Tote Betting Explained: Tote Pool vs. Fixed Odds

by | 28 May 2022

Tote betting, also known as pari-mutuel betting, is a thrilling form of sports betting, most commonly done in horse racing. Compared to traditional fixed betting, it’s a unique betting approach that keeps you on the edge of your seat as a game unfolds.

Because of its element of unpredictability, tote betting may require a bit more evaluation. However, if done right, it can yield a great payoff.

In this article, we’ll dissect tote odds alongside fixed odds, so you can see their comparison and understand how tote betting works differently.

Fixed Odds Betting

Fixed odds refer to a type of betting where the odds for a particular selection are set and remain fixed at the time the bet is placed. The odds are determined by the bookmaker based on various factors such as the likelihood of the selection winning, previous performances, and other relevant information.

For instance, if the odds for a horse to win a race are 3-1, and you place a $10 bet on that horse to win, your potential winnings will be $30 if the horse wins, which includes your original $10 bet and $20 in profit.


  • Fixed odds give bettors the advantage of knowing the potential payout before placing the bet.
  • Odds remain constant, regardless of any subsequent changes in the betting market or the number of bets placed on a particular selection.


  • Since the odds are set in advance, fixed odds betting may offer lower payouts for favourites.
  • Once a bet is placed at fixed odds, the odds cannot be changed, even if circumstances change before the event starts.

Tote Pool Betting

Tote betting is a betting system common in horse racing, where the odds for a specific selection are determined by the total amount wagered in the betting pool. In tote betting, all wagers on the same type of bet are pooled together. The total amount wagered is then calculated, and a percentage of the pool is set aside for the house (racecourse or betting operator), while the rest is distributed among the winning bettors.

The way tote pool betting works is a little more complex. The actual payout amounts, and therefore the odds, cannot be calculated until the betting has closed. As a result, it is not possible to calculate potential winnings in advance.

Suppose there is a horse race where there are three horses in the running: Horse A, Horse B, and Horse C. Bettors place bets on these horses, and the total amount wagered is $10,000. Of that $10,000, $1,000 is retained by the racecourse as a commission, and the remaining $9,000 is paid out to the winning bettors.

If $ 5,000 was wagered on Horse A and $3,000 was wagered on Horse B, and $2,000 was wagered on Horse C, then the total pool would be divided into the three sections correspondingly.

To calculate the odds for each horse, the total pool amount is divided by the amount wagered on that horse. So, for Horse A, the odds would be calculated as follows:

Total Pool Amount ($9,000) / Amount Wagered on Horse A ($5,000) = 1.8

This means that for every $1 wagered on Horse A, you can expect to win $1.80 if that horse wins the race. The odds for Horse B and Horse C would be calculated in the same way, but the payouts would be different because the amount wagered on each horse differs.

Related: Three reasons why tote betting is a rort against the average bettor


  • Tote pool betting has the potential to provide higher payouts, especially for bigger events, as the collective wagered amount is distributed among the winners.
  • The odds can fluctuate depending on the amount of money wagered on each potential outcome, providing savvy bettors with opportunities to identify value that might not be present in the more stable fixed odds markets.


  • Odds are not fixed in advance, which makes it harder to determine the exact amount that bettors will stand to win.
  • Fluctuating odds in tote pool betting can make it more difficult to predict future odds and plan a betting strategy.

Is tote betting better than fixed betting?

Between the two, one is not necessarily better than the other although tote betting does offer an exciting and collective approach to wagering. It can also be a great social tool because potential outcomes are determined by the collectiveness of all participants voting on the same side.

Related: Tote Betting: Weighing the Pros and Cons

Trying your hand at tote betting? Get an edge on your next wager!

Edge Alerter is here to offer you algorithm-based insights, betting guides, and real-time alerts on your next sports game!

FREE 7-Day Trial

Try our entire system for free for 7 days.

FREE 7-Day Trial

Try our entire system for free for 7 days.

FREE 7-Day Trial

Try our entire system for free for 7 days.