two selections. So for example, if you make three selections, that’s six different combinations of a potential 1-2 finish. That would take a £6 stake though, one for each combination created.

Example of a Tote Exacta in Horse Racing

You select Red Rum to finish 1st and Cue Card to come home second in a Tote Exacta. That’s the only result that leaves you as a winner. If only one of the selections come in in the right spot, the bet is still lost.

Tote Exacta Strategy

Tote Exacta can pay out handsomely off a £1 stake. However, they are very difficult to actually win. A nice feature of a Tote Exacta is adding in a banker. If you are certain that Red Rum is going to win a race, he could be selected as an Exacta Banker. That is backing him to win and then selecting maybe two or three different horses from the field to come home second.

Tote Trifecta

A Tote Trifecta is exactly the same as a Tricast bet from regular betting. The exact top three order in a horse race is needed. The difference between a Tote Trifecta and Tricast is that no fixed odds are used on the Tote version.

How does a Tote Trifecta work?

A Tote Trifecta bet is making the exact call on a 1, 2, 3 order in a horse race. It’s not the easiest of bets out there. Most Tote operators will accept bets as small at 10p per line on a Trifecta. However, as with all Tote bets the Dividends awarded by the bookmaker is based on a £1 stake, a 10p bet would only return 10% of the Dividend. Only predicting the exact order of the top three wins.

Example of a Tote Trifecta in Horse Racing

Blank Paper, Donut Surprise and Lengthy Walk are the three selections in the Tote Trifecta, in that exact order. A £1 stake is played. All three of these horses finish in that exact order as forecasted and the bookmaker has a Dividend of £123 on it, declared to £1. So you win the full £123. Similarly, if you had staked £2 then your return would have been £2 x £123 for £246!

Reverse Tote Trifecta

Because of the extra coverage that this variation offers compared to a straight Trifecta, it is an extremely popular way to play the bet. You are still picking 1, 2, 3 in the exact order. But with a reverse you can take more than three selections. As long as three of them finish in the top three in any combination, you win. The minimum of three selections creates six different combinations in a Reverse Tote Trifecta, for example, each needing its own unit of stake.

Tote Trifecta Strategy

The most common strategy for a Tote Trifecta is playing the Reverse format of it. It is so difficult to land the exact finishing order of the top three in a race. So it’s often worth putting the extra stake forth for the coverage. Even the basic three selections in a Reverse Trifecta gives you six possible outcomes, which are, better than one.

If however you are assured that you are getting the right winner at least, you can create them as the Banker and then select the horses to come 2nd and 3rd in the race in any order.


As the name suggests, a Quadpot involves four selections and those four selections are in consecutive races at a race meeting.

How does a Tote Quadpot work?

You select the four winners of four consecutive races. Each of those will be referred to as a ‘leg”. It is a simple bet therefore in that each of the selections have to win to take a Dividend return. Note that in UK racing this will be predetermined for races 3, 4, 5 and 6 on a card.

Example of a Tote Quadpot in Horse Racing

There is a horse racing meeting at Cheltenham, with races going at 1.50, 2.10, 2.45 and 3.15, those are races three through six on the race card. As a punter you pick the winner that you want in each of those races.

You don’t just have to select one horse in each race. You can nominate more, but each nomination will equal an added stake. You can calculate your stake by multiplying the number of selections. So if you picked 2 selections for the first two races and one each for the final two, your stake would be 2 x 2 x 1 x 1 = £4

Tote Quadpot Strategy

It’s not the easiest thing in the world picking four consecutive winners in horse races. It’s not a bad idea to at least have one horse you fully expect to win as a strong starter in the bet, and then weigh up the value of making more than one selection for the legs you aren’t quite so sure about.


A Placepot is a popular version of Tote betting. These are designated pots that the bookmaker creates for Tote betting. It requires the punter to pick the winner of all six nominated races.

How does a Tote Placepot work?

Six races. Six winning picks. That is the upshot of the Tote Placepot and this one can pay out big from the usual £1 stake. Most bookmakers will offer a 0.10p minimum per line (each horse picked).

You don’t have to just pick one horse from each of the race in a Placepot. To increase your chances of winning, you can select several, but each will cost additional stake. You could for example make three sections in race 1 and 6, then two each in the other four. There are minimum stakes per Placepot line, so check with the operator.

Example of a Tote Placepot in Horse Racing

The bookmaker will present the six races that you need to select from in the Placepot. You make your selections. As the name of this bet suggest, it is a prize pot that is being played for, depending on how much has been staked on that pot. Also, depending on how many punters correctly predict all six winners, the prize will be divided equally.

