Thursday 30 August 2018

Hildesheim bets

0.25u Payne 4/5, seems a good price for a winner on tour this year when the model's thinking this is nearer a 1/2 game.

Webster's a bit shorter with a bit less chances of winning, so given his lack of form I can pass this one.

1u Anderson 2/9, he's up near 90% to win this so even at these odds this looks quite safe.

As Hänsch is unknown I'll pass his game.

Dekker's odds against, which surprises me a touch, as he's playing Labanauskas who could be a little underrated and off a fairly limited sample I'm inclined to pass, it's close though. Dekker at least won his qualifier yesterday.

North/Meulenkamp line looks plumb so not bet there.

0.25u Gilding 7/4, this one may end up looking silly given the model seems to underrate Hopp and it is in Germany, but I'm going to trust the process if we're getting nearly 2/1 on a player the model projects to win.

0.25u Ratajski 13/10, now this line just looks plain off. Can't be all bookies palping at the same time surely? The Pole should be the favourite here barring any injury news I've not seen.

0.25u Schindler 8/13, line seems way too close for my liking, Martin's really very good and Pipe's not going to score enough I don't think.

Pallett/Rasztovits line looks good enough to not consider a bet, may be tiny value on Rasztovits but it's not enough to start punting.

0.25u Wilson 11/8, this seems like another Ratajski line, where I think it should be the other way round, at least in this one we know Wattimena's playing OK and can see where they're coming from, but I've got James as the favourite so let's go with it.

Lewis/Alcinas I've not looked at as I was expecting this to be de Zwaan, but if Alcinas can beat de Zwaan he can beat Adie - 0.1u Alcinas 7/2.

Smith's only just north of evens against Jenkins, that's not quite enough to go with it in a game that could be decided on who wins the bull.

Might be tiny value on Marijanovic against Thornton but the market looks to have a fair bit of vig right now so nothing here, if someone offers 6/4 then have a look I guess.

0.25u Evans 6/4, as stated below I think this is a much closer line with Ricky having a tiny edge over Noppert, it's really close but 6/4 seems to be just on name value.

Reyes/Blum I really don't have an opinion on, was expecting this to be Clemens and I don't think I can translate the logic used to bet on Alcinas here given we're only getting 5/2 on the German.

Competitive darts returns!

We have a draw for Hildesheim! And it features only four of the sixteen first round games not featuring an as yet unknown qualifier, so at this stage all I can do is post a fair few what if types of posts, project who I think will win each bit of the qualifier, do some stats and wait for it all to be done and then for the odds to appear. So let's see what we have, I'm writing as the qualifiers go on so if something reads odd, I've probably gone back and edited something as results have changed things:

Andy Boulton/Josh Payne (winner to face Cullen) - Boulton's actually in with a decent chance of qualifying for Dortmund, but every little bit would help - getting an UK qualifier isn't really ideal, especially one that's won a Pro Tour event this year, with Payne rating to win this one a little more than two times out of three, his overall point per turn being a couple better than Boulton being fairly significant. If Payne did get through to face Cullen, he'd be very live - being an underdog, but greater than 45% to get home, although whether he'd realise that if Cullen plays better in Europe as he has done overall is another question.

Ted Evetts/Mark Webster (Chisnall) - Evetts has shown a decent game in flashes, but of late it seems there's been more misses than hits, the same as can be said for Webster, who hasn't been in form since seemingly forever, and while he's not in any danger of dropping far enough to lose his card he'd certainly like to get a win on stage, and he's just short of a 2-1 favourite to do so. Chisnall should be far too strong for either, getting nearly 75% against Webster to win.

Lee Bryant/Kyle Anderson (Cross) - Anderson's been a bit hit and miss this year after a breakthrough in 2017, and he's currently outside of the Dortmund slots and under pressure to up his game for the Grand Prix, but this first round shouldn't be an issue, coming in at nearly 90% against the relative unknown Bryant, making his first appearance on the European Tour in over twelve months and nearly doubling his prize money this season just by qualifying for this. Cross would be a different proposition entirely, but Kyle'd still have about a one in three stab at it, and from then, who knows?

