Totepool Betting

Totepool Bets

Totepool betting is a form of pari-mutuel betting and is an alternative to “normal”, fixed odds betting. Pari-mutuel betting is the norm in some countries but in the UK it is only officially offered by Totesport, whilst also syndicated out to some other bookies. Here we take a closer look at what Totepool betting is and how it works as well as what different bets are offered. We’ll also consider the pros and cons of Totepool bets so you can decide for yourself whether or not to give it a try.

What Is Totepool Betting And How Does It Work?

totepool betting screenshot

With standard, fixed odds betting, each horse or dog in a race is assigned odds that determine the payout should they win. These odds are published before the start of the race and you know exactly what your winnings will be if you prove successful.

With Totepool betting, this isn’t the case and your exact returns are only known after the race. Totepool betting is a great option for those wanting to try something new when they bet on either horse or greyhound racing. In simple terms, all the stakes on a given race go into a pot, or pool. Subject to Totesport’s cut, costs and taxes, the remaining money is divided between all the punters who backed the winning horse or dog in direct proportion to the amount they bet.

This type of wagering, as said, is also known as pari-mutuel betting. You can learn more about this and the exact mechanics of the system in our pari-mutuel betting feature. However, the key things to note are that it is only offered by Tote and only on horse and dog races. Perhaps most importantly, Totepool betting doesn’t use odds in the traditional sense.

Your returns are stated only after the race, once the necessary calculations have been made. They are expressed not as decimal, fractional or American odds but instead as a dividend that indicates the return you can expect from a £1 stake. 

totepool results

Whilst the precise payout is only known after the race has been decided, at the time of placement there is a “guide” indicated which reflects the likely dividend based on current bets.

Of course, as the name should make clear, this is indeed only a guide. In the same way that early odds and the SP can often differ quite significantly, so too can the guide when you placed your bet and the dividend you are ultimately paid.

Totepool Bets

Tote offer a range of different bets and these vary from the simplest, the Totewin and Toteplace, to far more complex and intriguing options such as the famous Scoop6. Many of the Totepool bet options are “straight swaps” for various popular fixed odds racing bets. However, others, chiefly the Scoop6 and Totejackpot, can offer HUGE paydays and combine elements of football prediction jackpots, long odds accumulators and, thanks to the possible seven-digit wins, the lottery too.


ToteWinThe Totewin is essentially the Totepool equivalent of a win single. Just predict the horse or dog that will win a given race, cross your fingers and toes and wait for the result to come in. Should you land the winner your winning dividend will be declared shortly after the race finishes. For example, if you bet £10 on a Totewin that declares a dividend of £9.50, your returns will be £95. A Totewin can be a good alternative to a fixed odds bet when you fancy an outsider as there is a greater chance of a higher payout on such a bet.


TotePlaceA Toteplace bet is another of the more obvious Totepool bets and is the same as backing a horse to place at a fixed odds betting site. To create a Tote each way bet simply back both a Totewin and a Toteplace. One advantage Totepool betting offers here is that by varying your stakes on each portion of an each way bet you have greater flexibility. If you place a standard each way bet your wager has to be split equally between backing the horse or dog to place and backing it to win. However, if you are less optimistic about the chances that your bet will win, you could place a Tote each way but skew your bet towards it just placing, with a smaller stake on the win portion.


ToteExactaA Toteexacta is the Totepool equivalent of a straight forecast and is perfect if you’re feeling confident – or at least hopeful! Pick the top two in a given race in the correct order and you’re on to a winner. The Toteexacta often pays more than the Computer Straight Forecast (the fixed odds method of calculating the payout for such a bet) and the difference can often be significant. Indeed, it is reported that the Toteexacta produces a higher payout around two thirds of the time. As with a fixed odds bet, if you want to predict the top two in any order, this can be achieved simply by doubling your stake to cover both options.


ToteTrifectaThe Trifecta is an even more skilful/lucky bet, requiring punters to call the first three home in the correct order. This is clearly no mean feat but the rewards can be huge. The average payout for a £1 Totetrifecta is a very tasty £572, whilst the biggest wins for such a bet have been over £70,000! Not bad for a stake of just a quid!

