In many ways, snooker is far from your typical sport. It requires virtually no degree of fitness, physical endurance or muscular strength and it is played quite literally at walking pace. This does not mean that snooker is without its appeal though as it’s a game that possesses charm in abundance. Watching the top players calculate their angles and spin to perfection is extremely impressive, if not mesmerising at times. The level of control and precision required for every single shot, with so little room for error, is not something you see across many other sports.
In the UK, the sport is not as popular as it once was, at least from a spectator’s point of view. Back in 1985, a third of the nation (18.5m) tuned in to watch the final of the World Championships, an enthralling battle between Steve David and Dennis Taylor. In more modern years, the peak audience for the big final has hovered around the 4m mark, a mere fraction of what it was in the memorable 1985 battle.
The outlook is far from all bad for snooker though because it has enjoyed a real growth in its international profile, particularly in China. From relative obscurity, the popularity of snooker has exploded in the world’s most populous nation, especially following the many successes of Ding Junhui. In 1990, there wasn’t a single Asian player placed in the top 32 rankings but by 2020 there was a record high of seven. Thanks to this huge wave of interest from the east, snooker will definitely be here to stay for a long time to come, meaning you can continue to watch and enjoy the action, and bet on it too.
Speaking of betting on the action, this handy betting guide will cover all the main snooker betting markets that you can access at online bookmakers. Just be aware that while some bookies will include most of the options listed below, some provide very few additional markets for snooker beyond the basic options.
Most Popular Snooker Bets
As is the case with virtually every sport, the most popular type of bet revolves around betting on the victor of an upcoming fixture. For anyone clued up on snooker, you are likely to have something between a faint idea and a strong feeling as to who will win an upcoming match. There will be the odd match that involves a player you might have never seen or even heard of before, but most higher-profile events, so the ones you can actually bet on, contain lots of familiar faces.
Now, although you might think there is only one way of betting on the end result, this is not the case, and it has not been the case for a long time. Today’s modern gambler has access to extra markets that simply did not exist before. Of course, you can still be on a standard win if you like but there are some alternative options that each provide completely different odds. In certain cases, you may find they provide you with much better value for money too.
This is what many snooker betting enthusiasts stick to as it is the main market out there. Match result, as the name indicates, is where you aim to correctly predict the winner of the contest. In most instances with snooker, this will be a choice of either Player A or Player B and that’s it. There are some league competitions though in which a draw is possible because they play the best of an even number, rather than odd. If this is the case, you will clearly see a draw (often written as ‘x’) as one of the available options within the match result market.
Almost all snooker matches will have a favourite. Sometimes it is a very narrow favourite and sometimes it is a rather strong favourite. There are odd times too when there is a total mismatch in which you will get next to no money in backing the stronger option. Looking at some upcoming fixtures and we can see one example of this is Ronnie O’Sullivan (1/66) v Ng On Yee (50/1). A £10 bet on Rocket Ronnie for this contest would net you a mere 15p in profit. Cases like this are very infrequent though as for the bulk of matches you do not see the odds reach double figures for either player.
Match Handicap Betting
The example of Ronnie mentioned above is a great way of showing the power of handicap betting. With the standard market, there is simply no money to be made backing on him to win that particular match. You can however get something much closer to resonable returns through the handicap betting market. How handicap bets work is that you will pick the player you think will win after being handed a specific score adjustment. Now in snooker, the score adjustment will relate to the number of frames so if you back a player with a +3.5 handicap, this means three and a half extra frames will be added onto their actual score.
If you backed a player to win and the final score was 8-10, this is obviously a lost bet. However, with a +3.5 frame handicap they are a winner as the contest now finishes 11.5-10. Handicaps can work the other way too as we will demonstrate with snooker’s poster boy, O’Sullivan. You can back him with a -2.5 frame handicap to beat Ng On Yee at odds of 2/9. Sure this isn’t a great price but it’s miles better than the 1/66 for a standard win. Given that the match is out of four frames, this means O’Sullivan would need to win the contest 3-0 (if someone goes 3-0 up the fourth game is not played). Anything less than this and he would end up losing once his -2.5 frame handicap has been applied.
The handicap value can vary depending on the match so it will not always be +/-2.5. In some cases, bookmakers will actually offer a range of different handicap values, in addition to the standard one, in the ‘alternative handicap’ market. The more frames the players are playing to, the more handicap options there can be.
Correct score betting is usually quite a challenging bet but this does mean it is often rewarding too if you pick the right result. For this bet you will need to predict who will win the game and what the exact score in frames will be. In a best of 33 frame clash, you would do extremely well to get this right given that there are 34 possibilities, (everything including and between 17-0 and 17-16 for each of the players). The fewer the possible number of frames, the easier it becomes but, naturally, this will be reflected in the prices offered by the bookmakers.
