How Does Round Robin Betting Work?

Legal online sportsbooks offer plenty of bets for you to choose from. For instance, you can keep it simple by betting on the moneyline or ramp up the difficulty level by focusing on spreads.

While all of the top options attract plenty of interest, some bettors like wagers that are a little more exotic in nature. A round robin falls into that category. Here’s everything you need to know about this intriguing wager.

What is a round robin bet?

A round robin bet covers multiple outcomes at once. While that may sound like a standard parlay, there are differences. For a regular parlay, you’re choosing two or more outcomes with the hopes of being correct on all of them.

If you do, you win, but one wrong choice means you lose the whole thing. The round robin lets you put together multiple combinations in a way that gives you more chances to win. If one combo fails, you still have a chance to break even or profit if other combos hit.

The number of combos you can build will depend on how many selections you make. For example, let’s say you like the New England Patriots, Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys each to win their upcoming NFL games.

You could place individual moneyline bets on all three outcomes or put together a three-leg parlay, but you can also make three separate two-team parlays using a round robin:

  • Patriots and Rams
  • Patriots and Cowboys
  • Rams and Cowboys

The round robin lets you cover more bases at once. If all of your combos hit, then you could be in line for a solid return. Naturally, that’s easier said than done, but the round robin provides a bit of a safety net as long as some of your combos hit.

The cost of a round robin bet depends on how much you’re betting as well as how many picks you’re including. Payouts and potential profitability will depend on the sports odds at the time you placed your bet, as well as on how many combos you use. Round robins take some getting used to, but they can be fun and potentially effective if you correctly implement and budget for them.

Round robin betting examples

Before you dive in with round robins, here are some examples to help you get a better idea:

NFL round robin betting

Parlays are a popular option for betting on NFL games, but also a tricky nut to crack. This is especially true if you’re trying to tie together multiple point spread bets, a wager that’s already challenging enough for single-game betting.

Let’s say that your research points you to the following three games — two favorites and one underdog on the spread:

  • New England Patriots -6.5 over New York Jets
  • Pittsburgh Steelers +3.5 over Cincinnati Bengals
  • Philadelphia Eagles -1.5 over New York Giants

If you place a bet on all three games individually, you’d need to win on two in order to be profitable. For a parlay of all three games, one single mistake and you’re out of luck. You could also put together a round robin bet and walk away with three combos:

  • Patriots -6.5 and Steelers +3.5
  • Patriots -6.5 and Eagles -1.5
  • Steelers +3.5 and Eagles -1.5

You now have three two-leg wagers in play. More combos equal more chances to win, but there’s also the risk that you could be wrong everywhere. However, if you can get two out of three on your single bets, you’ll hit at least one of the round robin bets.

Meanwhile, losing out on one leg of a three-team parlay means that your entire stake goes up in smoke. By using the round robin, you’ve spread out the risk. And if everything happens to break just right, you can chalk this NFL week up as a win.

NHL round robin betting

Sports with busier schedules can be even trickier to navigate than the NFL. Over in the NHL, moneyline betting is popular, as you’re simply trying to figure out which side will win the game outright without any concern about the final score or margin of victory.

Parlays and round robins can also align nicely with the NHL when the daily schedule is full. For example, let’s say you like the following NHL moneyline options:

  • Boston Bruins -170 over Montreal Canadiens
  • New York Rangers +120 over New York Islanders
  • Toronto Maple Leafs -150 over Buffalo Sabres
  • Vancouver Canucks +130 over San Jose Sharks

You’ve selected two favorites and a pair of underdogs. Depending on your stakes, you could have a profitable night of betting on them individually if just a couple go your way. If you do a four-leg parlay for all of the above, you would need to get them all correct to see a return. If you go with a round robin instead, then you’ll be able to throw together multiple combinations:

  • Bruins and Rangers
  • Bruins and Maple Leafs
  • Rangers and Maple Leafs
  • Bruins and Canucks
  • Rangers and Canucks
  • Maple Leafs and Canucks

Instead of just rolling with a single parlay bet and hoping for the best, you’re now covered with six two-team bets via the round robin. If one choice loses, you can still have a good night, while you can have an outstanding one if all goes well.

While round robin sports bets help you spread out the possibilities and potential risks, they’re not fail-safes that will lead to guaranteed returns. There’s still the possibility that you could be off the mark most or all of the time, in which case you’ll be taking a loss.

Odds and payouts for round robins

Since there are so many possible combinations, there’s no blanket answer on what the odds and payouts will look like for round robin betting. However, you can use the bet slip at any top online sportsbook app for the odds on the combos that you’re interested in.

