What’s the haps on the craps, darts nation? It’s K.M. Venne back with some time to preview the tourney portion of the William Hill Grand Slam of Darts and make you all some sweet dollars, which is why we follow the darts after all. For those unaware of what the Grand Slam of Darts is, it’s a fun tourney where the PDC, the big boy league of darts, allows some of the BDO guys, aka the D-League of Darts but they don’t seem to know they are second rate, to join them in an interesting format. We started with 8 groups of 4, where we played games to 5 legs, and the top 2 from each group advance to the tourney, for a 16 person tourney. We start with games that are first to 10 legs in the round of 16, and play to 15 legs in the quarters, semis, and finals. The fact that we match up the winners of each group with the second place qualifier from the group paired with them (A and B, C and D, etc.) means we got some pretty tasty round of 16 action to preview, and also some really easy bets to cash, so let’s get right to previewing the first round, which will occupy Thursday and Friday the 17th and 18th of November.
Dean Winstanley vs. Mark Walsh
This is a fun match, pitting the Lakeside (BDO World Championship) runner up against a PDC also ran who has some, but not a ton, of quality to him. Winstanley stunningly won group B, a group that Raymond van Barneveld and Ted Hankey looked to cruise in, but Barney had no form and ended up winless, while Winstanley was able to sweep his group and qualify with ease. Meanwhile “Special Brew” Mark Walsh did what he does, grinding out a win against the unimpressive Tony O’Shea, and even pipping out young phenom Michael van Gerwen before losing his last match to Scott Waites, the 2010 Grand Slam of Darts champion and the 2009 Grand Slam of Darts runner up. But Walsh was already qualified by that point, so it was no big deal. The bottom line in this game is that neither Winstanley nor Walsh has been on much form, Winstanley not averaging 93 in any of his wins, and Walsh winning both of his games an 85 and a 91. These are low averages in this era where 97 is considered the bare minimum you need to get to a big tourney quarters or semis without a fortunate draw. With Winstanley laying -150 and Walsh getting plus money at +110, I see no reason not to take Walsh here for a small bet on a flyer, but hey, if you can’t make the start of the darts tomorrow (3 pm EST online, check justin.tv sports for a great feed), don’t worry, this one could be a snoozer.
BET: Mark Walsh +110 (1 unit)
Michael van Gerwen vs. Ted Hankey
Ted Hankey is the crowds choice for bad boy this week, catching a lot of heat from the fans. After being destroyed by Winstanley in his first game, Hankey came back and beat Barney, not really the accomplishment it used to be, and secured his spot by beating Ian White 5-2 with a blistering performance that showed he has some quality to him. Meanwhile, van Gerwen, the youngest player ever to throw a televised 9 darter, surprised nearly everyone in the world by winning group A, except me, I honestly had van Gerwen at 6-1 to win Group A. The young prodigy who has had an up and down career after his stunning early successes about 4 years ago is still only 22 and put in two great performances in his wins, and one dud in his lost, winning group A by one leg difference at +3 to Walsh’s +2 with each sat on 4 points. van Gerwen has a nearly 95 average so far after the group stages, with Hankey sat just under 90, and I’m going to take the quality of the PDC player and the more talented darter in this one at the +120 price against Hankey, who I think is far too high at -163. Another dog, a bit bigger, and a game worth getting around to seeing.
BET: Michael van Gerwen +120 (1.5 units)
Gary “The Flying Scotsman” Anderson vs. James “The Machine” Wade
Now we are talking! The world #3 Anderson vs. the world #4 Wade in what should be an absolute cracker. Anderson is the most prolific scorer in the game, able to throw in 180′s with the greatest of ease, making it so it’s almost more surprising when he misses his third dart with 2 already in the treble twenty bed then when he is able to squeeze that third dart in. Meanwhile James Wade has had a fantastic 2011, the winner of a major in the UK Open, made the semis of the World Grand Prix, and the quarters of the European Championships where he was beaten in a thriller by Barney. Anderson meanwhile has had some epic collapses, going back to the Wold Grand Prix where he was upset in the first round, and his troubles on the doubles have come back to haunt him since his great showing this season in the Premier League, where he was crowned champion. I like Wade’s form better, and at -110 vs. the -125 of Anderson, I suggest Wade for a marginal bet and implore anyone interested in catching the darts to try to catch this one, may be about a 5 pm start time, and should be a class game of darts.
