How to Read the Tote Board
Level: Beginner
By Dana Byerly, Hello Race Fans Co-founder

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On my first ever trip to the track, while standing in front of a big, mysterious board full of changing numbers and surrounded by older gentleman in giant glasses, Swifty (HRF Co-founder Adam Wiener) made a sweeping “welcome to Fantasy Island” arm gesture and said “Welcome to your future”… truer words have never been spoken.

As it turns out, the intriguing large board that drew players like moths to a flame was the tote board, a.k.a your new best friend.

Generally, the tote board is thought of as the giant board in the infield, but smaller tote boards can be found all around the track, including in the clubhouse, the paddock and in any outdoor seating/picnic areas. The board itself contains the following information:

Race Number
MTP(minutes to post, or how long before the race starts)
Post Time – (the time the race is set to start)
Time of Day
Track Condition – (fast, firm, muddy, sloppy, etc.)
Pools – (amount of money wagered)
Odds
Will pays – (what multiple race exotics will pay)
Fractions(fractional times of the race)
Final Time
Unofficial/Official – (when the results of the race have been made official)
Pay Outs – (the best part!)

I could write up a better twirl on the tote board, but our friends at TVG have already put together a nice video…

See you around the tote board!

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Last 5 posts by Dana Byerly

14 comments

  • When you see the numbers under the odds on the board, the first set is the numbers of wagers to win second set is the place and third is show, these number represent a $2.00 tickets, for example the no 1 horse Odds are 4 means 4-1 numbers under that say 4590 thats 4590 2 dollars tickets to win. second is 5900 meaning $ 5900 $2.00 and so on. RIGHT?

  • Hi James,

    No, those numbers are the actual amount of money wagered on the horse in each pool.

    Using the example image at the top of this post, the #1 horse is currently 14-1 with $23,705 wagered on the horse in the win pool, $9,856 wagered in the place pool and $5968 wagering in the show pool.

    One thing to keep in mind is that the odds displayed are only for the win pool. A horse can have different odds in each pool depending but as far as I know the tote only ever displays the win odds, exacta odds and daily double will-pays.

    I hope that helps and thanks for stopping by!

  • If you make a wager across the board(WPS) and your horse is second do you get second and third place money? Thanks!

  • Hi John,

    Yes, you do! Essentially you’ve placed three wagers – a win bet, a 2nd place bet (place) and third place bet (show). So, even though you placed it as a single bet you’re really cashing two tickets.

    Here’s more information on the types of wagers:
    http://helloracefans.com/introduction-to-wagering-concepts/types-of-wagers-pools/

    Thanks for stopping by!

  • What is a Bridge Jumper ????

  • Hi Sam,

    Generally a bridgejumper is one who makes a large show bet on a short-priced favorite. If you watched this week’s episode of Horseplayers there was a scene about bridgejumping. In that example the horse that had the large show bet was not the favorite. On the tote board the amounts of money bet into the win, place and show pool is displayed for each horse. This allows savvy players to look for opportunities like the one featured in Horseplayers.

    We have an article on show betting that talks more about how to take advantage of some of those situations but we’ll look into adding an article about specifically watching the toteboard. Thanks for stopping by!

    Here’s the post:
    http://helloracefans.com/wagering-strategy/show-me-the-money/

  • Where i can see the odds for the daily double from friday and today belmont stakes race

  • Hi there at hello race fans!

    In regards to using the tote-board.

    When is a good time to jot down the win pool & show pool money amounts from the tote-board?
    Can one get a fairly descent (as close to true) assessment of these 2 pools at around 7 to 6 MTP?

    Trying to use the TB in regards to the win & show pools, but wondering if one can rely on these 2 pool amounts
    at 7 to 6 MTP and not worry about what they look like at post time. Time flies at 3 MTP. to figure these numbers.

    Just wondering if one can handicap the win & show pools starting at 7 MTP & be done at 3 MTP & so be it.

    In other words, at how many MTP can one assume that it is safe enough to do the calculations on the w/s pools?

    Please let me know what you think… Thank you and take care!

  • Great question Len, and one we hope to answer in more detailed in a future “how to use the toteboard” post. I will confer with a few people who I know do this sort of thing on a regular basis to get a better answer for you, but in the meantime here are a few things to consider:

    In terms of being a fair estimate of the end state of pool, the closer you can wait until post time the better as it’s not uncommon for late money to come in (although I have no way to estimate how common or if it’s more common for particular types of races, tracks, pools, etc).

    One thing you might consider doing is comparing the pool final amounts to the amounts you record at X mtp and see if you can establish some kind of baseline for fluctuation (e.g., show pool can increase up to X% in the final 5 mins). The main consideration there is that you’d have to record the final totals yourself as only exotic pools totals are listed in the charts.

    Thanks for a great question and I’ll see what other pointers I can uncover. I’m guessing it will be hard to get answers until after the Breeders’ Cup :)

  • I gotta question how do make a good bet and win at least 5,000 or even 10,000 is there any strategy for me to win this kinda money

  • Jeffrey Plotkin

    I’ve been going to Aqueduct in NYC and I’m trying to figure out the meaning of the pre-race exacta odds that are shown on the tote board. Are those the odds per dollar, or the payout for a 1-dollar bet, or the payout for a 2-dollar bet? Thanks.

  • Hi Jeffrey, NYRA tracks (Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga) displays exacta odds for a $1 wager. Good luck!

  • Hello from France
    I’m looking for a site which shows betting odd evolution and graphic charts at horse racing.

  • Hello Oliver!

    Apologies for the delay in reply. I tried to find something similar to what you are asking about, but could not. Sadly American racing does not do very much with data visualizations, especially in the realm of live odds or money in the pools.

    Thanks for stopping by, sorry that we could not be of more assistance.

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