Darren Johnson/HNQ4 (Gurney) - Now we have to start projecting. It looks like they've seeded the top five Germans (would be four but Wright withdrew, oddly enough) to the last four of their section, which for this is Langendorf, with Horvat in the mix and some other unknown or bad players. Johnson would have made the worlds last year under the new format but has work to do - if he faced Langendorf it'd be 60/40, so no gimmie. Gurney should be far too strong in round two, at over 75% against Johnson and clearly more against any domestic qualifier (edit - some guy called Hänsch has taken both Langendorf and Horvat out 6-1 and 6-4 respectively and 6-0'ed someone else to make the final, I don't recognise any possible opponents, so Johnson should be fine?)

Darius Labanauskas/EQ5 (Price) - Darius is looking OK to make Dortmund if he can pick up some wins, and this isn't a bad draw, with the qualifiers featuring Lerchbacher and Dekker, which would be quite close matches, Jan at around 55% to win and Zoran an effective flip (edit - Zoran was knocked out by Mats Gies in the semi, so it'll probably be Dekker). Price should have enough if his injury's healed up, looking better than a 2-1 favourite against any of these names.

Richard North/EQ1 (Bunting) - North has been OK this year, just doing enough to hold on to the Matchplay spot, but now needs to push forward up the rankings. The best opponent he can face is Meulenkamp, who's got some work to do to try to overtake the likes of North for Dortmund, who's on the borderline with Meulenkamp a couple of grand back. The model has North as a tiny favourite, not even 53%, which is roughly the chance that Bunting would have against North, which surprises me a little.

Andrew Gilding/HNQ3 (Suljovic) - Gilding is in serious danger of losing his tour card so realy needs a win here, but would face soon to be seeded European Tour winner Max Hopp if he successfully navigates the qualifiers. That said, as the model hates Hopp, Gilding still comes in as a favourite against Hopp, albeit really small, not even 55%. Suljovic should be really quite comfortable against either player, but as the model also hates Suljovic it doesn't rate him to be anywhere near as big a favourite as he should be - 61% against Gilding.

Krzysztof Ratajski/EQ7 (Smith) - Ratajski's not having quite as spectacular a season as he did last year, but is doing OK for himself - but does need to do some work to make Dortmund, the worlds being safe due to the UK Open qualifier win. The qualifier he faces will be either van der Voort, Kist, van den Bergh or an unknown (edit - it's Vinny or Dimitri), Dimitri would be about a 56% favourite but Vincent would be a 38% dog. Smith would be nearly a 2-1 favourite against Ratajski, adapt the line as needed.

Justin Pipe/HNQ2 (Beaton) - This is the Schindler section, which would be a tough ask for the veteran Pipe in Martin's backyard, having less than one chance in three against the youngster. Beaton got the last seed after Wright withdrew, and if it was Schindler he'd be face it'd be quite a tight game on paper, Schindler being around 53% against him.

Dave Pallett/Michael Rasztovits (Whitlock) - Pallett will be looking to replicate his UK Open exploits, and would have been in line to face Kim Huybrechts, but he was dumped out by Rasztovits, who beat de Graaf in the final. Pallett is a tiny favourite against Rasztovits so it could be worth a punt on the qualifier here.. Whitlock should be a solid favourite against Pallett, projecting to win more than two out of three games.

James Wilson/Jermaine Wattimena (Clayton) - It looks pretty certain that it'll be Wattimena that Wilson plays, putting up a game of two players doing well enough to make the Matchplay through the Pro Tour, and Wilson would look to be favoured - a little bit over 60% to win the game. Clayton's had a couple of mediocre results on occasion and could be a vulnerable seed against either (unless Hannes Schnier goes berko and starts beating everyone) - the model can barely separate Wilson and Clayton. (edit - no, Schnier didn't go berko)

Adrian Lewis/EQ8 (King) - Lewis is back among the seeds real soon so a rare outing on Friday for the former twice world champion, who will not have an easy game as he'll face Jeffrey de Zwaan or Antonio Alcinas (on a board that also featured van de Pas, Perales and van Tergouw). If it is de Zwaan, it's instantly game of the night, and Jeffrey, such as how his game has moved forward, actually projects as a favourite, albeit only 51%. King's got to be worried whoever he plays, although he'd still be very live - 45% against Lewis.

