January 31, 2014

German Masters Day 3

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:41 am

mistakeFriday is day three in Berlin and remarkably by the end of it we’ll be down to just 4 players, is it just me or is this tournament continuing to feel a little bit rushed? 

Yesterday was a day of shocks, Neil Robertson, Mark Selby and Stephen Maguire were all sent packing and Robbo had a right old rant about the whole kaboodle. He complained about the table and the format of the tournament claiming that it had been reduced to just another PTC, his views as ever split opinion, some accusing him of sour grapes and others having some sympathy with him.

My opinion is this, he has a point. This tournament has been one of the big success stories of Barry Hearn’s regime but now he has gone and got carried away and risks ruining it. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the old format, but ideally surely the best option is to take 32 players to the venue? This year they have added a further table into the main arena and had one match in every session played in a seperate room with no spectators. How is that considered progress exactly?

One thing Bazza isn’t very good at is admitting he is wrong, but on this occasion he is and it seems he’s the only one that doesn’t know it. That is also leaving aside the fact that an event of such popularity has failed to secure a sponsor, who is doing the negotiating for this and why have they failed to deliver? This should be an easy sell to sponsors given its huge popularity and already great history. Perhaps if Ronnie would have qualified it might have been easier, but of course we are always told that he isn’t bigger than the sport, so that shouldn’t come into it.

Why do they have to take 64 players to the venue? There is no need for it. It would take an extra day in Barnsley or Doncaster to whittle them down to 32 and I’m yet to hear a valid argument for not doing this. There are two players today, namely Xiao Guodong and Jamie Burnett who will have to play a last 16 match of what most consider to be a big ranking event in the seperate room in front of, if they are lucky, a handful of people. I’m sorry, but that is simply ridiculous for a sport professing to be progressing. It’s a great shame as this has the potential to be one of the sport’s majors if it’s handled properly.

Last chance in the outrights.

Last chance in the outrights.

So, on this occasion I suggest that they get back to the drawing board, find out why they can’t get a sponsor and then get back to last year’s format and aim in the fullness of time to reduce not increase the number of tables in the main arena and lengthen the duration of the tournament. The experiment has failed, as it did in York. Make venues for ranking events a maximum field of 32 and just play more days at the qualifiers. Problem solved.

In the meantime the last 16 has a distinctly Chinese feel to it with Ding, Liang, Pengfei and Guodong all left in it. There are still a couple of big names left in the shape of Shaun Murphy and Judd Trump, who play each other, but this is wide open with a chance that we could see a first time ranking event winner emerge.

In terms of the outright betting, only my old pal Holty (150/1) can save me now, it’s a big ask but he’s obviously playing as well as any of them judging by his results. The very good recent run appears to have come to an end and I’m counting on Nottingham’s finest to help me out. But I’m also rooting for my old pal Rod who came through a marathon against Snowy Davison last night and completed a 5-4 victory from 4-1 down. Mustard.

Here’s the line up for today. Click on the matches for the head to heads.


Xiao Guodong v Jamie Burnett
Anthony Hamilton v Ryan Day
Ding Junhui v Dominic Dale
Joe Perry v Kurt Maflin
Tian Pengfei v Rod Lawler
Dark Mavis v Liang Wenbo
Judd Trump v Shaun Murphy
Michael Holt v Alan McManus

Recommended Bet: 2 point treble on Pengfei, Guodong and Holt pays over 7/2 at Apollobet. Add Hamilton for a 1 point acca which pays almost 10/1 at Sportingbet. 


Quarter Finals

Xiao Guodong v Ryan Day
Ding Junhui v Joe Perry
Rod Lawler v Dark Mavis
Judd Trump v Michael Holt

Not getting involved heavily in these matches from now on, would really like Rod to kick on and win it now although there will be a slight dilemma should him and Michael Holt win tonight with the 150/1 each-way bet on the Hitman still hanging in there. But I get the feeling one of them at least won’t make it. Holt actually has a decent record against Judd and remains on the outside tables away from the glare of the cameras so I think he stands a chance tonight. Rod had another epic earlier but he’s done that all before so expect him to be fighting again tonight, but I just think Mavis might be a little too strong for him. Guodong and Day is a tough call but had a feeling for a bit that this might be a Chinese celebration so I’d side marginally with Guodong. If Joe Perry can keep his head he’s not without a chance against Ding, who for me is still not exactly firing on all cylinders. Looking at the prices, was sorely tempted to lump on the 4/5 at Ladbrokes on Holt with a 2.5 frame start which has to be a bet, but decided against it…..

