Grand Slam of Darts Preview
This weekend sees the start of the Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton, the tournament where players from both the PDC and BDO are invited to take part.
With a prizepool of £400,000 and the event televised live on ITV4 there is plenty to play for and Phil Taylor (4/9) is the hot favourite to retain the trophy he has won for the last three years. In fact, he has won the tournament every time it has been staged since it's first event back in 2007.
The tournament lasts eight days from 13-21 November and starts off in group stages. The top two players from each group will progress to compete in the knockout phase from Thursday onwards. The groups consist of four players who meet each other once with the possibility of a nine-dart shoot-out to separate players who are locked on leg difference after three group matches.
This is an invitation tournament based on recent performance but the BDO also held a qualifying tournament in Barnsley with Wes Newton (40/1), Justin Pipe (150/1), Mark Hylton (150/1) and John Henderson (100/1) winning through to the main draw.
The first match sees a clash between the two organisations when the PDC's Simon Whitlock takes on Dave Chisnall from the BDO. Whitlock is 2/7 to get the win but Chisnall is an accomplished performer who finished runner-up in the World Final earlier this year and I wouldn't write off the St Helens man. He is 5/2 to cause an early upset.
James Wade won the Grand Prix in Dublin recently as is a generous 9/1 to follow up that success by winning again here. He opens against Justin Pipe and is 1/10 to win. Along with Pipe, Tony O'Shea and Vincent van der Voort are the other players in Group D and the 8/15 on Wade to finish top looks good value.
There are two female players taking part with Stacy Bromberg and Tricia Wright invited to play. The two took part in the Women's PDC final earlier this year with Bromberg winning 6-5. If you fancy one of them to cause a huge upset and win this tournament you can get 1,000/1. Tricia Wright would have hoped for an easier draw, she plays Raymond van Barneveld first up and is 12/1 to get off to a flier. American-born Bromberg takes on Meryvn King and is 10/1 to get the win.
The ever unpopular Paul Nicholson is unlikely to have the crowd on his side but when he performs at his best is capable of putting a good run together, he is a massive 80/1 to win the tournament and that definitely looks worth an each way bet. He opens up against Arron Monk and I would expect him to win that one quite easily as the odds of 2/5 suggest.
Phil Taylor opens against Michael van Gerwen. The Dutchman was the youngest ever player to compete in the BDO World Champions at just 17 years and 257 days and has some successes winning the World Masters back in 2006. He is 100/1 to win the tournament and 7/1 to beat Taylor in his opener.
In our specials markets it is 1/2 that there is a 170 checkout in the tournament and 9/4 that there is a nine-darter.
It should be a great week of darts and James Wade is my selection at 9/1. Adrian Lewis at 25/1 also looks a good each way selection.
The tournament starts on Saturday with live coverage on ITV4