Betfair World Snooker Shootout: The best bets for day one

Jack Lisowski will soon be one of snooker's best-known faces

Fresh from arguably the best Masters in living memory, Betfair are back on the green baize with another big televised snooker event this weekend, with the action beginning at 18:00 on Friday. As Paul Krishnamurty explains, however, the Shootout is no ordinary tournament...

"This unique event presents an ideal opportunity for the best young prospects. A player like Jack Lisowski, widely tipped for the top, is no less fluent than the world's best, even if lacking experience and a more helpful ranking."

The most sensible approach for punters at this weekend's Betfair World Snooker Shootout may well be to forget any preconceptions about snooker betting. For this 64-man knockout, with all matches decided over just one frame, within the constraints of a shot-clock, is truly like no other.

That doesn't, however, mean there are no betting angles. Far from it. A cursory glance at Friday's first-round match coupon shows numerous hot favourites trading below 1.758/11. Over just one frame in these conditions, this must be of dubious value. In fact, there are worse strategies than simply backing the outsider in every match.

The same principle applies to the outright winner market, if the two previous champions represent any sort of guide. In the inaugural 2011 Shootout, veteran Nigel Bond won his first tournament in 14 years. Twelve months ago Barry Hawkins was more plausible, yet the Essex man was still nowhere near the market principles and winning his first title against top-class opposition. 

With big odds available about most of this 64-man line-up, just a couple of wins and a place in the last-16 could make pre-tournament bets on outsiders huge value. To start, I'm going in with the following four picks but expect to add more as the weekend develops.
Back Martin Gould 2u @ 34.033/1 
Perhaps the most significant attribute this weekend will be fluency and therefore, speed of play. The shot-clock penalises tacticians who like to take their time building a break and, with no time to work one's way into a match, players that settle quickly into a fluent rhythm will have the upper hand.

Gould is the perfect example - a superb potter whose naturally attacking game seems to fall short at the highest level, because he lacks the tactical savvy to complement it. That weakness won't matter much in this format and the 'Pinner Potter' has already shown some prowess in the event, reaching the quarter-finals last year. Moreover, pitched first up against the painfully slow, limited Rory Mcleod, he rates the likeliest first-round favourite to deliver.

Back Ricky Walden 1.5u @ 40.039/1
Walden is another fringe top-16 player for whom the shot-clock should be ideal. The Chester man is very fluent in the balls, but tends to struggle when frames become long drawn-out affairs. I wouldn't be too fearful of his limited first-round opponent David Gilbert and if Ricky can reach the latter stages, he would have to warrant respect as a two-time ranking tournament winner, including this season's Wuxi Classic.

Back Jack Lisowski 1u @ 60.059/1
For similar reasons, this unique event presents an ideal opportunity for the best young prospects. A player like Jack Lisowski, widely tipped for the top, is no less fluent than the world's best, even if lacking experience and a more helpful ranking. When he last got a chance in the televised stages at the UK Championship, the draw cruelly handed him the bang-in-form Stuart Bingham. This time Jack will start a fairly strong favourite for his opening match against Adam Duffy, so don't be surprised if this possible future world champion makes a big impression over the weekend.

Back Michael White 0.5u @ 100.099/1
Here's another top youngster with a very winnable first-round match. White has been making his mark in the qualifying stages of events and is a name we'll be hearing much more of next year when the rankings system is opened up. White also caught the eye last month at the UK Championship, not disgracing himself at all when handed the worst possible first-round draw against Mark Selby. Tomorrow's opponent Joe Perry hasn't done anything much lately and has never looked the type to appreciate a shot-clock.

Match Betting

Back Mike Dunn to beat Mark Williams 4u @ 2.427/5
As mentioned above, a case can be made for blindly backing the outsider in every match, but this one really stands out. After his woeful performances at the Masters and UK Championship, opposing Mark Williams whenever he's odds-on in the next few weeks could be a lucrative strategy. Whatever his pedigree, the twice world champion is in terrible form at present and possibly in terminal decline. Dunn, who has won four matches out of six in this event, may not need to produce anything special.

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