Even in short matches though, such as the Championship League best of four games, picking a correct score is a good way of upping the odds. Take one fixture between Mark Williams and Jak Jones. Williams was priced at odds of 4/5 to win the match overall but you could instead back him (or his opponent, if you prefer) at distinctly better odds by picking the score by which he would win, as you can see in the table below.
|Mark Williams||Jak Jones|
|To Win (Any Score)||4/5||5/1|
Now in snooker, what you will often find in the pre-match betting there is a number of ‘1st frame markets’. There is nothing inherently special about the first frame though and there are a lot of other equally important frames that will need to be played. Even regular league competitions such as the Championship League features matches that are the best out of four frames. Bigger knockout events like the World Snooker Championships start with players engaging in a best of 19 battle before a gradually ramping up of the number of frames through the round culminating in the best of 35 frames in the final.
The reason that you will usually only see the first frame betting options pre-game is that it is not really practical for bookies to have markets for frames one, two, three, four, five, and so on. Partly because it would be messy and partly because they don’t know how many frames there will be, which could lead to a lot of void bets. A best of 19 frames match, for instance, could have anywhere between 10 and 19 frames. So, what the bookies do instead is start with the first game and as the game progresses they will offer odds for the next frame in the in-play betting. So, when the players are mid-way through the first frame, you should find that you can then bet on the second frame and so on.
Betting on just the winner of the frame, as opposed to the entire match, is something you might prefer to do in some situations. The biggest advantage is that it will pay out a lot quicker than a match bet, assuming you choose correctly of course. A standard frame might well be over in 20 minutes or less but you could be waiting hours and hours for a full match to be over. Frame betting can also provide better odds later on in a game than the match market. If a player is 6-2 up in a best of 19 battle then they’ll be the strong favourite to win the match but to win the next frame should be a little more even.
We have already discussed match handicap betting but this is a little different. Rather than adding or subtracting a number of frames onto the total match score, here we add or subtract points from a single frame. What usually happens within the frame handicap market is the bookmaker will try and pick a handicap score that evens out the two players as much as possible. For Ali Carter v Alfie Burden the handicaps were -29.5 and +29.5 respectively with both options priced at 5/6. In order to offer the same odds for Mark Williams versus Peter Lines, the points handicaps were adjusted to -39.5 and +39.5.
It is possible in bigger matches that bookies will offer additional point handicaps, giving you access to shorter and larger odds. In all cases though, it works in exactly the same way in that you would add or subtract the stated points, as appropriate, from the chosen player at the end of the frame. If Williams wins 80-0 then a handicap bet wins because the adjusted score is 40.5-0 but it’s a failed bet if he wins by any margin slimmer than 40 points.
Frame Total Points
There are a couple of ways a bookie can approach this market but it usually involves a choice of two options, most likely 100 points or more, or under 100 points. This is the combined player total you are after and it includes any additional points (for fouls) that have been awarded. As both options are both quite similar in terms of the likelihood of winning in a typical pro game, you will not access big odds in this market.
Frame Winning Margin
If you do want bigger odds within a frame specific market, a good option is to explore winning margins. Now, although the size of the margins may differ between bookmakers, there should be at least a few options available. The below example comes courtesy of one of the bigger British bookies who priced up a match between Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Joyce.
|Margin of Frame Win (points)||O’Sullivan||Joyce|
Sullivan to win the opening frame, by any means, was a rather short price of 2/5 so you do unlock much more attractive prices by plumping for the margin of victory.
First Red/Colour Potted in Frame
We have bunched these two markets together as they are very similar. Barring some hideously freakish miscue, we know that a red will be the first colour to be potted. You can however bet on which player will be responsible for converting the opening red. Knowing who is set to break helps with this bet as some players are better at opening than others.
Another betting option is to pick which colour (other than red) will be potted first. Black, being worth the maximum seven points, is always the number one target for any snooker player but it is not always accessible, particularly early on in a frame. Generally, the odds offered for the first non-red coloured ball potted do not vary much although, in a low-quality game, the odds for black may shrink a little.
To give you an idea of what they are though, you should expect to see something like black – 13/8, pink 8/1, blue 11/5 and baulk 2/1. Baulk covers the yellow, green and brown balls. Note that across both markets, if a foul is made, the ball potted will not count for purposes of the bet.
