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Round Robin Bets

Sports-Betting: What is a Round Robin Bet?

By Loot, Sports Handicapper,

In short, a round robin is when you pick a group of teams and parlay all of them (See article: How Parlays Work), covering all the different possible combinations. Basically, you pick how many teams you want to include in the round robin, then determine what kind of parlay you will make. So there are three choices--which teams you will use, how many teams you want in each parlay, and how much you want to bet.

Let’s start with an easy example. You pick three NFL teams to include in your round robin. You want to make 2-team parlays. Your teams are Pittsburgh -4.5, Oakland +3, and Carolina +5.5. The different combinations will be Pittsburgh and Oakland, Oakland and Carolina, and Pittsburgh and Carolina. That means you will have 3 separate parlays combining the three different teams. So if you made a $100 round robin in this example, you would be betting $300, being that there are 3 separate plays. A two-team parlay would pay $260, so if all three teams cover the spread, you would win $780, while of course receiving your bet amount back, as well.

It’s just a way to combine all the teams in an easy way. If one team doesn’t cover the spread, you are still alive with the other two teams. If two of your three teams do not cover, you can’t win. That was an easy example. It can get a little complicated the more teams you choose or depending on what number of teams you play on the parlay.

This is a lot easier to fathom when betting against the spread. The parlays when betting ATS are paid according to a pre-determined payout schedule. When betting on a sport without point-spreads, like baseball, the payouts will be determined by the different odds attributed to the different teams. But when betting on sports like football of basketball, the parlays pay a fixed amount.

Parlays have a well-deserved reputation of being problematic and are generally avoided by the top sports-bettors. There are many reasons behind that, including the relatively extravagant juice (bookie commission) attached to parlay wagers. In addition, when a good sports-bettor makes a wager, he doesn’t like to have that bet’s success tied to whether another bet wins. In round robins, having one team lose can render the better picks you made moot.

Looking at the above NFL round robin example, you see that you can win 2 out of the three games and end up barely ahead. If your teams are Pittsburgh, Oakland, and Carolina and you round robin those 3 teams for 2-team parlays, it will cost you $300. If one team loses, you will only win one of the 3 parlays for $260 plus getting $100 of your bet back for a $60 win. When you’re hitting 67% winners, you should be doing a little better than that.

The parameters for making round robins is that you must include 3 teams at a minimum. The smallest team parlay you can make is the lowest available, which is two teams. But you can go as high as 8 teams, making parlays that include as many as 6 teams. A 3-team round robin based around two-team parlays makes it so you’re making what amounts to three different parlays. When going with the max of 8 teams and making 4-team parlays, you will in effect be making a staggering 70 different parlays, meaning a $100 round robin would cost you a hefty 7 grand.

If you’re having a hot week, a round robin is a good way to maximize your total profit. When you hit all or most of your games, the profits can be staggering when making an elaborate round robin wager. There is naturally a flip-side to that coin. If some of your teams falter, it mucks up all your other bets. It’s hard enough to just lose a game, without having it poison a ton of other wagers.

If you’re in Vegas once every couple years and want to throw up a bit of a hail-mary, who’s to say playing a round robin is wrong? But if you’re serious about sports-betting, this probably isn’t a route you want to take very often. It’s a speculative bet where a lot has to go right and the juice is a lot more than if you were just making straight bets against-the-spread.

If you have problems picking winners, we recommend that you check out our Free Weekly NFL Picks. They're always 100% FREE to our readers and always come with analysis.

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