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Want to learn to bet? Betting 101 is the place to start.

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Index: Profitable Betting 101

Betting Markets

These days, there’s three major types of betting markets in Australia: fixed-odds, totalisators, and betting exchanges.


The domain of bookmakers – both on-course, and online – fixed-odds betting is favoured by many punters due to the predictability of the outcome.

Basically, ‘the odds you bet are the odds you get’: the bookmaker will put up a price that you can take, and that’s the price you get if your bet is a winner.

Bookmakers will move the odds as they see fit to try to ensure themselves a profitable outcome. So from the time the market opens until when the race or event starts, prices will move up and down. These movements are called ‘fluctuations’.

But however the prices move, you get whichever price you took at the time of your bet.

On-course bookmakers bet predominantly fixed odds, and they’re the main product for online, corporate bookmakers as well.

Sports betting is almost always at fixed odds.


The totalisator – or ‘the tote’ – is a racing betting type that involves betting into pools.

Unlike fixed-odds, if you bet on the tote, your dividend isn’t finalised until after betting closes. This is because the dividends are simply a function of all the money that is bet into the pool on each horse. You’ll always find tote prices displayed, but they’re just the prices at that very point in time – they’re subject to continuous change.

All money that is bet into the tote pool – on all horses – is tallied, a commission (or ‘take-out’) is deducted by the operator, and those who backed the winner/s share the rest of the pool. That’s how the final dividends are calculated.

In Australia there’s three main racing totes: SuperTAB, which is for punters in Victoria, Western Australia and the ACT, NSWTAB for punters in New South Wales, and UTAB for punters in Queensland, South Australia, Northern Territory and Tasmania. Which pool you bet into will depend on where you are when you’re betting, but all three of the totes operate on all racing across Australia and the world. So you’ll see three tote results displayed for every race.

As well as win and place pools, totes have pools for the quinella, exacta, duet, trifecta, first four, doubles, quadrella and big six.

Betting Exchanges

A market type that’s emerged in the past decade, betting exchanges operate across all racing and sports.

There’s a few online exchanges around the world, but the biggest – and the only one that operates in Australia – is Betfair.

A betting exchange is not a bookmaker as such. It’s simply a forum which matches bets between punters.

On a betting exchange, you can either ‘back’ (bet to win) or ‘lay’ (bet to lose) your selection. A back bet is the traditional type of betting, while a lay bet wins when your selection loses: you’re betting on it to not win.

The betting exchange simply matches the stakes from the backers and the layers on each selection. You nominate your own odds, or accept the odds already on offer from other punters. It’s really just like betting on an outcome against somebody you know – a betting exchange just enables that by connecting punters on a grand scale.

For their own revenue, betting exchanges typically charge a commission on the winner’s payout.

For both on-course and online bookmakers, fixed-odds is the major product offering. It allows them to control their own prices and, hopefully for them, put their book into a position which will enable them to make a good profit no matter what the outcome of a race or match.

Fixed-odds are often favoured by punters due to the certainty they provide. Knowing exactly how much you’ll win allows you to confidently stake your bets, and saves you worrying about prices shortening.

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Index: Profitable Betting 101