The Tote was established in 1928 by an act of parliament and was devised as a way distributing profits for “purposes conducive to the improvement of breeds of horses or the sport of horseracing”. Less than a year later the flat race meetings of both Newmarket and Carlisle mark the first major meetings to have tote betting on course.
The Tote has been relevant throughout the rich culture and history of bookmaking in the UK and it was some 65 years later in 1993 that betting shops were allowed to open in the evenings and subsequently more money was bet into the evening pools making the whole racing calendar full of worthy pools to try to win in.
Roll on another 11 years to 2004 and with Good Friday now a day whereby bookmakers could trade and foreign racing operating pools this made Christmas day the only day of the year for it to be illegal to trade for the bookies.
Step forward Fred Done the owner and founder of Betfred and he managed to secure the privatisation on the Totesport brand for an estimated 265 million sterling which was a bargain considering Coral group had bid 405 million sterling just 5 years previously.
So what makes the tote an attractive betting proposition. It’s two-fold but first, we must understand how the pools work before we attempt to exploit them. People up and down the country bet into the various pools whether they be the win only, place only, Scoop 6 or the Placepot. Once the race is off or the meeting is underway then the Tote (now Betfred) take 27% of the full amount bet as their commission. This is then distributed into a business model that obviously looks after itself but also contributes back into the racing world in various forms including prize money etc.
So the punter has the opportunity of winning a share of the remaining 73%. This where we can start to understand the value of betting into the pools. We’re betting against other people, not the margins set by the bookmaker. Again we need to understand the importance of this factor though. One of the worst things to bet on with the tote is the favourite. In a very simple example, imagine 100 people betting £10 each into the pool. The pool would stand at £1000. After the 27% commission, the tote takes we’re left with £730. The favourite being the most obvious horse to bet on 60 of those 100 people have bet on the jolly. Should the jolly go on to win they are basically getting 1/5 about it winning or 1.22 to be precise. Depending on the race, of course, I’m sure you would get better odds on the rails or the exchanges.
Looking at the above example however the remaining 40 tickets are split between the 2nd favourite and let’s say 5 tickets are on an outsider. The outsider is 12/1 on the rails. This is the ideal opportunity to bet on the tote. You would get £146 back from the pool for a tenner as opposed to £130 from the rails. This is where the value lies. By opposing the market especially on course without the ability to use the exchanges you can reap much bigger returns.
So with the tote, it’s best to assume every mug punter is on the top 3 in the market and by fancying something at the other end of the market by betting against the trend we can actually reap a bigger reward and ultimately make a bigger profit in our betting.
There are other examples of where value can be obtained from the pools. The Placepot is a popular bet and again as we’re betting against other punters we can usually, by opposing the top end of the market reap the benefits.
So if you’re on course and fancy an outsider then place your bet with the tote and nine times out of ten you’ll be winning more money than by betting on the rails.