The second leg of snooker’s vaunted Triple Crown, the Masters is also the first major of the calendar year, and coming fairly hot on the heels of the UK Championship we have a great insight into the form of the various players. It kicks off on Sunday January 15 and continues until the final seven days later.
The Masters is a fantastic tournament because of its simplicity: the top 16 players in the world rankings are invited to take part, and in the vast majority of cases they say thank-you very much and participate. The Alexandra Palace adds to the glamour of the competition courtesy of the unique atmosphere it helps to create.
In 2016 Mark Selby won both the World and the UK Championships, and so victory here would be a huge achievement and accomplish an extraordinary Triple Crown. Reigning champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, on his home turf, won’t give up his title without a fight though, while a handful of other hopefuls will be looking to get their name on the famous trophy.
So, where’s the smart money going?
Masters Snooker: Outright Winner Betting Tips
There is just something about this tournament that gets Ronnie O’Sullivan’s juices flowing. He has appeared in an incredible eleven Masters finals, winning six, and only Stephen Hendry can lay claim to having a similar record. This is the Rocket’s playground.
But from a betting perspective, he can be as frustrating a prospect as he is scintillating to watch. Backing the Rocket is a nightmare: he can go from the sublime to the ridiculous – sometimes in the space of an afternoon!
Instead, we seek a more reliable source for our cash. Mark Selby is an interesting proposition but at 4/1 his price is a fraction short given the level of competition. Judd Trump and Ding Junhui are more than capable, we know that, but again can be an annoying back, while John Higgins has been excellent this year but we question whether he has another major in him.
With Neil Robertson out of form, our next best bet is Shaun Murphy, and at 18/1 we’re happy to take a chance on the Triple Crown winner. He won this event in 2015, and it took an inspired Selby to defeat Murphy in the semi-finals of the UK Championship in December.
It’s not been a vintage season by Murphy’s standards, but last four appearances at the Indian Open and China Championship suggest he is on the verge of a return to the big time.
Masters Snooker: Match Betting Tips
In individual sporting pursuits the head-to-head stats can often be illuminating, and we note that Neil Robertson has won his last seven matches against his first round opponent at The Masters, Ali Carter. At 8/13, we can add the Australian to any betslips we put together.
John Higgins has been in fine form this season and has three ranking event finals to his name: the Scottish Open, the China Championship and the Champion of Champions – all since the start of November. The Scot has won his last pair of matches against Mark Allen with an aggregate frame score of 15-6; reason enough to add him to your bets at 4/7.
There isn’t much odds-against value to be had, and perhaps the only match worth a flutter is Marco Fu to beat Judd Trump at 7/4. He won the most recent ranking event, the Scottish Open, and took Ronnie O’Sullivan to a deciding leg in the semi-finals of the UK Championship. Trump can be outrageously good, we know that, but sometimes doesn’t turn up. Fu could be worth a gamble in all sense of the word.