Free snooker betting tips: Richard Mann previews round one of the UK Championship

Reigning champion Ronnie O'Sullivan kicks off his UK Championship defence against little known Luke Simmonds while a couple more players in the first round look worth a bet.

UK Championship First Round: Recommended bets

2pts Ronnie O'Sullivan to beat Luke Simmonds 6-0 at 5/2

2pts Sam Craigie to beat Mark Davis at 13/8

2pts Eden Sharav to beat Akani Songsermsawad at 27/20


Ronnie O'Sullivan begins his defence of the UK Championship by taking on little-known Luke Simmonds on Thursday and The Rocket is expected to make comfortable progress through to the second round.

Simmonds won the World Under-21 Championship back in 1998 but has found things much tougher as a professional and recently dropped off the main tour following a struggle with his form.

A career-high ranking of 94 illustrates the gulf in class between the two players and O'Sullivan's form so far this season - winner of the Shanghai Masters and Champion Of Champions - will leave Simmonds with very little optimism.

As stated in my outright preview here, the case for O'Sullivan going on to claim a record seventh UK Championship title is very strong and given he has only lost two matches so far this term, I'm happy to bet that he won't concede a frame against Simmonds.

A 6-0 victory for The Rocket can be backed at 5/2 and that is probably fair when you consider everything Simmonds will have to encounter in York; a first experience of playing in front of the TV cameras, a big crowd and a rampant O'Sullivan who will be eager to wrap this up quickly.

In O'Sullivan's opening four matches at the recent Northern Ireland Open, he only dropped two frames and anything other than a conclusive victory against Simmonds will be a huge surprise.

Elsewhere on Thursday, Sam Craigie looks decent value to claim the scalp of veteran Mark Davis.

Davis played really well to reach the final of the English Open earlier in the campaign but that was a colossal effort and he was well beaten by Peter Ebdon at the Northern Ireland Open more recently.

Craigie also failed to fire in Belfast but his previous performances this season indicated that he is a young player very much on a steep upward curve.

He pushed Barry Hawkins all the way when beaten 4-3 at the English Open while he made breaks of 127, 107, 93 and 52 when losing out 6-5 to David Gilbert in China only a week earlier.

A fluent, free-scoring player, Craigie looks to have all the tools to go far in the sport and if Davis is just slightly off his game, he could be vulnerable.

At 13/8, I can't resist the exciting Craigie whose best days are surely ahead of him.

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The final bet of the first round comes in the shape of Eden Sharav who really should be favourite in his clash with Akani Songsermsawad on Wednesday.

Despite a host of impressive recent results, Northern Ireland Open semi-finalist Sharav can be backed at 27/20 here.

Sharav only gave way to eventual winner Judd Trump in Belfast and having come back from the dead to beat the likes of Peter Ebdon and Ali Carter earlier in the competition, there is no doubting his bottle for a tight finish.

Sharav's handy mix of solid break-building and strong tactical play continues to serve him well and he might just have too much nous for Akani.

Akani is another highly-gifted young Thai player but he didn't get very far in Belfast or the English Open earlier in the campaign.

He didn't fare any better at the European Masters either, losing 4-0 to Li Hang in the last 128, and a run to the last 16 of the International Championship is his only real performance of note in the last few months.

His potential remains unquestioned but Sharav looks the more polished operator right now and his recent form stacks up much better, too.

As such, he looks a knocking bet at odds against.

Posted at 1515 BST on 27/11/18.


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