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A pool is a type of bet whereby all the stakes are placed in a central pot and the winnings are based on the amount of money placed on the winning horse. The bets are pooled and a dividend is declared for horses that win a race or are placed.
Pool betting is distinct from fixed odds betting in which the returns are based on the stake and odds. A pool guarantees a profit for the operator as the declared dividend is based on the stakes and a profit and deductions. Some pool bets offer a potential jackpot return for a small stake so these bets are popular.
In the UK the state bookmaker was the Tote and this has always been a pool betting operation. The Tote is now owned by the private independent bookmakers Betfred, who introduced some new bets.
Tote betting is available on race tracks, in betting offices and online. Some courses have introduced their own pool betting operation and stopped offering Tote bets so there is no longer a monopoly in pool betting. The most popular pool bets are win and place, forecasts and multiple bets.
The Jackpot involves betting on the winner of the first six races while the Placepot involves betting on horses to be placed in the first six races at a meeting in the UK. The Scoop 6 is a pool bet generally offered on a Saturday and entails picking a horse to win six selected races from all the meetings being staged.
In most cases the races are live on television and the last race in the Scoop6 is often the biggest race of the day. Returns from pool betting can be greater or less than returns from fixed odds. Pool betting also attracts many small stakes which can contribute to a big pool.