For every day where new matches are getting underway, I'll be providing tips and a 'daily multiple'. This could be a short-priced double, or an enormous priced accumulator. The stakes will differ. Let's kick off proceedings with this treble.
Daily Treble (£2 stake pays £13.64)
Jamie Jones for the 3.5 Frame Handicap @ 2.111/10
Ronnie O'Sullivan to beat Gilbert @ 1.330/100
Stephen Maguire for Over 1.5 Century Breaks @ 2.56/4
The tournament begins with what I regard as the best bet of the opening round. Jamie Jones in receipt of a 3.5 frame handicap against the defending champion.
Selby could struggle against classy opponent
The opening day of majors, particularly the Crucible, almost always involve either a massive upset or a mighty scare for a top seed. Mark Selby may be King at this venue in recent times but he is not immune. Especially after an atrocious season by his high standards.
Even at his best, Selby makes harder work of matches than his peers among the game's elite. He has always seemed in need of a scare to get his competitive juices flowing and laser focus back. Even if he were coming in with good recent form under his belt, I'd think this game had the potential for a very close finish.
Jones thrives at the Crucible
Jones is a sort of Crucible specialist in his own right. On his first visit a decade ago, the Welshman reached the quarter-finals. In his last two, he upset a seed in the first round. He qualified easily and recorded his best result of the season, a quarter-final appearance, in his previous event.
I wouldn't deter anyone from taking 4/1 about the upset, either as a trade or a standalone bet. However given Selby's remarkable powers of recovery and tendency to win close matches, the handicap option is much preferred.
Ronnie to maintain 100% record over Gilbert
One could easily create an argument for David Gilbert upsetting the odds against Ronnie O'Sullivan too. The 'Angry Farmer' is a former Crucible semi-finalist and fairly frequently produces elite standard performances. He was definitely one of the first round draws to avoid.
However the head-to-head stats may prove telling. Ronnie won all six of their previous encounters, by a 32-17 frame margin. Many players have a psychological block against O'Sullivan and Gilbert has long seemed a victim of his own lack of confidence. Try a couple of correct scores on 10-6 and 10-7 to the Rocket.
Maguire back in ton-making form at qualifiers
Almost anything could happen in the match between Shaun Murphy and Stephen Maguire. A measure of how poor their seasons have been can not only be found in results (just one semi-final appearance between them), but in their lack of century breaks. Murphy has just 15 to Maguire's 13. That is atrocious for two players whose games are based around heavy scoring.
We may see either turn up in blistering form, well-prepared for this chance to save their season and ranking. When we last saw Murphy in a major, he was beset by injury and poor form. He's since reached a semi-final in Turkey but that wasn't a high-class event and he managed only one ton during the whole week.
Maguire, in contrast, has demonstrated some improvement last week in qualifying. He hit four tons in two matches to get here. At anywhere near his best - and in fact often amid poor performances - two century breaks in a best-of-19 match is well within his grasp.
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