Race to X Frames
Have you ever backed a player before who has made a great start but then tailed off late on and lost the match? If this is an all too familiar tale you may wish to consider placing a bet on a player to be the first to reach a certain number of frames. The exact number will depend on the match itself and it is possible there will be a range of options. To give you an example though, say we had a match that was being played to the best of 19 frames and the bet was the first to five frames. So long as your selected player is the first one to reach five frames, your bet is a winner, no matter if they go on to lose every single frame after that.
For this market, the fewer the frames, the closer the two betting options will be to 50:50 as the luck element increases. Even a significantly worse player might be able to fluke an opening frame but to reach three frames first is a bigger ask and even more so when it comes to the race to five frames or more.
Total Frame Points: Odd/Even
Bookies love offering odd/even bets because it’s really just a coin flip but one in which they don’t need to give you even money odds. You will find that with the odd/even total points market both options will be available at odds of 5/6 (or 10/11 if you are lucky). What this means is you are making a 50:50 bet but you are getting 80p or 91p back from every £1 wagered. It’s hard for us to think of any situation in which this is a good market to bet on as there is no real reason why any match would be more likely to end up with an odd number of points any more than it would an even number of points, or vice versa.
There is however the market of betting on a particular player to end up with an odd or even total during a frame, which is slightly less of a coin flip. The reason this is less of a pure lottery is that it is not terribly rare for a player to end up with zero points from a frame. For this reason, ‘even’ should always be the shorter-priced option. If you do fancy a player to lose a frame to nil, this market is worth considering especially as there’s a good chance you might get lucky if they do manage to rack up some points.
Now, some of you may have accidentally (or perhaps purposefully) broken a snooker cue before but this is not what we mean by break betting. Snooker is a sport that is far too civilised for such vandalism after all. Instead, a break in snooker relates to the number of points obtained during one visit to the table, so in other words, it is a points streak. There can be no pause in between so players need to pot a ball with every single shot to keep their break active. The maximum possible break achievable is 147* and this involves potting the black after every single red, before sweeping up all the colours.
*Technically, it is possible to achieve a break of 155 although it requires truly exceptional circumstances in which the cue ball is snookered after a foul and the referee declares a free ball, thus creating the chance to pot a sixteenth ‘red’ and an extra black.
Highest Break in Match
For this bet, you simply have to pick which player you believe will achieve the highest break in the entire match. It does not matter what the break score is, or at what stage in the match it was obtained. Now, some bookies will just give the option of the two players for this while others will also allow you to bet on the possibility of a draw. Now, the likelihood of both players hitting exactly the same best break is slim, which is the reason it is usually available at odds of around 30/1, but it is always a possibility.
If your bookmaker does not offer a tie, and the players do end drawing, then the bet will most likely be settled as a dead heat so you would receive half of your expected winnings.
Highest Break in Frame
Rather than picking the highest break in the overall match, punters can also back someone to record the biggest break during a specific frame. Players will usually be priced for this at a similar price as they are for the highest match break although there is likely to be some slight variation.
A Break of 50+/100+
If you are unsure who will achieve the biggest break but you fancy there to be a particularly good streak, you are most welcome to bet on this. For an individual frame, you can put money if you think either player will record a score of 50+ or 100+. In both cases, the stated number is inclusive so a score of 50 and 100 will count as a winning bet. The choice is a simple yes or no. The better the players involved, the short the prices for yes, but to give you a general idea here approximately what you can expect for any given frame.
|Break of 50+||1/2||6/4|
|Break of 100+||9/2||1/8|
We have just discussed a player reaching a break of 100, which is also known as a century break. There are various options in century betting that are based on players reaching a three-digit score in one vist to the table.
There are two different options when betting on match centuries, the first is either betting on over or under a specified amount. This, for instance, might be 2.5 centuries and then you just need to decide whether there will be more or less than this seen during the entire game. The other option is to be more precise so pick the exact number of centuries, for example 2, or a range if a range such as 2-3 if provided instead.
The same as above only this time your bets related to a chosen player. So, you can back either player to achieve over or under a certain number of century breaks in the match, or you can pick how many centuries they will obtain. Now, as centuries are not easy to achieve, the odds on player century betting tends to skyrocket as highlighted by this match over the best of four frames featuring Ali Carter and Dominic Dale.
|Centuries||Ali Carter||Dominic Dale|
Snooker Betting In-Play
Snooker’s slow pace actually makes it an ideal sport for in-play betting. Punters have a decent amount of time to weigh up their bets before the odds start jumping all over the place. It certainly makes betting less stressful if you happen to be using a slow device or are on a weak wi-fi connection.
