An absentee bid is a way for you to bid at an auction when you otherwise couldn't be there.
Generally, you fill out a form that denotes which items your interested in and how much your willing to bid and hand that to the auctioneer.
When the lot comes up, the auctioneer will announce that he has an absentee bid on this item and then usually exhausts all the bids from people actually in attendance, if your absentee bid is still viable, the auctioneer will then start to bid himself, on your behalf, against whoever has the high bid standing in the room. If your bid ends up being higher than what the person in attendance is willing to pay then you win that item, if it's not, well then you lost that one.
It's pretty common that the auctioneer will receive multiple absentee bids if the item is particularly rare or unusual. When that happens, the auctioneer will usually automatically compute who the winner between his absentee bidders is and then will solicit the live audience for any additional bids.
Because all of our actions are held online, basically, all of our bids are actually absentee bids. You don't have to be actively engaged when the auction is actually closing. Just enter the highest amount your will to pay, then the software will automatically bid for you whenever someone else makes a bid.
Advanced Tip: Be very cognizant of the bidding increments. Because the bidding increments jump up at specific dollar amounts, sometimes you can use that to your advantage by bidding right up to just below the next increment jump. Here's an example: Let's say that in a given auction, the increments are only $1 up to a bid of $50, where the increments then jump up to $5.00. If you set your max bid at $49, the next bidder would only need to bid $50.00 to win the auction. But if you had set your max bid at $50.00, then they would need to pony up $55.00, which they may not be willing to do.
Good luck and see you at the next auction Bid On Estates auction!