January 6, 2011

The Masters Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:23 pm

All the girls love a fag.

OK, first thing’s first, I love the Masters. The memories it evokes in me range from Jimmy’s win over Kirk with his bendy pink and black after the white-suited ones magical 147, Alex beating the Nugget when many thought he was over the hill and Steve was nigh on unbeatable to Paul Hunter’s Plan B and Selby’s dramatic win over Ronnie last year.

It’s what I think top class snooker is all about, a simple format, one table, increased levels of tension and pressure and nowhere to hide. No need for gimmicks, if you win this you have worked for it and proved to all that you have got bottle. I’m also glad that Bazza has decided to ditch the wildcard round as I think this devalued the event a little personally.

Many still refer to this as the Benson and Hedges Masters, the ‘B&H’ or the ‘Bensons’ and I have to say that this association led to one of my less wise decisions when I was an impressionable, forelorn, misunderstood teenager with only Morrissey inside my head to talk to.

Despite the odd flicker of interest and awkward fumble, my luck with girls wasn’t to truly come to fruition until my early twenties so in a wild rush of youth I decided one day that I’d take up smoking to look cool and what cooler brand to be associated with than one with a golden packet? They would be falling at my feet in days I was so rebellious, or so I thought.

Now, I have to be careful to not divulge where I acquired my first box of ten from as my Mum is going on a ‘Silver Surfers’ internet course this week at the local library and I think she has every intention of checking up on what her youngest offspring has been up to all these months, I just hope she doesn’t start telling me off in the comments section. So suffice to say I acquired them with all the tactical acumen that some years later would see me squeeze over a grands worth of bets from the bookies for faithful followers of the blog.

As I said, this proved to be one of my stupidest ever pieces of decision making, even worse than when I recommended a bet on Sam Baird to beat Joe Delaney and he lost 10-0, as within the space of one puff of this stick of girl bait I was feeling a little unwell, within two I wondered what the attraction was to ‘certain types of girl’ that young teenage lads can find fascinating and by puff three I decided that this wasn’t the way to go and went back to my snooker books and 6×3 table to do line-ups (not the Kirk Stevens type I hasten to add). So, the marketing at least, did not work on me.

But thankfully, one vice I continued with unabated was betting and that’s what we’re all here for. So let’s get on with the preview. Match by match and an outright staking plan are all contained for your consideration below. These previews have mustered quite a few winners in the past, in fact from all the major events we have only missed one when Ali won in Shanghai.

So let’s see if we can collectively bash the bookies again shall we?

Remember there is also still time to get involved for a £5 contribution to the Great Blog Bet Pot, just click the minxy Liverpudlian blonde girl holding a pint on the sidebar for details or email [email protected].

Mark Selby v Mark King (Sunday 1.30pm)

Head to Heads: Selby 5-2

The opening match sees the holder Selby accompanied by his new grown up haircut and natty suit tackling the potentially tricky customer Mark ‘The Royal’ King in his new mansize babygrow. Selby has won the last five meetings between the two after old Baldy Bonce derailed his hopes of a decent Crucible run in 2008 at the first stop. It is kind of like the Jester has never forgiven him for that and King has not really got near him since. The Hotstepper tends to beat opponents that ‘he shouldn’t’ when they underestimate him, but Selby doesn’t do that as he knows what happens if he does from bitter experience. There is absolutely no reason to believe that anything other than a repeat of the last five encounters will happen here. Selby loves this venue, should not let the added focus of a title defence put him off and I’d dare say he will win with a bit in hand. But the prices are only for big players and rather than risk the bank on the result you can get slightly better odds on the Jester making the highest break of the match if you really want a bet on this. I won’t be. It’s fair to say that if King (who on current seeding projections would not even be here) wins we may be in for a bumpy ride this week as Selby is probably the bet of the round and is my main selection for the title.

