# Creating premutation bets on the Tote

Before placing any exotic bets on the Tote, it’s worth taking a moment to explain the term ‘permutations’, or ‘perms’. These are a common feature of Tote betting, and whilst learning how they work is simple, recognising the opportunity to use them takes experience, but can pay great dividends.

## What is a permutation?

A ‘permutation’ is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “each of several possible ways in which a set or number of things can be ordered or arranged”. When a bet contains many possible winning combinations, or ‘lines’, it is known as a combination bet, or a ‘perm’.

Usually, this refers to where multiple horses are selected in one race, to form alternative lines – as explained below.

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## How do permutation bets work?

Let’s say you’re looking to place a four-race accumulator bet – or on the Tote, a Quadpot. To win, you’d require all four horses to finish first. Your initial selections are:

• Horse 3 wins race 1; horse 14 wins race 2; horse 5 wins race 3; horse 7 wins race 4

However, whilst you feel confident on the winners of races 1, 2 and 3, you acknowledge that race 4 could be won by one of three horses. By betting on all three permutations – known as ‘perming’ your bet – you could cover two more winning lines:

• Horse 3 wins race 1; horse 14 wins race 2; horse 5 wins race 3; horse 7 wins race 4

• Horse 3 wins race 1; horse 14 wins race 2; horse 5 wins race 3; horse 8 wins race 4

• Horse 3 wins race 1; horse 14 wins race 2; horse 5 wins race 3; horse 11 wins race 4

You’d now be making almost the same bet three times, but with different permutations for the fourth leg. This would therefore cost you three times the stake.

If you then decided to hedge your bets on race 1, for instance – covering the possibilities of a different horse winning that race, too – you could add another set of permutations and create three more potential winning lines. You’d now have a total of six lines in your bet, which would cost you six times the original stake:

• Horse 3 wins race 1; horse 14 wins race 2; horse 5 wins race 3; horse 7 wins race 4

• Horse 3 wins race 1; horse 14 wins race 2; horse 5 wins race 3; horse 8 wins race 4

• Horse 3 wins race 1; horse 14 wins race 2; horse 5 wins race 3; horse 11 wins race 4

• Horse 9 wins race 1; horse 14 wins race 2; horse 5 wins race 3; horse 7 wins race 4

• Horse 9 wins race 1; horse 14 wins race 2; horse 5 wins race 3; horse 8 wins race 4

• Horse 9 wins race 1; horse 14 wins race 2; horse 5 wins race 3; horse 11 wins race 4

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## 5 things to bear in mind

As you can see, with every permutation, the number of winning lines you are accounting for is multiplied by the number of permutations you add. We have already seen with the bet above how we multiplied the original stake by three, and then by two, when we added extra lines.

Bearing in mind that your stake will only be returned on a winning line, it is possible that your bet could end up looking very expensive even if you win. Therefore you should always calculate your potential winnings for each line in advance, to work out how profitable the bet is likely to be.

### 1. Consider the prize pool

Remember: all Tote betting relies on divvying up total stakes to form a prize pool. A unit stake of 20p will multiply exponentially as you increase the number of selections for each race, so it’s vital you keep a close eye on the total pool amount, even though individual pool totals won’t be listed. You also need to work out an approximate expected return were you to land the bet, to make sure it’s worthwhile undertaking in the first place.

For instance: let’s say the pool stands at £30k. Selecting the favourite in five of the six races in a Scoop6 bet, with a combined perm of say 48 lines, wouldn’t make a lot of sense unless you expect a big result leg – i.e. at least one winner at a long price. This is because with so many people backing the same horses as you, your bet won’t be very unique and the pay-out will be small. What’s more, as all the winnings are being split from the same pool, they are not likely to amount to what you might get from an equivalent bet from a fixed-odds bookmaker.

### 2. Work out your risk vs reward factor

Understanding your risk/reward ratio is an underestimated factor when wagering in the Placepot, in particular – a perm in which you can land multiple winning lines, as multiple horses can finish placed in the same races . You need to calculate at least a rough percentage chance of landing the bet, and compare that with possible returns, dependent on how may lines you ultimately land.

In other words: if you think you have a 20% chance of winning the bet from an outlay of £36, and your top-end estimate points to winnings of between £50 and £60 after deductions, the perm almost certainly needs tinkering with – it’s just not profitable enough to outweigh the risk.

### 3. Find value in the long-run

Nearly every punter presumably works out the cost of their perm before going to the counter (internet players don’t need to do any maths) but you need to keep your perm in line with the total pot, or gear your selections accordingly to give yourself a fighting chance of winning in the long run. The more unique you can make your placepot, the better chance you have of an over-the-odds return.

### 4. Look for value in the market

The golden rule for any bettor in any market, long-term, this applies no less to the Tote. As explained in our introduction to Tote betting, the win price of a horse is related to but not completely aligned with its place chance, as an each-way bet is in fixed odds betting. So it’s important when picking your perm to understand that nuance.

For example, a well-backed handicap debutant, available at a win price of 4.0 on the Tote after three quiet qualifying runs, probably wouldn’t be a 1.6 shot to be placed, such is the profile of the horse (it may be more like a 1.8 chance in the place-only market). Whereas a rock-solid, consistent performer available at 6.0 on the win market would very likely be significantly shorter in the place market, rather than the even-money as you’d expect if the markets were tied together.

### 5. Get a feel for place odds vs win odds

With the above in mind: before compiling your perm, it may pay to note the place prices rather than win prices assuming there’s enough liquidity (the timing of the bet is covered in the Choosing the Right Bet article). But as ever in this switched-on era of modern gambling, there won’t be a huge edge if a fair proportion of other Placepot players are doing the same thing. With no race-by-race Placepot data available until after race one, skilled Placepot punters must form an instinct for what the crowd will do  – an advantage that will come with observation and experience.

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