Recommended Bet: 2 point treble pays over 5/1 at Corals on Holt (+2.5 frames), Mavis (-1.5 frames) and Guodong. 

You can check out Apollobet’s outright prices here and their match betting here.

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Thanks to Monique Limbos for the main picture

January 30, 2014

German Masters Round 2

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:36 am
Poom Shook the Room

Poom Shook the Room

Following the conclusion of the first round in Berlin it’s now time to turn our attention to the other sessions on Thursday as the second round begins and ends in this quickfire format which will see some players play two matches in a day. There’s hardly time to catch your breath, let alone a bit of long hot sausage in the freezing conditions outside.

It’s fair to say there was some licking of wounds on the match betting front by yours truly going into the evening session yesterday which managed to throw up a lifeline. I didn’t at all see Ali Carter losing to Poomjaeng, just as our Poomers apparently didn’t see what was later proved on Eurosport to be a foul that arguably he should have owned up to in a frame he won early in the match (see 55 minutes in here), much to the fury of Shaun Murphy sat in the Players Lounge. But putting that aside, Ali was philosophical in defeat and blamed his poor preparation and attendance at the Shootout for his performance. It’s strange that he didn’t think playing half an hour of snooker over 3 days running around the table in front of a pissed up gang of shaved chimps in a town officially twinned with Hell wasn’t ideal preparation for retaining his title isn’t it? But there you have it, that’s him taught.

Last season’s runner-up Marco Fu also fell at the first hurdle to Snowy Davison from York. Marco’s a player that doesn’t seem to have a middle game these days, he’s either excellent or a bit crap, unfortunately for his fans and backers it was the latter yesterday, though Paul is a very experienced match player and capable of beating most on his day.

Another loser in the morning was poor old Jimmy White, who now looks very much like he could be Q-School bound in May, his tour place looking very precarious indeed. But do you know what? I reckon he’ll play Q-School and with his reputation alone and the fact that he’ll be playing it at the SWSA, I wouldn’t put it past him getting through and bouncing back. Typically our Jimbo is refusing to give in, predictably saying he’s flying in practice and he will come good when it matters. He’s nothing if not positive is the Whirlwind. 

At least Rod won.

Things returned a bit more to normality in the afternoon as Mark Selby, Ding Junhui and Mark Williams coasted through, but even then a shock of sorts took place as Stuart Bingham was beaten by Peter Lines. I was also a little surprised at Anthony Hamilton beating Michael White as I had the Welshman down as something of a dark horse in this, but it wasn’t to be.

The evening session saw flame-haired Scot Anthony McGill claw back some betting pride and the 2 points recommended on him to beat Mark Allen at 5/2 came through to salvage some shrapnel from the first round match betting wreckage. Dom Dale continued to do it his way and put another legend of the game in some peril as regards the rankings. Steve Davis may also be heading off to Q-School this May and perhaps will muse that eating those kangaroos gonads wasn’t such a great idea after all and may repeat on him again come the end of the season. But the good news is that both The Nugget and The Whirlwind are welcome into the SB Classic with open arms by the adoring and slightly fawning Tournament Director.

Ford: Not fucking impressed.

Ford: Not fucking impressed.

One of the main talking points as ever is the set up at the venue. Bazza’s decision to take 64 of the players there this season rather than 32 means that one of the tables is not in the main arena and instead is located in a broom cupboard which was used last year to wine and dine the toffs and knobs that showed up for free. Well, one person who isn’t a fan is poor old Tom Ford who got himself an official warning for turning the air blue with his colourful language during his defeat to Kurt Maflin. Tom cursed his way into the bad books and clearly was not impressed with Bazza’s initiative. Kurt meanwhile pretended to be concerned that he’d be playing in there again in his next match, knowing full well that he’s playing Selby so it’s about as likely as Ste Lee getting off scot-free.