Tote Placepot Strategy

Because you have the option of picking more than one selection in a race, a strategy for Placepot betting is to pick the winner, then another from the same race who you feel at least has a strong chance of placing.


For a Tote Jackpot you need to select the winners in each of the designated six Jackpot races for the day’s racing. During the week the Tote is focused on the Jackpot Tote but come Saturday the famous Scoop6 and it’s bigger prizes takes over on televised races.

How does a Tote Jackpot work?

The punter has to correctly pick the winner of the first six races on the card from any meeting. You are playing for pool prizes in both the Jackpot and the Scoop6. You will find a jackpot set by the bookmaker for a Tote Jackpot.

Sometimes that jackpot is a set amount, sometimes it is based on how much betting has gone down on that day’s Jackpot. If that jackpot isn’t won, then it is going to be rolling over to the next prize. The Scoop6 prizes can get up to life changing amounts of money and just a small stake is needed to play.

Depending on how many punters correctly predict all six winners, the prize will be divided equally.

Example of a Tote Jackpot in Horse Racing

Saturday is here and the Scoop6 is set. The bookmaker lists the races and you play a minimum £2 stake to select all 6 winners from 6 races during the meetings from Saturday. The bookmaker nominates the races.

If you are lucky enough to win, then you get a share of the jackpot. If you are the only one, you win it all. The Scoop6 does award payouts as consolation. There is a Place Fund in place which means that any punter who makes it to the sixth leg and loses, gets a Dividend payout. It won’t be anywhere near as big as the Jackpot, but it can still get up to four figures.

If you are lucky enough to win the Scoop6 Jackpot (or at least a share) you move on to have a shot at winning a bonus as well.

Tote Jackpot Strategy

A bit of luck, a bit of skill all comes together for this one. You only have a shot at the prize by winning all six legs in the races. So study the horses as you normally do and pick the strongest option that you see. The nice thing about the Scoop6 is that there is the Place Fund in place which is why it is so popular.

Tote Swinger

The Tote Swinger is a variation of Tote betting and it’s a little more unique. You make two selections and if those horses come home inside of the top three, you win.

How does a Tote Swinger work?

This is a straight forward option. You look at a race and make your two nominations. It doesn’t matter how or what order they place inside the top three, as long as they do.

Example of a Tote Swinger in Horse Racing

You eye the 2.30 from Kempton and pick out Golden Shoes and Alright Jack as your selections. You can play a minimum of a 0.10p bet on a Tote Swinger. In this example Golden Shoes come third, while Alright Jack nabs first. You win.

Tote Swinger Strategy

You can combo up on a Tote Swinger. That means you can make more than the two selections. For example if you had a £1 stake on three selections (you still need only two of them to place in the top three) then that would cost you a £6 stake. That’s because there are six different ways that the three selections can produce two top-three finishers. You may want to add your favorite as a Banker to win then make other selections to basically have one of them place, as an alternative.

Tote Superfecta

A pretty cool name for this one. The Superfecta applies to designated races and what it is calling for is to correctly forecast the top four finishers in a race, in the exact finishing order.

How does a Tote Superfecta work?

It can be hard work to just pick the winner out of a race, let alone getting the top four in the exact order. But the allure of this bet is that it pays out at high Dividends because of how hard it is. It should be significantly more than a Tote Trifecta for example.

Example of a Tote Superfecta in Horse Racing

You pick the horses to finish 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th in a race. The exact order is needed. A Tote Trifecta needs a £1 minimum and it just the one bet. You can bet more but all Dividends are declared to a £1 stake.

That means if the bet wins at a Dividend of £636 for example, you would multiply your unit of stake by that. So a £1 stake is £636, a £2 stake £1272, a £3 stake £1908 and so on.

Tote Superfecta Strategy

This is a tough bet to pull off. Therefore you want to pick some of the strongest runners in the field that you can get your hands on to try and increase your winnings. There is no margin for error in a Superfecta.

Tote Bet Types Explained (Win, Place, Each-Way, Exacta, Trifecta, Quadpot, Placepot, JackpotScoop6, Swinger and Superfecta) - Tote Betting

What Is A Tote Bet? Tote Betting Types Explained
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What Is A Tote Bet? Tote Betting Types Explained
Tote bet types explained, including; Pari-Mutuel Betting, Win, Place, Each-Way, Exacta, Trifecta, Quadpot, Placepot, Jackpot/Scoop6, Swinger and Superfecta.
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