Tote Betting Explained


Tote betting is a type of betting that is different from the fixed-odds betting offered by most bookies.

In tote betting, bettors select an outcome and bet on it. The money from all bets placed on a market is put into a single pool of funds. A deduction is made by the provider, and then the entire remaining pool is divided proportionally among those who placed winning bets.

More people tend to bet on favourites, so when a favourite wins, the pool of winnings is divided by more people and the winnings per person are smaller. 

Conversely, fewer people tend to bet on outsiders, so when an outsider wins, the pool is divided by fewer people and the winnings per person are greater.

Because you won’t know how much was bet on the market or how many picked the winning outcome until afterwards, you can’t know the odds you’re placing bets at until after the market settles.

However, for favourites in popular markets, the effective odds of tote bets are usually close to the starting price at bookies.


When completing tote betting offers, it’s advised to stick to betting on favourites in popular UK races. 

Wait until close to the start of the event and use the current odds at bookies (you can find this at to estimate the odds you’re backing at and calculate your lay.

Pick the lowest current bookie odds and enter this as the back odds in the matched betting calculator, then enter the current lay odds to calculate your lay.

The stronger the favourite, the more likely it is that the odds you eventually receive will be close to the starting price the bookies offer.

If your back bet wins, you’ll find out what odds you received once the bet settles. You can then amend your records accordingly.