In countries where there is a tote monopoly, like France and Hong Kong, the answer to “When should I bet on the tote?” is “Always!”
However, many jurisdictions offer a wider choice than one, and in such situations the savvy punter will answer the question with, “Wherever I am getting the best value”.
Value in betting terms, in case you don’t know, is a situation where the odds available are greater than you believe the true chance of an outcome occurring. For instance, if you think the true odds of a coin landing on heads is evens, or 1/1, which of course it is; but you are offered 6/5 odds, this is value.
It is usually the case that different market places offer different odds. For instance, in our theoretical coin toss event, the bookmakers may price this up at 10/11 heads and 10/11 tails; a betting exchange (like Betfair) may have it 99/100 heads and 99/100 tails; and the tote might price it at 4/6 tails and 6/5 heads.
If we accept that the true odds are evens, or 1/1, then the only value bet in the above example is 6/5 heads on the tote.
Under such situations then, the tote may or may not be the best place to strike a bet. Below are some examples of when to bet on the tote:
When you like at least one outsider
Tote pools tends to exaggerate market biases. What that means is that generally the most favoured horses receive a disproportionate amount of support. That in turn means that the top of the market usually offers poor value, while the bigger odds horses can often be very good value.
That doesn’t mean they will win but, rather, that the odds available are often greater than their true win chance. Make sense? I hope so.
If you can successfully play an outsider in an exacta, trifecta, superfecta, or in a multi-race ‘pot leg, you should expect quite a handy dividend to be returned in your favour. We will discuss this in more detail under the separate bet types.
When you have an opinion on two-plus races at a meeting / two-plus horses in a race
If you don’t have a strong opinion, you probably shouldn’t be expecting a return from any bet you might make. But, where you have multiple strong opinions on the same day at the same track, these can form the basis of a multi-race wager such as a placepot or Pick 4 bet.
Lots of people who play these bets put the same weight on all of the horses they select throughout the bet. For instance, the most common perms in UK for the placepot are 1x1x1x1x1x1 and 2x2x2x2x2x2.
The first, a single line, offers no coverage and has six ‘single points of failure’. The second, 64 bets in total (2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 64), gives far more coverage but also suggests that the player thinks an odds-on favourite has the same chance of landing as a 7/1 shot. This is bad betting, and we will learn how to craft our bets in a way that can more than double our returns.
Likewise, if we have an opinion on two horses in a race, those two horses can be played in various positions in intra-race bets like trifectas and superfectas. If we’re right, we’ll get well rewarded for those multiple opinions.
When there’s a rollover
A rollover occurs when a similar bet is not won the previous time it was offered. For instance, in Ireland, Pick 6 rollovers are commonplace. What happens is that all of the monies bet on the day (or days) when the bet was offered but not won get carried forward to the next nominated meeting.
It stands to reason that if there’s already €80,000 in the pool before a penny is played at the next meeting, there is highly likely to be value available.
Rollovers occur almost every day somewhere in the world, and we will notify TPD subscribers of as many as possible on our Rollover and Guarantee Noticeboard.
When there’s a guarantee
Many tote companies will guarantee the pool size for some of their bigger meetings. Generally, the amount of money staked will exceed the guarantee level, but not always.
Whenever there is a guaranteed pool size, it is worth looking at a) the difficulty of the pool bet being guaranteed, and b) the likely actual pool size (i.e. will the money staked be higher or lower than the guarantee?) to determine whether to play or not.
Irish tote pool guarantees for their Pick 6 and occasionally their Jackpot (a four leg bet) have frequently exceeded the actual volumes wagered, meaning a chance for players to win more money than has been bet.
The Irish tote is a core staple here at totepooldomination.com, as it consistently offers great value betting opportunities.