Second round begins today
Williams has never lost to Brecel
Allen fancied to edge out Bingham
Although three first round matches are still ongoing, including what looks set to be an exciting finish between Shaun Murphy and Si Jiahui, the second round gets underway with two matches. As we already have live positions on all those first round matches, today's bets revolve around Mark Williams v Luca Brecel and Mark Allen v Stuart Bingham.
With Williams and Allen both among my initial pre-tournament picks, this is perfect for the daily double. It pays 2.4.
Daily double (pays £12.00 to a £5.00 stake)
Mark Williams to beat Luca Brecel @ 8/15
Mark Allen to beat Stuart Bingham @ 4/7
Head-to-head points firmly to Williams
Of the two, I am much more confident about Williams. The Welshman won all four of their previous encounters with Brecel, by an aggregate frame score of 18-7. The way he finished off against Jimmy Robertson, winning the last six frames from 5-4 down, was very encouraging.
Moreover, Williams is a nightmare opponent for a certain type of player. One who has great potting, break-building and ball-striking skills, but perhaps lacks tactical prowess or even experience. Think Jack Lisowski. Or to some extent, Brecel.
No doubt the Belgian is a player on the up, and eventually he could win this title. At last, he has won a game at the Crucible, even if it needed a deciding frame. I do not believe he is the finished article though, and these long matches will find him out.
I don't think Brecel will be humiliated, nor get especially close. Try a correct score combo on 13-7, 13-8 and 13-9, which should pay around 5/2.
Allen and Bingham should be close
Regarding the Allen match, I'm loathe to take any more risk. Mark's first round performance was decent enough, suggesting that he can indeed go further in this event than ever before, now he's in such better shape and form.
But you write off Bingham at the Crucible at your peril. On the basis of this season's form, 'Ballrun' is a big outsider for this match, but time and again he's saved his best for majors. The head-to-head between them is close, at 6-4 to Allen.
Expect big breaks
I expect another close match, with plenty of big breaks. There are no odds published yet on centuries, but overs in that market may be the way to go.
*Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty