The three matches starting on Monday involve short odds-on favourites and, in the two matches played to a finish are looking one-sided at present. If odds-on bankers are your thing, the acca on all five pays 1.855/6.
Whilst I do predict they will all land, that isn't my sort of bet. It only needs favourite to start badly and those kind of odds might become available for that single match. Instead for the daily double, let's try a correct score double on the two which have already started.
Daily Double (£0.50 double pays £9.63)
Mark Williams to win 10-3 @ 3.55/2
Anthony McGill to win 10-6 @ 5.59/2
Williams is 7-2 up on Michael White after a magnificent session of heavy scoring. The result is in no doubt and I doubt the finish will take long. A 10-3 scoreline involves winning three of the next four frames. There's a high chance that this will trade odds-on at some point in a frame.
6-3 to McGill against Liam Highfield was a predictable scoreline - not too one-sided but dominated by the favourite. Our scoreline here means McGill winning four of the first seven frames. Again, this scoreline or perhaps 10-7 at 6.511/2 look a solid trade.
Allen long overdue a good Crucible run
Mark Allen and Scott Donaldson start out at 10am. On paper, this has potential. Allen has been very inconsistent and his record at the Crucible is poor for a player of his calibre. He's only once reached the semis, back in 2009 and has lost in this first round in four of the last ten renewals.
Plus, Donaldson is no mug. He's reached numerous ranking semi-finals and won a Championship League. Across eight previous clashes, however, Allen leads the Scot 7-1 and by a 32-17 frame margin. Whilst an excellent match player, Donaldson is slightly below top-class and would struggle to stay competitive if Allen turns up in form.
The bet I like here is Allen to score three or more centuries at 3.259/4. He did so last year at this stage against Lyu Haotian and hit five in 2020 and still lost, to Jamie Clarke.
Comfortable win for Robertson
Neil Robertson isn't just the tournament favourite but the shortest odds favourite of the first round at just 1.061/18 to beat Ashley Hugill. Rightly so. He's up against probably the weakest qualifier, who did brilliantly to win three qualifying matches, but is out of his depth at this level.
Never say never, and remember the Aussie lost to an amateur at the UK Championship. Nevertheless, taking him on makes no appeal. Try a correct score combo on 10-4 and 10-5.
Bingham and Haotian to serve up big breaks
Rather like Mark Allen, a case could easily be made to oppose Stuart Bingham. He's had a poor season, but remember last year he needed to qualify and still made the semis. 'Ballrun' has majors pedigree and could easily find his best at the Crucible.
Haotian hasn't progressed as widely expected after reaching the last-16 here in 2018. He definitely has the natural talent to trouble a seed but rarely finds that level.
No outcome would really surprise here, and the odds seem right, so the first session is mostly a watching brief. I do think this game could see plenty of high breaks. Haotian was in good touch in the qualifying rounds and Bingham is no slouch in the break-building department. For an interest, take 7/1 about five or more centuries in the match.
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