Sunday, 15 September 2013

Shanghai Masters Snooker 2013 - Preview

Shanghai Masters Snooker 2013 - Preview

Stuart Bingham and Neil Robertson have to be the picks in Shanghai.

Bingham is now a very dangerous animal now he has ranking winning experience and it shows. He is not afraid of winning and is well drawn here. Only Marco Fu and Judd Trump stand in his way of a semi final spot and the 28/1 (Boylesports, BetVictor) should be snapped up.

Stuart Bingham 28/1 - No longer a journeyman and believes he can beat anyone.

In the opposite half of the draw World Number One Neil Robertson is currently playing the best snooker in the world. He has the stickability of Mark Selby but with more consistency and the 6/1 (WilliamHill) should be taken.

Sorry for the briefness of the preview but I'm away this weekend. Will be back for the Indian Open which starts on October 14 with my new blog

Good luck


Saturday, 6 July 2013

Perry to taste glory again - Australian Open Snooker 2013 Preview

The  snooker tour heads to Australia next week where on Monday, Bendigo will again host the Australian Open - the third and final year of a three year deal.

Eight top players haven't entered so the field is somewhat depleted. Players absent include John Higgins, Judd Trump, Stephen Maguire - and World Champion Ronnie O'Sullivan who has never played in the event.

Barry Hawkins is best-priced 16/1 to defend his title. But the lack of the usual really strong field will give the rookies a better chance - simply because rookies are now a lot closer to the top stars and here they haven't a wall of these top players in their quarter.

Joe Perry goes down under in a rich vein of form. Increasingly on the modern tour and especially in the Barry Hearn era of conveyor belt snooker even the journeymen are match sharp and very used to playing. This is evident with Perry who won Asian Tour One last month - beating Robert Milkins and Mark Selby on the way to the title. In addition he was clinical and more confident in Wuxi a fortnight ago until John Higgins beat him 5-2.

Perry - In good enough form to win here at a really big price.

And make no mistake this was a Higgins who looked the likely winner until Aussie Neil Robertson who is 4/1 favourite here (PaddyPower) was as hard as nails in the final. Although the Scot didn't have much run and on another day things could have been different. The 66/1 (youwin) is ridiculously big. Best elsewhere is 33/1 and although in Robertson's quarter 20/1 would still be worth a punt. Especially as Robertson has really struggled on home turf in the two previous outings.

Elsewhere Ian Burns is one of the most improved players on the circuit - he qualified for the TV stages of the Welsh Open and World Open last season.

He opens against Mark Selby who has shown recently he is no machine - and increasingly to prevail he needs to make it scrappy. Which is a shame because going for his shots he is amongst the very, very best. Selby is top drawer but it's no sadness to see him lose when he intentionally draws things out.

A lot of the time it means his opponents get frustrated (or embarrassed in front of an audience) and take on one shot too many. The Jester manages the table so well it usually means he gets the upper hand. Burns at 11/2 (Ladbrokes) to win the match is worth a punt and a small punt at 33/1 (general) to make the semi-final and so win this fourth quarter.

Ding Junhui is well drawn in quarter one and his best will probably be good enough to prevail here. We can forget his third round defeat by Perry in China two weeks ago - Perry was brilliant and Ding invariably struggles on home soil. A straight win at the 8/1 (general ) on the Chinese star as a saver is recommended.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Higgins can win in Wuxi

John Higgins was superb in winning the Bulgarian open last week in Sofia which he said was completely down to his new Exquisite cue. In the semi-finals he came from 2-0 down to beat a focused Ronnie O'Sullivan 4-2.

On that form he should be favourite and the 12/1 (Ladbrokes) is ridiculously big.

You can read my preview for here

Back to his best with his new cue and looks great at 12/1

The Wuxi Classic gets under way on Monday from Wuxi city in China. It is the first major ranking tournament of the new season and the first with the new qualifying system for most major ranking events where the top 16 start with everyone else in the last 128. Mark Selby was the first high profile casualty of this new system losing in the opening qualifying round which was played last month.

