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A round robin is a type of sports bet that breaks down a larger group of bet selections into a series of smaller parlays. It typically covers every combination of outcomes possible, hence why some consider it an effective hedging strategy for sports betting.
Most sportsbooks will automatically generate round robins based on your selections, saving you the hassle of having to create dozens of parlays manually.
Let’s say you think the Lakers, Celtics, and Knicks will all win and choose to make a round robin from these picks. The sportsbook will create 3 two-team parlay combinations, as follows:
- Lakers + Celtics
- Lakers + Knicks
- Celtics + Knicks
If one of the teams doesn’t win, such as the Knicks, each parlay that features them is counted as a loss. On the bright side, however, you still would win one of the parlays (Lakers + Celtics), assuming they both win.
This is probably a lot to take in at once, so the rest of our round robin guide will show you everything you need to know about round robin betting including exactly how they work, examples, if they are good bets, and how to place them.
How Does a Round Robin Bet Work?
Round robin bets got their name from the round robin tournament format in sports. It is a competition where all the teams play each other at least once. Those who have the best records move on to the next round.
With sports betting, you take all your selections and group them into multiple parlays to include all possible combinations of events.
The payouts differ based on the stake for each combination and the number of included teams. The more teams you add, the more parlay combinations the sportsbook will generate, and the bigger the chance you’ll have of winning at least one parlay.
Round robin bets must consist of at least three teams, although the upper limit is fully customizable. In theory, there is no cap on how many games you can include. At most sportsbooks, 3 to 10 teams are allowed.
A full cover round robin bet with 5 teams would amount to 26 total possible combinations, including:
- 10 two-team parlays
- 10 three-team parlays
- 5 four-team parlays
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Round Robin Bet Example
Being a fairly complex concept, round robin bets are best understood through real-life examples. So, the following chart is an actual 4-team NFL round robin bet that we made at FanDuel Sportsbook:
We can break down this round robin bet into 11 possible parlay combinations, including 6 two-team parlays, 4 three-team parlays, and a 4-leg parlay.
Sportsbooks will typically allow you to bet on a single of these groupings (such as 4 three-team parlays) or all of them if you want.
Since wagering on all these outcomes would be too pricey, we opted for two-way parlays only and staked $10 for each, totaling $60.
Here’s a chart that shows the projected payout based on how many parlays hit:
- If no parlays hit: $60 loss
- If 1 parlay hits: $23.76 loss
- If 2 parlays hit: $12.48 profit
- If 3 parlays hit: $48.72 profit
- If 4 parlays hit: $84.96 profit
- If 5 parlays hit: $121.20 profit
- If 6 parlays hit: $157.44 profit
Are Round Robin Good Bets?
Round robin bets carry one distinct advantage over standard parlays—they’re easier to hit. With parlays, there’s no margin for error. If only one of your selections comes up short, the entire parlay is lost, regardless of how many of them you got right.
It’s understandable why some casual players would combine two or more moneyline, spread, or total bets into a parlay and opt for the all-or-nothing approach as the payouts can be truly massive. But most of the time, the risk is not worth the reward.
Round robins mitigate some of that risk because they aren't contingent on hitting every single pick. They require a larger investment than traditional parlays but reduce the chances of a total loss.
That’s not to say that round robins aren’t risky endeavors in and of their own because you still have to win most of your picks in order to turn a profit.
In that light, round robins typically make the most sense in less competitive sports with higher variance. For instance, you can take 6 to 8 underdogs or longshots and spread them as much as possible in a round robin bet. That way, you’ll score a nice payday if a few of those teams pull an upset.
How to Place a Round Robin Bet
To place a round robin bet, simply add the markets you like to your betslip and select the “round robin” option (which most sportsbooks offer nowadays).
The sportsbook will next automatically generate all possible parlay combinations.
If you choose 3 teams, the sportsbook will create a round robin that consists of 3 two-leg parlays. These will be labeled as “By 2’s” or “2-pick”, depending on the site.
If you add another team to the mix, the operator will produce 6 “By 2’s” and 4 “By 3’s” (or “3-pick”) combinations of 3-team parlays.
Once you construct your round robin, you’ll need to put in the stake before submitting the bet. Note that the amount you enter will pertain to the stake of each individual parlay combination. So, if it’s $2 on 10 parlay combinations, the total risk would be $20.
This is an important note. You have to be sure to check the total amount you are wagering before hitting submit. In the example in the last paragraph, if you only wanted to bet a total of $100 but accidentally put in $100 for each parlay, you would end up risking $1,000.
All of the above assumes the sportsbook utilizes software that allows bettors to automatically create round robins, which is most commonly the case. On the off chance that it doesn’t, you’ll have to construct your round robin manually, which would take a long time.
If your sportsbook doesn’t offer round robin betting, there’s likely better options out there for you to bet with anyway.
Names for Types of Round Robin Bets
Round robin bets have several variations, depending on the format and the sportsbook in question. Let’s check out the most common ones:
- Trixie. 4 bets on 3 selections, including two By 2’s and two By 3’s.
- Patent. The same as Trixie but also involves 4 additional single wagers.
- Yankee. 11 bets on 4 selections, including six By 2’s, four By 3’s, and 4-leg parlay.
- Lucky 15. 15 bets on 4 selections. It includes four single bets, six By 2’s, four By 3’s, and a 4-leg parlay.
- Canadian. 26 bets on 5 selections. It consists of ten By 2’s, ten By 3’s, five 4-leg parlays, and one 5-leg parlay.
- Heinz. This is a major step up from the aforementioned round robins as it includes 57 different bets on 6 selections. It requires huge investment but can lead to massive payouts if many of your individual selections win.
- Lucky 63. As the name suggests, this bet involves 63 bets on 6 different selections.
- Super Heinz. A bulked-up version of the Heinz bet, consisting of 120 bets over 7 selections.
- Lucky 127. Features 127 parlay combinations in total.
Round Robins vs Parlays
The most apparent difference between these two types of combo bets is that a parlay is essentially one wager consisting of multiple selections. To win, all legs from a parlay must be successful. Round robins feature multiple smaller parlays as opposed to just a single one.