Shaun Murphy v Jamie Cope (Wednesday 7pm)

Head to Heads: Murphy 4-2

If you discount Cope’s 3-2 win over Murphy today at Crondon Park, the last 2 meetings between these two have been 5-0 either way. Smurf making light work of Jamie in Shanghai in 2009 to pay him back for a drubbing in the Welsh Open two seasons earlier. Formwise, neither of these two to me are setting the world alight at the moment. I have long alluded to Murphy’s tendency to ‘flatter to deceive’, in that he seems to look like a winner more often than he actually is one. Cope has finally broken into the top 16 and has taken full advantage of the ranking points that were on offer in the early season by playing in everything. I have always been an admirer of his but it’s now getting to the point where he has to start proving his potential in big company, something he just doesn’t do very often at the venues where he can sometimes resemble a rabbit in the headlights, so by virtue of that and despite their match on Thursday I have to stick with Murphy.

Recommended Bet: 2 points win Shaun Murphy at 1/2 (Victor Chandler)

Ding: No pushover.

Mark Williams v Ding Junhui (Monday 1.30pm)

Head to Heads: Williams 5-2

How MJW nearly won the UK is anyone’s guess. He was pretty woeful up to the semi-finals and final when he played slightly better but he still never really looked like the ‘laid back’ Welshman we all know and love. He has looked better in the break making department at Crondon Park this week but in that type of surrounding with pockets the size of Prestatyn you’d expect that. But he has kept himself match-sharp at least, a rare win over the Rocket may give him a bit of a lift. There is no real pattern to the meetings between these two other than Mark winning the most important matches. But it would be a big mistake to write Ding off here, he was after all, up until the World Championship the Number 1 player last season and that kind of form doesn’t just disappear overnight. The prices for him in the outrights are larger than I can ever remember and are worth a look if you are a believer in quality players raising their games for the venues. I’m going to take a chance on the Chinese player to overturn the odds here.

Recommended Bet: Ding Junhui (19/20 Sportingbet)

John Higgins v Graeme Dott (Monday 7pm)

Head to Heads: Higgins 15-5

The UK Champion continues his comeback from Kiev and beyond with an opener against his good friend and former Pat Mooney stablemate Dotty. Our Graeme looked devoid of confidence in the Crondon event on Tuesday finishing bottom of his group and in a right old strop with just one win. He is a bit of a moody player is Dotty and when he isn’t in the mood to play he simply doesn’t and just bashes the balls all over the place. But he proved at the Crucible what he can do when you least expect him to and that always makes him dangerous. They had a great tussle in the UK which John came back to win 9-8 in fine style and that will still be fresh in both their minds. I think if I was looking at the drawsheet going into this Higgins would be the player I would most want to avoid in Round 1, no wonder Dotty looks a bit miffed. I think John will win and probably a bit easier than he did in Telford. It’s rare these days that any player wins two major events on the bounce, but Higgins is a player in this and if things get tense, there aren’t many that can match him.

Recommended Bet: 2 points win John Higgins (4/9 Betfred)

Ali Carter v Peter Ebdon (Sunday 7pm)

Head to Heads: Carter 7-0

Just look at that head to head record, their last meeting being a 6-0 win for the Captain here in 2009. It’s surprising given the fact that Ebbo has never beaten Ali in a competitive match, that Ali has a ranking event win under his belt already this season and despite a blip in December, now appears to be cueing well again that the odds suggest this will be a tight match. But this is the enigma that is Peter Ebdon, he randomly throws in great performances when you least expect it and he’s played his way back into the top 12 this season with all his trademark grit and determination. But friend of the blog Ali must go into this with a bit of confidence, ever the underestimated player it’s a tag he seems to enjoy and one of the things that Ebdon thrives on is players that are scared of him, which Ali clearly isn’t. At the odds, I think the Captain is worthy of a bet.

Recommended Bet: 2 points win Ali Carter at 4/7 with Betfred

Stephen Maguire v Marco Fu (Tuesday 7pm)

Head to Heads: Maguire 4-1

I hinted in an earlier post that I was having a rethink about a player and now is the time to reveal that the player in question was Mags. I always take him on whenever I can as I do believe that the bookies tend to overrate him a bit which makes his opponents odds sometimes an attractive proposition. But looking at his draw here and flashes of what he can do showing signs of coming back I was considering flagging him up as an each way possibility in the outrights, but I have changed my mind again after his lacklustre display at Crondon Park this week. Although I think he will probably beat the inconsistent Marco here, the Hong Kong Gok Wan lookalike being another that is waving goodbye to his top 16 place very soon, I can’t bring myself to say that he’ll progress further as I think his possible next opponent Ali is a better player than him under pressure. I won’t be betting on this match but Maguire is possibly one for the ambitious roll-ups.