On a more serious note, while I’m all for the 128 flat thing (apart from the World Championship which should rightly remain an incentive and reward for the end of season top 16), why do they have to cram them into the main venue? Is playing two qualifying matches in a qualifying event really so bad? I don’t get this rush to plonk them all in what are clearly not ideal conditions rather than sticking with the 32 player format. It’s making this event feel a bit rushed to me and that’s a shame as it has been fantastic these past three years.

Anyway, let’s have a look at the afternoon session first and then take a peak at the evening when we know the full line-up. If you click on the match you will see the head to head where there is one.


Dechawat Poomjaeng v Xiao Guodong
Jamie Burnett v Joel Walker
Peter Lines v Anthony Hamilton
Ryan Day v Barry Hawkins
Ding Junhui v Mark Williams – EUROSPORT
Neil Robertson v Tian Pengfei
Rod Lawler v Paul  Davison
Alan McManus v Jack Lisowski

Guodong seemed to play solidly after losing the first frame yesterday to Jimmy and a repeat of that for me will be enough to see off Poomjaeng, though a word of warning is that I don’t really rate Poom that highly so perhaps I am underestimating him, Xiao on the other hand is on an upward curve and is one to keep on your side I reckon. The useful Joel Walker scored a good win yesterday from behind and will fancy his chances against the inconsistent Burnett at odds against. Peter Lines and Anthony Hamilton meet for the first time ever this afternoon which is quite surprising given their records in the game, tough to call that but with Pottingham’s finest giving Michael White a beating yesterday I’d marginally side with him in what could be a marathon. The odds against on Ryan Day to beat Barry Hawkins appeals to me as I think they are quite evenly matched and then we come to the TV match and match of the session between Ding and MJW, I have a sneaking feeling there might be an upset on the cards there and again the odds against on MJ appeals, I think he’ll relish being centre stage again after a couple of months on the practice table. Robbo should take care of the potentially dangerous Tian Pengfei and will be looking to add to his phenomenal century tally as he aims to get to the 100 mark for the season (78 and counting). Rod and Snowy meanwhile are hard at it in the broom cupboard and that one is another that may stretch the light meter, Davison has not beaten Rod in three attempts and Rod won’t mind playing in the enclosed surroundings I shouldn’t think, he’s not one of life’s moaners and I see him coming through there. Jack Lisowski won 5-0 last night before the Germans had time to throw a beach towel on their seats and a repeat performance could see him catapult into the Last 16, this could be a big week for him.

Recommended Bets: 3 x 1 point singles and a 1 point treble on: Walker (6/5 Hills), Day (11/8 Apollobet) and Williams (7/4 Apollobet), treble pays almost 13/1 at Hills. 2 point treble on Guodong, Lawler and Lisowski pays over 3/1 at Stan James. 


Dominic Dale v John Higgins
Anthony McGill v Joe Perry
Kurt Maflin v Mark Selby
Dark Mavis v Graeme Dott
Liang Wenbo v Stephen Maguire
Judd Trump v Mark King
Matthew Stevens v Shaun Murphy – EUROSPORT
Gary Wilson v Michael Holt

It’s double bubble for eight of these players as they embark on their second match of the day following wins this morning, but I shouldn’t think that would be a problem really. The main table sees a repeat of the 2005 World Championship final between Stevens and Murphy. Shaun is clearly playing himself into form at arguably the best time in the season and although I have dabbled on Matthew in the outrights it’s more of a hopeful one that really. John Higgins takes on Man of the Moment Dale, his record against the bleached one is very good and I think he’ll stop the Spaceman in his tracks this evening, but it could be close. Anthony McGill scored a fine win last night and faces another toughie against Joe Perry, at 6/4 though the Scot is worth an interest. Mavis and Dotty square up in what should be a close one, can’t call a winner there and the same goes for the Gary Wilson/Michael Holt match though Wilson did play very well this morning and scored heavily, but they both won in a canter. Stephen Maguire will be fancying his chances now Robbo has been sent packing and the 20/1 recommended outright now looks a half decent bet, he faces Liang Wenbo and I fancy him to be lining up again at 12 noon tomorrow in the last 16. Finally a potential banana skin for Judd against Mark King, it might not be as easy as the bookies have priced it and if King can get a foothold in the match and can start well, he is definitely not without a chance. Oh, sorry, almost forgot about Selby and Maflin, think Selby will make hard work of it but win, maybe 5-3.

