People often think that snooker can be a long drawn out game with lots of safety play. Well that's definitely not the case with the all-action Snooker Shoot-Out. it's snooker's equivalent of T20 cricket but even quicker and from 2017 it's going to be a world ranking event.
When Barry Hearn took control of the sport he promised major changes and that's certainly been the case. More tournaments are being held and players now find themselves with lots more to do than they did a few years back.
The image of a players who make their living on the green baize is someone in a waistcoat and dickie-bow. That remains the case in the majority of tournaments that take place but with the Snooker Shoot-Out that's gone right out of the window. Instead it's a more relaxed rule with t-shirts and sponsors names on their shirts. In this tournament the players even get a number which reflects their world ranking.
Hearn has had massive success with darts and is trying his best to do that with snooker. There's music played as the players come out and in between frames. At this tournament the audience don't have to be their usual hushed selves and shouting and cheering is encouraged. What players such as Joe Davis and Eddie Charlton would think of all this is anyone's guess.
The Snooker Shoot Out is snooker but not as you know it. Each match in the tournament lasts just ten minutes. Whoever has the most points at the end of that time-period is the winner and progresses through to the next round. No seeding here, there's an FA Cup style draw for each round.
During those ten minute games there's a shot-clock in operation. For the first half of the ten minutes it's 15 seconds but then it's reduced to ten for the second half of the game as the action gets more and more hectic.
The tournament used to take two days to complete with the top 64 invited to compete. Not all the top players enter though with Australian Neil Robertson a regular absentee. This means players outside the top 64 are included. From 2017 it'll be the top 128 allowed to take part. With their being just ten minutes in each game there's little time for safety and it's not uncommon for safety shots to be booed by the crowd. Another rule is that a cushion must be hit by a ball and if a foul occurs the player can pick up the cue ball and put it anywhere he likes giving them a massive advantage.
It's a tournament that you're either going to love or hate. The snooker purists really do struggle to cope with it at times just like older cricket fans struggle with the T20.
The tournament does prove profitable for players though with the prize fund for the 2016 event being £130,000 with the winner Robin Hull receiving £32,000, the biggest prize he's ever won in the game. There was also £2,000 on offer to the player who made the highest break That went to Dave Gilbert who made a break of 127, one of the rare centuries seen in the tournament.
If you're looking to use a free bet on this tournament then it's a really difficult task to get the winner. Just how many of you would have tipped Robin Hull to win the Snooker Shoot-Out this year? The mere fact that this is an incredibly open tournament, almost a lottery in fact, is reflected by the odds available. It's not uncommon for tournament favourites to be 16/1. Anything can happen in this tournament and the dominance that the top players show over longer frame tournaments just doesn't exist here.
It's always worth taking a chance on outsiders in this tournament. Previous winners have been Barry Hawkins (before his rise to the top six in the rankings), Nigel Bond, Dominic Dale, Martin Gould, Michael White and Robin Hull. All players who weren't that highly ranked at the time of winnings so doing what you usually do and going for the likes of Selby, O'Sullivan, Murphy and Trump to win just doesn't pay in the Snooker Shoot Out.
It's the unpredictable nature alligned with the short time for games that makes this such an interesting tournament. The 2017 event will now have 128 players taking part and there will be ranking points available for the first time ever. A decision that has been hugely criticized by leading players and the thought of them missing out on the top 16 because of this rather silly but enjoyable tournament really isn't right. it's a bit of fun and that's how it should stay is the general opinion.
The 2017 tournament will take place from 23-26th February at a venue yet to be decided and will be sponsored by Coral.
There are plenty of bets you can place on this tournament. There's the outright winner and the winner of each match plus a market on who will make the highest break in the tournament. You can expect lots of coverage on this event at Coral bookmakers.