In your betting career so far, you may have only experienced the traditional transaction with a bookmaker: they offer odds,on many selections, you find a selection you like the look of, and you meet in the middle by placing your bet.
That is the most popular way to have a flutter, of course, but there are other ways too, and some can offer more value. Top of the list of alternatives is pool betting.
The easiest way to think of pool betting is like a lottery. Everybody buys a ticket, and in a perfect world that revenue is given back to one or more lucky players who land the six numbers required. You just buy a ticket and you take your chance.
Pool betting works on a similar principle, although it offers a number of advantages and disadvantages when compared to traditional betting with a bookmaker, and of course it is not all down to chance.
What is Pool Betting?
Pool betting offers a cash prize for anyone who successfully predicts the right results on their fixed price ticket.
Your winnings are based on a dividend, which is calculated by dividing the total amount of stake money by the number of winners, and the size of your slice is then determined by the size of the stake you have used compared to all other winners.
This means the winners are all paid out proportionally and fairly.
There are lots of different forms of pool betting and plenty of operators offering it too, and in this article we will offer an overview of all of the key players in the game.
Pool Betting vs The Bookies
When you place a traditional bet with a bookmaker, you know two things: a) your liability (e.g. your stake) and b) how much you stand to win.
With pool betting, you know what your liability will be because all games are fixed price, however, the amount that you can win will differ depending on the type of pool you are in and also the popularity of the selections you have made. Keep reading for an in depth guide as to how pool bet winnings are calculated.
The main advantage of pool betting is that there is a high ceiling for how much you could win. You could, in theory, be the only winner in a very big pool and so you would scoop the lot. But conversely, if the winning selections have been picked by a lot of other pool members as well, then your payout will suffer accordingly.
That, ultimately, is the risk you take with pool betting. There will be times when your winning selections would have paid out more placed as a multiple with the bookies, and other times when your pool payout will be considerably higher than any odds that were available.
Our advice? Consider the nature of the horses you have picked out or the football teams that you fancy. Would these be considered ‘popular selections’ by your fellow punters? If they would, maybe placing an accumulator with the bookies is the smarter way to go.
On the other hand, if you specialise in niche picks, your pool bet will often be far more lucrative should it land.
Football Pool Betting
For many years – decades, in fact – the only option football punters had for pool bets was the appropriately-named The Pools, founded in 1923.
There are numerous games available with the Football Pools, as it is known today:
Their classic game is known as the Soccer 6, and the premise is simple: correctly guess the outcome of the six designated games – home win, away win, or draw – and if you get them all correct you will win your slice of the pool (or the whole lot if you are the only winner!).
According to the Football Pools website, the average winning ticket on the Soccer 6 in 2019 was worth £1,200.
Goal Rush 8
The clue is in the name with this one. Here, you have to make eight selections in which you think both teams will score.
It sounds easy, but it rarely is as simple as it sounds.
Again, if you can land the magnificent eight then you can expect a really handsome payout for your efforts.
The bigger brother of Soccer 6, Premier 10 simply asks you to predict the correct result in the ten designated fixtures on the coupon.
This is a tough ask as you can imagine, and the pool size tends to be lower than for the Soccer 6.
However, there will be fewer winners, generally speaking, and so your personal slice of the dividend will be higher if you can land the big ten.
If you are on a lower budget, or are something of a masochist, you could always try your hand at the Jackpot 12 where, as you may have guessed, the object is to correctly predict the outcome of a dozen fixtures from around the world.
You can stake lower here because you know that your payout will be higher – the probability of correctly predicting the outcome of 12 games is low to say the very least.
In 2013, a fresh pool betting provider came along to breathe new life into the sector.
Backed by a sizeable marketing budget, Colossus Bets promised to build upon what the Football Pools offered with their own product aimed at the casual punter.
Boasting huge jackpots as high as £10 million, Colossus have tapped into the traditional betting market by offering a ‘cash out’ function to pool players. You can lock in a profit or cut your losses early and save some of your stake, and that is a welcome addition to the otherwise ‘all or nothing’ world of pool punting.
Colossus were initially criticised for the staking variety of their games – at one point the minimum stake was £2. They have now rectified that, so you can play each week for loose change if you wish.
They offer a number of pools that include match result, both teams to score, correct score, and more, and their pools range from six selection games up to the mammoth Pick 15 – take that down and you will be laughing all the way to the bank!
One of the most appealing features of Colossus is their consolation prizes, which ensures a payout even when one or more of your selections just misses out.
Horse Racing Pool Betting
There are a number of pool betting providers in horse racing, but the most prominent of these is The Tote, thanks in no small part to their rich history with the sport.
It was founded in the 1930s by the UK government, who wanted to offer a legal option for horse racing betting and end black market bookies, and punters have been paying into the pools ever since.
The Tote has remained popular throughout that time, which is one of the reasons Betfred forked out £265 million to take on the running of pool betting in 2011, buying the rights to pool betting in the UK from David Cameron’s Government.
That contract lasted seven years and the partnership wasn’t always a happy one, and in 2019 the newly-formed UK Tote Group acquired the rights to the Tote brand, and have since launched their own new and updated product.
Tote Loses Their Exclusive Licence
When Betfred sold the rights to The Tote, one of the by-products of the transaction was that the monopoly on pool betting in the UK was lost.
Once that protection was lost, a number of other pool betting suppliers emerged, from Colossus to The Pools and many others.
It also opened the door for bookmakers to offer Tote bets in their shops and on their websites/apps, so if you are interested in pool betting there are now a number of different ways to get involved.
The beauty of the bookies taking on Tote bets is that more people now tend to play each and every day, and that is helping to push the prize pots even higher. Great news for players who win and even better for those who win when nobody else does.
How Does The Tote Work?
We’ve already covered how pool bets work, and The Tote is no different. You select which one of the pools you want to enter, pick your selections, and then (hopefully) win a slice of the prize pool.
There are single race markets, so you can bet on win/place/each way as normal, or try your luck at the Exacta (guessing the first two horses home, either exactly or in any order), Trifecta (the 1-2-3) or the Swinger (any two of the first three).
And then there are the popular multi-leg options as well:
- Placepot – pick a meeting, select a horse in each race (typically six races) to place and then cross your fingers.
- Quadpot – the same as the Placepot, only there are four races in which to find horses that finish in the places.
- Jackpot – here, the object is to pick the winning horse in the six selected races, with a minimum pool size of £10,000.
How Are Tote Payouts Calculated?
As we have discovered, if you successfully achieve the conditions of your pool betting game, you will win all – or a share – of the prize pot.
There is a simple distinction to be made: the more people who back the winning selections, the more you will have to share the prize pool. And vice versa, of course.
Let’s work through an example:
Say you win The Tote’s Jackpot – congratulations! You will win your share of the £10,000 pot.
Imagine there are ten winning tickets: the dividend per unit is £1,000, and this is used as a base to calculate the percentage that everyone wins.
All winners’ stake size is considered, and you will net the proportion of the pool that you own.