Tic-Tac Betting Term Meaning

The betting term Tic-tac refers to the signs and phrases that were, and still are in places, used by trackside bookies to communicate the prices/odds of the horses before a horse race.

Tic-tac is a form of sign language that bookmakers at a race course would use with their staff at the track as a way to ensure that their odds were not too far from those of their competitors.

For example, if a very large bet was placed on a particular horse with one bookmaker, that may be an indication of a good tip. This could then be signaled to the other bookmakers so they could lower the odds for that horse. Right up until the 1990's it was common to see tic-tac practitioners on every racecourse across the UK, but by 1999 mobile technology had taken over and there were only a handful of tic-tac men left.

As well as the sign language aspect of tic-tac, many of the common odds also had a name call, similar to bingo where each number has a specific name or phrase attached to it. Here are a few examples:





‘Top of the head’

Both hands touching the top of the head


‘Cockle’ or ‘net’

Fists together with the right thumb pointing upwards



Hands pressed together with all fingers touching



Right hand touches left wrist


‘Double carpet’

Arms crossed with hands flat across the chest


Many of the names evolved from cockney rhyming slang (‘scruffy and dirty’ - 100/30) and backslang (‘rouf’ - four backwards). Some of these changed over time, with regional variations becoming apart between the north and south of the UK. Here are some of the most popular terms with their related odds:

Levels (you devils) – evens

Major Stevens – evens

Straight up – evens

Tips – 11/10

Sais a wang – 6/5

Wrist – 5/4

Up the arm – 11/8

Ear'ole – 6/4

Neves to rouf – 7/4

Shoulder – 7/4

Double tops – 15/8

Bottle – 2/1

Top of the head – 9/4

Face – 5/2

Elef a vier – 11/4

Carpet – 3/1

Scruffy and dirty – 100/30

Burlington Bertie – 100/30

Roof (or rouf) – 4/1

Shoulders (or on the shoulders) – 9/2

Ching – 5/1

Handful (or hand) – 5/1

Exes – 6/1

Neves (or nevis) – 7/1

TH – 8/1

Enin – 9/1

Net – 10/1

Cockle – 10/1

Elef – 11/1

Net and bice – 12/1

Net and rouf −14/1

Net and ex – 16/1

Double net – 20/1

Macaroni – 25/1

Pony – 25/1

Double carpet – 33/1

Century – 100/1