From ArticleWorld

Tic-tac is a method of sign language, used by bookmakers, to communicate the odds of horses, in a horse race. Still used in the United Kingdom, the tic-tac man wears white gloves. This allows his hands to be easily seen from afar. There are regional variations, and sometimes the odds are called out as well. The bookmakers use this to communicate with their staff to make sure their odds do not differ too greatly from that of other bookies. In recent years, the tic-tac man has become less frequently seen at the tracks. It is easier to keep their information private with the use of radios and earphones.


Although regional variations exist, there are a few standard signals.

  • Odds of 9/4 ("top of the head") - both hands touching the top of the head.
  • Odds of 10/1 ("cockle" or "net") - fists together with the right-hand thumb protruding upwards, to resemble the number 10.
  • Odds of 33/1 ("double carpet") - arms crossed, hands flat against the chest.


In additon to the sign language, the odds are often called out as well. Slang terms are generally used. The slang term may be based on the sign for the odds, or a play on words. For example, 4-1 odds are referred to as Rouf (four, backwards). Some odds have more than one common slang term assigned, an example of this is 100-30 which can be referred to as Burlington Bertie, or Scruffy an dirty. 6-4 odds might be referred to as ear’ole or exes to rouf. 5-2 odds are often referred to as face.