Terry Jenkins/Ross Smith (White) - There is no curse any more, but an interesting matchup between one player at the twilight of his career and another, although he seems to have been around for a while, still isn't even 30. This is another game that rates to be very close - Smith's doing well enough that he comes out as a small favourite against the Bull, around 54%, and although regular readers will not be surprised to see the model churn out White as a routine favourite, you might be surprised to see him not even a 2-1 favourite, lining up at 65% against Smith. There's a lot of parity in these races to 11!

Robert Thornton/HNQ1 (Wade) - Thornton's struggling to maintain relevance, and has a lot of work to do to make Dortmund - he is likely to face either the seeded Marijanovic in an all Robert derby, where Thornton would be a 53% favourite, or world championship hero Eidams, where he'd be in the mid-sixties. Wade is a tough out, back amongst the seeds he projects to beat Thornton more than two times in every three so the Scot would have work to do.

Ricky Evans/EQ3 (Webster) - Rapid Ricky is in the news for being one of the players that twelve year old Leighton Bennett beat in a decent senior open over the summer, so will want to do a bit better this time, against either former Lakeside finalist Noppert, who eliminated Klaasen, or Ronny Huybrechts, who took out de Decker. Noppert should take this on form, but Evans would win this in a game that'd be about an 11/10 - 10/11 fair line. Darren Webster is the seeded player, and Evans is doing enough that he'd only be about a 6/5 dog. Could be close games all round.

EQ4/HNQ5 (van Gerwen) - A virtual final here and nobody knows what'll happen. In the European section we have horribly inconsistent players in Reyes and van Duijvenbode, while the home nation player should be Clemens, but the winner of Blum/Siepmann could be in the mix. If it's Clemens, as you'd think it would be, he's about a 6/5 favourite against Reyes, van Duijvenbode is about a percentage point better, while van Gerwen should take out Clemens nearly 80% of the time, so not a complete walkover - Clemens on home soil could be interesting, he has made a Pro Tour final after all.

Wednesday 22 August 2018

Well, that's an interesting move by the BDO

Well that is interesting. It's really quite interesting. I think it's primarily been made to alleviate any issues the ladies might have had with respect to entering the qualifiers, which is a hugely welcome stance to take, but I think it's actually quite a well thought out decision that'll benefit both sides.

The top PDC players are not going to play BDO events. It's that simple - the PDC has such a crowded calendar that there is enough for around the top 32, maybe further, to be playing in a PDC event most weekends, so nothing's changed there. Where it is useful is for those players that are lower down in the PDC rankings - say someone's not qualified for a European Tour event, they can now theoretically enter a BDO event on that weekend. There's quite a lot of players, at least in the UK, that will now be able to do this, and I think it can only help both the players and the BDO - the players get competitive darts, and the BDO events get more players and a stronger playing field. I think it'll especially help the growth of the game in Europe, if players know that they won't be frozen out of events then I think it'll cause a lot more players to take a shot at Q-School and European Tour qualifiers knowing that they can still play the series of events they were going to do originally.

I'm really not sure what this means for Lakeside. In theory, Michael van Gerwen could roll up to the BDO qualifier, win it, and hold both world titles at the same time. With the way the BDO rankings work, you could quite, quite easily drop a couple of Pro Tour weekends where there's a BDO event with decent ranking points available and also attack the system when there's no PDC events or where you've not qualified for a PDC event that weekend. Or just play through the summer - there's been no ranking events outside of the Matchplay since June, and most of the PDC that would be interested in BDO events isn't going to be in the Matchplay.

One thing's for certain, 2019 Q-School is going to be hectic. I see no reason why Durrant wouldn't now go for it - he can still maintain Lakeside eligibility, pick and choose PDC events where his BDO schedule allows him to, keep his job (I think the last interview I heard he was still working, if that's now not the case my apologies) and get the best of both worlds. There's no reason for any BDO player not to take the shot at it.

