Snooker has always been a popular televised sport in the UK, but the reach of the game has extended in recent years, with snooker drawing large crowds in many parts of Europe and many of the large tournaments now taking place in Asia. Because of this popularity, snooker has always attracted a great amount of betting and one of the most popular bets is based around whether there will be a maximum break throughout the tournament.
In this article I examine the maximum break betting market, starting off with a look how often a maximum break actually takes place. Then I move on to look at various tournaments types, and how the chances of a 147 break will vary at these tournaments and why. I finish with a look at the biggest three events of the year – the UK Championship, the Masters and the World Championship.
The History of the Maximum Break
The first ever 147 break in a competitive match came in 1982 when Steve Davis compiled the magic number in a match against John Spencer at the Lada Classic. However for many, the first memorable 147 came the following year when Cliff Thorburn made a maximum break at the Crucible against Terry Griffiths, which was the first to be made at the World Championship. Many have followed over the years, and at the time of writing there have been a total of 108 maximum breaks in competition – twelve of these by Ronnie O’Sullivan and eleven by Stephen Hendry.
In recent years the number of maximum breaks have increased dramatically, with 2012 seeing eleven 147’s, and six in both 2013 and 2014, so the days of this being a rare occurrence are long gone, and this reflected by the bookmakers odds – you’ll not see double figures odds any more.
Considerations when Gambling on the 147 Break
Your first consideration should be the actual size of the tournament in regards to number of frames played. This means firstly checking to see the size of the draw. Obviously, a draw with 128 players will offer many more matches (and therefore many more frames) than a 16 player draw. Then you should check the format of the matches – some tournaments will have matches as short as best of seven, whilst the minimum match length at the World Championships is best of nineteen.
Your next consideration should be the quality of the tables. If players are complaining about the venue or you’re seeing a lot of kicks at the tables, these are not ideal conditions for a maximum break.
Your final and perhaps most important consideration is actually the players competing. Some players will have a natural instinct to go for a maximum break to entertain the crowd, even if at times they should actually choose another shot – Ronnie O’Sullivan being a prime example of this. Look at which of these ‘entertaining’ players are in the draw, and also look for a favorable draw for these players, as you’ll want as many matches as possible for these players and against weaker players they’ll have more chances of potting that opening red.
The Major Tournaments
The UK Championship
This championship now has a flat 128 man draw with all matches played at the Barbican Centre in York. With so many matches and each match being at least best of 11 frames, this tournament will offer the lowest odds of the three majors, with bookmakers offering as low as even money on a 147. The early rounds will see the top players in the world face very lowly ranked opponents, which is perhaps ideal for a maximum break. In 2012 there were three maximums throughout the tournament and one in 2013, so any bet where you’ll be gaining odds of significantly better than even money should represent value.
You’ll find much longer odds for a 147 at the Masters. This is because there is a select field of just 16 players at this tournament at the Alexandra Palace in London. Each match up until the final is best of 11 frames with the final itself being best of 19 frames. With each match being up against a top level opponent, maximum breaks are particularly rare at this tournament, with just two in its entire history, the last one by Ding Junhui in 2007. As such, you’ll not want to back a maximum break at the Masters at odds of less than seven or eight to one.
The World Championship
Bookmakers will usually offer odds about a 147 for the final stages of the World Championship when the field has been whittled down to 32 and the play moves to the Crucible. The first round matches are over the best of 19 frames, but the minimum match length after this is best of 25 frames, with the final itself being best of 35 frames. This leads to a scenario where the top players will have many opportunities for a maximum, but the quality of opposition is very strong, and the pressure in this tournament is much greater. Over the years there have been 10 World Championship centuries, so you should consider a bet on a 147 here when the odds offered are around 2/1 or more.
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