Tic Tac is a term that is used for bookmaker who are trying to express odds with their hands. It was one of the easiest ways that on courses bookies used to be able to inform prices of horses to other bookies in crowded areas.
It’s been around for decades now, but the increase in use of mobile and the Internet has almost made this racing heritage obsolete. In fact, it was reported that in 1999 there were only 3 bookmakers who were still using it; Mickey ‘Hockey’ Stuart, Billie Brown and Rocky Roberts, all based in the south of England.
Bookies Hand Signals
The signals for the bets are all coordinated by hand gestures and often the guys calling the odds would wear white gloves to allow them to stand out a little more and also make the movements easier to see.
There are actually a few variations of the calls in terms of the signals they use, usually separated by a north/south divide, but for the most part, they are all pretty similar.
Another thing to note is that the odds also come with names, related to that of cockney rhyming slang. Sometimes on days that weren’t as busy, they would simply call the odds by their slang names instead of using the tic tac methods.
One of the most famous advocators of tic tac was that of racing pundit, John McCririck. He used to present racing on Channel 4 and a number of different media outlets and as he would talk about the odds, he would also perform the hand signals, as if it were engrained within him to do so.
Odds and their signals
Below is a table of the odds, hand signals and rhyming slang used for each:
|Evs||Straight up / Levels, you devils! / Major Stevens||Extend forefingers on each hand, move up and down in opposite directions several times|
|11/10||Tips||Bring opened hands together, tips of fingers touching|
|5/4||Wrist||Right hand on left wrist|
|11/8||Up the arm||Move right hand up left arm, from wrist to elbow|
|6/4||Ear’ole / Exes to rouf (four backwards, pronounced “rofe”)||Back of right hand to left ear|
|13/8||Unlucky / bits on the Ear`ole||Back of right hand to left ear then touch fingertips together|
|7/4||Shoulder / Neves (seven backwards) to rouf||Right hand to left shoulder|
|15/8||Double tap||Double touch of right hand to left shoulder|
|2/1||Bottle / bice||Right hand touches nose|
|9/4||Top of the head||Both hands on head|
|5/2||Face / bice n’alf||Both hands to face either side of nose|
|11/4||Elef a vier||Both hands to face either side of nose followed by touching fingertips in front of face|
|3/1||Carpet||Bring hand to chin, palm facing down|
|10/3||Burlington Bertie / Scruffy and dirty||As 3/1 then touch fingertips in front of face|
|7/2||Carpet and half||Both hands touch chest|
|4/1||Rouf||Extend right hand in front of body and draw an `L` shape|
|9/2||Shoulders / on the shoulders||Bring each hand up to same shoulder|
|5/1||Hand / handful / ching||Right hand to right shoulder|
|6/1||Exes/xis (six backwards) /half a stretch||Right hand to right shoulder then to top of head|
|7/1||Neves pronounced nevis (seven backwards)||Right hand to shoulder then to nose (5 then 2)|
|8/1||TH (tee aitch)||Right hand to right shoulder, hand to chin, palm facing down|
|9/1||Enin (nine backwards)||Left hand on head, right hand stretched out sideways (teapot like)|
|10/1||Cockle / Net (ten backwards)||‘Punch’ fists together|
|11/1||Elef||Punch fists together, then touch nose|
|14/1||Net and rouf||Punch fists together, then right arm in front draws an ‘L’ shape (10 + 4)|
|16/1||Net and ex||Punch fists together, right hand to right shoulder, then right hand to top of the head|
|20/1||Double Net||Punch fists together twice|
|25/1||Pony / Macaroni||Punch fists together twice, then touch right shoulder with right hand|
|33/1||Double carpet||Arms crossed and hands flat over chest|
|50/1||Bullseye||Hit bottom of one fist on top of the other fist|
|100/1||Century||Pass hands over each other extended in front of body|