One last thing - what does this mean for Ratajski? Surely in this brave new world of, if not co-operation, at least less hostility, he should be allowed to take the Grand Slam spot his World Master title would otherwise have allowed him to have?

23/8 addendum - on Twitter, there's a bunch of people mentioning that there is a PDC/PDPA rule (somewhere, I can't for the life of me find it) that states members cannot play in non-PDC sanctioned events on television. This needs the PDC/PDPA to clarify things.

First, what does this supposed rule that I cannot find actually state (if it's hidden somewhere in opaque not for public consumption contracts between players and the PDPA then fair enough)?

Second, what constitutes television? The whole idea of a televised event is meaningless in 2018. This isn't the WDC era where you had four channels and, if you're lucky, a handful of crap on Sky/cable. An ever increasing percentage of the population do not view television in a traditional manner at all. If Channel 4 picked it up, then that's fine. Eurosport, probably. BBC red button? Freesports? Dave? Amazon Prime? Winmau streaming through Facebook? Bet 365? Where do you draw the line?

It'd be extremely sensible for the PDC/PDPA to just waive/remove this rule for reasons stated above. The top players are not suddenly going to start showing up in BDO events. The lower ranked players might, but is it really a big commercial loss to the PDC if, say, Wayne Jones showed up in the World Masters brought to you by Netflix? If anything, it brings up what is surely a murky legal grey area - players will almost certainly be independent contractors, now that there isn't quite as huge a demarcation between codes it is surely got to be potential restraint of trade and/or the PDC's rules (if they even exist) qualify as unfair contract terms. Interesting times regardless.

Friday 17 August 2018

Brisbane, Milton Keynes and den Haag

Watching a bit of the replay from Brisbane right now. Was good to see that Cadby managed to avenge his defeat to Simon Whitlock, every leg won in five visits being a decent standard, although the real story has to be Raymond Smith knocking out Michael Smith, who now has a fairly unenviable record of two out of three first round losses on this conclusion to the World Series tour. Ray played some decent stuff - with him currently heading up the DPA rankings, he'd be in line to make the PDC worlds (where, if he also qualified, they would absolutely need to rig the draw to give him Ross Smith as an opponent to screw with the Sky captioning lads). Looking back at his 2017 BDO worlds, he did OK, a lot better in the game he lost rather than the one he won, but not bad. Would certainly be a contender to win his first game, good to see that the shelling he got from van Gerwen didn't affect him too much at this level. But why the hell are ITV slotting in ad breaks after three legs? Only the last two games went beyond eight legs, you can surely show the whole game, we don't need to see a bunch more ads for trade suppliers.

Next, there's been a few ladies players saying that they will be playing the qualifiers for the PDC worlds - Hedman, Winstanley, Hammond, Sherrock and Dobromyslova have confirmed themselves in - that's five of the BDO's top eight. Credit to all of them for doing so while the BDO dithers as to what their stance is going to be - that said, while it would be a standard BDO thing to do, you can't imagine that they will do anything that'll prevent them from appearing at Lakeside (or wherever the hell they hold the worlds) given all the free publicity the two entrants will give for the ladies' worlds, and with these top entrants having already gone in, they cannot surely mass exclude people that play the qualifier, as it'd leave their version so incredibly weak, we really don't need to see a repeat of the men's version in 1994 after the WDC split where Part won without averaging 91 in a single match and winning the final in straight sets while only averaging 82.

Finally, with it being less than four months before the worlds starts, what on earth are they going to do with the Premier League? First, here's a look at some ranking metrics:

I've highlighted in green the current PDC top four, who are all over £130k ahead of Gurney in the world championship race who, if they're not still in the top four after the worlds, surely will be invited anyway. I've also highlighted Smith, Suljovic and Gurney, as I can't imagine any conceivable scenario where they're not invited - Smith reached the final last year, has won a World Series event and has a Pro Tour win, Suljovic has won a Euro Tour event, a World Series event and had a pretty ridiculous average this year, while Gurney's a clear fifth in key rankings, looked good last time and while he could do with winning something, or at least making a final, is still looking pretty solid.