Recommended Bet: 2 point treble pays almost dead on 7/2 at Apollobet on McGill (+1.5), Mavis (+1.5) and Wilson (+1.5). 2 point double on Stevens (+1.5) and Dale (+2.5) pays just over 9/4 at Corals.   

You can check out Apollobet’s outright prices here and their match betting here.

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Thanks to Monique Limbos for the main picture

January 29, 2014

Lee Begins Appeal, Thai’s Have No Case To Answer

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 4:39 pm

WheelBarrowOn the day that Stephen Lee starts his appeal against what effectively is the career-ending ban he currently faces for match and frame fixing, another case has today been brought to a close by the WPBSA.

They have decided to take no further action regarding the matches involving Passakorn Suwannawat and Thanawat Thirapongpaiboon which took place in suspicious circumstances in Doncaster at the Shanghai Masters qualifiers last August. The matches in question were examined in detail on the day they took place on this blog here

In a statement issued today, the WPBSA concluded that:

“The first match was between Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon and Ross Muir and bets were placed on Ross Muir to win. The second match was between Passakorn Suwannawat and Mohamed Khairy and bets were was placed on Mohamed Khairy to win. These bets were considered suspicious as there appeared to be a disregard for the risk of the bets being unsuccessful given the amount of money that was placed and the odds available when considered in the context of the betting history of the individuals making the bets”.

However, further investigations carried out in consultation with the Gambling Commission as well as interviews with the individuals concerned including the players concluded that the players themselves could not be linked to any of these bets.

So, what the judgement does say is that there were what were considered to be suspicious bets placed on these two matches, but that proving the players had anything to do with them has proved a fruitless task for the boys at the Integrity Unit. There remains wide belief within the snooker community that both these matches had pre-determined outcomes and that some people knew about it and profited from it, but how can this be proved?

Not soon after the matches took place, this happened. Suwannawat has not been seen on the main tour since despite retaining his professional status having apparently had his funding withdrawn, Thanawat has continued to play on the main tour.

It is a dilemma and I dare say a headache for World Snooker in the race to attract global sponsorship and grow the sport to never before seen levels when things like this crop up. Perhaps it is time to start making an example based on a balance of probabilities or at least start suspending players pending findings, as they were quick to do with Lee, when things start getting a bit wiffy.

It’s a thankless task, but while things like this go unpunished and people are subsequently publicly ridiculing the governing body on their lack of teeth in these matters, how are we meant to progress exactly?

January 28, 2014

German Masters First Round Order of Play

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:46 pm
Before the action begins at the magnificent Tempodrom (original image by Monique Limbos today)

Before the action begins at the magnificent Tempodrom. The TV table is under the main lights with seven tables dotted around it (original image by Monique Limbos today)

Wednesday sees the start of the German Masters in Berlin and a packed schedule sees all 8 tables in use all the way up to the Quarter Finals on Friday evening.

This of course is great if you are there but doesn’t really give the rest of us a chance to assess the form of the players from a betting point of view. Indeed it is actually quite possible that there might be someone or maybe even someones landing in the semi-finals who haven’t been on the telly all week up to that point. It’s a shame they can’t have a reserve table being filmed even just online in the event of an early finish on the main one, but it’s obviously not possible.

Anyway, I’m sure as ever Eurosport will be doing their best to keep us all in the loop with the scores and if all else fails there’s always fun to be had seeing if the World Snooker scoreboard will work on every table for the whole tournament. Predictably it is the matches involving the defending champion and the top two ranked players in the world that (literally) take centre stage in the arena on day one.

You can read my Round 1 and Outright preview here and you have until the first ball is struck to enter the Tipster Contest for £100 worth of free bets from Apollobet here. (You might also want to read this if you have any trouble entering as the blog has a new comments platform that requires you to sign up or login through Twitter or that Facebook thing).

I’ll be back on here once we know more about the second round line-up, in the meantime feel free to test out the new comments section, I’ll be lurking in the background to check all is well.

