Pool Betting Explained

Pool Betting Explained

We all know how traditional betting works. The bookie sets odds against the bookmakers, which is in its nature a very risky business. One punter could take a bookie down with relative ease, which has led bookmakers to a solution.

Pool bets have been introduced as early as the XIX century, dividing the wagered total between winners. It’s a new method that relieves bookies from having to wager against bettors, who are essentially wagering among themselves with this method.

Online pool betting is no different than its relative. Pool bets are available at betting exchanges such as Betfair and some of the best sports betting sites in the UK and worldwide. If you’re looking for pools betting guide, continue reading our article below.

What is Pool Betting?

The official definition of pool betting is pari-mutuel wagering with no vig. This special betting style works with a pool selection where all bettors pay a set wager. The vig, or the commission every bookmaker applies, is removed from the pool. Its mechanics are no different than any other bet. You choose the odds that you find favorable and place a pool bet.

Pool betting was introduced in the mid-XIX century by Joseph Oller, a part-time bookmaker. Besides being credited with the betting method, he also invented the computer of sorts that helped with the calculations. The new way of betting became popular in France not long after, spreading like wildfire through Europe in the early XX century.

It was later adopted by online betting exchanges, which often come with much higher odds than regular betting sites.

How Pool Betting Works

In many ways, pool betting is similar to the lottery. All punters need to pay a fixed price to enter, make their predictions, and wait for the results. This method is prevalent in Singapore and Nigeria, but the world’s best pool betting sportsbooks are in the UK.

Betfair, the world’s leading betting exchange, has the best odds on sports pools. It has a simple guide on how online pool betting works and how you can place your first pool bet and expect returns.

Pool betting works on football, horse racing (known as Totepool), and other sports. While it is different from traditional betting, it’s a fascinating method that can provide fantastic returns.

Horse Racing

Horse racing is the perfect example of pari-mutuel wagering. Often called tote, all horse racing betting is done in a pool. All of the stakes are added together in a pot of sorts to form the overall pool. After the track takes its cut, the bank is divided equally among the winners. All winnings in horse racing go to a stake set by the bookmaker.

Horse race betting pools work with a variety of bets. The win online pool betting market implies choosing the runner you believe will finish first. Varied returns can be expected for the most popular market – the more wagers there are, the higher the probably return. Win bets are divided by the stakes for each horse. When a horse wins, a lot of people get paid.

Horse race pool betting also works with place, show, and across-the-board bets. Since the chance of winning with a place bet is double, you can expect lower pool returns in this market. The same goes for show and across-the-board bets.

If you choose to go for exotic bets such as the exacta and trifecta, the payouts are much higher. However, the risk is higher, too, so you might be better off with a win or placing a bet if this is your first pools bet.


Just like in horse racing, online pool betting can easily be applied to football. That’s the most popular market at betting exchanges, such as Betfair. In the UK, football pools are referred to as “the pools.” These are cheap to enter, which is why punters often place several pool bets instead of one.

Football pools are based on predicting the outcome of Premier League matches. There are plenty of different markets available. The Classic Pool game is known as Treble Chance in the UK, where punters pick 10, 11, or 12 games to finish with a draw in which both teams score at least one goal. In the past, entries were submitted via agents or the post, but nowadays, online pool betting has made that available for everyone with access to the Internet.

Differences Between Pools Betting and Fixed Odds Betting

Pools betting is not a new concept – it has been around for over a century. It has enjoyed something of a renaissance these days thanks to exchanges such as Betfair or Betdaq. With that being said, it’s still different from fixed odds betting and a bit confusing for punters.

The differences between both types of betting are apparent. Once you get to learn them, you won’t be confused by pools anymore. You might even switch to this format, considering that it often comes with better odds.

When you’re betting on fixed odds, you’re betting against the bookmaker. Your returns are determined by the SP (starting price). In online pool betting, you are betting against other players instead of the sportsbook. It means no commission and a betting pool that can provide great returns depending on the number of bets. The more placed on the event, the bigger the possibility to score an excellent return.

Pools betting is pretty similar to the lottery, except you’re not betting it all on chance. Your knowledge of horse racing, greyhounds, or football can help in this case. Additionally, sports pool betting tips can also help something that you won’t get on the lottery to improve your chances and hit the right number.

Pros and Cons of Pool Betting

Pool betting is a fun way to spice things up when you bet on sports online. It has its pros and cons, with the former outweighing the later.


  • Pools can often be large, meaning you can win big with a small wager;
  • There’s a wide range of bets available in sports pools;
  • Applies to horse racing, greyhound racing, and football mostly;
  • You can capitalize on the knowledge of other bettors and place better bets.


  • The more people join the pool, the smaller the dividend;
  • The money in the pool is the total return;
  • A bit confusing for new punters.

Pool Betting Tips

The good news about sports betting pools is that you can use the knowledge of others to make better predictions. Pool betting involves numerous players, and if one is more experienced than yourself, you can learn pool betting tips and predictions for a better bet and almost sure return. Of course, nothing is ever sure about online betting, but this can be an advantage.

Many betting exchanges and pool betting sites will also share expert tips and predictions that might give you a better idea of a race or match outcome. Use these ‘weapons’ to your knowledge, and you’ll find sports pools pretty exciting.

Final Words

Sports pool betting is an old-school type of sports betting which you’ll enjoy. It has been on the market for over a century and has recently been reinvented by betting exchanges such as Betfair. Many of the best sports betting sites in the UK will also offer pool betting and tote odds, so you can try it and see if it’s the right thing for you.

Our pools betting explained guide has covered all the basics related to it. All that remains is for you to try betting in a pool and use all the knowledge to your advantage.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a pool in horse racing?

    The pool in horse racing is the ‘pot’ all punters contribute to. Horse racing is the perfect example of pool betting. All horse racing betting events are done in a pool, with the stakes added together to form the overall pool. After the track takes its cut, the remaining pool will be equally divided between the winners.

  • What is a pool in football betting?

    A pool in football betting is a collection of matches you put your money on. It’s similar to an accumulator, except that every bet is pooled together to form a kind of a jackpot shared between the winners.

  • What is death pool betting?

    A death pool (also known as a dead pool) is a morbid way of betting that allows punters to predict when people will die. This kind of betting is often used on celebrities since they are known across the world.

Writer & Media

Rebecca is a Liverpool gal and a big fan of the club. She likes nothing more than sharing tips and predictions on sports betting. Her other favorite sports include horse racing, snooker, and golf. Rebecca is in charge of writing and media at BetZillion. You can thank her for making our articles look so great.

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