Where's this come from in August you ask? There was a brief bit of Twitter this week from Chris Mason making the point, quite rightly, that they pick players based on commercial reasons ahead of the best players. That said, this year everyone was in the top 11 of the FRH rankings when they made the selection and the consensus was that they've made the right call. This year however, can they really leave Barney out regardless of how far he slips in the rankings (note the FRH ranking - he's defending £80k out of his current £276k at the worlds, as well as over £50k from the World Grand Prix semi final and Grand Slam/Players Championship Finals quarters. So he can certainly drop a bunch. But can we find three players better than Barney that they'd actually pick? Let's look at some of the names:

Cadby - has the talent, has a major final and a ranking win, but would surely be too soon, unless he goes really deep in another big one (and he's surely left it too late to make the Grand Prix).
White - despite three tour finals including two wins, he's surely never getting in unless he wins at least a Euro Tour or makes a major semi.
Whitlock - average is nowhere, hasn't won anything this year, was mostly making up the numbers this year after a decent first 2-3 weeks.
Clayton - he's made a major final and won a Euro Tour in the last twelve months but probably needs another decent run somewhere.
Wade, Lewis, Chisnall - grouping these three together as they're all bouncing back after being dropped last year. None of them have won anything, although Wade and Lewis have at least made multiple finals so you could easily see one or two of those sneaking in.
Price - surely not coming back after this season.
Webster - if he reaches another couple of major quarters he'll have a very good case, but that's a bit of an if.
Cullen - has been there or there abouts on the TV and European Tour, if he can continue to do so then I don't see why not with his rankings having escalated to the top 16 level.
Hopp, de Zwaan - Grouping these two youngsters together - I'm sure the PDC would love to chuck Hopp in, but I think he needs to prove he's not a one hit wonder and can do things week in week out, if he can put together a TV quarter final or better then maybe? de Zwaan's done that, has a win and two other finals, and has the van Gerwen killer tag, so why not?

I think that unless one of these (or someone else from nowhere - I've not even mentioned the likes of Huybrechts, van den Bergh or Bunting who could catch fire) makes a major final there's going to be a serious clusterfuck, and with there being a lack of players making a solid case, then I think you need to reinvite van Barneveld even if he doesn't play another ranked floor event this year and bricks every major. It'll be an interesting decision.

Sunday 12 August 2018

This is why van Gerwen is the GOAT

Opponent having three clear match darts at his favourite double? Hit three bulls because you can.

Wright's route on 81 does ask a question though - going treble 19 is fine, and not going the bull route is fine with van Gerwen not on a shot, but he doesn't hate tops (or, for that matter, D18), so why not go 25/bull first dart yourself?

Saturday 11 August 2018

Melbourne and a few other thoughts

Was kind of surprised to see Cadby lose out to Whitlock in the opening round, which would have set up a mouthwatering potential clash against Michael van Gerwen, was also generally surprised at the low number of legs won overall, at least compared to the New Zealand lads the previous weekend - sure, Damon Heta edged out Kyle Anderson in his game, but outside of that and the Cadby game the six players averaged less than two legs a piece, only Ray O'Donnell (no, I don't know him either, but he seems to have had a string of alright results on the domestic circuit) managing more than two, which looks to be more down to Barney missing every single double on the board more than anything. I doubt I'll watch any of it - I didn't watch last night and tape delay really doesn't cut it when ITV4 could be showing it live instead of five episodes of Pawn Stars back to back. I may watch Smith/Cross on catchup, which Smith just edged 10-9 with a 122 out in the decider - I want to know if the 18 that Cross hit with his last dart at 50 before that was an attempt at bull or a set up. I guess it was a shot at bull (dartsdata pointed at small 18 at least), but setting up would have been so cool to see. It also had a crazy leg where both players were on double after 9 darts, oh my.

While talking about Australia, there was talk on the Weekly Dartscast this week about whether Oceania should get its own PDC ranking event. Burton and Alex were very much in favour of this, and I think it'd be a decent idea, but it would need to be thought out very carefully.