Wednesday 29th January

9am (GMT)

Ali Carter v Dechawat Poomjaeng (Live on Eurosport)
Jimmy White v Xiao Guodong
Ratchayothin Yotharuck v Jamie Burnett
Aditya Mehta v Joel Walker
Ryan Day W/O Cao Xin Long
Li Hang v Barry Hawkins
Marcus Campbell v Rod Lawler
Paul Davison v Marco Fu

2pm (GMT)

Stuart Bingham v Peter Lines
Anthony Hamilton v Michael White
Ding Junhui v Mike Dunn
David Morris v Mark Williams
Tom Ford v Kurt Maflin
Jimmy Robertson v Mark Selby (Live on Eurosport) 
Dark Mavis v David Gilbert
Ben Woollaston v Graeme Dott

7pm (GMT)

Dominic Dale v Steve Davis
Gerard Greene v John Higgins
Mark Allen v Anthony McGill
Luca Brecel v Joe Perry
Neil Robertson v Liu Chuang (Live on Eurosport)
Tian Pengfei v Andrew Higginson
Peter Ebdon v Alan McManus
Jack Lisowski v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh

Thursday 30th January

9am (GMT)

Liang Wenbo v Cao Yupeng
Mark Joyce v Stephen Maguire
Judd Trump v Noppon Saengkham
Dave Harold v Mark King
Matthew Stevens v Fergal O’Brien
Ken Doherty v Shaun Murphy
Gary Wilson v Daniel Wells
Jamie O’Neill v Michael Holt

You can check out Apollobet’s outright prices here and their match betting here.

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A Bit of Housekeeping: New Blog Comments System

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 12:40 pm

I’m testing a new comments system on the blog, powered by Disqus. You might be asked to register – for free – or you can sign in with your Twitter or Facebook account when you post a comment if you prefer. 

At the moment the blog gets thousands of spam comments a day – although there are systems in place to deal with them it still takes up a lot of time, so this is an experiment to see if we can solve the problem. 

Previous comments are currently being transferred to the new system but as there are thousands it will take a short while to complete.

January 27, 2014

German Masters Preview: In-form Maguire can be Best in Berlin

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:09 pm
Flying: Ali after beating Marco in the final last year.

Flying: Ali after beating Marco in the final last year.

On Wednesday the magnificent Tempodrom in the fabulous city of Berlin opens its doors again to the German Masters for the 4th time. The first match live on Eurosport sees the defending champion Ali Carter take on Thai funnyman Dechawat Poomjaeng over the best of nine frames.

I’m a bit sad not to be attending again. Mrs SB and I had a great time there last year which was made even greater by the fact that our mate Ali won, therefore ensuring an invite to all that happened afterwards and a load of free booze. It’s bound to be yet another packed-out few days in Berlin with more than your fair share of facial hair on show in the audience of snooker-mad Germans.

Last year I managed to headline tip Ali to success on here at 25/1, this act of bravery even getting the blog a mention on Eurosport, though I will admit now I think this may be because I’d bought Dave Hendon a couple of beers the day before and sent subliminal messages to him without his knowledge via a beer mat. He’ll never know.

Either way it was a nice tournament from a betting point of view and from a personal one and hopefully this one will continue the strong recent run in the punting department. The only downside of the trip was Mrs SB’s disappointment with her long-awaited and famed Currywurst, which she had been desperate to try on hearing about and us booking the trip, but the egg-cosys at our hotel breakfast every day did soften the blow at least.

Anyway, as I’m regretfully not there to give the snippits and gossip this year, bookmark this page for all the backstage tittle tattle and more. At time of writing there is some disappointing news about the World Open coverage, or rather lack of it, on ITV.

The format of this tournament is slightly different this year in that there are 8 tables in the main arena rather than 6 to accommodate the increased field of 64 following the qualifying round back in December (remember, the one where Ronnie fooled around and lost to Un-Nooh and got fined in the process for giving the ref some verbals). I can’t see this being a big issue however as having seen the size of the main arena at first hand there is plenty of room. I assume the two extra tables will be where the players were practicing last season which was actually in the main arena but behind a big screen, which I again assume will not be there this time. Anyway…..

