Normally North American sports bettors care as much about snooker as they do about your bad beat story from 1964.
But something happened Monday that’s incredibly funny, amazing or corrupt depending on your perspective. I bring it up as my first topic in this “Fixed or Fail” column, where I’ll look at strange happenings in the world of sports wagering and ask if it was ‘fixed’ (ie. corruption on some level) or merely a ‘fail’ by the athletes or anyone else involved.
This one comes from snooker personality Ronnie O’Sullivan in the Welsh Open, who had an opportunity to score a rare 147 on Monday and apparently opted not to take it. In doing so, he also gave up a £10,000 cash bonus that comes with pulling off the feat as a protest. View clip here.
“..£10,000 – it’s too cheap!” he said afterward. “It is a massive achievement getting a 147 and it is worth more than that.”
In case you are unfamiliar, a 147 or a ‘Maximum Break’ in snooker is when you rack up the maximum 147 points on your first turn. The five-time world champion has done it 13 times in his career and his snubbing of it was called “a devastating display” and “disrespectful” - among worse things muttered in corners of pubs throughout the UK.
“I don’t see what I did was wrong, it is my form of entertainment and making a serious game a little more light-hearted,” said O’Sullivan.
The problem, billiards bettors might argue, is that you can bet on whether someone will get a 147 in a match at many UK-based books and the payoffs are not “too cheap” if it happens. A 147 in Wednesday’s matches paid between 50-1 and 100-1, for example, with the exception of O’Sullivan’s match (28-1).
A £200 wager could pay out what a player would make for performing the 147 himself.
O’Sullivan once received a £165K prize for doing it at the 1997 World Championship, so perhaps he has a point. I’m not so sure a bettor would agree if he had even pocket change riding on a 147.
It should also be noted that World Snooker’s 147 pot goes up by £5,000 every tournament one is not made and this prize was only £10,000 because Neil Robertson made one at the UK Championship in December. So it’s not quite as unfair as O’Sullivan makes it out to be.
In any event, when you put it all together this one is definitely… fixed.