Firstly, it's a very, very crowded calendar already. I don't think you could run something like this in addition to the World Series events, I think it would have to be one or the other - keep one of the Australian ones and have the ranking event replace the other.

Secondly, the logistics would have to be a nightmare. It's one thing to invite eight big names over, who are easily making enough money from sponsorship and the game in general to be able to go halfway around the world for an exhibition. If it's a ranking event then you need to allow the PDC players in general the chance to qualify. Let's say they did it on the scale of a European Tour event - have the top 16 in Pro Tour order of merit seeded, 16 from a general PDC qualifier, and then 16 from domestic qualifiers (perhaps consider having 2-4 from an Asian qualifier to integrate the tours a bit more?) - now if you have it on the same prize scale as the European Tour, let's say that some random guy that doesn't necessarily have a huge amount of sponsorship qualifies. I don't know who, let's say someone like a Stephen Burton, Peter Jacques or Chris Quantock. Not unreasonable to say that that sort of level of player could make it, you only need to look at who comes through the UK qualifiers for the Euro Tour events, none of them bad players but none of them a household name. Are they really going to want to spend god knows how much in flights, hotels and time to draw Cadby in the first round, lose 6-1 and pick up a grand for their trouble? They're probably going to make a loss on the event unless the PDC or sponsors kick in a healthy bit of cash to compensate, either that or they have the prize fund at a level somewhere above the Euro Tour but below a major, which would be kind of ridiculous.

Finally, it would suck for the majority of the PDC's viewing audience. You either show it live at a not great set of hours (particularly for a afternoon session) or you do it on tape delay. Neither's going to be that attractive for either the audience or the sponsors.

Elsewhere in the BDO, van Tergouw managed to win the other event in Belgium last weekend. Now that's notable as the best young player in last year's FRH awards has managed to get a win at the senior level, and he's been quiet this year (apparently he hasn't been playing as many events), and he took some big scalps - the guy that knocked out Baetens the round before, Jim Williams, Mandigers and then Durrant in the final. Maybe now he'll kick on and really make an impression, but the BDO seems to be imploding - they had a cancelled event this month, there's rumours that the worlds won't be at Lakeside and they're nowhere near a TV deal... maybe imploding isn't the right word as that implies a sudden collapse, whereas the BDO's been a trainwreck waiting to happen for years. It'll be interesting to see what the new chairman who's known only as the guy that isn't Chisnall's manager will do.

I think the key thing is to make tournaments that are more attractive to viewers, and develop a connection between the players, but at the same time not go mad and try to do something huge. Personally I'd like to see them try something similar to the Premier League, albeit on a smaller, more condensed scale. I think it'd be feasible to have a ten player event coincide with a series of ladies knockouts over three nights - have four boards, one stage and three set up in a UK Open style, and stream the lot. Top four men and the top two performing ladies return to a finals day, which you could then look to get TV coverage for. It's a lot easier to get some channel to cover for one evening rather than the five bloated days that the World Trophy was. The initial nights would be pretty easy to schedule as well - something like this:

With careful fixture scheduling you can get every single mens' player on the stage of an evening as well as the ladies final. Quick race to six matches, you can get it done within three hours pretty comfortably. Having a series of three events will also allow the opportunity to get to know the players a bit more on a regular basis, it certainly doesn't help the BDO that they've got a pretty huge churn rate (be it players leaving to the PDC, becoming old or crap, etc etc) and most viewers will not watch the BDO outside of the worlds and will have no idea who 80%+ of the field actually are. Still, it remains to be seen what they do in order to try to stay relevant.