Here is the prize money breakdown for the event, at time of writing we don’t seem to have a sponsor, unless it’s a last minute job:

Winner: €80,000 
Runner-up: €35,000
Semi-finals: €20,000
Quarter-finals: €10,000
Last 16: €5,000
Last 32: €3,000
Last 64: €1,500
Last 128: Not even a stale Currywurst.
Highest break (Finals): €4,000
Total: €335,000

So to the preview, I’ve split it into quarters as ever and will hopefully pick out a few nice little earners in the matches and who knows, perhaps the next champ? We shall see….

You can view the draw for the German Masters by clicking here. You can view the Order of Play over at Snooker Island by clicking here.

If you click on the match you will see the head-to-head statistic where the two have met before, courtesy of the ever-excellent Cue Tracker website.

Quarter One

Ali Carter v Dechawat Poomjaeng
Jimmy White v Xiao Guodong
Ratchayothin Yotharuck v Jamie Burnett
Aditya Mehta v Joel Walker
Stuart Bingham v Peter Lines
Anthony Hamilton v Michael White
Ryan Day v Cao Xin Long
Li Hang v Barry Hawkins

The draw has been fairly kind to the defending champion and he could have found himself in a tougher quarter than this one as he returns to try and make it two on the spin. But that is not to say that it’s a walk in the park for Ali Carter in this section of the draw as dangers lie within for me in the shape of Xiao Guodong, Aditya Mehta, Ballrun Bingham, Michael White, Ryan Day and Barry Hawkins. I can see Ali safely negotiating a path out of his first three matches but after that he gets into territory that he’s not really been getting into since this time last year. Stuart Bingham is always a big danger in these events and comes fresh from being runner-up in that panto at the weekend to Dom ‘The Crowd Adored Me’ Dale. Bings also had a great run in the UK and Champion of Champions before an inexplicably poor performance at the Masters, a blip perhaps. Barry Hawkins somehow managed to lose when in complete control at the Masters against Ricky Walden but tends to come through early rounds unnoticed at times, he will have to negotiate possibly Ryan Day and then Michael White or Bingham though and I think on balance The Hawk is best left alone in this. So for me this all points to a strong defence from The Captain who loves the venue. He’s the same price as he was last year so I’ll gamble that lightning might just strike twice, hopefully not on the wings of the plane.

Predicted Quarter Winner: Ali Carter.

Recommended Bet: 1 point each-way on Ali Carter to win the German Masters at 25/1 with Ladbrokes.

Had Xmas off.

Had Xmas off.

Quarter Two

Ding Junhui v Mike Dunn
David Morris v Mark Williams
Dominic Dale v Steve Davis
Gerard Greene v John Higgins
Mark Allen v Anthony McGill
Luca Brecel v Joe Perry
Tom Ford v Kurt Maflin
Jimmy Robertson v Mark Selby

Ding Junhui looked rusty at the Masters and will surely have got his head down between then and now to get back into the groove after having Christmas off the baize back home. This is a very tough section to unravel which not only includes Mark Selby, but also Mark Williams, John Higgins and Mark Allen so it’s going to take some winning. MJW wasn’t at the Masters this year and will be determined to get back into the top 16 for the Crucible so he doesn’t have to face the qualification stages at the leisure centre in Sheffield that Bazza has booked on the cheap, who can blame him? You feel to do that he is going to probably need at least one or two semi-final places and a good run of form in all remaining events, but he has a tricky opener against David Morris and then possibly Ding; he has been practicing hard so you never know, it’s not long ago that he was in the final here. Higgins continues to slide a little and for me is best watched at the moment, Allen has shown a few slight flaws in the tactical department for me when up against the big boys lately but still has the heart of a lion when it comes to scrapping it out so can’t be written off, but again he has a potentially tricky opener against Anthony McGill who is more than capable of upsetting the odds there. Mark Selby in my opinion when I was at the venue last year was a firm favourite with the German fans, he got far more cheers than anyone else (although Ronnie wasn’t playing) and I think something about the way he plays the game is attractive to the German audience. It may be an obvious pick but I do think he is a backable price here in the outrights, I thought he’d be around 5/1 to be honest.

Predicted Quarter Winner: Mark Selby.

Recommended Bets: 3 points win on Mark Selby at 8/1 with Sportingbet. 0.5 points each way on Mark Williams at 50/1 with Skybet. 

He Bangs. He Bangs.

