Written by:
Paul Ricci
Fact checked by:
Alex Windsor
April 5, 2024

What Is Pool Betting? See how pool betting works & the best sites to do it on

Pool Betting Guide

Over a century old, pool betting has become a popular form of sports betting typically associated with horse racing. It differs from regular, fixed-odds betting. Namely, instead of wagering under a given price, you’re putting money in a pool with other bettors and sharing the prize money in case you win.

Below, we’ll go into more detail about pool betting, show a few pool bet examples, give a few tips, and more.

What Is Pool Betting?

As its name suggests, in pool betting, all the bets taken on a particular event go into a shared pool. The bookmaker takes out a percentage of the total amount as a cut for operating the betting pools, while the remaining money is shared among the winners. While it can apply to many sports, pool betting is most prevalent in horse race betting.

If you bet on a given horse and it wins, you will share the prize pool with everyone else who backed the same horse. This way, you never know exactly how much money you will win, as each bettor’s prize depends on the success of others and the amount of money in the win pool. In the US, pool betting is commonly referred to as parimutuel betting.

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Here is an example that illustrates how this type of betting works.

Pool Betting Examples

Understanding Racing Odds

Let’s take a pool betting scenario where 20 people bet $5 each. This amounts to $100 worth of pool bets, but since the bookmaker needs to take a 10% cut, the total win pool bet is $90.

Ten people bet on Horse A, six people back Horse B, and four bettors put their money on Horse C. Here are the possible outcomes:

The winning amount usually corresponds to how big of a favorite a certain horse is. Most people will back the overall favorite (in this case, Horse A). A winning bet on that horse will yield the smallest profit since many people share the pool.

Remember that this is a simplified example, as there will likely be more horses to bet on and several other types of bets people can take.

Types of Pool Betting

Pool Betting Probables

You can take various pool bets, and they usually mirror the fixed odds betting options at a given horse racing event. Here are the most popular ones:

Main Sports for Pool Betting

Draftkings Sportsbook Lobby

Pool betting is most commonly associated with horse racing and greyhound racing. However, pool bet games covering other sports are becoming more popular at online sportsbooks and betting apps in the US.

DraftKings is best known for its pool games revolving around major leagues and popular competitions like the NCAA basketball tournament. In other words, those trying to get the March Madness brackets right may get a huge share of the prize if successful.

There are also plenty of football pool betting contests. In the Ultimate NFL Survivor Pool at DraftKings, you’ll get to select one NFL team each week during the regular season. If that team loses, you will be eliminated. The last remaining contestant is the winner.

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How Pool Betting Payouts Are Calculated

Pool betting payouts are calculated once all bets are in, and the pool closes. The bookmaker will then take a cut from the total pool (usually 10%–20%), and the rest of the money will make up the prize. The amount each bettor receives depends on the outcome and the number of winners.

The more winners, the less each person gets, and vice versa. For instance, if the pool is $1,000 and there are 20 winners, each bettor will win $50. If only two people made a correct prediction, they would earn $500 apiece.

Pool Betting vs. Regular Betting

Here are the main differences between pool betting and betting at fixed odds:

Pool Betting Tips and Tricks

If you’re new to pool sports betting, here are a few tips that may help you get started:

Pros and Cons of Pool Betting

No fixed odds, which may create value betsLimited number of sports and markets
Potentially big payouts, even on small wagersNot knowing your potential profit
Fun way to bet if you're into horse racingYour return depends on other people's bets


  • How does pool betting work?
    Pool betting is a type of sports betting where multiple participants place wagers on various possible outcomes and form a prize pool. Once the winning outcome is revealed, all winners share the prize.
  • What is an example of pool betting?

    Let’s take a horse racing pool and say that 50 people bet $10 each. The sportsbook takes a 10% cut out of the $500 total, leaving the winner pool at $450. People place bets on different horses to win, but only eight of them make the right prediction. The $450 is now split among eight winners, leaving each with $56.25 or a $46.25 profit.

  • What is football pool betting?

    Football pool betting can take several forms. For instance, you can enter a pool and predict the outcome of each NFL game in a given week. If all of your picks are correct, you will share a prize with other right predictions.

  • How does pool betting differ from fixed odds betting?

    As the name implies, fixed odds betting is placed at a set price. Once you lay down a bet, you know what you’ll win based on those odds. With pool betting, the amount you win always depends on the number of people who make the winning selection. The more winners, the less each person gets, and vice versa.

  • How do you calculate pool winnings?
    First, the sportsbook takes a small cut from the total amount placed in the pool. From there, the rest of the money is distributed equally to all the winners. If the pool is $100 and there's only one winner, that person will win all $100. If there are ten winners, each will get a $10 prize.
Paul Ricci

Paul Ricci is a resident sports writer at Minimum Deposit Betting Sites, largely focusing on the US betting landscape. His main interests lie in football (both the US and the non-US variants) and in developing and writing low-stakes betting strategies.