Masters 2018 Betting: If the Rocket's in the mood he's untouchable

The Master - Ronnie O'Sullivan with the trophy last January
The Master - Ronnie O'Sullivan with the trophy last January
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Snooker moves in to Alexandra Palace this weekend and Ralph Ellis says it's the perfect venue for seven-times champion Ronnie O'Sullivan to make it eight...

"He’s the [3.6] favourite to win the Masters when it starts on Sunday but if you could guarantee his state of mind he’d be odds-on."

So I was doing some research on Ronnie O'Sullivan's prospects for the Masters, and then the man himself nailed it perfectly.

He was on Twitter, inevitably, scrolling through questions from fans when one of them asked him the simple question: "Are you gonna win?"

"Depends if I am in the mood or not," came his reply. "If I'm on it, it's a done deal."

There, in a nutshell, is the O'Sullivan enigma. If he's in the mood, even after all these years, there still isn't another snooker player who can touch him. He's the [3.6] favourite to win the Masters when it starts on Sunday but if you could guarantee his state of mind he'd be odds-on.

But then this year the 42-year-old has been "on it" more often than not. He might pretend he's not bothered, but in reality he's probably been more focused on winning than at any stage of his career.

He's a strange mixture, of course, constantly talking the game down and claiming to have lost his love of it, and retiring more times than Frank Sinatra.

His latest was to warn that he probably wouldn't play this year's World Championships at The Crucible because he finds the tournament "boring" and the dates might clash with filming for the next series of his reality TV programme Hustle.

And yet this has been his most successful ever season in 26 years in terms of ranking events. After not winning any of them in the 2016-17 season, he's won three in 2017-18 out of the seven that he's played.

Last time out was a different matter, though, whitewashed 5-0 by John Higgins in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Open. And there again was a clue to his state of mind, celebrating afterwards in his interview because he could go home and unpack his suitcase.

The great Steve Davis, who will be doing commentary for the BBC, has told his local paper the East London Guardian he believes O'Sullivan will still be winning big titles when he's 50.

And he's also given them a little insight into Ronnie's attitude, suggesting that when he's in the arena playing is the one time that the Rocket comes to earth, putting all his emotions to one side as he concentrates only on playing the balls.

There's little doubt that the Masters, with just 16 top players, and a format that comes to a rapid conclusion over a few days, is one of Ronnie's favourite events.

He doesn't start until Tuesday afternoon when he meets Marco Fu, making his own pursuit of the £200,000 top prize an even more intense affair, potentially just five days to retain his title.

The venue at Alexandra Palace is close to his Essex home (no need for that suitcase), it's quick and focused, it has only the absolute elite of the players on the circuit. That might explain why he's won it for three of the past four years.

With so many boxes ticked, [3.6] looks an unmissable bet. In his words if he's on it, it's a done deal.

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