BET: James Wade -110 (2 units)
Terry “The Bull” Jenkins vs. Wayne “The Wanderer” Jones
A couple of old guys on the stage for the finale of the night, as the old fixture of the PDC Terry Jenkins, a 6 time major finalist with no majors to his credit, takes on Wayne Jones, a wanderer in every sense of the world, a true journeyman, who had an excellent 2010 by his standards, spending the middle months as a consistent top 8 threat in any tourney, but has not been able to duplicate that success this season. Meanwhile Terry Jenkins is what he is, he’s always in the Premier League, he’s never a threat to beat anyone in the premier league because he’s not good enough. He’s had a sketchy season so far past his semis appearance in the World Championship, but Wayne Jones should be a player that The Bull has enough quality to overcome. The price is steep at -188, but I have had great success in my day laying big prices with The Bull and being successful, as silly as it may seem to lay nearly 2-1 with The Bull. Close your eyes, place a bet on Jenkins, and thank me afterwards.
BET: Terry Jenkins -188 (1 unit)
I’ll be back tomorrow to preview Friday’s action. I’d do it now, but the lines aren’t up yet! But be sure to come back and check it out, with games like 3 time world champion John Part vs. the defending world champion Adrian Lewis, and the 15 time champion of the world Phil Taylor playing the world #7 Wes Newton, as well as the CM Punk of Darts Paul Nicholson in action, it will be a great day on the oche on Friday!
A 2-2 day, but a -1.6 day on the units as James Wade just doesn’t show up to play and Michael Van Gerwen loses an epic 10-9 clash with Ted Hankey that would have made my day +1.6 instead of -1.6. Oh well. Plenty of darts left. Like Friday! We got a world champion in every game today, including two former champions in the nightcap. 2 PM EST, justin.tv, tune in, if it’s anything like Thursday, it should be a hell of a day. Here is your previews and predictions.
Paul “The Asset” Nicholson vs. Steve “The Bronzed Adonis” Beaton
The Bronzed Adonis has one of the greatest nicknames of all time. I just wanted to get that obvious tidbit out of the way early. Paul Nicholson continued his strong push for Premier League entry in 2012 with a runner up showing at Championship League Darts last month, but in the process lost his 5th straight match to Phil Taylor after upsetting The Power at the UK Open. Still, Nicholson is a class above most, and worth of his current #9 world ranking and upward trend this year. He’s on a warpath to win a world title, he’s not good enough yet, but he’s getting better as he goes. And his antics are getting under the skin of a lot of people, and earning him a lot of fans, he will have the crowd in my opinion. Beaton is a grinder, a solid player, but despite the -188 price, I like Nicholson to set us up for ANOTHER Taylor/Nicholson clash on Saturday, which will be nothing short of tasty on the long format. Take The Asset.
Pick: Nicholson -188 (2 units)
Mark “Spider” Webster vs. Martin Phillips
It’s a battle of Welshmen in the round of 16 here, as Mark Webster tries to continue to show the form that brought him to the World Semis last year and allowed him to smoke The Power in the quarters against the steady hand of Martin Phillips. Webster is a top 8 player, Phillips isn’t top 30. Despite the fact that Spider has the worlds worst mustache working right now, he’s pretty much the same exact situation as Nicholson, and I will make the same bet, just for a little less as I trust Nicholson more right now.
Pick: Webster -188 (1.5 units)
Phil “The Power” Taylor vs. Wes “The Warrior” Newton
Awesome. It’s Phil Taylor in a race to 10 legs, and he’s only a 7 to 1 favorite? That’s juicy. Granted, Wes Newton is one of the future superstars of Darts, he can play with anyone, on his best day, even Taylor. But at -700, you can’t pass the Power up. The Power is just so much better then everyone else, you need to lay that price against anyone who isn’t one of the very best of the best and on form (or named Adrian Lewis). I GOT THE POWER.
Pick: Taylor -700 (2 units)
Adrian “Jackpot” Lewis vs. John “Darth Maple” Part
This is a rematch from the first round of the last major, the World Grand Prix, where Part was down 0-1 in sets and 0-2 in legs, but stormed back to win the second leg and won the third as well for the massive comeback. And yet Lewis is a -500 favorite. Adrian Lewis, when on, is as good as anyone, even Taylor, but Lewis is a total headcase who can see his doubles desert him, so I have to lean against the current World Champion and back the 3 time champion of the world who has refound his game this year after nearly fading out of darts. Take the Canadian on a flier, there is some serious money in it, and Lewis can lose a match at any given time.
Pick: Part +350 (1.5 units)
Enjoy your Friday darts!