Category Archives: Tote

Banter

AKA “Do talk to strangers”…

Ascot was brilliant. There was a girl on the last day who said to me that I must be sick and tired of my job by now after 5 days straight, and I said to her that I could do it for another 100 days because it’s very engaging and the people you meet in the Royal Enclosure and the staff I’m working with are so kind and friendly, it feels more like a holiday than a real job. Overall, I got over £25 in tips this week. However, these do include money that people left behind as well as £7 of genuine tips.

One thing this week has taught me (beside the minimum stake for a permutation Jackpot) is the value of kindness. I have a new found respect for people who work behind tills, or in fact anyone who has to interface with the public on a day-to-day basis. Just by being polite, and having what me and Josh like to call “banter” can really make someone’s day. Working at Ascot it was always the people who I had a bit of a conversation with that I would remember. I would have girls who would come specifically to me to place their bets because I was good luck (apparently, even though it was them picking the winning horses).

A prime example of this was this week when me and Josh needed to buy our train tickets every day to get to work. We bought them from the same kiosk and chatted to the same girl behind the counter every day. By the end of the week it was good fun to ask her for “the usual” and have some “banter”.

I took this principle further yesterday when I rang up my bank to activate a new account. It was 12:30AM and I was expecting to get an automated message running me through activation. Instead I got a real human! After she’d set me up with my account she asked me if I had anything else to ask, I told her I was surprised to get a human to talk to and we had a bit of banter about her shift and what type of crazy people ring their bank at 1am.

It doesn’t take much to make someone smile and it makes you feel good too. It can even restore your faith in human nature. Your homework this week is to have banter with at least one person before Friday, just try it… you’ll be surprised how easy it is! I want to hear your success stories in the comments!

  • Happiness. 8.5 out of 10
  • Tiredness. 3 out of 5
  • Last Meal. Roast dinner (many thanks as always to mum)
  • Song of the day. Muse – Feeling Good
  • Thought for the day. Happy Father’s Day! I love you dad!
  • What I’m Doing Now. On the train to Josh’s to build him a computer

PS… If you bet £2 on a horse and it crosses the finish line first but without a jockey, it doesn’t count as a win. Learn from my mistake.

PPS… In response to my post on Monday (Quick Character Flaws), I’d like to strike confidence from the list. This week has given me more confidence about myself.

Ladies Day

I love working at Ascot. It’s really busy, but all the people are really friendly. I’ve been having a great time taking bets and paying out.

I’ve been working in the Royal Enclosure all week, which is where all the posh people go. Served plenty of Esquires and Lords spending £50 notes.

Today I saw none other than the legendary Andrew Lloyd Webber and the brilliant Peter Jones. Oh yea, and the Queen.

Working at the Tote you have to balance your till at the end of each day, so far at Ascot I’ve done quite well. On the first day I was 5p over because one man didn’t take all his payout. Yesterday I actually balanced correctly, and today I was £5 over. So overall I’m not doing badly so far (watch now I’ve jinxed it I’ll be miles out tomorrow).

Josh has been staying over because it’s easier to get to Ascot from Balham than Dunstable (where he lives). We’ve been having banter and went to The Bedford for some live music yesterday with James. Really liked the sound of a guy called David Place, so we bought his album; check out his MySpace page.

  • Happiness: 9/10
  • Tiredness: 1/10
  • Last meal: Bangers & Jackets (sausages & potatoes)
  • Song of the day: The King Blues – My Boulder (again)
  • Thought for the day: If that horse wins I’ll eat your hat!

PS Sorry, forgot to say that you can see loads of photos of Ascot here.

Special Post #13: Tote, unlucky for some…

Second post in an ongoing mini-series about my first ever job as a Tote betting assistant.

