Round Robin Bets & How They Work

Choices abound for bettors here in Michigan, and that’s naturally a good thing. From places to play to which sports to bet on, there’s a lot to consider. The same holds true when it comes to bet types.

You can keep things simple and straightforward with one of the main bet types, or you can take your chances on greater returns with wagers that are a little more exotic. The round robin bet is one that falls into that category.

This wager type tends to fly under the radar. While most folks are familiar with parlays, not everyone understands the concept of how a round robin bet works. For a sneak peek, let’s just say that it shares a lot in common with parlays.

Of course, there are also some big differences to understand between the two bet types. We’ll cover that and everything else you need to know right here. Read on as we take a deep dive into this exciting way to wager.

Is a round robin a good bet?

In a nutshell, a round robin bet allows you to cover multiple bases on a single betting slip while offering up the potential for greater returns than a single-game bet. If you think that sounds awfully close to a parlay bet, then you would be correct.

However, the big difference is this: a parlay covers a single set of outcomes, while a round robin can cover several outcomes. For a simple example, think of a three-team NBA moneyline parlay. In order for the bet to be graded a winner, all three of your selected teams have to win.

You can take those same teams and place them into a round robin bet and set it up with three separate outcomes:

  • Team A and B win
  • Team B and C win
  • Team A and C win

When used correctly, the round robin bet can be a great addition to your overall handicapping strategy. It can be used as a combination of a hedging tool and a wager that offers up the chance for solid overall returns.

How do you bet a round robin?

You can use a round robin bet for main bet types such as point spread, moneyline, and totals. To begin building one out, the first decision you need to make is how many selections you want to include. Here’s a quick run-through of how the process works.

Let’s say that you’re focused on the NFL Sunday afternoon slate. There are a total of 12 games on the docket — eight in the early window and four for the later portion of the day. After going through all of the games, you walk away feeling confident that the following four teams will win outright:

  • Detroit Lions
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Baltimore Ravens
  • Las Vegas Raiders

You place single-game moneyline wagers on all four outcomes, but you’d also like the chance for a little more bang for the buck. A parlay is an option, but if one of the four teams loses, the bet is a total loss. If you place a round robin bet, you can cover multiple outcomes while also protecting yourself against a loss.

For simplicity purposes, you decide that two ways for each selection will do the trick.

  • Lions and Buccaneers to win
  • Lions and Ravens to win
  • Lions and Raiders to win
  • Buccaneers and Ravens to win
  • Buccaneers and Raiders to win
  • Ravens and Raiders to win

So what should you bet? If you go back to the parlay option, think through what your comfort level would be. For argument’s sake, we’ll call it $60. For this round robin, there are six sets of outcomes. If you place $10 on each of them, that’ll work out to a total ticket cost of $60.

You’re now risking the same amount while covering more possible outcomes. If your initial instinct is correct and three of the four teams go on to win, you can still come out ahead of the game. We’ll cover how payouts work shortly, as well as the different ways you can structure the round robin bet.

Other names for round robins

While a round robin bet is a standard offering at legal and regulated sportsbooks, there are times when operators will refer to it in different fashion. It’ll vary by book, but nicknames are often used to describe a round robin bet with a specific number of outcomes included.

  • Trixie: Four bets in total — three two-team parlays and one three-team parlay.
  • Patent: Just like a trixie, but with the addition of three single-game wagers.
  • Yankee: Includes 11 different bets: six two-team, four three-team, and one accumulator bet.
  • Canadian: 26 bets: 10 two-team, 10 three-team, five 4-team, and one 5-team.
  • Lucky: Could range from 15 to 127 different combinations.
  • Heinz: Six team selections spread across 57 different bets
  • Super Heinz: A total of 120 different wagers.

When first getting started with round robins, it’s a good idea to keep it simple. You need to have a full understanding of how the bets work, what the payouts are, and what it takes to make a profit.

