Parimutuel betting is a type of wager in which all participants place their stakes into a pool. The pool is then divided among the winners, which is why it’s also sometimes called pool betting. There’s a lot more to it, of course, which is why we’ve decided to make this parimutuel betting strategy guide. We’ll start with the basics of how parimutuel bets work and dive into the advantages and strategies.
While often associated with horse paring, pool betting has been getting increased attention from soccer punters. Top online bookmakers are already offering this type of bet if you want to switch things up.
What is Parimutuel Betting?
The parimutuel betting system allows players to bet against each other for the collected sum of all their stakes. Of course, the house isn’t left empty-handed – it never is. A certain commission is deducted before the payout, which is often called the house take or vigorish.
Unlike fixed-odds betting, the winners’ payouts are not set before any bets are made. Instead, the payout depends on the number of participants and the number of winners. Essentially, the more people bet on a certain selection, the smaller the payout will be. That way, favourites and underdogs are determined “naturally” instead of through common odds pricing methods. Wagering on a selection with fewer backers than the rest is riskier, but yields bigger rewards. We’ll get into the details further down.
For now, it’s also worth mentioning that parimutuel bets are also sometimes referred to as totes bets. However, this refers to totalisator machines found at horse racing tracks. As such, using the term for anything other than horse and greyhound racing is technically a misnomer. However, we’ve seen some bookies still use the name.
Additionally, parimutuel bets were initially created for sports with ranking systems, such as a race. In other words, bets with 2 or 3 possible outcomes are possible but rarely seen. That is because you end up with a wager that is almost identical to fixed-odds bets. Instead, parimutuel football betting is generally reserved for outright bets and league betting.
How Parimutuel Bets Work
Placing a parimutuel bet is not all that different from regular sportsbook wagering. You find an event you like, decide your stake, and place the bet. However, you won’t be offered betting odds as usual. Instead, bookies often just show you “probable odds.” This is essentially the amount you stand to win assuming no one else joins in on the pool bet. However, the odds can change after you’ve placed your bet. In fact, online pool bets on football often feature hundreds of players. That means the odds will quite probably change somewhere down the line.
Once the event is finished, the bookmaker adds up the sum of all stakes. The bookie takes a small cut, and divides the rest among everyone who won. The payouts are directly proportional to the amount you used as a stake.
Let’s explain through an example. Imagine you’re wagering on a 4-way bet. Something like an outright bet on the winner of a particular group in the Champions League. You stake £10 on Team A. The final total stakes for each the selections look like this:
- Team A – £200
- Team B – £400
- Team C – £100
- Team D – £300
The total pool is £1,000. First of all, the house takes a cut – let’s say 10%, leaving the pool at £900. The odds are calculated by dividing the remaining pool by the amount wagered on that outcome.
- Team A – 4.50
- Team B – 2.25
- Team C – 9.00
- Team D – 3.00
Meaning you stand to win £45 if your selection wins.
As you can see, the full process of how to make football pool bets is not too different from fixed odds wagers. The only thing to keep in mind is that the odds will drift, which is something you have to account for.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Parimutuel Betting
All though football pool betting is not as common as it used to be, there are still some reasons to try it. Obviously, there are also reasons to avoid it.
- Great value potential. It’s much easier to outsmart other players than bookmakers. That’s why football totes bets can be a great source of betting value.
- Consistent margins. Fixed-odds betting sites generally offer different bookmaker margins for different sports, events, and markets. Online parimutuel bets always have the same, fixed commission.
- Fun alternative. Making a betting pool with your friends can be fun quite fun. It’s also a great way to improve, build, and show off your skills and knowledge!
- Possible arbitrage. The resulting odds can be vastly different from fixed-odds betting offers. This leaves room for betting arbitrage.
- Rare and not very popular. Not all bookies offer pari-mutuel sports betting in the first place. This also comes with a narrow selection of possible events and markets.
- Drifting odds. The odds you took when you bought in were great but suddenly became terrible in terms of value. That’s often how totes bets end up.
- Exchange Betting is often better. Wagering at betting exchanges comes with many of the advantages, but almost none of the disadvantages of totes betting.
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