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Mark Allen (Tuesday 1.30pm)

Head to Heads: 1-1

These two have been involved in two classic matches for very different reasons with different outcomes. The first time they met was Allen’s famous nail-biting win over the Rocket at the Crucible a couple of seasons back which to me was one of the rare occasions when you actually saw Ronnie beaten despite giving the match his full attention. Not many players can claim to have beaten Ronnie when he is ‘in the mood’ on such a big stage. But in typical fashion he got young Ketchuphead back last year in the Welsh Open in a match that showcased why he is and will remain for some time yet, snooker’s biggest draw. He even won a Willie for that performance it was THAT good. There are plenty that will fancy the Rocket to be back in the winners enclosure this week and for once I will say that I would not put anyone off backing him. If he can’t motivate himself for this there really is something wrong, it is in his back garden, he can just come to the venue, play and go home and he will have the support of the local and vocal riff-raff for his every move. But Allen is coming back to form and is a player I think has a decent few months ahead of him, it may not start here but this is far from a formality for the Rocket and a chance can be taken on Allen to win the quarter I reckon, just as an outside punt at around the 5/1 mark generally. But the match prices here are about right in my book as I don’t think this is the David v Goliath clash that it might look to some. Am I making a huge mistake not just backing Ronnie in the outrights here? Perhaps. Time will tell.

Neil Robertson v Stephen Hendry (Wednesday 1.30pm)

Head to Heads: Hendry 6-2

Hendry’s playing well lately isn’t he? Seldom does a head to head figure mask such a gulf in form as a reigning World Champion full of confidence takes on a player desperately trying to recoup past glories against the wall of ‘yips’ that he seems to have made his own. Mark Williams said that in Telford, Hendry played like a man ‘with no eyes’ against him and subsequently many considered that an insult to the visually impaired and took to the streets with their guide dogs and white sticks in protest. The only time the two have met at Wembley Robertson won 6-4 in 2009. Unless Hendry has been practising with other players over Christmas and this has finally convinced him that he might need to change his game to cope with the big boys of today there is only one result here. As little as two years ago I would not have had the courage to write the next sentence but here goes: Robertson should win this match easily and there will be no excuses if he doesn’t. If that doesn’t get Hendry’s back up nothing will.

Recommended Bet: Neil Robertson (minus 2.5 frames) Evens at Betfred

Ma Main Man.

Recommended Outright Bets:

3 points each-way Mark Selby to win the Masters (8/1 Ladbrokes)

2 points win John Higgins to win the Masters (13/2 generally available)

1 point each way Ali Carter to win the Masters (18/1 Sportingbet)

Quarter Betting

Q1 Winner: Mark Selby (6/5 ), Q2 Winner: John Higgins (5/4), Q3 Winner: Ali Carter (11/5)

3 x 2 point doubles & 2 point treble (all best prices available at Betfred)

1 point win Mark Allen to win Quarter 4 (5/1 generally available)

First Round Snookerbacker Accas:

3 points – Higgins, Selby, Carter and Robertson (pays 3.88 at Betfred).

2 points – Higgins, Selby, Murphy, Carter and Robertson (pays 5.59 at Betfred)

The Betfred Top of the Pots is Back! The Masters Prediction Contest

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:23 pm

It’s competition time again!

After a hectic month of light-hearted giveaways in December it is now back to the serious business of the Betfred Order of Merit of which Deco800 has been perched atop of the tree since the last event all the way back in November.

After 9 events the standings can be found here and now it is time for you all to renew old rivalries and settle old scores. It is also never too late for new readers to enter.

The prize to the lucky winner as ever is yet another £50 free bet with sponsors Betfred, meaning they have now donated £500 into the total prize fund.

