Bowls Betting 2
Ante-post betting has long been a feature of the sport, though selecting winners at such an early stage of any bowls event is extremely difficult. Arguably the field for a major competition such as the World Indoor Championship or the BUPA Open is similar to a sprint handicap in horse racing but, of course, without the handicap. That makes the draw vitally important since you have a field of 32 or 48 challengers, almost all of whom are capable of defeating each other on their day and normally do just that on a fairly regular basis.
Therefore it pays to look closely not just at the formlines but also at who certain players will encounter at what stage of the championships and try to pinpoint those whom the draw favours. Ante-post favourites are rarely priced at less than 4-1 and it hardly ever pays to side with contenders as short as that in a sport where winners are invariably on offer at much longer odds.
The best advice that can be given at the ante-post stage is to hedge your bets and merely enjoy a modest flutter unless the draw suggests that a particular individual looks a banker for an extended run. It is also important to remember that each-way betting usually relates to the first two in any competition rather than the first four. Most bookmakers offer half the odds to reach the final, which may be rewarding if it comes up but is quite a difficult feat to accomplish.
Over the years there have been tales of major gambles succeeding, especially when little-known outsiders who have caught the eye of bowls-watchers are concerned. More than one layer has had his or her fingers burnt by offering generous odds against someone who has shown form quietly but effectively away from the spotlight of major events.
Almost all bowls betting relates to individuals and televised championships since team games are not as attractive a proposition to the bowls punter. This is because such is the dominance of the major players like England and Scotland at international level that prices offered at this level would not tempt most of those who enjoy a bet on the sport.
If anything betting has proved, certainly at the highest level, that bowls is an honest sporting activity as borne out by events at the world indoor championship at Potters in 1999. Ladbrokes, who were the bookmakers on site, offered odds of 9-1 against each of three singles matches one particular day ending in straight sets victories for the underdog - that was, at the time, three sets to nil. Several discerning enthusiasts considered this a good bet and sums of between £1 and £30 were invested on what was a 1,000-1 treble to the extent that liabilities were over six figures.
The first two contests duly ended in straight sets but the final one saw the favourite take a set to sink some hefty bets. Some might say those involved in the gamble were naive since they could have 'looked after' the favourite with considerably more cash than he would have collected in prize-money!
Relief was the order of the day where Ladbrokes were concerned as their on-site manager had failed to notice their liabilities and would have arrived at work the next morning to one almighty shock!
In the early years of the 21st century Stan James is the company which has established itself as the leader in bowls betting, having courted the sport assiduously since the 1990s. However, Bet365 have emerged in recent times as a rival as internet betting takes a grip in the way it has done with so many sporting activities.
In common with any sport there are countless anecdotes about gambles won and lost with as many relating to individual betting with the parties concerned as to those enjoyed with the major bookmakers.
Betting undoubtedly adds to the appeal and popularity of bowls yet is considered by many to be an area whose potential has yet to be fully exploited. The sport's hierarchy are all too aware that added publicity is gained by generating greater interest in bowls betting and fully intend extending and expanding opportunities in future years. I wonder if Sir Francis Drake fully realised all those centuries ago just what he was starting!