What Is a Round Robin Bet? Examples, Meaning & Definition

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

Have you ever gone to place a parlay and seen the option for a round robin, but weren’t sure what it meant? 

A round robin bet in sports betting allows a sports bettor to create a smaller set of parlays from a larger list of teams or players. Essentially, rather than relying on all five legs of the crazy parlay you cooked up to hit, you can break them down into smaller bets to try and win at least one of the parlays. 

Let’s break down everything you need to know about round robin bets, and why they aren’t the best way to become a profitable sports bettor. 

How Do Round Robin Bets Work?  

As mentioned above, a round robin bet is a series of parlays that are created from a larger list of bets. 

The reason these smaller parlays are called round robins is because of the form of tournament, round robin, where every team gets to play every other team in the group. In this case, every pick in the larger list of bets is paired in some way with the other bets in order to give a bettor options. 

Whenever you place multiple games into your bet slip at a sportsbook, it will give you the option to turn them into round robin picks. As you add more teams to the slip, there will be more and more combinations to use when making these bets.

Here’s how the round robin feature looks at WynnBET Sportsbook:

Say you decide to pick three different teams to bet on. The sportsbook will automatically create three two-pick parlays. 

However, as you add more teams, the combinations will grow. 

If you increase your list to five teams, you will be able to create:

  • 10 two-team parlays
  • 10 three-team parlays
  • 5 four-team parlays
  • 1 five-team parlay

The more teams that you add to the slip, the more combinations that are possible for round robin bets. 

Round Robin Example in Sports Betting

Let’s break down a round robin where you decide to pick three teams that ends up creating three separate two-team parlays. 

  • Timberwolves -7 vs. Pistons
  • Spurs +4.5 vs. Heat
  • Warriors -13.5 vs. Kings

If you wanted to risk $10 on each combination, here’s what the breakdown would look like:

If all three teams cover the spread, your $30 risk would net you $78 since each of the two-team parlays hit. 

However, instead of parlaying all three teams where all three legs need to hit to win, you can still win if only two teams hit. 

Let’s say only the Warriors and Spurs cover the spread in this parlay. 

You would inw $26 for the Warriors-Spurs leg, but lose $20 for the other two legs failing to hit. That means you net a $6 profit. 

However, if only one team or none of the teams cover, you will lose all of your round robin parlays. 

Which Round Robin Combinations Should You Take?

Round robin betting is tricky, and it can be a slippery slope as you add more teams. 

It really depends on how confident you are in your picks, but betting on a large number of games in an NFL or college football slate could be beneficial. Using several two-team or three-team parlays after picking around five teams can be a strong strategy, but bettors need to beware that there is a chance none of the parlays hit if more than half the teams fail to cover. 

Are Round Robin Bets Good Bets?

Similar to parlays, round robins are not a great way to become a profitable sports bettor. 

When betting on spreads in any sport, going 2-1 would likely mean that you came away with a solid profit, but with round robin bets, as we saw above, you only make a little more than breaking even.

That’s the risk with round robin betting. While you can profit more by parlaying the picks together, you can also lose even if one of your picks ends up hitting. 

Betting on round robins can also be expensive as there are several combinations that you will need to put money on depending how many picks are added to the round robin. 

However, when betting underdogs on the moneyline, it can make sense to use round robin bets.

In this case, they’re almost guaranteed that they won’t all hit, but at least you are improving your odds of cashing in on a bigger payout by diversifying how you match certain games up together. 

While it is always fun to hit on a parlay or round robin, bettors need to understand that there is risk involved in betting on so many different combinations. 

Round Robins Nicknames: Explaining What a Trixie, Patent, Yankee and Canadian Are

Here are some round robin nicknames, which come from horse betting.

Trixie – Four Total Bets

  • 3 two-team parlays
  • 1 three-team parlay

Patent – Seven Total Bets, Including Single Bets

  • 3 two-team parlays
  • 1 three-team parlay
  • 3 single bets

Here are a few more round robin options that depend on the number of teams you choose to make your bets on. 

  • Yankee (11 bets)
  • Canadian (26 bets)
  • Heinz (57 bets) – requires six teams for the 57 options

If you add singles to these bets, that is when the names can change. For example, a Yankee is 11 bets, but if you add the four singles it is called a Lucky 15. The same goes for a Canadian (five bets) as the singles make it a Lucky 31. 

So, are you still interested in round robin betting? It can be a way to grab some favorable odds in a parlay, but bettors must beware of the risk involved in doing so.

Learn more about sports betting in the US in our Sports Betting Education guide.