Blackball Pool international Michael Day (@daisy8ball) gives us his best Day 1 bets in this year's Masters Snooker.
Mark Selby v Shaun Murphy | Sunday | BBC
The opening match of this year's Masters begins on Sunday afternoon and is between two big hitters of the sport, Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy. It's a dreadful draw for both players.
World champion Selby has an unbelievable record in this event, with three wins and five final appearances. He reached the climax in this venue last year but was trounced by Ronnie O’Sullivan, but as we all know he's got his revenge in the sports greatest showpiece at the Crucible last May.
However this season, the form of ‘the Jester’ has been very ordinary, and in fact, at times poor. The Leicester cue man has slipped down to fourth in the world rankings and suffered early exits in the International and UK Championships. Maybe the birth of his first daughter has coincided with this slump in form, but Selby is too good a player to be under par for long.
Shaun Murphy previously reached the final here in 2012 but lost to Neil Robertson. Murphy needs the Masters crown to complete the holy grail of the big three titles in snooker, with the World and UK Championships already on his CV.
The Magician has had a patchy first half to the season, failing to reaching the semi-finals of any of the six major events. However he has showed great form in the PTC events with back to back tournament wins in Bulgaria and Germany.
As you’d expect, match betting on this contest is fairly close with Selby slight favourite at 8/11 with Coral and Murphy 5/4 (Sportingbet). Murphy at this price could represent value considering he has the better head to head record between the two and Selby's recent dip.
But I think a far safer bet would be in the Total Frames market. I don’t expect there to be more than two frames between the pair in the entire match, so 11/10 with Paddy Power for Over 9.5 Frames in a best of 11 looks very tasty indeed. Coupled with the fact other bookies have the same bet odds on, you’d best snap this up quick!
Stuart Bingham v Marco Fu | Sunday | BBC
Sunday's evening session pits Stuart Bingham against Marco Fu, in what should again be a close fought affair. Neither player have an outstanding record in this event, however Fu did reach the final in 2011.
Whilst these two are fantastic match play competitors and previous major ranking event winners, I can’t see either player winning the event outright.
Bingham has had a great few months though, with a win at the Shanghai Masters in September and reaching the last four of the recent UK Championship. In York he stood very close to getting to the final but a certain eventual winner (Ronnie O’Sullivan) stopped him at the last.
The man from Hong Kong also had a relatively good UK campaign after getting to the last eight before losing to Stephen Maguire. This performance echoes Fu’s efforts this season having also reached the quarter final stages of the International Championship and Wuxi Classic.
As I write this analysis, Bingham is tearing up Championship League Group 1, and albeit it being a minor competition and only best of five, he has managed to beat Fu 3-1 in it.
Bingham is best at 4/6 with BetVictor to advance, whilst Fu is a very reasonable 11/8 with Sportingbet. Just like the earlier match, I expect this to be very close. Once again Over 9.5 Frames is odds against with Paddy Power at 11/10 and I can see this being a winner.
Put both matches together and you have well over 3/1 the pair.
An interesting footnote for both opening day matches will be the conditions. Obviously with the competition starting we will have a new cloth on the table. Without getting too technical, this allows balls to ‘slide’ down the cushions, effectively making these shots slightly easier on day 1.
This will become less of the case as the cloth gets worn in subsequent games. How can we take advantage of this I hear you ask? In both matches, for there to be two or more total centuries is 13/8 with Bet365.
With the talent on display it is a strong possibility that one, or both, contests could see this occur.
Mark Selby v Shaun Murphy – Over 9.5 Frames (11/10 Paddy Power)
Mark Selby v Shaun Murphy – Over 1.5 Centuries (13/8 Bet365)
Stuart Bingham v Marco Fu – Over 9.5 Frames (11/10 Paddy Power)
Stuart Bingham v Marco Fu – Over 1.5 Centuries (13/8 Bet365)