Learn to Bet on Sports – What is a Round Robin?

If you have heard the term “round robin,” you are probably thinking some kind of tournament. In betting parlance, round robin means something similar yet different.

Round robin in sports betting refers to a series of smaller parlays that are created from a larger list of bets. In the round robin tournament, you are probably aware that each team plays every other team in its group.

A round robin bet is similar. You can select multiple games to bet and your sportsbook will give you the option of creating a round robin. Essentially, you are picking parlay combinations. The more games you add; the more parlay combinations that can be created.

Round Robin Example

You can set up a simple round robin by selecting three teams which allows you to create three separate two-team parlays.

Take Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season as an example. You like the Chiefs -10 over the Texans, the Patriots -8 over Miami, and Baltimore -8.5 over the Cleveland Browns. You wager $10 on each parlay combination.

            Chiefs -10        

            Patriots -7.5      $10 wager

            Chiefs -10

            Ravens -8.5       $10 wager

            Patriots -7.5

            Ravens -8.5       $10 wager


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Assuming +160 odds on all three wagers, your $10 wager would payout $26. The most ideal scenario is that all three teams cover the spread. If they do, you would win all three parlays for a total of $78 ($26 X 3).

If Kansas City and New England cover but Baltimore does not, you would win one parlay ($26) and would net $6 (win $26 but lose $10 each on the other parlays for a total of $20).

In the event that only one team covers, you would lose all three parlays and your $30.

Round Robin Strategies

In many cases, round robin bets are simply bad. Trying to string together a number of wins on NFL point spreads is extremely difficult.

There is one strategy that does work for round robins. It involves betting underdogs on the moneyline and is best suited for college football.

Because of the variance in team strength in college football, it is possible to find a number of underdogs that could win straight up. Picking five to eight of these games can be turned into a series of round robin bets.

Take the following example from the 2019 season.

LSU +180 vs. Alabama

Illinois +495 vs. Michigan State

Western Kentucky -105 vs. Arkansas

Kansas State +235 vs. Texas

San Jose State +230 vs. Hawaii

Louisville +215 vs. Miami

With these six games, you can select a number of different combinations like 15 two-team parlays or 20 three-team parlays.

A three-team parlay with LSU, Illinois, and Western Kentucky would have paid off as all three teams were winners. The other three teams – Kansas State, San Jose State, and Louisville – did not win. Any combination those teams were involved in was a loss.


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Round Robin Terminology

When you visit a sportsbook, you might see some betting slang that refers to round robin bets. These terms are borrowed from horse racing. A Trixie is one.

A Trixie is made up of three two-team parlays and one three-team parlays. It is a total of four bets.

A Patent is similar to a Trixie, but includes single wagers. A Patent consists of three two-team parlays, one three-team parlay, and three single wagers. It is a total of seven bets.

There are sportsbooks that will allow round robin options such as the Heinz and the Canadian. When you pick five games for a round robin, you can make a total of 26 parlays (10 two-team, 10, three-team, five four-team, and one five-team). That is called a Canadian.

Picking six teams gives you 57 parlay combinations. That is called a Heinz.  

There are other terms as well which you will become more familiar with as you dive into the world of round robin bets.

About the Author

A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.

His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.

When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.