Round-Robin Sports Betting [Definition and Strategies]

Every bettor does it once in awhile; makes a huge parlay bet with almost no chances of winning but a payout too irresistible to refuse. The problem with these types of bets arise due to the impracticality of making them regularly.

Since regular parlay bets have such low odds, a player should never expect them to become a successful, long-term option of betting. This is where round-robin betting comes in as a sort of middle man between straight bets and parlays.

We have already talked about parlay betting in a couple of previous articles. We discussed some of the tips and strategies for making them as well as some pros and cons to using them. Round robin bets exist, however, as a specific strategy within parlay betting that has become known as a separate style of betting.

This is a simple to understand, difficult to implement sector of parlay betting that looks to increase regular profits that you would get from straight betting, while at the same time minimizing the risk that is undertaken with regular parlays. 

How Round Robin Bets Work

The obvious difference between betting parlays and round robins is that in round robins there will be multiple parlay bets (at least three teams in each) instead of one and will most likely be much smaller than a regular parlay, although there is no limit to how many teams can be placed in a round-robin bet.

The main difference however is that each of the round-robin parlays that you make will directly correlate with the others. This is because you will use the same teams for all the different parlays. The team’s outcomes will not change between the round robins.

For example, if you decide to bet on the spread for the New Orleans Saints +6.5, this exact same bet will appear in two of your round robins. If you choose to include three teams, you will have six round robin bets. If four teams, eight bets and so on. 

What is Round Robin in Betting

Let’s go through an example of putting a round robin bet together:

Say, you have chosen your three teams, you will take the Saints +6.5, Falcons -3.5, and the Jets +7.5. Since we have decided on three teams we will be making three round-robin bets. Each team will make two appearances. 

One of your round robin bets will include the Saints +6.5 and the Jets +7.5. Another will include the Saints +6.5 and the Falcons -3.5. The final round robin bet will include the Falcons -3.5 and the Jets +7.5. As you can see here, if only one of the teams lose or fail to cover their spread, one of the round robins will win.

Round Robin 1

Saints +6.5, Falcons -3.5

Round Robin 2

Saints +6.5, Jets +7.5

Round Robin 3

Falcons -3.5, Jets +7.5

Although one out of three will not seem like a big win, if you select sufficient odds you will still be making an overall profit. Selecting sufficient odds is essential for making round robin bets.

If you are picking teams with chances to win at -150 than you may as well just make a regular parlay, because if one team losses with those odds you are already losing money. However, if you are betting on NFL spreads than you should face no problems, since the standard odds would be -110 (1.91) for each game. 

Now comes the elementary math that is associated with any sports bet. This is the best part of betting for the smart man, even better than winning because doing this little arithmetic is your own private chess game against the bookmaker.

The process to figure out how much money you will make and how much you can get away with and still earn a profit. In this case, we will be trying to get away with losing one out of three games and hoping it will still add money to our bank. Let us take a look at how the math works out to make this possible. 

Round Robin Betting Strategy

In this example we will be spending $5 on each of our previously stated three bets. The odds for each of our round robins will be 3.6581 (1.91*1.91). So, for one round robin win, we will expect to make a profit of 18.2405.

Now we already know that these round robins will be profitable for us because the profit of one round robin is above $15, or the total amount we will stake on all three. 

Therefore we can safely lose one game, and by default two round robins, and still have a possibility of making a profit. This is already a lot safer option then making a parlay bet. How many times have you come so close to winning a parlay only to lose by one game?

If the answer is none, then just trust us that it happens. A lot. The best news is that the formula works, so it does not matter how much money you stake. Putting $10 on each of the round robins and you will finish with a profit of $36.40 for losing only one game with a total stake of $30. 

Of course in the first example, if you are to win all three of the games, you would walk away with a profit of $54.72. Lose two or more games and your entire stake will be gone. Of course you will still be taking a risk, but a significantly smaller one than a regular parlay with higher inflated payouts than straight bets.

It really is a perfect middle ground wager. Especially if you are betting on NFL spreads or college football games, as these markets are usually easier to predict than others. Any other sports will likely be more difficult to find value, as there are not standard odds for spread betting in every sport.

If you are not getting odds that are sufficient, you could end up making pointless round robins where even if one game loses you will not make a profit. 

How the Numbers Work

However, just as with parlay betting there is a certain limit to the number of teams you are including where it starts to become less profitable to make these bets instead of just making straight bets. With parlays the most profit lies in those that have only two or three teams.

The problem is as you increase the total teams and the number of teams in each parlay you will soon start having to make a lot more bets due to the massive number of nominations available. The formula we used earlier will not apply with these new variables. We will have to use the new one which will not be on your side. 

Taking eight total teams and putting them into four-team parlays gives us a staggering 70 different combinations. Even if you are only wagering $10 on each of the round robins, you will have to immediately shell out $700 just for this one bet.

Taking eight total teams and putting them into four-team parlays gives us a staggering 70 different combinations. Even if you are only wagering $10 on each of the round robins, you will have to immediately shell out $700 just for this one bet.

The odds for each round robin (assuming that we are betting the standard NFL spread bets),would be at 13.31, or a profit of $133.10 for each. The problem that we run into is that if one team loses now, we are already losing a significant number of round robins.

Add in the fact that we are not expecting the remaining seven games all to hit (or else we would just make a parlay), so we can factor in a a few additional teams losing as well. Odds of -110  do only have a probability of 52.4%.

If you lose one less at five, your entire bet will be lost. Going 4-4 would only see the player returning a fraction of their original stake.  


The main appeal of making a round robin bet is the fact that even if one of the teams you selected does not win your bet, you can still make money if the other two succeed. So you are increasing your payout and at the same time essentially giving yourself a risk-free bet.

These are especially popular for NFL and college football games, but can be done for any sport. Some bookmakers will even offer software for the player to automatically put together round robin bets, due to their increasing popularity.  They are a good strategic wager if you understand the main few points.

Adding too many teams and round robins to your bet will eventually lead to the odds crushing you. When putting together a round robin bet, you must make sure that the odds given for your picks are significant enough to earn you a profit on their own.

And always be sure to pick up bets that you truly believe to have a good shot at actually winning. This is true for any bet, but too many times people are putting together parlays or round robins and only look at high odds to get a bigger payout.

Finding balance between the odds and the probability of an outcome is how players will make their money over long periods of time. Once you start putting them together in practice, you will naturally start to better understand how they work and different nuances about them that work for you.

I would suggest that if you are a complete beginner that you start by focusing on straight wagers and maybe throw a parlay or two just for fun and experience.

Doing this will give you a better understanding of both types of bets and will prepare you to move in to the ultimate middle ground between both, round robin betting.