There has been a noticeable rise lately in the number of snooker tipsters on social media. Tipsters exist in all sports so there is no reason whatsoever that snooker should be any different, but the way it’s increased lately, particularly in what I’d term the ‘wet behind the ears’ brigade, has awoken me from my semi-blog-retirement to recount my own experiences in this area, and hopefully offer some advice to those new to these shark-infested waters.
It may or may not interest you to know that I have never called or considered myself a snooker tipster. This is not the reason that I set up this website many years ago. My passion, if you can call it that, as well as snooker itself, was always the writing side of things and I’d been more or less bullied, in the nicest possible way on the old Betfair Snooker Forum to set it up, no doubt because everyone on there was sick of me and wanted to chat amongst themselves without me sticking my oar in all the time.
Indeed, the name of the site (Originally – Top Drawer – The Snookerbacker Blog) was only named as such because that was the name I chose at random for my Betfair handle, I was a backer not a layer, a lover not a fighter and it seemed obvious to me that simply carrying this over onto a new and different site would bring my online friends from Betfair here with me, which it duly did. A happy by-product of my chosen name (or as many have laughably referred to it in the past ‘my brand’) was the double meaning it gave later to my ambitious 5 year amateur tournament adventure backing grass roots snooker. This was purely by accident.
As I rambled on and on, sometimes posting several blogs daily, it became apparent from the increasingly busy comments section on here that it was gaining quite a following. The early obsession with ‘hits’ and ‘visitors’ which all bloggers have came and went and people seemed to enjoy what they were reading as much as I was enjoying writing it, but soon the questions started being asked by my original chums, those who put me up to it in the first place – ‘this is good and all that, but errrmm, where’s the tips snookerbacker?’
So, the almost accidental, and largely reluctant fall into writing previews for snooker events and accompanying them with bets began, with me trying as best I could to carry on enjoying the writing side of things while putting my neck on the line with my supposed in-depth knowledge of the sport.
To be fair, it started pretty well, and I have to say at this point that it was becoming rather enjoyable writing up conclusions and seeing the winners roll in, the very definition of beginners luck was happening to me. Of course there were bad calls, which inevitably brought about the odd, literally, negative comment.
One particular call that stands out was a recommended bet on Sam Baird in a World Championship qualifying match in the early days which he impressively managed to lose 10-0. This brought about probably my favourite insult of all time when one person, who had presumably been convinced enough by my rationale on Sam’s credentials to carry off a comfortable win and not lose 10-0 to follow me in accordingly with his pocket money, decided that he wanted me to ‘DIE in a house fire in my wheelchair clutching my benefit book’, quite why he dreamt this very specific scenario up I’ll never know, but suffice to say it didn’t happen, well not yet anyway.
It turned out that a very nice member of Sam’s family contacted me not long after the match to tell me he’d been in bed with flu in the week before the match. To be fair, I have met Sam a few times since those days and he always seems to have a cold, but how was I to know that then?
Anyway, where was I? Before I start losing the point and getting all rose-tinted about the good old days. Oh yes, that’s it, the pressures that tipping brings.
I was beginning to get interest from bookmakers wanting to advertise on the site and unlike now, in those days they were quite prepared to pay a decent sum of money for this once they saw the traffic this place was getting and the customers it could get for them in a market that was at this point just emerging in the early days of Barry Hearn’s dictator…I mean leadership. However, this increased the gambling focus of the site and with that came a more intense period of tipping up matches and tournaments, to such an extent that it was almost expected on a daily basis and the level of subsequent thought going into the bets diminished accordingly.
Coupled with this and a massively increased amount of traffic, people I’d never encountered before were starting to demand I publish my profits and losses even though I’d never reached into anyone’s pocket to tell them to back my tips, nor asked anyone for any subscription fee of any kind and I really couldn’t be arsed, but the inevitable accusations then began that I was ‘covering up’ and ‘hiding something’ (quite what I don’t know) and that I was ‘in bed with the bookies’, which I most definitely wasn’t as I always demanded a flat fee up front for any deal and not, unlike some I have heard about, who stood to gain more by people following in any losers they flagged up – the old ‘profit share’ payment agreements, I was always, and remain, on the side of the punters.
