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Hundreds of years’ heritage
Snooker was derived from the game of billiards, which was played as far back as the 1340s. Billiards was given royal approval in the following century by Louis XI of France, who was documented to be a keen player of the original game, which is now used as an umbrella term for cue sports including snooker and pool.
The sport of snooker itself is said to have been named by Colonel Sir Neville Chamberlain, who was serving in India with the British army in 1875. It is thought that Colonel Chamberlain first used the term when referring to a colleague he played an adapted game of pool with. The game Colonel Chamberlain and his fellow soldiers played added a yellow, green and pink to the existing pack of reds and a black. After Colonel Chamberlain called his colleague a ‘snooker’, the name for the game was said to have stuck.
After adding a brown and blue to the mix of balls, snooker grew to become a professional sport in the early 20th century. It wasn’t until the explosion of television snooker on the BBC in the 1980s, however, that the sport began to build its position as a popular sport in the UK and abroad, with live snooker betting coming to the fore.
The pinnacle of world snooker
The annual World Championship is a time when snooker enters the consciousness of not just sports fans, but a large share of UK television viewers, as the world’s best players do battle over an intensive two week period. This tournament, which takes place at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre every April, is the showpiece event of the year. It has given fans some of the closest battles and tightest contests in sport over the years, and is traditionally the event at which new stars are born. From the tactical brilliance of Steve Davis and Peter Ebdon to the flamboyant playing style of Jimmy White and Ronnie O’Sullivan, many snooker players have gone on to be household names following the World Championship.
Some 32 players enter the first round of the World Championship, but online snooker betting options may be available from some providers as early as the qualifying rounds which precede the main tournament. If you like to bet on snooker, the World Championship is your calling, with several matches to choose from on most days of Championship fortnight, with most of them being available to watch on free view television.
Steven Hendry has won the most World Championships in the modern era, having ploughed through the field in the 1990s on his way to seven triumphs. Hendry was often seen to be so dominant that he made winning look easy, and combined with his aloof manner away from the table, this ability to win without visibly showing much emotion made many fans prefer to support crowd pleasers such as White and John Higgins. The seemingly cursed White lost to Hendry no less than four times in the final, and six times overall. After Hendry, Ray Reardon and Steve Davis are the next most successful modern World Championship players, with six titles each.
Steve Davis dominated the 1980s in a similar fashion to Hendry in the following decade, picking up his first trophy at the tender age of 23 in 1981 by beating Doug Mountjoy. Shepherded by his fast talking manager Barry Hearn, Davis was to become one of the first snooker players to be famous throughout the country, appearing on many mainstream TV shows to cement his crossover appeal.
Davis was involved in what is considered by many to be one of the momentous sporting occasions captured by television cameras in the UK, when he played out a classic World Championship final in 1985 against Dennis Taylor with an audience-high of 18.5 million, which remains the highest viewing figure ever for BBC2. Davis lost that nail biting match, which finished after midnight as the best of 35 game ended 18 frames to 17 in favour of Taylor.
Fast forwarding to the modern era, and there is one man that stands heads and shoulders above the rest. Ronnie O’Sullivan is considered by snooker pundits to be the greatest player ever to have played the game, with motivational issues the only reason he has not become the most successful in World Championship history. He is ambidextrous and capable of dismantling an opponent using either arm for cueing. Since making the fastest ever 147 maximum break at the World Championship in 1997, O’Sullivan has continued to dazzle with his speed, range of shots, and unpredictable nature.
There are several younger players that might be said to have borrowed many elements from the O’Sullivan style, including the ‘Jester from Leicester’ Mark Selby and the 2015 semi-finalist Judd Trump. In line with the growing worldwide appeal of snooker, the World Championship has welcomed many competitors representing countries from outside the UK, including China’s Ding Junhui, Marco Fu of Hong Kong and Australians Eddie Charlton and Neil Robertson.
This rise in the exposure of snooker on a global scale has coincided with the opportunities for snooker betting online increasing, and there is no tournament like the World Championship, when the sporting spotlight is firmly on the Crucible. Many fans like to bet on the outright winner of the competition, or an each way bet, which often pays out when a player reaches the final, whether they win or lose.