I am going to try and wangle a mega-prize for the culmination of the season in Sheffield and for the overall season winner. It’s truly all to play for, not just in terms of prizes, but also honour.

I might even buy a trophy for the lucky winner at the end of the season.

The Best of Luck.

Rules for Event 10

  • Predict a scoreline for each of the eight first round matches, you will receive 4 points for the winning player and a further 10 points if you correctly guess the score.
  • Then predict the player you think will make the highest break of the tournament, 20 points if you are correct, 0 if you are wrong.
  • Then predict your winner, you will get 12 points for every round they win after the first round.
  • The winner is the person with the highest points score at the end.
  • All scores will feed into the overall Order of Merit Table

Predict the Score (First to 6 frames)

Mark Selby v Mark King

Shaun Murphy v Jamie Cope

Mark Williams v Ding Junhui

John Higgins v Graeme Dott

Allister Carter v Peter Ebdon

Stephen Maguire v Marco Fu

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Mark Allen

Neil Robertson v Stephen Hendry

Who will make the highest break of the Masters?

Who will win the Masters?

The usual rules apply, one entry per person, no anonymous entries and nobody that is under age or isn’t a good liar about their age can enter.

Deadline for entries is 1.30pm UK time on Sunday.

REMEMBER: There is also still time to get involved in the Great Blog Bet Pot by submitting your five pounds. Details are here or by emailing  [email protected] , the current bet fund is £105.

Championship League Group 2 Day 2

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:49 am

MJW: Looking Good in Top Spot.

A marked improvement in the form of one Mark J Williams as well as an applied showing from Ronnie were the highlights of the first day of Group Two and it is these two that sit at the top of the midway leaderboard.

Many will take this as a sign that Ronnie means business in the Masters and knowing how price sensitive the bookies can be where he is concerned perhaps anyone that fancies him for the main event should back him today, because if he wins this you can bet that the firms will be looking to trim his odds a little.

The top three look more or less certain to be contesting the semi-finals later with one further place up for grabs. Murphy, Robertson and the Captain fighting it out for that one with Jamie Cope looking a little out of his depth in such illustrious company.

After Day 1 the table looks like this:

1. Williams PL 4, 3 points, £1100
2. O’Sullivan PL 3, 3 points, £900
3. Higgins PL 3, 3 points, £900
4. Murphy PL 4, 1 point, £700
5. Carter PL 3, 1 point, £500
6. Robertson PL 3, 1 point, £500
7. Cope PL 4, O points, £200

TABLE 1 (all times are approximate)
10.30am – Ali Carter 2-3 Ronnie O’Sullivan
11.45am – Shaun Murphy 2-3 Jamie Cope
NB 1.30pm – John Higgins 3-0 Jamie Cope
2.45pm – Mark Williams 3-1 (133)Neil Robertson
5.30pm – Play-off – Mark Williams 3-0 Shaun Murphy
6.45pm – Final: Mark Williams 3-2 Ronnie O’Sullivan

TABLE 2 (all times are approximate)
10.30am – John Higgins 3-1 Neil Robertson
11.45am – Mark Williams 3-0 Ronnie O’Sullivan
NB 1.30pm – Ali Carter (121, 108) 3-1 Neil Robertson
2.45pm – John Higgins 0-3 (101) Ronnie O’Sullivan
4pm – Ali Carter 1-3 (107)Shaun Murphy
Not before 5.30pm – Play-off – John Higgins 0-3 Ronnie O’Sullivan

Final Table

Name Played Won Lost Frames Won Frames Lost Money won Pts
1. Mark Williams 6 5 1 17 5 £1,700 5
2. Ronnie O’Sullivan 6 5 1 15 7 £1,500 5
3. John Higgins 6 5 1 15 9 £1,500 5
4. Shaun Murphy 6 2 4 12 15 £1,200 2
5. Ali Carter 6 2 4 11 13 £1,100 2
6. Neil Robertson 6 1 5 8 17 £800 1
7. Jamie Cope 6 1 5 5 17 £500 1


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