Generally speaking, bookmakers will ensure that snooker fixtures they cover in the pre-event market will make their way to the live betting page the moment the first break is made. As explained before, the markets will update as the game progresses before. While the pre-match markets are heavily focused on first frame betting, you will have the opportunity to bet on the second frame, the third frame, and so on as the game goes on.
The only other thing we will say about in-play snooker betting is that it is not something you will find on a regular basis. If you head to the live betting page of any bookmaker there are some sports that seem to be available 24/7, football being one example, while others, like snooker, seldom appear. The sport simply does not have a packed calendar at the top level and bookmakers are fairly reluctant to cover lower standard events. With sometimes weeks separating significant games, you are unlikely to accidentally stumble across a live snooker match. So, if you are looking to bet in-play, it often requires a little planning.
Outright Snooker Bets
Outright snooker bets involve you picking the winner of a selected league or tournament. You can place these bets well before the actual competition begins, allowing you to lock in a price you think might drop closer to the start date. The price of your pick might shorten because they hit a fine patch of form just prior or because one or more of their main rivals pull out for whatever reason. It can, therefore, be a good idea to bet in advance for these competitions at times. Bear in mind though that betting early does come with a risk as it might be your selection who drops out or gets stuck in a pre-tournament rut.
Snooker is not jam-packed with different outright markets but you do have all the big competitions covered such as the World Championship, the UK Championship, The Masters and the Championship League. In almost all cases, the only available market is ‘to win outright’ i.e. who will win the whole thing. The Championship League is a little different though as you can also bet on who you think will win their respective four-player group.
When betting on the outright winner, if you want to hedge your bets a little you can back a player each way as most bookies. Standard each way terms for snooker cover the top two places at 1/2 odds although we have seen a minority offer four places at 1/4 odds. If this has confused you a little there is no need to worry as it is more simple than it sounds. An each way bet consists of two bets, one on your selection to win and the other on the selection to ‘place’. In this case, a place would be a top-two finish. Say we backed John Higgins at 16/1 to win the World Championships with a £2 each way bet (£4 total stake). If he proves victorious, we would receive £2 x 16/1 for him winning and £2 x 8/1 for him finishing in the top two as it is 1/2 odds. Should he lose in the final, however, we would only collect the latter half of our bet.
Although there is not an abundance of top snooker action throughout the year, when it does arrive there are often lots of games within a short space of time. This means that there is plenty of scope to place multiple bets in order to boost your odds. A multiple bet is simply a situation in which you combine selections from different matches into one bet. Combining two selections is a double bet, three selection a triple and any bet with four or more selections is commonly known as an accumulator.
To show you exactly why accumulators are so appealing, we will look at a real-life example of some Championship League fixtures. In each one we are going to back the favourite to win, so individually they would not provide much in the way of profit (always an amount less than our initial stake as they are all odds-on, though of course, you get your stake back with any winnings).
|Selection||Stake||Odds of selection||Return including rolled over stake from previous selection|
|Mark Williams to beat Peter Lines||£10||2/5||£14 (£4 profit plus £10 initial stake)|
|Ricky Walden to beat Allan Taylor||£14||17/20||£25.90|
|Ali Carter to beat Alfie Burden||£25.90||4/5||£46.62|
|Ronnie O’Sullivan to beat Ian Burns||£46.62||4/11||£63.57|
|Scott Donaldson to bear Aaron Hill||£63.57||8/11||£109.80|
This is effectively how an accumulator works. The winnings from one selection is rolled over and used as the stake for the next. You do not have to worry about all this maths though as on the betslip it will simply tell you the odds, 9.98/1 in this instance, and what your returns will be if all the players you selected win their respective matches.
Accumulators are a popular bet type because they do not require punters to risk much in order to potentially gain a lot. If you placed £10 on each of the above players to win as single bets, you would only stand to gain a profit of £31.40, rather than the £99.80 you would win with the acca (plus your initial stake). At the same time, you would be risking five times as much money! Before you start thinking accumulators are too good to be true though, remember that every single selection you add must win, if not, your bet will be a failed one.
Betting Inside a Snooker Hall/Arena
There is nothing illegal about using your phone and betting on the snooker while watching it live but it is something we would strongly discourage. It is best to think that watching a live snooker match is like being at the cinema. You should stay as quiet as possible and this ideally means keeping your phone switched off. Now, nobody will mind if you glance at it to check the time but swiping through some betting markets with a bright screen might rustle a few feathers among the snooker aficionados who usually attend live snooker events.
There are intermissions during longer snooker matches in which you are perfectly fine to place your in-play bets but keep your phone away during the action. The last thing you want is a loud notification ping to go off in the middle of a televised match!