Over at BetMGM Sportsbook, we can easily switch back and forth on wagers. If we started with a three-team NBA spread parlay and added all of our choices to the slip, it would look like this:


For this parlay, we have odds of +627. If we place a $50 bet and win, we’d get back a profit of $313.85. That would be fantastic, but it also comes with the risk that we could get back nothing if we get any of our picks wrong. If we switch over to a round robin, meanwhile, it would look like the example on the right.

If we go three for three here, we’ll win a trio of combo bets. That’ll translate into a payout of $563.32 if we risk $50 on each part of the round robin. We could still be profitable here if we only get two picks right, as opposed to coming up empty if we do the same on a parlay.

Budgeting is always important no matter what kind of bet you place, but it’s an absolute must when it comes to round robins. The cost of the bet can add up quickly, and there will still be no guarantees that you’ll at least break even or better.

As you focus on potential round robin plays, use the sportsbook’s bet slip to do the heavy lifting and calculating. You can add and remove choices with ease. Just make sure to be careful not to submit before you’re actually ready to wager.

House rules for round robin betting

For online sports betting in general, you’ll find similar rules at all legal online sportsbooks in CA. A sportsbook’s house rules serve as the final word on bet settlement and placement, as well as factors that can impact your bets.

While many rules are common across the industry, they can also vary by book. Parlays and round robins are specific areas in which there can be variances, such as in the number of legs you can include or the maximum stake the book allows.

In general, it’s a good idea to get in the habit of reviewing the rules wherever you play. When you’re ready to place some round robins at your book of choice, give that section a thorough read so you have a full understanding of all of the ins and outs.

How many round robin bets are there?

Round robins go much further than the basic two-team combos. The bet can also go by different names for other variations. Here are two of the more popular varieties:

  • Trixie: A trixie is a three-team wager that lets you cover even more bases. In addition to placing three two-team combos, it also includes a three-leg parlay for all of your choices.
  • Patent: The patent goes even further for three-teamers. You’ll get three two-team bets, a three-leg parlay and three single wagers. All told, it’s seven bets on one slip to cover your selections.

There are also round robins that can include five, six or more choices. The names can vary here as well based on the total number of bets:

  • Yankee — 11
  • Lucky 15
  • Canadian — 26
  • Lucky 31
  • Heinz — 57
  • Lucky 63
  • Super Heinz — 120
  • Lucky 127

So how many bets do these entail? If we start with the Yankee, it’s four selections and 11 bets in total: six two-team, four three-team and one four-team. If we add single wagers for all four picks, it becomes a Lucky 15.

For the Canadian, it’s five picks spread across 26 parlays, while the Lucky 31 tacks on five single wagers. As you work further down the list, you’re adding even more selections while the total number of combos and bets rises accordingly.

Note that not all of the options will be available at every sportsbook. It comes down to the individual book’s discretion, but you generally won’t have any trouble locating places to place basic round robin bets.

Tips for betting on round robins

Just like any other bet, it can take some time to get familiar with round robins. Here are some tips if you’re starting out:

  • Have a plan: Being able to cover multiple bases at once is part of the appeal of round robins. However, that doesn’t mean that you should treat them as if you’re throwing things at the wall in hopes that some will stick. As with any other wager, you should be doing your research and focusing on optimal plays. Once you have that together, decide whether a round robin makes sense.
  • Budget accordingly: If you’re betting on single games, you’ll need to stay on top of your unit size and success rate to determine profitability. You should be doing the same for round robins and any other wager. A round robin bet can quickly become expensive when you’re working with multiple choices. Take the time to make sure that you’re using the unit size that works best for your bankroll and adjust as necessary.
  • Shop for odds: Since the odds for individual games can vary depending on the sportsbook, so too can the potential returns on your round robin bets. Once you’ve found your preferred options, it’s time to compare prices from book to book. When you land on the book that’s giving you the most favorable odds for most of your picks, that’s where you should place your round robin.

Are round robins worth it?

Round robins can seem a little confusing at first glance, but they can be a solid option once you have the basics down. If you can employ them correctly and have your budgeting on point, they can certainly be worth it.

On the other hand, they can quickly become not worth it if you take a random or overly aggressive approach while wagering outside of your comfort level. Round robins can absolutely help you cover more bases, but they can also be a bankroll drain if you use them incorrectly.

For individual bettors, it comes down to your overall approach. If you already enjoy multi-leg wagers and parlays, then round robins may be for you. When starting out with them, take a cautious approach while you learn and expand as your comfort level grows.

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