Betting Without Phil Taylor
EVERY silver lining has a cloud attached and that definitely applies with Taylor.
While Sky and the game's backers are to be applauded for the way they have dragged the game into modern times, his emergence has ruined it for many small punters.
'The Power' is the best darts thrower there has ever been. Or ever will be. It's as simple as that. Even in a game as competitive as this with tens of thousands of participants and a stack of world-class names, Taylor has always been in a class of his own.
Since he won his first Embassy darts betting phil taylor in 1990, slaughtering his mentor Bristow 6-1, he has dominated like no other sportsman or woman has dominated his or her own field.
He has claimed 11 world darts betting phil taylors - including eight in a row between 1995 and 2002 - and has mopped up Matchplays and Grands Prix as if they were bread-and-butter exhibitions down at the Dog and Duck.
He doesn't play much in lesser-ranking events but when he does he invariably wins them, and for many years now The Power has habitually gone off at odds-on - he actually took to the stage at the 2002 Las Vegas Desert Classic at no bigger than 2-7.
Big-hitters filled their boots but Taylor had taken the fun out of outright betting for the small-timers who would have otherwise fancied a bet on a tournament he was likely to boss at skinny odds.
Finding ways to bet without or oppose Taylor in PDC competition had therefore become a central strategy for those with limited funds who wanted to take a view on the outright market. Obviously with Taylor taking so much out of the book there were decent prices to be had further down the field, so enabling punters to consider an each-way bet on a player from the other half of the draw.
Betting on who wins each quarter is another market which one or two firms have started pricing up, which means punters can either latch on to players who are masters at reaching the semi-finals of tournaments but seem to crumble near the winning post, or they can identify one of the rising stars that the game throws up from time to time.
And, of course, there is handicap betting, especially in legs-only heats, meaning even games in which Taylor has gone off a 1-16 shoo-in can be traded on.
Now there are signs that Taylor's crown is slipping - Part has started scalping him regularly while Painter and Wayne Mardle represent a newer breed of younger recruit from the BDO who are far less daunted by taking on the game's legendary superheroes and are freely to be found talking up their own games. It has meant Sky's events are slightly more open though the bookies are naturally reluctant to lay Taylor at big prices and rack up heavy liabilities.