I didn’t really like where this was beginning to head to be honest and my honeymoon period was definitely over.
You have to remember that this was at a time when very few snooker websites existed and in terms of blogs, I was beginning to be talked about in the same sentence as Dave Hendon’s pioneering Snooker Scene Blog, where people went for in-depth behind the scenes news and the legendary Pro Snooker Blog, which was the information and rankings bible for anoraks. The only difference was that my clientele came for toilet humour and degenerative gambling. I did however consider myself, almost certainly delusionally, as one of the golden triangle of snooker bloggers and now it was all beginning to fall on its arse because of betting.
Anyway, as the sleepless nights worrying about flagging up losers and wondering where the next winner was coming from increased my lack of enjoyment, a saviour arrived in shape of a blog follower called Mark who offered to do all the profit and loss maths for me and send me a chart every time it needed updating, all I had to do was put it on here and not worry about people asking stuff like that anymore, he also reassured me that he’d checked already and that I was holding my own with reputable tipsters he’d encountered in other sports, so that made life a little easier and my deflated ego feel a little more stroked.
So in conclusion, to the new breed of tipster that has started inhabiting the old bogs and cesspits in which I used to forage and emerge stinking of shit, I can offer some advice and observations gained from experience, mostly because I have either done, or at least considered doing, all of them. You can take the advice if you like, you can ignore it, I really don’t give a toss, but here it is.
You are never profiting as much as you think you are, take a step back, if you tip on things just because they are happening you can never win in the long term, you have to be selective and be prepared to leave whole events alone if nothing takes your fancy.
Don’t cry when you lose, don’t make excuses, don’t claim that the match was bent and definitely don’t personally insult the player that lost. Oh and (quite specific this one) don’t claim that a fellow tipster was lucky to select a massive priced winner because you’d done the research and it shouldn’t have won, that can only make you look stupid and the other tipster look even better.
Don’t take it, or yourself, too seriously, most rational people understand that you lose more than you win, in terms of quantity of bets. In my case that happened a lot and the reason I remain in decent profit year on year is that the winners are quality over quantity when it comes to the prices. In other words, nobody rational cares if you win or lose a few quid backing 20 short prices if you bag them a big winner every few weeks. On a personal level, at the end of this, the best you can hope for is that people respect your opinion if not always listening to it, the next best is that you are forgotten and not ridiculed and hated by the people you led astray with your awful tips. The worst does not bear thinking about.
Unless you have a tried and thoroughly tested method which is solidly based on mathematical theory, don’t even think about charging for tips because you think you’ve got it sussed. You haven’t, you will end up stressed out, looking stupid and people won’t trust you ever again.
Even if you think you are having a fair strike rate on a certain event, don’t go down the subscription route, refer back to Point 1 and read all these points again.
Anyway, it’s largely been fun being a reluctant tipster, with the occasional ‘oh fuck it’s time to end it all, where’s the matches, oh fuck they are in my other wheelchair with the benefit book in’ moment to spice it up. But I’ve definitely noticed a change of tone amongst those doing the tipping recently and I’m glad I did it when I did as I think you’d need either nerves of steel, a masochistic personality, a never ending supply of hard drugs or probably all three to take it on at the level I did. I’ll factor in that I think betting on snooker is much more difficult now than it was when I started out, so you’ll probably need more drugs.
Just remember, when the fun stops, make sure that big winner isn’t far away or you’re fucked.
This is more of a memory jog post for me really but today a couple of firms are pricing up some season long bets and as I did last year, I’ve decided to have a play on them.
The markets in question are on individual players to have a ranking event success over the course of the season and Black Type Bet are happy to accept multiples on these markets so I’ve gone with four players who at the prices to me represent a great bet to sit down and cheer on this season.
I’d go as far as to say that I would be disappointed if the first fourfold at a shade under 7/1 hadn’t landed by the end of January.
I’ve followed those four as bankers with variations on a further three riskier players, two of whom are still seeking their maiden ranking title but are getting closer as the seasons pass and the other who is usually reliable to produce the goods during what is an increasingly lengthy season.
I have steered clear of the obvious picks as you’d imagine Judd, Ronnie, Selby and Robertson will all get their hands on some silverware at some point this season, indeed in the case of Robbo, it’s basically an annual tradition now for him.
