Fixed odds vs. tote odds for horse racing – which is better?

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Fixed Odds vs. Tote Odds

We are lucky in Australia to have a massive variety of betting options supplied by bookmakers. However, the age-old question of fixed odds vs tote is still rife in the industry.

Firstly, we’ll explain the different between fixed odds and tote markets.

What are fixed odds?

Fixed odds are when you place your bet, the odds are set and cannot change. If you place a bet on a runner paying $6, that’s the odds you receive when you win. Fluctuations can only occur when a horse paying over $30 is late-scratched from the race.

What are tote odds?

Tote odds are the odds for any runner is determined initially by bookmakers, but the market pressure is added. How much money is placed on a runner will determine its tote price, depending on the size of the betting pool in total. Tote odds can fluctuate dramatically depending big bets coming late in the market.

Fixed odds vs tote odds: What’s best for punters?

It typically comes down to personal preference, but we look at the positives and negatives for both betting options.

Fixed odds are great if you are able to identify early value when markets open. If you think a runner paying $7 will drop to around $4 come start time, then locking in that value with the fixed odds is a best thing to do. If your assumptions are correct, you’ll have locked in a value price and that’s key to making money when betting on horse racing.

However, it works against you if the opposite happens. Your horse might drift out in the market and you’re stuck with the odds you locked in. Thankfully, and it’s a big thanks, some bookmakers give punters the best fixed odds available throughout the market.

Bet365 gives punters the best fixed odds given for any runner in Australia, so you don’t have to worry about your runner being a huge drifter.

If bookmakers give the best fixed odds, then why bet on the tote? Betting on the tote can be rewarding, because often a runner pays more on the tote than what you backed them at the fixed odds price. But you never really know what odds you’re going to get until they cross the line.

The tote price is also subject to big late bets, which can alter the odds significantly. All-up bets also affect the odds, so if one punter has a huge all-up bet finishing on a runner paying $4 on the fixed odds, you can expect something around $2.40 on the tote because of the weight of tote money.

One way to avoid this is by betting Top Fluc. It stands for Top Fluctuation and is offered by the likes of BetEasy and Sportsbet. You get the best tote price from all the official on-course bookmakers, which provides you with some security.

Our Verdict on Fixed Odds or Tote Odds

We suggest betting on the fixed odds market if you’re looking for early value. Markets for Saturday races open on Wednesday, so if you’re early, you can lock in good value.

However, betting on the tote close to start time is a good option. You can gauge which market will pay better odds, so keep an eye on the markets and bet accordingly.

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About Daryl Curnow

After graduating from the University of Auckland (BA - English), Daryl was thrown into the world of sports and horse racing journalism. Having worked as a racing journalist for two years, he decided to move into the online world of horse racing and sports writing. Coupled with his love of US sport, Daryl's picks have been featured on various websites around the world and viewed by millions of readers. After years of honing his craft, Daryl became a professional punter in 2009 - with a focus on horse racing, NBA, NFL, and college sports. When he's not working, Daryl tries to avoid making bogeys on the golf course.