Wednesday 8 August 2018

Principles of counting etc

There's been a few posts on Reddit recently discussing varying strategies for counting - some people getting it, some people missing the point, some people not even being remotely interested in anything that doesn't fit their view of what to do, so for something a bit different I thought I'd wrap up a few things that have been mentioned and a few things I've posted about before in, if not a guide to 501 strategy, more a "things to think about when playing", so without further ado, FRH's 10 part guide to not doing stupid stuff when playing 501:

1) Throw darts at whatever target maximises your chances of winning the leg

This should be obvious, but that's the whole point of the game - it's not to get high averages, it's not to get a high checkout percentage, it's not to try to keep the chance of an outshot alive throughout a whole visit, or even to set up an outshot - it's to throw the darts that give you the most chance of winning each leg. This might be conventional thinking, this might be something unorthodox, and for many players this'll just be a case of scoring as many points as possible, but look through some of the other articles I've posted and think about what you're doing.

2) If your opponent is not on a finish, score

Do not faff about trying to go for bull finishes or taking bull finishes, if you're on something like 128 just hit a straight ton or a 96, don't even think about using the 18's route, don't start on bull on 132 or 135, those sorts of things. Your opponent cannot hurt you, you have six darts at a minimum to win a leg, play as if you'll use them all, set up a proper double, don't come back needing 25 or 14 etc.

3) If your opponent is on a finish that he's not likely to get, score

It's amazing that even when pros will only check out 170 2% of the time, the other pro will start doing crazy stuff just because he might go out next time, even though he probably won't. This is clearly going to depend on the level of your opponent, if you're playing someone in the pub you need not really worry about him killing something in the 90's, but if it's going to take something remarkable relatively speaking for your opponent to check out in the next visit, then don't damage your own chances, if they hit a remote shot, good luck to them. Besides, not going for an out that may damage your chances is fun if they're interpreting it as you saying "you're not going to finish", even if you couldn't care less what he does.

4) Count early and count often

By paying attention to what you're on early in a leg you can stop yourself having problems later on. Let's say we kick off 20-19-T18 to leave 408. Start counting right now. 60 doesn't leave you a route out in six darts. 100 leaves 308, which also doesn't leave you an out in six darts unless you switch straight away and then hit three trebles, or switch later but hit two trebles first. Going for something earlier rather than later to get back on a number where straight 20 throwing will leave you an uninterrupted path to an outshot is usually a good idea. That said...

5) Be aware of your own limitations

If you're on, say, 232, don't start going for the bull last dart having started 20-20 if you're a beginner and haven't hit any significantly large outshot. Just keep hitting the bigger targets unless it's not going to cost you hugely to deviate from the 20's. As a newer player, when in doubt, just score as much as you can.

6) Look to use the bull earlier rather than later when approaching an out

This is a simple one to avoid two things - one, avoiding ending up on an outshot that'd involve a bull finish rather than a finish on a big double - if on 221, and you start two 20's, if you're good enough to have a 156 out in your locker, go bull third dart to leave it (or 131) rather than needing to hit the small bit if you do start two trebles next visit. If taking a 25 rather than 20 to cross a key figure and make your out easier it's usually best to do so, e.g. on 101 last dart you'd want to think about it to bring a single-single-double kill into play rather than being north of 80 and possibly only getting a dart at the bull when you return (and possibly a trickier cleanup if you hit 25 when going for the out). The other point is to avoid downside should you hit bull rather than 25 - if you're on, say, 141 and hit a single 20 first dart, rather than go for the bull last dart in hand, go for it now - hitting treble 20 and then bull leaves 11, if you hit the bull second dart instead to leave 71 with one dart in hand, you can now switch to 17's, 13's etc to still leave a double. If being "too good" on the last dart at bull is going to hurt you then you've gone for the bull too late.

7) Be aware of some key numbers and don't switch if it risks you not crossing them

This works both when finishing and when setting up - it's things like not going the Mervyn King route on 80, as a miss at treble 16 means you don't get down to 60 to still leave a single double out. It's also things like not doing the same on 88, so you can cross under 70 and leave a big number for bull if you need to go for it. This, of course, needs to be balanced against point one - if you've done your maths and know that you finish more often on, say, 90, by going treble 18 and then two doubles, then don't go 20's first just to leave a single darter for bull, you already know your route works better and not crossing a key number is factored into your calculations. Higher up, it's not just trying to get under 350/340, 310/300, 270/260 etc, it's also being aware of things like switching to 18's and not 19's last dart on 358. You're crossing 340 but if you go 19 you do so in such a way that even a 180 doesn't help you. It also works the other way around, like knowing to switch first dart on 271, as four 19's will leave a shot at 25 to leave an out - going 20 and leaving 251 means you need two trebles, a 25 can't help you at any point from there.

