Indeed, there used to be a very large "Tote Board" (also known as totalisator or totalizator) that was showing the total amount wagered for a specific market (e.g., Win Bets). The final odds in parimutuel are only known after the last wagers have been recorded and fluctuate constantly in the meantime.
The most common types of parimutuel and tote bets are:
- win - pick a straight winner
- place - pick a contestant finishing first or second
- each-way - a win bet and a place bet in a single ticket
- show - pick a contestant finishing first, second, or third
- exacta - pick the first two runners in the exact order
- trifecta - pick the first three runners in the exact order
- superfecta - pick the first four runners in the exact order
Each of these bets are generally wagered following a clear strategy that is the fruit of a punter's own research and knowledge. Some wagers such as superfecta are very high-risk and high-reward, whilst others like each-way or show are a lot less risky but payout smaller sums.
A "win bet", or "tote win bet", is the most straightforward type of pari-mutuel wagering. You simply back a runner, and you win if they do. As a risky bet, punters generally select several win bets for the same race in order to hedge their risk.
A "place bet" is a type of wager in which you pick a horse to be placed within the race, meaning it should arrive first or second. Place betting is a good betting strategy to hedge risk for a runner but the payout is obviously lower than a regular win bet.
An "each-way bet" is a type of wager in which you pick a horse to either be the outright winner or to be placed within the race. It's a sort of hedge that bundles two bets in a single one (i.e., a win bet and a place bet).
"Show bets" are amongst the least risky types of wagers available. They also offer the worst odds. Are they worth it? Well, this is a low-risk and low-reward type of wagering strategy. It is a fun wager to place and works wells for risk-averse gamblers (do they even exist? ha).
In an "exacta bet", you must pick the top two runners in the exact order. Learn about how to use exacta betting in Tote and parimutuel along with the best exacta betting systems (e.g., reverse, wheel, straight).
In a "trifecta bet", you must pick the top three runners in the exact order. Our guide to trifecta betting from super trifecta to the most successful trifecta strategies and systems (e.g. wheel, reverse, boxed, etc).
In a "superfecta bet", you must pick the top four (or more) runners in the exact order. Our guide to superfecta betting covers various strategies, systems, pros, and cons, as well as superfecta odds and payouts.