He Bangs. He Bangs.

Quarter Three

Neil Robertson v Liu Chuang
Tian Pengfei v Andrew Higginson
Marcus Campbell v Rod Lawler
Paul Davison v Marco Fu
Dark Mavis v Dave Gilbert
Ben Woollaston v Graeme Dott
Liang Wenbo v Cao Yupeng
Mark Joyce v Stephen Maguire

Two names leap out of this section in Neil Robertson and Stephen Maguire and it’s a very distinct possibility that these two will have a Masters rematch in the Quarter Finals in Berlin. Main threats to the ‘big two’ for me come in the shape of Marco Fu, Mavis and Dotty who are all capable of having a run here. Dott has been busy this season and is playing himself into form but winning tournaments is now something of a distant memory for the former World Champ and he has a tough opener. Mavis can’t seem to quite get past the very late stages in majors, which leaves Marco who I reckon is the main threat to Robbo in that top half assuming he can take care of his first two matches (Robbo, not Marco who I think will against similar style opponents). I think Maguire has the more winnable section of the big two and if they do meet he will take confidence from their match at Ally Pally, which he dominated. He also won a Championship League group the other day without losing a match against very good players so he is obviously continuing the form. He’s a former finalist here so for me backing him at 20/1 or Robbo at 5/1 is a no-brainer given the lack of the lurking presence of O’Sullivan.

Predicted Quarter Winner: Stephen Maguire.

Recommended Bet: 2 points each way on Stephen Maguire at 20/1 with Apollobet. 0.5 points each way on Marco Fu at 33/1 with Bet 365.  

Dark Dragon?

Dark Dragon?

Quarter Four

Judd Trump v Noppon Saengkham
Dave Harold v Mark King
Matthew Stevens v Fergal O’Brien
Ken Doherty v Shaun Murphy
Gary Wilson v Daniel Wells
Jamie O’Neill v Michael Holt
Peter Ebdon v Alan McManus
Jack Lisowski v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh

Finally we have the quarter which I think is probably the hardest to call and possibly one that might see a surprise semi-finalist emerge from, I don’t think any first round match in this section has a clear winner. I can’t really back Judd Trump at the moment, something is not right with him and I don’t believe that this is the type of tournament where he can turn it around, he needs a fundamental change in my opinion if he is to get back to winning ways. If Judd wins his first match he will face a real grind against King or Harold and I would not be surprised to see King emerge from that section. Shaun Murphy should probably be favourite to progress from this quarter but he isn’t by virtue of Judd’s reputation, he looked a lot sharper at the Masters and should not be disheartened by his performance against Selby, he’s also been very busy since at Crondon Park, but I think his price to win the tournament is way too short and probably the only reason I wouldn’t back him. Matthew Stevens tends to start his season a few months later than everyone else and for me he might be a dark horse/dragon in this on the basis that he usually has a good tournament every season after new year and there aren’t that many left. Gary Wilson and Jack Lisowski are also players very capable of having a real gem of a run here if things click into place. Alan McManus has shown signs of a return to something like form and I fancy him to beat Ebdon in a game for the purists while Michael Holt is a player that really could and maybe should have won an event like this previously in his career. In short, the bets in this section are on the probably wrong assumption that Murphy or Trump won’t get to the semi-finals.

Predicted Quarter Winner: Haven’t a clue.

Recommended Bets: 0.5 points each way on Matthew Stevens (80/1 Apollobet). 0.25 points each way on Lisowski (125/1 Sportingbet), Wilson (125/1 Sportingbet), Holt (150/1 Ladbrokes) and King (250/1 Sportingbet)

Recommended Match Bets: 4 points at 7/4 on Carter, Higgins, Selby, Ding and Maguire (Ladbrokes). Add Hawkins and Fu for 2 points at over 7/2 with the same firm. 2 point treble on Maflin, Michael White and Joe Perry pays almost 7/2 at Apollobet add Steve Davis for a 1 point Acca that pays almost 17/2 with the same firm. 2 points on McGill to beat Allen at 5/2 with Apollobet

You can check out Apollobet’s outright prices here and their match betting here.