8) Your throwing style should dictate whether to split or not

If you've left something like 10 or 38, think about how your darts go into the board. The point of splitting these is to give up one dart at a double to leave an easier one, which you may waste anyway if you hit an odd numbered single going for one. By going straight at it, you only get three darts (assuming we don't hit) if you miss outside every time. If your darts go in like an Adrian Lewis or a Benito van de Pas, is it really an advantage going straight at double 19 when if you miss outside you're probably going to block the bed anyway? It's the same the other way around on double 5 if your darts go in like a Phil Taylor or Dean Winstanley. If you want to go at it, go at it properly. Of course, the other way around, go on the outside - leave a marker to work in if the marker will help you.

9) Most of these points are not set in stone

This is mostly psychological, if you think that hitting a bull out will get things going for you or unnerve the opponent, or you can't hit a certain double to save your life in a given session, then change things up if you think it'll help your game. This just leaves one last tip:

10) Advice from professionals who last played 10+ years ago is probably wrong

Well, the title of the blog should give you a clue... I feel we're a bit at the age where poker was about 15-20 years ago, where newer players were getting the point of the game (e.g. in tournaments they were not interested in concepts of "tournament life") and playing in such a better manner than the older guys that they'll start to accelerate away from everyone else. If an older commentator looks at a younger player's visit and doesn't understand why he's going a certain route, it's likely exactly that - and a part of the reason why you're in the commentary box and the newer guys are still making money at the game.

Sunday 5 August 2018

Quiet week

Nothing really much I wanted to say on the Matchplay final that hasn't already been said, it was a great performance by both players, probably not quite hitting the level of excitement that the Cullen game had, probably due to having money on that one I guess, but there you go.

We had the Auckland World Series event finish earlier, van Gerwen won it, it's really only interesting in these to see the general level of the host players, who didn't do that bad really - McGrath managed to beat Smith, which is a bit of an upset, while Robb and Hurring were able to take it to a decider and both missing at least one dart for the match, while Parry and Puha got four legs each with a 90+ average, an average Pusey also managed against Gary Anderson. Pity that Cadby didn't show due to visa issues (how does that work between Oz and NZ exactly anyway) as getting a read on him would have been good. Of the others, Harris is probably their best right now but drew van Gerwen, while Irwin's their guy at the 2019 worlds, and he lost to Peter Wright. At least it's good to see that some of the first round games were competitive, although the way things worked out it gave Barney a real free run to the final, as he got McGrath in round two and then got Whitlock while van Gerwen got Wright.

In the BDO, it looks like Durrant won in Belgium yesterday, with the Hammer hitting a nine in an early round, and he made the quarters - as did Wes Newton, who lost to eventual finalist Andy Baetens. Wayne Warren made the semis, so showing a bit of what he was doing at Lakeside, while the other semi finalist is some guy from Germany I've never heard of. That should push Hamilton up to where he's close to a Lakeside invite by the looks of things, but I'm damned if I'm going to interpret the BDO's arcane ranking system. Looks like Bruce Montgomery beat Andy Boulton in the Granite City Open last weekend, a few familiar names in the later stages in John Goldie, Brian Woods and Jim Walker.

It was also interesting to listen to the interview from Chizzy's manager in relation to the BDO chairmanship - a lot of what he says makes real sense. Their website is pretty poor and their social media isn't great, what it really needs is a sense of what they want to be. What that is remains to be seen.

The next two weekends we've got the two Australian World Series events, where Cadby should play, then a week off before the Pro Tour kicks off again with a vengeance - a Euro Tour in Germany, two midweek Players Championship events, then another Pro Tour in the Netherlands makes for a hectic ten days, with another Euro Tour events the weekend after as we get towards crunch time for the majors. Should be exciting.