John Higgins comes here on the back of a superb performance to win the Bulgarian Open last weekend and has been priced up at a very generous 12/1 (Ladbrokes). The Scot beat Ronnie O'Sullivan in the semi final when the Rocket was looking odds on to win the event. Although O'Sullivan was desperately unlucky to pot the blue and black in the same shot when about to go 3-0 up in the best of seven match. Higgins then potted the big pressure and difficult blue and stayed on the pink to make it 2-1. Then ran out a 4-2 winner.

The Scot is reasonably drawn - but could meet Judd Trump in the last 16 if they both make it through. It must be said here that the prices are automatically longer because the seeded players have to play an extra round at the venue compared to starting out in the last 32. Trump is not without a chance but Higgins who changed his cue after the World Championship made a point of thanking his Scottish cue maker in his post match interview after winning in Sofia. In the latter stages of the event he looked as clinical and as solid as he was at his best. Really top value and in my opinion he should be favourite here although Neil Robertson heads the market at 11/2.

Milkins - He now has the belief and is no longer a wasted talent - will be dangerous this season.

Robert Milkins is another player who is turning things around. After a well documented extended period struggling with motivation he is now settled in his personal life and it shows in his snooker. He played brilliantly to beat Robertson in the opening round in Sheffield and has been clearly helped by his coach Terry Griffiths who is the best in the business. Currently at his highest ever ranking of 18 he should account for John Astley in his opener here but then faces a tricky match against current title holder Ricky Walden. But he is in the easiest half of the draw and it can then open up for him. The Gloucester player is clearly worth a saver each-way at 66/1 (general).

Ali Carter was one of the three players along with Trump and Barry Hawkins who managed to threaten O'Sullivan at the Crucible. In the second round he came back from 6-3 down to 7-7 before the Rocket pulled away to win 13-8. This showed not only how well Carter was cueing but also his form and belief and he has won in China before - lifting the Shanghai Masters in 2010. He comes here well drawn starting out against Alfie Burden and the 20/1 each -way (BETVICTOR, youwin) is also worth a saver.

Good luck.


Friday, 19 April 2013

O'Sullivan's best should still be good enough

World Championship Snooker starts Saturday morning at the Crucible
Theatre in Sheffield where Ronnie O'Sullivan returns to try and defend
his title. The Rocket hasn't played competitive snooker since his
triumph last May bar a first round defeat in PTC3 in September. This
is the main reason that bookmakers didn't immediately make him
favourite when he confirmed his participation at the end of February.

Following the announcement layers chalked him up at 8/1 and he has
since shortened to 13/2 (youwin,betway) and this is still way too big.

You can read my preview for here

Some commentators suggest that he'll be ring rusty - especially
against fellow professionals hardened by the massive amount of snooker
on the tour. This applies to most but not necessarily to the
exceptional talent of O'Sullivan.

To help prepare himself he has been practicing with Judd Trump and
Peter Ebdon - who after getting beat 5-1 in three best of nine frame
practice matches where the Rocket made six centuries said it was
ridiculous that he was offered at 8/1. Ebdon said he should be a very
short-priced favourite. In addition Stephen Hendry, Mark Selby and
Jimmy White have all gone on record recently to say if there is one
player who can do it after such a lengthy layoff it's O'Sullivan.

Rocket is at his most dangerous when he has a point to prove

The only doubter in public is World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn who
as ever has played a very shrewd hand. Firstly he went to press to
suggest there was so much interest in the return of the Rocket that
his management should have sorted something out for his reappearance
by getting a new sponsor on board - this was announced at the press
conference that confirmed his return. Since then Hearn has been
playing down his chances of defending the title saying that all the
other players are match sharp and if he won then it would be one of
the greatest achievements in sport. He had his tongue firmly in his

Hearn knows full well that his comments will only serve to increase
the Rocket's determination - if he needed any and consequently a good
run from O'Sullivan or a win would see viewing figures and the
marketability of the game increase even further.

Barry Hearn - Has intentionally wound the Rocket up so he tries his socks off

It must be noted too that when O'Sullivan delivers it happens most
when he is a bigger price. Last year here he prevailed at the
pre-tournament 8/1 and in the Premier League 2011 Ladbrokes went a
ridiculous 7/2 when he'd won six of the previous seven runnings of the
event. O'Sullivan even at the current 13/2 is a very strong tip.

