On Friday 24th January sees the International Professional Pool Association take its popular UK pool tour to Cardiff for the first time for the Welsh Open
Last year the Welsh Open took place in Newport where Chris Bowron, from the north east took the amateur title, Dan Davy taking the main Open event, after a fantastic display all weekend and Ronan McCarthy taking the professional title.
This year sees 9 new faces from the north east enter the Professional event, hoping to show the world what the north east is made of. Marc Farnsworth being the obvious favourite to take the title at 5/1. Craig Marsh, the current world champion will be hoping to carry over his form into the Welsh Open and at 8/1, this would be quite a good bet. My outside bet for the professional tournament would have to be Gavin Robinson at 40/. He is from the north east and I may be a little bias, however, if he can show what he is capable of then he is very hard to beat. Ive watched his game over the past year or two and he just seems to keep improving. My only criticism would be he does play too quick, however, he is where he is on merit, so the way he plays is obviously working, and being an average amateur player myself, I have many criticisms of my own.
As far as the main open goes, again, Marc Farnsworth is favourite a 5/1 and will be hoping to do the double. Craig Marsh is an obvious choice for betting and at 10/1 again this could be a good value bet. Rather than choosing an outsider, lets look at a non professional outsider with a chance to do the business in Cardiff. For me, Brian Halcrow is a class act, and I expect him to get to the knockout stages where he could meet a pro. At 50/1 this would be an unlikely bet, however he knows the game inside out, and anyone wanting to learn the game, should take a very close watch of the man otherwise known as Buzzer.
Onto the amateur and although there is no betting market on coral, going by the open odds, the favourite would be Mark Boyle. I dont know alot about this player, as ive never seen him play, however, there must be something about him if he is 6th favourite for the main event. As far as north east lads go, Brian Halcrow will also do well in this event however, you have got to look at the man in the spotlight in the north east at the moment, Chris Patrick. The lad has a money game every other week and just seems to love the game. Some may call him a hustler, however it is clear to see there is alot of talent in his game and he is always improving.
I am really looking forward to Cardiff and getting that buzz with the north east lads where we all get together and cheer each other on. My aim is to enjoy my game and try and play to the best of my ability. I feel I improved from last years tour, so I hope to do so again and improve on last years rankings.
Good to to all the North East lads playing this weekend. Lets smash em up boys!