There are always 15 reds and six colours to pot but there are plenty of subtleties to the game of snooker. Paul Krishnamurty explains all in his guide to profitable snooker betting...
The Basics: Tournaments and formats
Until recently, long-suffering snooker fans were resigned to the terminal decline of our favourite sport. The calendar consisted of fewer than ten events involving the leading players, with no more than five enjoying comprehensive television coverage. Then in 2010, Barry Hearn took over the game's governing body and begun to revolutionise the sport as he had done successfully with darts. Snooker fans can already claim that we've never had it so good.
The highlights remain the big-three 'majors' that are televised in their entirety on BBC. Played in December, the UK Championship is the second most important ranking event of the season. The following month the Masters is restricted to the top-16 ranked players. Finally in May, the pinnacle of any season is the World Championship. Played over 17 days at the sport's most famous venue, the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, matches here are much longer with the final over best of 35 frames, (compared to best of 19, the longest in any other tournament). The leading players tend to reserve their best form for these majors, which usually produce obvious, world-class champions.
This trio of majors, however, is merely the icing on the cake. From once being a primarily British game, snooker is expanding fast worldwide. There are eight more ranking events in Germany, Wales, Australia plus five staged in China. All ranking events include a substantial earlier qualifying phase, excluding the top-16.
Then there are 13 'Players Tour Championship' events (PTCs), staged in the UK, Europe and Asia - building towards the PTC Grand Final event in March. These minor events are played over the space of four days, with matches played over a short best of seven format.
In addition to the Masters, there are occasional overseas invitational events such as last season's Brazil Masters, and more substantially the Championship League. This is a series of group based events involving 25 leading players, with prize money awarded for each frame won, with the eventual winner also earning a place in the Premier League.
Finally, Hearn has innovated with new formats. The Premier League, a weekly seven-man invitational televised on Sky, pre-dates the current revolution and was the first to introduce a shot-clock to ensure fast play. Now, the shot-clock also features in the 'Snooker Shootout' - a weekend of one-frame knockout matches, played on a rolling basis. In contrast to the longer drawn-out matches of bigger tournaments, the shootout is perfect for punters who want their bet to be settled quickly. Other interesting innovations are the Six Reds World Championship and the Seniors World Championships.