If you do fancy going at the really short prices, you would have to factor in that Ronnie won’t be playing as much this season, indeed if his latest rant can be with taken with anything more than a pinch of salt he’s planning to skip all three ‘triple crown’ events. You’d also imagine that Judd will be a little more choosy now he’s World Champion and that Selby and to a lesser extent Robbo will continue to pick and choose, but that’s more of a gamble.
So if you decide to have a play head over to Black Type or Ladbrokes/Corals to see what you can find, my bets are below. Remember these are ranking events only, The Masters and any other invitational events don’t count.
Recommended Season Specials (all with Black Type Bet):
Fourfold pays over 13/2 on John Higgins, Kyren Wilson, Mark Williams and Mark Allen.
Fivefold pays over 21/1 on those four plus Jack Lisowski.
Sixfold pays over 35/1 on those five plus Stuart Bingham.
Sevenfold pays over 121/1 on those six plus Dave Gilbert.
The World Championship may be over but for amateur snooker players, the biggest event of the season is nearly upon us as we head to Wigan for this season’s Q School. The four semi-finalists from each of the 3 multi-player events will earn a place on the World Snooker Tour for 2019/20 and 2020/21, with a further 4 players also receiving tour cards, presumably from the Order of Merit list that runs over the three events.
It’s the usual mix of players, from those fresh from dropping off the main tour last season, to those who’ve been ploughing the amateur and senior tours in preparation, to the rookies to the no-hopers, it really is a real mish-mash of standards here and always makes for a very competitive couple of weeks.
This year a few bookmakers have priced up qualification from Event 1 which starts on Saturday, whilst Ladbrokes/Corals have also come up with a wider ‘to qualify at any point’ market.
There are some very familiar names there looking to bounce straight back on to the tour including the likes of Allan Taylor, Peter Lines, Sean O’Sullivan, Robin Hull, Ross Muir, Rory McLeod and Sandi Lam alongside a few Chinese players who are looking to re-enrol like Xu Si and Zhang Yong and European players Alexander Ursenbacher and Lukas Kleckers.
There are also familiar names to snooker fans who are also throwing their cue back into the ring after a spell away from the main tour like Jamie Cope, Barry Pinches and Andrew Pagget. We also have Reanne Evens, Rebecca Kenna and Ng On Yee in there flying the flag for the Women’s Tour as well as a smattering of players that hardened snooker fans might remember from back in the day who also fancy their chances of one last stab at the main tour.
I’ve had a few bets here and there but have avoided the favourites and looked at the capable players further down the list who are more than capable on their day of defying big odds, in Event 1 I’ve had a stab at Ben Hancorn at 80/1 and Wu Yize (who I have heard good things about) at 40/1.
I’ve had a daft multiple at Black Type which will probably bankrupt them if it wins on Sandi Lam (8/1), Barry Pinches (14/1), Leo Fernandez (25/1) and Billy Joe Castle at 12/1, all to qualify from the first event. Wish me luck with that as I’ll need it.
In terms of three lively outsiders in the ‘Qualify at any time’ market I’ve gone with Peter Devlin (15/1), Shane Castle (11/1) and a lad called Riley Parsons at 33/1, who I remember playing in my tournament a few years back and who looked very talented, he’s recently won a qualification event in Gloucester so has clearly kept it up.
The draws for all three 2019 Q School events, and the format of play are detailed on the links below. The events run from May 18 to June 4 at Robin Park Leisure Centre in Wigan.
In 2011, the final of the World Championship between Judd Trump and John Higgins was the first one covered on this blog, now roll forward 8 years and Judd has finally fulfilled his potential while still in his 20’s. His win over Higgins may not have been dramatic, but it was clinical and incredibly high quality, with some now predicting a decade of dominance for the new World Champion.
Below we hear their reactions to the press at The Crucible, which closes it’s doors to snooker fans for another year. Thanks for tuning in to this little corner of the internet for this last month, it’s time for a break from snooker now for a bit, but we’ll all reconvene again next season which as ever, will come round in a flash.
But now over to the 2019 World Snooker Champion, Judd Trump.