It's great for snooker and this tournament that he is back playing.
But if he wins what next? He could decide to take another break. The
tour would then be seen as a bit second division because for the
second year running the World Champion wouldn't be playing. But
nothing would amuse him more even though he has said he needs regular
snooker again.

With the current standard it would be a truly exceptional achievement
but he likes raising the bar to test himself. His recent comments
about it could be car crash snooker and his expectations aren't very
high can be taken with a pinch of salt. He wants this very badly and
this is another reason why he should be piled into.

The Rocket opens against Marcus Campbell who is a good draw although
O'Sullivan is in a tough quarter that features form horses Ali Carter
and Stuart Bingham.

The other player in this top half of the draw who is the biggest
danger is Judd Trump. Slightly off the radar recently but in the World
Open last month he played the best snooker I've seen all season until
a bizarre tip incident ruined his chances in the last eight against
Matthew Stevens. A saver on Trump is recommended at 15/2 (youwin,
betway) and I think the winner will come from these two. They are
seeded to meet in the semi-final and if they both make it O'Sullivan
should win. Trump has too much respect for the Rocket and would be
unable to dig deep enough in a best of 33 frame match to have a real

Judd Trump - In the World Open produced the best snooker of the season

There are only two players who are currently strong enough to cope
with O'Sullivan firing on all cylinders - Mark Selby and Neil
Robertson. Selby is the king of shot for nothing and this means that
you get more protracted bouts of safety play and scrappy frames. But
when it comes to crunch time he can deliver and showed a welcome
return to form when runner-up in the China Open earlier this month.

He did need some success after his split with manager Mukesh Parmar at
the turn of the year and he did win the Masters but the standard
wasn't high. He now comes here with renewed confidence but hasn't
inspired backer's enough recently to recommend. In addition this
bottom quarter includes PTC Grand Finals winner Ding Junhui and World
Open champion Mark Allen.

Robertson comes here as the form player. In the last seven ranking
tournaments plus the Masters he has reached the semi-finals or better
in six events. This is a remarkable statistic and illustrates he is a
real contender but we can't back three of the top four in the betting.
It's no coincidence that the four shortest priced players -
O'Sullivan, Trump, Robertson and Selby at around the 13/2 - 15/2 mark
feature in separate quarters of the draw.

In the third quarter betting market Crucible debutant Michael White
continues to impress and is worth a small punt to win his quarter at
20/1 (General). He opens against compatriot Mark WIlliams who is
really struggling and whose time may have passed. White beat Andrew
Higginson 10-4 in the final qualifying round last weekend and it will
help him settle that he is playing a fellow Welshman.

In quarter four another first timer Jack Lisowski is also worth a punt
at 14/1. He made the last eight in the China Open and only lost by the
odd frame to Shaun Murphy. But it was the manner that he played which
impressed - without fear, still playing quickly but at the same time
with control. He fancies himself as a tournament winner and it's
unlikely to be here but we'll have a small punt outright each-way at
50/1 (General) just in case. He is definitely a first round opponent
the seeds wanted to avoid and Barry Hawkins has his hands full.

Jack Lisowski - rightly fancies himself and isn't scared of winning

I was at the qualifiers in Sheffield last weekend and in the match
betting two players stand out as value. Mark Davis would have been
seeded here but for O'Sullivan's return. His opponent John Higgins has
struggled since Christmas although the Scot has been working hard. But
Davis has had a great season including a semi-final spot in the UK
Championship and he beat an in-form Liang Wenbo 10-6 to make it here.
The 3/1 (Boylesports, Ladbrokes) for a Davis win is a must.

Selby can be a bit tentative first up and his opponent here Matt Selt
who is also a debutant impressed in his final qualifier to win 10-9
against Ken Doherty - after being pegged back to 9-9 from 9-4 up. The
massive 6/1 about Selt (General) is again too big.

Any questions/comments feel free and good luck.


Saturday, 23 March 2013

China Open Snooker 2013 - Preview

Carter to fly in China

China Open snooker gets under way on Monday in Beijing where Judd
Trump is installed 6/1 favourite. Last years winner Peter Ebdon is an
80/1 chance.