As well as this simple Trifecta, known as a Straight Trifecta, Tote also offer two further options for those keen to predict the top three in a race. A Banker Trifecta allows you to pick multiple horses for both the second and third spots in a race. Obviously this increases the stake required - quite significantly depending on how many options you opt for - as you are effectively perming all possible outcomes.

Tote also offer a third option, the Combination Trifecta, which means you are selecting the first three home but in any order. This effectively creates six bets to cover all the possible permutations, meaning that a £10 Combination Trifecta will cost you £60.


QuadpotThe next option is the first that isn’t essentially the Totepool version of a standard bet. The Quadpot requires you to pick four horses to place in races three, four, five and six at the nominated Quadpot meeting on a given day. As with all Totepool bets that reply on your picks placing, what constitutes a place will depend on the type of race and number of runners and this will be indicated. The average return for a £1 Quadpot is a very healthy £58, although this can vary a lot, depending on the horses selected and their “odds”.


PlacepotTotesport’s Placepot is similar to the Quadpot but takes things a couple of races further to make things that bit harder. Of course, you are compensated for this extra difficulty with a greater reward – the average Placepot dividend is a handsome £407. However, at some big meetings, such as the Cheltenham Festival, the total pool for the Placepot has reached seven figures, leading to some huge wins. With the Tote Placepot you have to pick six horses to place in the first six races of a meeting. This is Tote’s most popular pool bet and is available on all UK and Irish meetings.

As with most Totepool bets, you can pick multiple selections to improve your chances but this increases the stake required. For example, whilst one horse in each race will cost £5 for a £5 bet, a £5 wager to cover two horses in every race would cost a whopping £320!


ToteJackpotWhilst the Placepot can undoubtedly produce some very handsome rewards, where Totepool betting really starts to get interesting is when you take a look at the Jackpot. The Jackpot bet is available at one nominated meeting each and every day and requires punters to pick the winner in each of the six designated races. It’s that simple, with all players correctly naming the six winners getting a share of the pool, although given the difficulty in doing this it’s not uncommon for there to be just a single winner. On smaller midweek meetings the total pool up for grabs may not be that big but at larger festivals it can get really sizeable.

What’s more, where there is no winner the pool rolls over to the next day. Rollovers can see the potential prize grow exponentially too, as higher jackpots attract more punters, and multiple rollovers occur relatively frequently. The average win is around the £35,000 mark but the biggest win was well over £1m, with a top pool of almost £3m!


Scoop6The biggest pool of them all and one of the most famous racing bets around is the Totepool Scoop6. This usually runs just once per week, each Saturday, although may also be offered for big meetings and on days such as Boxing Day. For this bet, you again have to name six winners but the races can be spread across any of the day’s meetings. The market makers will usually select at least a couple of tough-to-call races to feature in the Scoop6, making it even harder to win. The minimum line stake is £2 on the Scoop6, as opposed to just £1 on the Jackpot and this, along with the extra difficulty, has created some huge jackpot pools in the past.

When the Scoop6 reaches an especially high fund level after multiple rollovers it really becomes something of a talking point. As with big lottery and Euromillions rollovers, when the prize on offer gets really big more and more people are inclined to take a punt and thus a virtuous circle is created that sees the pool really soar.

The build up to the big day will have racing fans discussing their choices and studying the form at great length as the excitement builds. The six races are usually shown live on UK TV and as each race is run the number of remaining tickets still in with a chance of glory are revealed.

As well as the main prize, the winner or winners of the Scoop6 become eligible for the bonus fund too. This will require them to pick a single winner in a named race the following week with a chance to add yet more cash to their pile! It’s not all about the big wins with Scoop6 though and should you get six places in the designated races you’ll take a share of the Scoop6 place fund. That alone has an average payout of almost £1,000 so even if you don’t land a single winner you could still take home a four-digit sum!

The biggest ever combined Scoop6 and bonus win was more than £3.5m and with average wins of well over £100,000, this really could be a life-changing bet. Keep your eyes open for the next big rollover!

Pros and Cons

thumbs up thumbs downWhilst Totepool betting can be used as an alternative to standard fixed odds betting, in reality it isn’t a serious rival. Whether using a standard bookmaker or a betting exchange, fixed odds betting is the dominant force when it comes to sports betting.