Judd Trump Press Conference Post Final - Betfred World Snooker Championship - YouTube
John Higgins Press Conference Post Final - Betfred World Snooker Championship - YouTube
So today sees the start of a repeat of the 2011 final between John Higgins and Judd Trump at The Crucible.
The first time around it was a very different Judd Trump that faced the Grand Master, one full of youthful exuberance and a fearless potting machine and it has to be said, one which we probably all thought wouldn’t have to wait this long to get back there. Higgins was coming back after a career threatening ban and since then he’s dipped again before his latest comeback to make his third successive final.
Higgins showed an almost superhuman side of his snooker character in the semi-final, seemingly down and out during the middle of the match he played almost flawless snooker towards the end to deny Dave Gilbert in a decider, Judd had a slightly easier ride against Gary Wilson and you’d imagine he’d be the fresher of the two going into the final.
I’ve no idea who is going to win, based on the semi-final performances you’d be a brave person to bet against Higgins, but since when has snooker followed the script? Particularly during this past couple of weeks.
Higgins’ all round game to me looks in the better shape of the two but Judd may be saving his best until last. The one thing I will say is that I hope they have sorted out the table which seems to be all over the shop and quite why they can’t get it right for the biggest event of the season is beyond me. As fans, I think we’ve all had more than enough of all this endless kick/chalk/big bounces natter so it would hopefully stop all that too if they can sort the table out. Let’s hope the snooker can distract from this side of things over the next couple of days.
In terms of a prediction, if someone threatened to shoot me I’d side with Higgins, I’m not particularly rooting for anyone but I think it would be nice to see Judd finally fulfill his potential and stop being labelled the new Jimmy White.
Thanks as ever for tuning in here over the past month or so, as ever it’s been quite a ride.
John Higgins takes on Judd Trump in the final but the two losing semi-finalists Dave Gilbert and Gary Wilson have made a huge contribution to the championship this year, here is what they all had to say after the matches yesterday, with Gilbert just a matter of a few balls away from the win.
John Higgins is in his 8th World Snooker Final - YouTube
Emotional David Gilbert has been beaten by 4-time Champion John Higgins - YouTube
"If you looked at me back then, you wouldn't recognize me now" Judd Trump - YouTube
It’s been a tournament of shocks so it’s no surprise that a couple of names that are still alive and kicking for the famous ‘one table situation’ are not ones that a lot of people will have expected.
I think it’s been an enjoyable championship so far if not quite raising the roof in a way that others have, the lack of a quarter final deciding frame was a bit of a let down and there will be many that will see the two matches we are faced with now as being one way traffic, but the championship is not done yet and there is still time for one final twist.
I’m not going to bother with recommended bets as I have enough interest still left in the championship with the 190/1 each way outright bet on Dave Gilbert and a special frames bet I requested at Ladbrokes, which basically entails the losers of every match from here on reaching 12 frames, so fingers crossed on that.
I will say that of the two players who start as outsiders in these matches I think Gary Wilson probably has the better chance of causing an upset. Dave Gilbert for the third match running faces another player who has denied him a ranking title in John Higgins. Their head to head strongly favours Higgins but Dave can take some encouragement from the fact he beat John on their last meeting in the 2017 World Open.
Judd and Gary have met each other on one occasion, again this was at the World Open and Gary rode out a 5-3 winner, so Judd will be looking to beat the Tyneside man for the first time to reach another final, perhaps again facing Higgins as he did in his only previous final appearance back in 2011.
I’ve been incredibly impressed with Wilson in this tournament and I honestly think he is more than capable of causing another upset. I think the 5/1 on him beating Judd represents a bit of value and I might have a nibble of it.
But I suppose it would be silly not to expect the final to be contested between Trump and Higgins, but as we know, this championship does sometimes throw up the unexpected, so it’s far from the nailed on certainty that the bookies seem to want to have us believe. Let’s just hope for two cracking semi-finals and if the losers could see fit to win 12 frames it would be greatly appreciated.
Dave Gilbert v John Higgins (Thursday 1pm, Friday 10am & 7pm, Saturday 2.30pm)
Gary Wilson v Judd Trump (Thursday 7pm, Friday 2.30pm, Saturday 10am & 7pm)