Snooker at Wembley – The Masters
Wembley is more commonly known as the home of football in England, but in recent years it has increasingly been linked with snooker, as The Masters takes places in the Exhibition Centre which neighbours the national stadium.
The Masters is seen as snooker’s ‘second tournament’, inferior in importance only to the World Championship, and a coveted trophy for any professional player to have in their cabinet. Its location, in London, means it welcomes snooker fans from all over the world to a relatively large arena when compared with the intimate setting of the Crucible Theatre.
In terms of success, the two giants Hendry and O’Sullivan are tied on a record six Masters triumphs each, and the tournament provided ‘Whirlwind’ O’Sullivan with a breakthrough win in 1995. Paul Hunter, Steve Davis, Cliff Thorburn and Mark Selby have each won the tournament three times.
The Masters will be particularly poignant for fans of Hunter, who died in 2006 after being diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumors. It seemed Hunter reserved his best form for the tournament, which will always be linked to the ‘David Beckham of snooker’ as he was known due to his dashing good looks.
A field of 16 players start in the main draw of the Masters, which takes place in January every year. This means betting snooker fans have a feast of matches to place money over a week, with the games coming thick and fast. The 2016 edition fell victim to The Whirlwind, with O’Sullivan coming through a tough match against former world champion Mark Williams before sweeping the rest of the field aside, climaxing with a 10-1 demolition of Barry Hawkins in a one-sided final. O’Sullivan has not been a regular at most tournaments on the tour in recent years, but when he announces his decision to take part in the major tournaments you can be sure that snooker bet experts have their eye on his odds.
The pull of the UK Championship
There are several other large tournaments around the world that spike an interest in snooker. While the Masters is seen by many as the most prestigious event after the World Championship, it is the UK Championship that offers the next most ranking points, making up the third event in the ‘Triple Crown’ of tournaments that are snooker’s most famous occasions.
Since its inception in 1979, the UK Championship has put some miles on the clock, moving from Blackpool to Preston, and then Bournemouth and Telford, before settling in its current location at the Barbican Centre in York. Attracting the best players on the planet and being shown on national television, the UK Championship is eagerly anticipated by world snooker betting fans, and is held in November and December every year.
Neil Robertson of Australia was the 2015 champion after beating China’s Liang Wenbo in the final – the first time ever that the showpiece match of the tournament has taken place without a British competitor involved.
The indomitable Steve Davis holds the record for the most UK Championship wins with six, followed by Hendry and O’Sullivan with five each. Hendry’s 1989 win over Davis in the final signalled a ‘passing of the torch’ between the player of the 1980s and the young prospect who was to preside over the following decade.
The UK Championships is played over a fortnight, starting with a huge opening field of 128. This gives lower ranked players the change to spring a surprise, which was highlighted after Adam Duffy made shockwaves through the snooker world by dumping out two-time champion Ding Junhui in the 2015 event.
The best of the rest
There are a whole host of other tournaments on the World Tour aside from the Triple Crown events. The China Open is one of these – it has existed as a rankings tournament since 1999, when Ronnie O’Sullivan won his first of two consecutive titles. The event demonstrates the widening global appeal of snooker, particularly in this part of the world, where there are said to be more snooker tables than in the rest of the countries in the world combined.
Played at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, the Welsh Open is another competition that offers the players in the lower parts of the rankings the opportunity to pick up valuable points, with its field of 128. Its inclusion in the live television schedule of a national network has increased the size of the tournaments’s profile, and made it a popular option among snooker betting fans.
Down Under, the Australian Open has also grown in recent years, and is now an accredited rankings event. Surprisingly given the high standard of Australian players over the years, only one native, Ian Anderson, has ever won the event, picking up the 1979 title.
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As 18.5 million Brits found out in 1985, snooker is an exciting sport that can have you gripping the arms of your sofa! From the World Championship and Masters to the UK Championship, we are proud to present you with the pick of the best betting providers for snooker, making sure you know about any special offers as soon as they are announced.