A good starting point is three teams spread across two ways. As your skills advance, you can tinker with the number of teams and outcomes to find a mix that works for you. Additionally, you may want to adjust the number of selections based on what your research reveals for the slate of games at hand.

How many selections in a round robin bet?

As mentioned, the first step for a round robin sports bet is figuring out how many teams you are interested in. You can include as few as three and go up to eight or more in most places. It’s always a good idea to check with the book you are playing on for the exact terms and conditions, as operators could cap the number of teams you can use.

The same applies when it comes to selecting the number of ways for the wagers. You can keep it simple and go two ways, or make things more complex with a larger wager that goes six ways. For a quick illustration, let’s consider the number of possible ways you can go when you have between three and six picks.

PicksWaysTotal Bets

As you can see, you can wind up with a whole bunch of different outcomes on a single slip by using round robins. While it might be tempting to jam in as many as you can and hope for the best, it’s important to remain realistic with your expectations. After all, if round robin was the secret to sports betting riches, it’d be a focal point for tons of handicappers.

How much does a round robin pay?

The payout amount for round robin bets will vary and depend on a number of factors: picks, ways, amount wagers, and total number correct. Let’s run through a quick example so that you understand the math.

Sticking with an NFL Sunday afternoon, let’s say you like the following three spread bets over the course of the day:

  • Seattle Seahawks -6.5 over Miami Dolphins
  • Chicago Bears +2.5 versus Indianapolis Colts
  • Dallas Cowboys -4.5 over Cleveland Browns

Beyond placing single-game wagers, you could also round robin all three selections. For three teams, you can go two ways on each for a total of three bets. Odds of -110 are standard for point spread wagers, so you’re looking at the same numbers for each selection, but that’ll naturally vary if there are any ticks of difference.

For example purposes, we’ll stick with -110. A single two-team parlay with both at odds of -110 pays out at +264. We’d see the same for each of the ways in the round robin. If we kept the wager amount at $10 for each way, here are the possible returns:

  • Seahawks and Bears cover — $10 for $26.45
  • Seahawks and Cowboys cover — $10 for $26.45
  • Bears and Cowboys cover — $10 for $26.45

If only one or two of the three teams cover, then this round robin goes up in smoke. For a case in which we hit all three, we’ll be in line for a total profit of $79.35. When the stakes increase, so too does the potential return.

That makes it pretty easy to see what the appeal is, but it’s also important to remember that there’s risk involved, just like with any other bet you place. The round robin can help you hedge positions and mitigate the risk, but it isn’t the proverbial fail safe that bettors would love to have in their back pocket.

When should you use round robin bets?

As with any other bet you would consider placing, it all comes down to your overall confidence level. For a simple rule to lean on, if you’re considering placing a three or more team parlay, then a round robin bet makes a lot of sense.

You can also base it on the number of total bets you place. For example, if your strategy calls for three spread or totals bets per NBA slate with the goal of going 2-1, then a round robin is  certainly worth considering as an add-on wager.

The same would apply for any odd-numbered strategy in which you shoot for an overall winning record, such as going 3-2 on five bets or 4-3 on seven. In cases in which you wind up with an even number of bets, then lean towards your overall confidence level on the wagers.

If you feel really good about three out of four or five out of six, for example, then entering a round robin into the mix can make sense. It ultimately comes down to your overall expectations and what you feel best about, but remember to keep it realistic.

What are the most popular sports for round robin bets?

The round robin bet works well with all of the major team-based sports:

Round robin sports betting can work with all of the main bet types you would use for each as well: moneyline, spread, or totals. Spreads are most popular for football and basketball, while moneyline is often the preferred option in MLB, NHL, and soccer. Totals can be used for all, and the overall popularity level of the bets will vary by sport.

For your purposes, it’s a good idea to stay in your lane when first starting out with round robins. As an example, if you’re comfortable with spreads but have a rough time with totals, then you should stick with the former. If you have a knack for MLB betting but don’t know a lick about soccer, stick with what you’re familiar with before attempting to spread your wings.