I love working with Tote. Essentially the job is merely regurgitating what people tell you into a till, but because of the wide variety of customers and the nature of the job, it can be as interesting as you make it. A lot of people ask for information ranging from “what is tote?” to “what are the odds on this horse in the next race?” to “what is a reverse forecast?”. Here’s your guide to Tote people-spotting:

  • The seasoned pro’s. These are the one’s that place what tote like to call the “exotic bets”, maybe picking 1st, 2nd and 3rd in a race, for example. They tend to study the screens and/or a newspaper for a long time, then (usually about 10 seconds before the race starts) place a really complicated bets with many permutations, which you then have to process before betting closes for that race.
  • The lads. Essentially the wannabe seasoned pro’s who’ll have competitions between themselves as to who can win the most money. These people usually place stupid combinations of bets, such as 5 win bets. I don’t know about you but I’ve never seen five horses collectively win a race.
  • The ladies. Can be noticed from their attire (usually understated dress and overstated hat) and because their husband will had over a £20 note to her before she approaches. She will then place a simple win or each way bet giving the horse name instead of its number.
  • The groupie. A group of girls who can barely walk through combination of ridiculous footwear and alcohol consumption. They will need an explanation of what “pool betting” is and a tip of horse to pick for the race. The latter is best resolved by handing over the race card and instigating a choice based on jockey colours (usually resulting in the pinkest, gayest jockey colours being picked).

The take home rule of betting is: the house always wins. And never was there a better example than on Saturday when I cashed out over £2,500 profit at my till alone.

I’m working for Tote this week on Friday and Saturday at Sandown Racecourse and I’m really looking forward to it. More excitingly though, it’s only a week until Royal Ascot!

Special Post #12: Tote, “And they’re off!”

This post is the first in a mini-series on my first ever job, at the Tote…

Sometime shortly after returning to university after Easter while me and Josh were revising, Josh heard about a company offering jobs to students for a week over the summer with a possibility of future work. That company was called the Tote.

For those who don’t know, the Tote is a pool betting organisation owned by the government. They take bets at racecourses for every horserace in the county, every day of the year. Instead of a traditional bookmaker offering odds on a horse to win, the Tote put all the stakes into a ‘pool’, which is then divided out amongst the winners. If you don’t understand it yet, then I’m gonna give up…

Anyway, so both me and Josh applied for a job and were invited to a training day at Ascot racecourse. The date was set for the 28th, which was the Thursday of the last week. Since this was after our exams we both accepted.

On the morning of the training day I woke up to a phone call from Josh:

  • Josh: “Have you got your photograph?”
  • Me: “What?”
  • Josh: “It said in the email that we need a passport-sized photograph”
  • “What email?”

As you can tell I hadn’t been told anything about the training day, but Josh had. Basically I needed several things:

  1. Photocopy of passport (luckily Josh had a scanner so that was done very easily)
  2. White shirt, trousers, shoes (Luckily dad hadn’t collected all my things yet so I still had those)
  3. Filled out application form (what application form?)
  4. Packed lunch (ah, with my food resources being overdrawn, this one could be tricky)
  5. Passport-sized photograph (nope, not a single one)

After panicking a little I came up with a plan. We went to the train station and took passport photos in the photo booth, bought a sandwich from the WH Smiths at the station, and got Josh to print off an extra form for me to fill out on the train journey there.

We got there on time and were given an introduction to Tote and how they operate. In the afternoon we we’re taught how to use the Tote Betting Machines to take all types of bets. This would have been fine had my machine not broken about 2 minutes in. But they quickly put me on another machine and I was away.

The second part of training is to attend a live race day and be shadowed by another member of staff. Me and Josh choose Sandown racecourse on the 4th July.

Despite the lack of any proof that we were employed by Tote we managed to get onto the racecourse and were assigned to staff members. I was with Ken in the imperial suite, which is a private function room that had been hired out by a group of 40 or so people who we would place bets for. It was great fun, Ken let me operate the till while he handled the money, and by the end of the meet I was getting pretty quick at taking bets.

It was quite funny when the first customer came up and asked me how long I’d been working for the Tote, to which I had to reply “Well, your my first customer.”

After successfully balancing at the end of the day, I felt quite chuffed. It was very diverse to take all the various bets and give information and advice as well.

I was then offered a job working the Derby on Friday and Saturday, to which I could hardly refuse.

So that brings us up to date. Today was my first day at the Derby, working on my own and taking bets. It was a really interesting day with a whole range of people taking bets. One guy won £483.50 from a £5 bet, not bad by my standards. He now goes down as the highest payout I’ve had to give, and the most number of sales in one day was 264, 65 up on Thursday when I took 199 bets. Tomorrow is supposed to be very, very busy, so wish me luck (get it)!