At the eleventh hour PartyPoker were confirmed as title sponsors for the 2011 World Grand Prix. In this age of austerity are the PDC struggling to find sponsors for their major events? It appears so but with PartyPoker in place everything is set for the usual tumultuous week of darts on the Emerald Isle.

 

 

 

In Dublin it is double in and double out so a player encountering double trouble can find themselves floundering as their opponent steams away. Whitewashes are not unknown.

It is also not unknown for the early couple of rounds to be littered with big name casualties. Round one is a favourite’s graveyard so it’s a great opportunity to take the bookies on and get some return on your hard earned cash.

We have lots of help for you on the site in our bulging Dartabase - analyse the Head2Head records of all the first round match ups, pour over the players’ stats including their recent form, have a look at recent results, see how a player has performed in major tournaments and in the World Grand Prix. With all this help available you have a good chance of bashing the bookies so what does it throw up for us?

There are six Dublin debutantes this year – Dave Chisnall, John Henderson, Justin Pipe, Mark Hylton, Mark Webster and Peter Wright are all getting their first taste of the City West stage and at least one will be in round two given that Pipe (5/4) & Henderson (5/6) lock horns on Monday. Pipe is the one to back at the greater odds having nearly beaten Phil Taylor Saturday’s Players Championship. He also leads Hendo 3-0 in the head to head.

Wright (7/1) takes on The Power (1/8) and has his work cut out but a look at Taylor’s history in this tournament will give Snakebite hope. Until last year’s semi final exit Taylor either won the trophy (9 times in all) or went out first round to a rank outsider.

My advice is to look beyond that match and Mark Hylton (11/8) to beat Mark Walsh looks a good bet. Walsh has a poor WGP record, in seven appearances he has only four wins and has never got past round two. Mile High leads 4-2 in the head to head so he knows how to beat Walshy.

Mark Webster is 8/13 favourite in his opener but opponent Andy Hamilton looks the better option at 11/8. Webster could be anything but Hamilton’s WGP record is impressive – L32, QF, SF, QF. I’m going for The Hammer to nail Webby, especially when backed up by a superior 4-1 head to head record.

Another value bet from round one is Kevin Painter (6/5) who is a veteran of eleven appearances (best of Quarter Final) and takes on the speedy Vincent van der Voort (9/10) who is yet to win in four attempts. Painter is somewhat of an enigma who lies low until the television cameras are focused on him, then he comes alive. VvdV leads the head to head 8-5 but for me the odds are the wrong way round in this one so get stuck into The Artist.

Taking his shirts back to the 80’s has helped Denis Ovens (9/10) bring his game to a new level and he can halt a terrible WGP record of two wins in ten visits. Only twice has The Heat reached round two, and not since 2003. His opponent, Jamie Caven (11/10), has lost his way recently and Ovens can take advantage and continue a much improved year. He leads Jabba 6-2 in their meetings to date so looks good value.

If you like a punt on the outright winner you are faced, as usual, with the ‘to Taylor or not to Taylor’ conundrum. Do you take the 6/4 on offer for the perennial favourite or try to find some outsider value?

The best approach is normally to select somebody from the opposite half of the draw; this would put James Wade (8/1), Raymond van Barneveld (14/1), Adrian Lewis (8/1) & Wes Newton (20/1) on the shortlist. Wade can never be overlooked in any major and has won this title twice. He is one of only three ex-champions in the field (Colin Lloyd is the third) but has exited in round one in three of his six appearances. World Champion Lewis was runner up last year, has reached two quarter finals, and has always won his first round match, while Newton has yet to get past round two in five tries.

Of this quartet it is Barney who has the most solid previous form. His last four WGP appearances have yielded Semi Final, Runner Up, Runner Up, Semi Final. Pretty impressive stuff and only missing a title. Could this be the big man’s year? An each way outright bet appears good sense.

The players to keep an eye on in Taylor’s half of the draw are man of the year, Gary Anderson (7/1), the beard to be feared, Simon Whitlock (16/1), and Taylor’s latest agitator, Paul Nicholson (40/1).

On the face of it Nicholson is huge odds but he is slated to meet Taylor in round two and Taylor came out on top in the Pro tour event on Saturday. Remember, if Taylor wins his first game he usually goes on to lift the trophy so Nicholson’s time may have to wait. Whitlock might have to get past Taylor and Anderson and I don’t see that happening so I’m going to overlook the Aussie on this occasion.

The man with the credentials, and the form, to topple Taylor is Gary Anderson. Hitting the doubles can be his achilles heel but one would presume this area is the focus of his practice regime and he followed up a round two appearance in 2009 with a quarter final spot last year. This steady improvement can continue this year and The Flying Scotsman looks like the biggest threat to Taylor in the top half of the draw.

The World Grand Prix can be something of a minefield for betting where last year’s champion can bite the dust at the firs hurdle. Some players love it, many hate it. It is probably a tournament to keep your money in your pocket but if you back the right horse the dividends can be high. If you are going to take on the favourites do it in the early stages and always expect the unexpected.

If you are not confident in wagering some real moolah why not have a go of our free-to-enter Beat the Tipster competition? This time around we have a fantastic first prize donated by Bulls Darts. Full details will be released on Monday but trust me it is a great prize. All you have to do is predict the outcome of all the matches in Dublin and if you better our resident Tipster you stand a chance of winning our super-duper prize. The more accurate you are in round one the more chance you have of scoring points in the latter stages.

To win – Phil Taylor (6/4)
Each way – Raymond van Barneveld (14/1) and/or Gary Anderson (7/1)
First round tips – Hamilton (11/8), Hylton (11/8), Painter (6/5), Justin Pipe (5/4), Denis Ovens (9/10)

Player1

Player2

H2H

Odds1

Odds2

Phil Taylor (1) Peter Wright

4-0

1/8

7/1

Ronnie Baxter Paul Nicholson

4-2

2/1

4/7

Mark Webster (8) Andy Hamilton

1-4

8/13

11/8

Dave Chisnall Alan Tabern

0-1

8/15

6/4

Simon Whitlock (5) Terry Jenkins

6-3

8/15

7/4

Mark Hylton Mark Walsh

4-2

11/8

7/10

Gary Anderson (4) Richie Burnett

2-1

1/4

7/2

Jamie Caven Denis Ovens

2-6

11/10

9/10

Adrian Lewis (2) John Part

4-3

4/9

9/4

Brendan Dolan Wayne Jones

1-4

9/4

1/2

Wes Newton (7) Colin Lloyd

5-6

1/2

15/8

Justin Pipe John Henderson

3-0

5/4

5/6

Raymond van Barneveld (6) Mervyn King

15-5

4/9

7/4

William O’Connor Andy Smith

0-1

7/4

8/13

James Wade (3) Steve Brown

4-1

2/7

7/2

Vincent van der Voort Kevin Painter

8-5

9/10

6/5

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