The biggest disadvantage about Totepool betting is that punters don’t know the odds they are getting before they place their bets. For many punters this is akin to going into a shop to buy something but only being told the price after they have paid! This alone, and the fact that most people are resistant to new things and change, means that the hegemony of “normal” betting is unlikely to be challenged.

This is certainly the case when it comes to the sort of Totepool bet that is very much a “life for like” swap with a fixed odds bet, such as the Totewin. Some proponents of Totepool betting claim that Tote can offer better odds than fixed odds sites, especially on outsiders. There is no clear cut answer to whether or not Tote does indeed provide better or worse odds. Ultimately, some of the time the odds are better and sometimes they are not.

Totepool v Fixed Odds: Which Has Better Odds

In the table below we've compared SP v Totewin returns based on official UK racing results from 12th December 2016. To make it easier to compare we've standardised the returns to include the stake, and highlighted which bet would have paid out more.

Race TimeWinnerSPFixed Odds ReturnTotewin Return
12:30 14 Templier (IRE) 12/1 £13.00 £27.10
12:45 5 Sporty Yankee (USA) 6/5 £2.20 £2.30
13:00 1 Theinval (FR) Evens £2.00 £2.00
13:15 10 Red Indian 14/1 £15.00 £17.20
13:30 1 No Comment 4/6 £1.67 £1.70
13:45 1 West Wizard (FR) 2/1 £3.00 £3.00
14:00 2 Sartorial Elegance 11/8 £2.38 £2.10
14:10 1 New Agenda 11/8 £2.38 £2.30
14:15 8 Limited Reserve (IRE) 5/2 £3.50 £3.10
14:30 2 Drive On Locky (IRE) 9/4 £3.25 £3.40
14:40 2 Hard To Handel 9/4 £3.25 £3.00
14:45 11 Kayf Charmer 20/1 £21.00 £21.50
15:00 6 Miss Oscarose (IRE) 18/5 £4.60 £5.10
15:10 3 El Campeon 6/1 £7.00 £8.30
15:15 5 Walk On Al (IRE) 9/4 £3.25 £2.90
15:30 3 Shimba Hills 2/1 £3.00 £3.70
15:40 8 Hertford Dancer 11/4 £3.75 £4.10
15:45 7 I Know U Too Well (IRE) 12/1 £13.00 £12.30
16:10 1 Poetic Force (IRE) 4/9 £1.44 £1.50
16:40 6 Raashdy (IRE) 12/1 £13.00 £12.20
17:10 1 Sands Chorus 11/2 £6.50 £5.60

As you can see, the Totewin bet had had equal or better odds 13 times, whilst the standard SP was the better bet on 10 occasions. However, this doesn't take into account offers such as 'Best Odds Guaranteed' which allows prices to be taken with insurance against the SP drifting, making the SP the minimum odds paid out (as anyone with a high price would be paid out at the higher rate, but those who took a lower price getting bumped to the SP).

The consensus among betting experts seems to be that the greater competition of fixed odds betting means that in general they have the edge. This is especially true of the more straightforward bets, where the lower margins of standard betting sites usually equate to slightly bigger prices.

However, there is some evidence to suggest that Totepool may indeed offer a better return on alternative wagers such as Exactas and Trifectas. Where Totepool unquestionably comes into its own, of course, is with the even more unique types of bet they offer to punters.

Jackpot Betting

Whilst accumulators can offer some form of fixed odds competition to Totepool’s big guns, the Totejackpot and ToteScoop6, these two bets are probably the biggest reason many people use the Totepool system.

The lotto-sized jackpots and huge excitement generated by a big Scoop6 rollover just cannot be matched by the fixed odds bookmakers. What’s more, because of the rollovers, these bets can actually favour the punter at times, rather than the bookie. By that we mean that the odds paid out for landing the big win are actually higher than they “should” be based on the probability of all the various horses winning.

When the rollovers get to such huge amounts, many serious racing punters will actually back a large range of options, betting on more than one horse in many of the legs of the bet. The chance to have a bet when the odds are actually in the punters’ favour is viewed as a worthwhile investment (albeit a very risky one), rather than a bet.

The way these bets unfold live on the TV, with the entries still in with a chance of winning the jackpot being whittled down throughout the day, makes Scoop6 truly unique. And for many, this is what Totepool betting is all about.