Posted on January 11th, 2013
The Porter’s Lodge is a subterranean central London watering hole where the wood panelled walls are literally festooned with dartboards. The sticky carpet could catch flies, apart from the well-trodden strips measuring seven feet nine and a quarter where tonight’s action will focus.
One of those strips will see recent World Championship runner up, Michael van Gerwen, make many trips to the board and back, extracting three well aimed tungsten missiles that have been ripping the PDC Pro Tour apart over the last year or so.
To say MvG (for ‘tis how he is known) has been setting the darts world alight recently is like saying Guy Fawkes fancied turning the Houses of Parliament heating up a bit. The Dutchman has been on fire.
World Grand Prix champion in October was followed by a runners up spot at November’s Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton and then his near miss last week at the Ally Pally. This capped an incredible year for the Dutchman that included seven Pro Tour wins and some astronomical averages.
Phil Taylor aside he has raised the bar for every other player and almost achieved a feat nobody has ever done – back to back 9-darters. He was half a centimetre away from 18 perfect darts; in a World Championship semi-final.
He’s still only 23.
2012 was good but 2013 promises to be a massive year for MvG, starting with a Premier League debut in February, and fast growing social betting website Bodugi has recognised this by snapping up the hottest darts player on the planet.
Bodugi is a novel concept in online gambling; a merging of betting and social networking where you bet on ‘a table’ against other players. They have football games, horse racing games, and now darts.
You can currently play tables for the Lakeside World Championship and I’ve been having a go myself to varied success..! They have a brand new, expanded darts game in the pipeline for the Premier League of Darts.
As I arrive the place is bustling with people setting up equipment; lots of equipment. Channel Four are here, Racing UK are here. It’s going to be on telly!
The evening featured the Six Dart MvG Challenge. As many punters as possible were given the chance to throw six darts against van Gerwen’s three; highest score wins. Winners get a signed photo and the highest punter score of the night wins a signed dartboard.
The familiar, friendly face of The Puppy, aka George Noble, called the games and ensured the focus was on fun.
George called the first half of the Ladbrokes final on New Year’s Day and was at pains to point out that when he handed the microphone to Bruce Spendley at the half way point, Michael was winning the match.
If he was trying to intimate that he is some kind of good luck charm for Mighty Mike then it didn’t rub off tonight. From what I could see the punters mostly got the better of the pro, including yours truly who added another scalp to that of The Crafty Cockney at the back end of 2011.
I set a challenging total of 71 with six darts that swarmed all around the treble twenty but wouldn’t quite go in. MvG hit a single twenty and then went for double top but put it out of the board! This meant a treble twenty was required and with his first dart blocking the bed a huge shuffle to the right saw him plonk dart number three in the big five bed to give a grand total of 25!
Game to DartsMadLee and a nice glossy signed photo that I will be giving away with the Bodugi condoms I picked up – they are a safe bet apparently.
This was the theme for most of the evening with MvG attempting trick shots to beat his opponent but rarely finding the target!
The highest punter score of the night was 200 (60 + 140 by a Lancashire County player) that the sharper amongst you will have quickly calculated cannot be beaten with three darts.
George Noble gave MvG an extra arrer and he duly obliged by matching the score. George Noble then promptly stole the Dutchman’s thunder by ruling that he must BEAT the score, thus earning the punter a signed photo AND the signed dartboard – a good night’s work.
We had walk on girls, entrance music, laughs and lager. Deta Hedman was there, along with members of the London Darts Association. There were Racing UK presenters Tanya Stevenson, Nick Luck & Eddie Fremantle and jockeys Richard Killoran, Sam Jones, and Alain Cawley . I even spotted former Talk Sport host Mike ‘Porky’ Parry who is a big supporter of Bodugi. A good night was had by all.
Dave Nevison, Bodugi founder and a former professional gambler, is hugely confident about his company’s future and believes 2013 will be a big year as social betting really takes off.
The MvG sponsorship was a no-brainer he tells me and the fortunes of both will be tightly intertwined over the coming twelve months.
The future’s bright, the future’s orange.
The night features for a minute or two on Saturday’s The Morning Line (12th Jan episode). You can watch again on 4 On Demand from about 8 minutes in.