Football Pools or Toto: Betting Strategies with Examples

In this article we will look at the strategies used in football pool betting and learn how to pick matches for flat bets from a pool betting coupon.

Bets on football pools or Toto are offered by most bookmakers. This type of betting comes in several variations, the most famous of them being the classic pools otherwise known as the ‘1Х2’ pools. There are also other variations such as the one on the ‘exact score’.

Football pool rules may differ from one bookmaker to another, but the basic principles are the same. The screenshots below represent pools of one famous bookmaker.

Football pools, toto

The Principles of a Betting Pool

Let us consider how classic pools work. Here, punters are supposed to predict the outcomes of a certain number of matches (typically, 14-15) and add the selections to the betting slip. To secure your bet, you can make several selections for one event for the matches you are not certain about. We will cover more on this below.

Football pools - betting strategies

The bettors’ joint money forms a so-called pool, 90% of which is used to pay out winnings, while 10% goes to the organizers. To be in a prize pool category (there are 7 of them total), you need to predict the outcomes of at least 9 matches.

Toto rules

Jackpot is a super prize whose initial amount is provided by the organizers and then increased by means of the prize fund until one of the bettors has correctly predicted the outcomes of all 15 matches.

It is this possibility of hitting the jackpot that attracts a certain category of bettors who hope they will get lucky.

To play football pools, you should know the factors that influence the win amount:

  • the total amount of the pool (the money contributed by all the players),
  • the amount of the bet made,
  • the number of bettors who correctly predicted enough outcomes to fall into prize categories,
  • the bookmaker’s margin from the pool.

To rightly predict the outcomes of 9 or more matches is not easy. Bookmakers tend to pick for pools matches that do not have a favorite or games from less known championships. All of this complicates the process of predicting. However, there are tricks that can help you make profit from pools.

The Package Betting Strategies

Here are some techniques you can use if you decided to try pool betting.


The first one is the ‘variant’. If you are unsure about the outcome of, say, one match (let’s take the easiest scenario), you can secure yourself by betting on all the 3 possible outcomes/variants (1Х2). Consequently, the bet amount will then increase 3 times.

This, as we said, is the easiest case. In real life, punters can bet on 2 or 3 outcomes of any number of matches — to the point of covering all the possible variants. The latter will require investing a huge amount though, which will by far outnumber the winnings.

Football pools - package betting

Besides, securing (covering) the outcomes of several matches does not at all guarantee you success.

What you secure is only your predictions and not all possible outcomes of the event.

The main disadvantage to this betting system is the rapidly increasing number of bets and, consequently, the money bet on secured matches.

Brief System

To some extent this problem can be solved by using a modified version of the ‘package’ bet — the ‘brief system’. The idea here is to minimize your expenses by removing some variants (just like in incomplete arbs). For better understanding, let us illustrate this point by an example.

Example. Suppose, you are certain about the outcomes of 6 out of 9 matches in the pool. A regular package bet on 3 outcomes (1X2) in 3 matches, would cover:
3*3*3 = 27 variants. By using the ‘brief system’, we can choose to fully cover, say, 2 instead of 3 matches. The number of variants will then drop to 9, while all the outcomes for the third game will be chosen randomly. To ease the calculations, you can use free ‘package’ apps.

Starikov’s Football Betting Strategies

Speaking of football pools, we should mention Starikov’s betting systems. The ‘old capper’, as he calls himself, offers his own strategies and predictions on a paid basis. The reviews on them are most diverse, as is the case with many other cappers’ systems.

The #1 Football Betting Strategy (On Draws)

The author’s calculations are based on the analysis of pool matches offered by a famous bookmaker. The logic behind the strategy is that punters tend to rarely bet on a draw, except when they want to secure their bets.

Trying to make winning the jackpot harder for players, bookmakers add to the pool a few games that are likely to end with a draw. The author provides examples of monthly statistics of pool rounds with many draw results. Considering high odds for draws, even if only 4 out of 15 games end with a draw, you will break even, while, with more than 4 draws, you will be in the black.

The conclusion is that you should choose a bookmaker with a low margin and place single flat bets on all pool matches. According to the author, in the long run, this strategy will help you earn profit.

The #2 Football Betting Strategy (Based on Bookmakers’ Logic)

When describing this strategy, Starikov shares his insights into bookmakers’ logic and actually offers two betting strategies — ‘Holes’ and ‘Against Pot’. Both systems are derived from the axiom that the main goal of any bookmaker is, at all costs, not to let players win the jackpot.

The ‘Holes’ Strategy

According to this strategy, you are supposed to analyze bookmakers’ predictions and the current distribution of the betting pool and detect ‘strange’ games. In the author’s opinion, they include matches where opponents are noticeably different in their level, and where the probability of the outsider’s win according to bookmakers is 30% and the players’ pool is 20%.

In his opinion, such matches often have unpredictable results which are somehow foreseen by bookmakers. This forms a ‘hole’ where players’ bet money fall into…

What bettors should do:
1-1.5 hours before the organizers of the pool stop accepting betting slips
for the next round, spot a match like the one described above and place a single bet on the underdog with the appropriate bookmaker. It is also advisable to secure your bet by a zero handicap or a double chance bet. In the long run, flat bets like this are supposed to bring you profit.

The ‘Against the Pot’ Strategy

This strategy is even more interesting than the previous one. To save the jackpot, bookmakers place the last pool games (typically, matches in South America) for the night time.

According to the author, bookmakers can somehow influence the outcomes of the matches and, since by this time, the information about the contenders for the jackpot is already available on the website, the matches result ‘against’ the jackpot.

That said, you should bet on the outcome contrary to that of the players’ who have a high potential of correctly predicting all the 15 outcomes.


I should say that all the strategies presented above date back to the year 2015 and are mainly based on monthly statistics. Bettors can analyze pool matches of well-known bookmakers for themselves and make their own judgements. In my humble opinion, Starikov exaggerates the shrewdness of bookmakers.

However, I find the approach itself quite appealing. It is no doubt useful to try to analyze bookmakers’ logic — this can help you win at some point of your betting lifetime. However, let’s not forget that the betting scenery is a rapidly changing one, and bookmakers quickly adjust to new circumstances.

As for football pools on the whole, some believe that if you have to predict 9 outcomes out of 15, accumulator or system bets are a better option. But the thrill of the possibility to hit the jackpot coupled with low bet amounts makes pool bets highly popular among a certain category of punters.

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