China Open Betting

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The 19th-century game of Snooker has experienced a revival in recent years, led by professional level tournaments that are televised, which has in turn led to intensification of wagering. This rise in popularity has been accompanied by new sponsorships, special promotions, increasingly larger prize pools, and new ways of betting, such as “live” or in-running wagers. And as Snooker’s following has spread internationally, a keen interest has been aroused in China, where some of the world’s top players are now based.

The China Open is a professional Snooker tournament that got its start in 1997 as the non-ranking “China International.” In that year, two Englishmen played in the final, with Steve Davis defeating Jimmy White 7-4 in Beijing.

Two years later, the second installment was held, this time as a ranking tournament featuring two Scots. Then World Champion John Higgins overpowered Billy Snaddon 9-3 to take the title for 1998-99. Thereafter, the contest’s name was changed to the China Open.

Late in 1999, Higgins was eliminated from the 1999-2000 edition during the first round, paving the way for England’s Ronnie O’Sullivan to roll to the final past fellow countrymen Paul Sweeney 5-1 and Brian Morgan 6-5. He then downed another compatriot, Stephen Lee, by a score of 9-2 to win the championship. The following year, O’Sullivan defended his title successfully against the Welsh phenomenon, Mark Williams. However, Williams would go on to leave his own mark on the China Open by winning the tournament in 2002, 2006, and 2010—the first hat-trick by any player.

The one and only Chinese player to win the title was Ding Junhui in 2005, taking down Wales’ Stephen Hendry 9-5. Junhui got a second shot in 2010, but came up short, 6-10, to Williams. The current champion is England’s Judd Trump, who earned the 2011 crown by outlasting compatriot Mark Selby 10-8 in the final.

Since 2008, the China Open has been conducted at the Beijing University Students Gymnasium, which was constructed especially for the 29th Summer Olympiad. The tournament is now scheduled in late March or early April as the last ranking event before the annual World Championship. The competition uses a single-elimination knock-out bracket of 32 players, which includes the world’s top 16, who are seeded, and an additional 16 survivors from preliminary qualifying rounds held in the U.K. in February.

A best-of-nine-frames format is adopted for all of the early rounds through the quarter finals, increasing to best of eleven for the semi-finals. The championship-deciding match is played to the best of 19 frames. In 2011, the total prize pool was £325,000, of £60,000 was paid as the winner’s share.

Wagering on the China Open typically takes one of two forms. Ante post bets can be made on the eventual outright winner as much as a year in advance of the opening rounds. However, the heaviest ante post wagering starts in late February, after the qualifiers and just as soon as the draw of 32 is known. Then, as the opening round gets under way commences, interest shifts to the individual matches, choosing which of two players will emerge the winner of the head-to-head bracket competition. Handicaps are often offered to balance the odds, giving the better player some frames deficit, rather like spread betting.

Other types of markets available include frame winner, top break, come from behind, highest break for each player (over/under), number of century breaks in a match-up, number of 50+ breaks, and “frame betting,” predicting the final score of a match prior to its start. For in-running or live betting, even more options may be offered as the game is in progress.

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