You can read my preview for here

Ali Carter is worth following here at the generous 25/1 (General).
Just pipped by Martin Gould this week in Championship League Snooker
he said he was gutted to lose but it was the CLS winners group and
Gould was on fire.

The Captain won the German Masters last month when I tipped him at
25/1 to prevail. He withdrew from the World Open four weeks ago for
well documented medical reasons but is well drawn here - opening
against Jamie Cope or the wildcard Zhao Xintong. He beat John Higgins
in the Players Tour Championship Finals in Ireland last week and
started well in the last 16 against Marco Fu but then missed a simple
pink and from then it went downhill.

Ali Carter - Cueing better than ever.

I'm not usually one for continuing to follow a player when they've
recently delivered the goods but he is peaking at the right time in
the run-up to Sheffield. So we'll take the captain at a big price to
get deep into the tournament - he is good enough.

I also tipped Trump in the World Open. Suddenly he has developed an
all round measured game and was looking the likely winner until he
opened his cue case at the start of his quarter-final against Matthew
Stevens. His tip had suddenly mushroomed and become unplayable. It was
a bizarre occurrence.

Players have fifteen minutes to replace a tip but you need at least a
few hours practice to be really comfortable with a new one. Not so
much for the potting because most are played plain ball with the white
drilled into the object ball with stun so any side doesn't affect the
line of the cue ball too much.

But for positional play and long safety shots where the white has
decelerated before reaching the object ball and hence rolling on it's
own plane then this is where you need to be able to accurately gauge
the sideways movement. One mistake at this level can mean frame over.

Immediately with this new tip you could see Trump guessing and in the
circumstances he did well to only lose 5-3. But before this incident
he had motored through his first two matches and was looking the
likely winner. On that form he can close here and he has a good record
in this event - lifting the title in 2011 and making the
quarter-finals last year.

He opens in this second quarter against good friend Jack Lisowski or
the wildcard Zhou Yuelong who is no pushover. The 6/1 (General) about
Trump should be backed as a saver.

Mark Selby split from his long time manager Mukesh Parmar before the
German Masters and this has coincided with a marked change in fortunes
for the Jester from Leicester. He went through a purple patch either
side of Christmas when he lifted the UK Championship, European Tour
Event 6 and the Masters. Although to be fair he was in danger of
monopolising the tour when most commmentators including myself know
that can't really happen - the gap between the top players and the
pack is much narrower and the standard is so much higher.

Yet he is desperate for more success now that he is managing himself
to confirm it's been a good move. But the longer he goes without a
title will definitely make him more edgy. This will be especially
difficult for a player who is so used to winning and he's best left
alone for now.

Anthony McGill is on the verge of a breakthrough to the big time. He
came back well against Ding Junhui in the second round of the PTC
Grand Finals last week only to lose in a decider. He is a potential
big time player with tons of self belief. To make it through to the
main event here McGill beat Gould and he should make it past wildcard
Heydari Nezhad Ehsan.

Anthony McGill - Has bottle and belief

But he has a really hard first round match against title contender
Mark Allen although he is strong enough to deliver on the big stage
and he can make it through. Then he would probably face Neil Robertson
so he has it really tough. But he has enough confidence to fancy
winning and in these best of nine matches if you have the bottle and
get the odd roll here and there then you've every chance unless your
opponent plays flawless snooker. The Scot is worth a small punt
each-way at 150/1 with Boylesports.

in the match betting Barry Hawkins has to be worth a punt against Ding
Junhui. The Chinese star was superb when winning the PTC Finals last
weekend and we saw more emotion from him after this win than he
usually displays. Simply because he had to dig so deep to give himself
a chance in the final against Neil Robertson after being three down
with four to play.

But his recent record in China is very poor because he really feels
the additional pressure of the massive home support. Of the four
ranking events held in China so far this season he has won only three
matches. Hawkins is very consistent and since lifting his first
ranking title - the Australia Open last summer he is a danger to
anyone and the 9/4 (BETVICTOR) to win the match is too big. The draw
could then open up for him too so the 50/1 (Sky Bet, Boylesports) is
worth a small each-way outright punt.