Match & Tournament Betting
Most of your betting on snooker will centre round individual matches, as that is where the best value tends to be. With several bookmakers fighting for your money and the exchanges another option, you will often find that you can bet with virtually no bookmakers' profit margin to contend with.
Of course, with matches you are invariably punting at short odds, but there is always the option of betting on the tournament outright.
As a youngster I was taught that the best way to approach a snooker tournament is to work out what an accumulator would pay in the worst-case scenario of any individual having to face the best player possible in each section of the draw. If the accumulator would pay less than the outright odds available, you have then got a value bet.
It sounds okay in principle and may even have worked in the days when bookmakers did not take sports betting that seriously, but it is actually nonsense now. It implies, of course, that bookmakers are not looking at the draw themselves, which they sure as hell are.
Try it. I doubt you will come up with a bet more than once every five years, and even then it will mean taking 400-1 on Betfair about a genuine 200-1 chance. And given that your 200-1 shot will on average win once every 20 years over a ten-tournament snooker season, the method looks increasingly flawed however plausible it might initially sound.
The good news, of course, is that worst-case scenarios rarely happen anyway because shocks are commonplace in snooker. Being able to identify vulnerable players is something that will make you plenty of money on the match-betting front and it can also help you with outright tournaments.
Each time you assess a competition you should sift through the draw and underline every player you consider likely to under-perform. You won't get it right all the time, but you will find sometimes that certain sections of the draw feature an unusually high proportion of players begging to be taken on.
However you choose to bet, the one golden rule is that you must get into the habit of pricing up everything yourself, whether it is the tournament as a whole or an individual match. And always do it to a 100 per cent book. For example, if you rate a favourite at 1-2, the outsider must be 2-1, not 6-4 as a bookmaker would go.
If you see a bigger price either way, the chances are you have a value bet, although don't make the mistake of just piling in straight away in the belief that the layer has got it wrong.
Remember, these people are being paid to price up the events. They do make mistakes, but only rarely, so before stepping in you should go back over your prices and make sure you have not missed anything. Only once you are confident in your own assessment should you strap those betting boots on.
With prize-money levels so low, snooker would have to be seen as being a sport most in danger of match-fixing. If the financial rewards for winning can easily be surpassed by those for losing, the temptation to throw a match could become very high.
However, a couple of things prevent widescale corruption in snooker, the first being the players themselves.
Thankfully, the vast majority are desperately trying to make a living out of a sport they love and deliberately losing a match is not something that is going to help them move up the rankings. The second is that snooker remains a minority betting sport, which means unusually large wagers, especially in the early rounds when any skulduggery is likely to happen, would not go unnoticed.
Ladbrokes's Roger Tull has no concerns about the integrity of snooker. "It's a very clean sport," he insists. "I would certainly say that I didn't see one suspicious match in the 2003-04 season. And anyway, we can react quickly if anything starts to look a bit iffy, either by changing prices dramatically or simply suspending betting. I really don't think there is a problem with snooker."