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German Masters Tipster Contest: £100 of Free Bets up for Grabs

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:20 am

One of the highlights of the snooker season, the German Masters from Berlin, starts on Wednesday and is covered live on Eurosport so to celebrate this and the end of the Shootout I thought we’d have ourselves a little contest.

The first prize will be a £50 free bet with blog partners Apollobet with a £25 free bet for the second and third placed. 


Simply choose 2 players from each of the groups below to form your team of 8 players and enter them in the comments section below with a valid email address in the space provided (this will not be displayed).

For every frame your players win you will receive 1 point and for every match they win you will receive a further 5 points.

If any of your players win the German Masters you will receive a further 20 points and if any of them have the highest break of the German Masters you will receive a further 10 points.  

Group A

Ali Carter
Ding Junhui
John Higgins
Mark Allen
Mark Selby
Neil Robertson
Stephen Maguire
Judd Trump

Group B

Stuart Bingham
Barry Hawkins
Mark Williams
Dark Mavis
Graeme Dott
Marco Fu
Matthew Stevens
Shaun Murphy

Group C

Xiao Guodong
Michael White
Ryan Day
Dominic Dale
Joe Perry
Mark King
Michael Holt
Alan McManus

Group D

Kurt Maflin
Jamie Burnett
Aditya Mehta
Tian Pengfei
Rod Lawler
Liang Wenbo
Gary Wilson
Jack Lisowski


Strictly one entry per person, if I suspect foul play I will cancel all your entries.

 In the event of a tie the entry with players who have lost the least number of frames will win.

If it’s still a tie I will divvy the bets up accordingly.

In the event of a dispute, what I say goes and that’s that.


You can check out Apollobet’s outright prices here and their match betting here.

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January 23, 2014

SB Classic Leeds 1st Feb: DRAW NOW AVAILABLE

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:43 pm

I’ve just used the random draw facility at My Snooker Stats to draw the next heat of the SB Classic in Leeds. You can click here to see how it panned out. 

More details will follow but play will commence on the 1st February at 10am sharp for all first round matches.

To see how yesterday’s Q-School announcement affects the tournament prize money, click here.

Snooker Shootout Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:48 am

It’s in Blackpool. It starts on Friday. It ends on Sunday. It’s on Sky. It’s got a shotclock. It’s noisy. I don’t like it. I won’t be watching it. Here are some specials at Apollobet.

January 22, 2014

Q-School Changes: 4 Places Now Up for Grabs at Snookerbacker Classic

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 4:52 pm

SB2014 A4 Updated Orange posterWorld Snooker today announced some changes to this season’s Q-School both in terms of the number of main tour places available and how much the entry fee will cost.

Essentially, Q School, which takes place in May at the Capital Venue in Gloucester, will now be awarding tour cards to each of the eight semi-finalists in two tournaments, rather than twelve over three tournaments as in previous years. As a consequence of this World Snooker have also announced that the entry fee for Q School has been reduced from £1,000 to £600.

World Snooker say that: ‘This decision has been made as a consequence of the global expansion of the sport and the increased demand for tour places from international players.’ Though it is not specific which countries this applies to, whether they are European or further afield.

As last year, a ranking list will be compiled during Q School, with players earning one point for every frame won. During the main tour season, should any of the tournament draws fall below a total entry of 128 then the field will be topped up with the highest ranked players from the Q-School list who have not gained one of the eight tour cards.


This change obviously has an effect on the Snookerbacker Classic and having sat down and discussed various options including upgrading our summer holiday with the Board of Directors (me, Mrs SB, the greyhound and the whippet) we have decided to make the following changes to the way in which the prize money is distributed, extending the number of Q-School places available in the tournament from two to four.


2014 Champion: Q-School Entry plus £500 (or £1000 cash alternative), Hand-Carved Ash SB Classic Trophy and a Crucible Date with Stephen Hendry.  

Runner Up: Q-School Entry plus £200 (or £750 cash alternative)

Losing Semi-Finalists: Q-School Entry (or £500 cash alternative) 

Losing Quarter-Finalists: £200

Losing Last 16: £100

Highest Break: £300

Maximum Break: £1000 (£700 for a maximum and £300 highest break prize)

Highest Break: £300 (currently stands at 122 Ant Parsons) 

All finalists will be asked to state their preferred prize in advance of Finals Day. 



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