There’s few things more frustrating for a punter than being cut off by the bookies.

Despite efforts to get the government to see the light, the curse of the bookie ban continues as multi-national firms seek to deal exclusively with Australia’s losing punters.

Of course, there are ways you can try to extend your lifespan with the bookies: we’ve looked at a number of them before.

And there’s one other aspect we should look at for racing punters: the ubiquitous “best tote” products.

It goes by many names like Best Tote, Top Tote, Top Tote Plus… but it largely works the same no matter who the bookmaker: you get paid out at the highest of the three tote dividends (or the official starting price, where applicable).

In terms of the history, it’s something that harks back to the early days of online punting in Australia: the market had been opened up and new bookmakers wanted to entice Aussie punters away from the tote.

So somebody dreamed up this very good idea.  Punters see all three tote dividends after a race, so guaranteeing them the best of them would mean they’re always better off in the long-run.  It was a great product, and did it’s job.

The downside for the bookies, however, was that it was just that: a marketing tool.  It got punters through the doors, but it was – and remains – a very poor product for them to lay.  They have no control over the price, and it’s actually three separate markets where the corporates simply have to pay out the highest dividend.

The result is a product that gives the bookies zero control and very low margins.

But it became such a staple of online punting in Australia that from a marketing point-of-view, they simply had to feature it if they wanted to have a creditable offer.  It remains that way now.

The Aussie market is certainly a long way from mature, but it’s coming along.  And it’s at the point where the Best Tote product is becoming something of a weight around the bookie’s necks.

Given the choice they’d do only what they’re best at: fixed-odds bookmaking.  They have control over their books and liabilities.  You’ll notice that they encourage people to bet fixed-odds whenever possible: many promotions generally only apply to fixed-odds markets.  It’s been successful, with most betting in the corporate bookmaking sphere now being at fixed prices.

So what?

What this means of course is that your Best Tote bets are bad news for your bookie.  They offer a higher level of risk and lower profit margin.

And we all know what happens when bookies aren’t making a good margin from you.  Sooner or later, they’ll pull the pin and probably revoke your Best Tote privileges.

And of course, that’s bad news for you!  There’s times when Best Tote is a valuable tool that can deliver you a great dividend, and you want to retain access to it.

What to do

Like with all things with bookies, moderation is the key.  If you’re going all out on Best Tote and nothing else, you’re producing very low margins for the bookie and may well find yourself banned.

Unfortunately, not even minimum bet limits in New South Wales and Victoria can save you here!  They apply to fixed-odds betting only.  Despite how widespread it is, Best Tote is still a promotional tool, and bookmakers can revoke it whenever they like.

The good news is that as it’s so widely available, you can easily spread your Best Tote bets across a number of bookies to ensure they’re all getting a decent mix.  It costs you nothing in winnings, so there’s really no excuse for not doing so.

This also applies to other products where the bookmaker doesn’t directly control their dividend: Top Fluc, which is based on official prices, or the ultimate: Best of the Best (best of the three totes, SP, and top fluc).

And don’t get confused over any tote offers from bookmakers!  Check out our helpful guide which compares them all.