Betting on snooker is less popular than it used to be and Barry Hearn’s recent arrival on the snooker scene can only be good news for a flailing sport. During its heyday, snooker was amongst the most watched sports in the country and snooker betting thrived, but it has seen a steady decline in popularity over the past 20 years. Barry Hearn’s appearance can change all that, and he’s gradually beginning to put the excitement back into the sport, and that’s great news for those who enjoy betting on snooker as well. Today’s society likes the action condensed and the excitement to be immediate, and Hearn’s ideas look set to transform snooker in a similar way that cricket has reinvented itself with the growth of the Twenty20 format.
The most common and straight-forward market to bet on in snooker is the match result market. You are simply betting on which player will win, and with snooker being a pure sport, the bookmakers rarely get their prices too far wrong on this market. There is little in the way of outside interference on any given frame, and only two players are involved, so the form lines tend to run very close to the expectations. When betting on the match result market, always be sure to check out the match format. The longer the format, the more likely the favourite is to win as a general rule.
Recent changes in the formats of tournaments have put a slight twist on things however, not least the Shoot-Out which was recently introduced. In this tournament each match lasts a maximum of ten minutes, with the winning player being the player ahead at the end of the frame or leading when the time expired. There is also a power-play ball, which once potted, doubles the score of every ball. Not one for the purists, but from a betting point of view it’s certainly a tournament which moves the bookmakers out of their comfort zone and allows punters to take a chance on an outsider they may fancy! It’s also a straight one-frame knockout with a random draw, which means a huge degree of unpredictability in the outright betting market.
The shot-clock which the Shoot-Out and Premier League Snooker employs is another slant on the game, which has certainly helped and hindered players in equal measure. A player such as Ronnie O’Sullivan has never been bothered by a shot clock. His game is built around rhythm, and it would be rare to see him take longer than 30 seconds over a shot in any tournament. Other players, like Steve Davis for instance, never took to the clock, which forced them to play a very different game than that which they had grown up playing. It’s worth considering when betting on players in the Premier League matches particularly.
Aside from the straight match result, you can bet on the correct frame score if you are after the bigger prices. These prices will be directly in line with the match betting prices, but the bookmaker will have a greater in-built margin into these markets, theoretically making them harder for the punter to win on. You have been warned!
Another market derived from the match result market is the Frame Handicap market. This market effectively levels up the match by giving the outsider a head-start in the betting. For instance, you may see John Higgins (-3.5) Frames v Marco Fu. This means when the result of the match is determined, 3.5 frames are added to Marco Fu’s frame total.
John Higgins win the match 7-4.
We then add 3.5 frames to Marco Fu’s frame total, thus it becomes 7.5.
Marco Fu has therefore won the handicap market 7.5 – 7
The reason a half frame is used is to ensure there is always one winner and one loser in the market.
With statistics on everything now widely available on the internet, bookmakers have begun offering markets on more obscure things, such as the player to record the highest break in the match, how big that highest break will be, and whether a 147 will be recorded in the match. Markets on the total 50 breaks and 100 breaks are also popular, with the top players often recording several century breaks in a long format match.
With the advancement in computer modelling, bookmakers can now continue offering the vast majority of the markets they offer pre-match once the match has gone live, assuming of course they can find television coverage to follow proceedings. Markets such as Match Result, Frame Correct Score and Next Frame winner form the corner stone of their live service, while betting on the current frame taking place is also very popular with punters. It might sound obvious, but when betting live on a frame, always consider the position of the balls – the bookmaker certainly will, and he may well have spotted a difficult red upon which the outcome of the whole frame may depend.
They will also offer a wide range of markets on what will happen in the next frame, such as who will win the frame, who will pot the first red, whether or not there will be a century break, and even which colour will be the first potted (not including reds).