Find out how to determine the values of your payoffs and odds
Even though there are a lot of people placing bets on horse races, the truth is that few of them actually know how to properly read the tote board. The data presented on the tote board includes the odds of winning the race for each of the horses entered and the maximum amount you can gain if you bet a certain sum of cash. More exactly, when you see something like 6-5, the correct way you should read it is: for each five dollars you place on the bet, you will gain six dollars.
It is important to note that the tote boards only hold an estimation of what you will win and do not represent the actual payoff you will receive in the event that you guessed right. In fact, they are rounded off to allow people to make the calculations easier. As a consequence, a 3 can represent anything between 2.9 and 3.2. Whether the estimation is up or down when rounded will depend on the policies of each individual tracking race.
In order to make a correct approximation of your odds, you will also need to consider the total winning pool numbers as well. Although by definition a total pool refers to all the money you placed on a certain horse or horses, it should not be confused with the payment you should expect to receive if you win the wager. The reason for this is that all horse tracks need to retain anything from 14% to 20% of the total winning pool in order to account for their taxes, perform the track maintenance and pay the trainer’s salary.
Therefore, if you are curious about the sum you will receive, you will need to subtract the retained sum out of the total earnings. At this point, calculating the odds is quite easy, as you will only need to divide the number you got previously by the sum of cash you wagered on the horses. If you round up the value by the nearest nickel, or most commonly dime, then you can calculate the actual payoff that you will receive in the event that you win the wager.