Friday, 31 May 2013

Sturridge’s Sad End to a Good Season

If you’d asked Daniel Sturridge at the start of the season he’d be firing in goals for Liverpool and starting for England he’d probably have laughed in your face.

What a difference nine months make, as the Reds striker made his first international start on Wednesday night having finished off the season with six goals in five games. Sturridge really has impressed this season and his obvious talents that were going to waste at Chelsea have been depended upon for goals at Anfield.

Alongside Luis Suarez the pair have proven a formidable striking unit for Liverpool and next season, should both stay on Merseyside, football betting fans can expect them to challenge for a top-four place.

What a pity it was, therefore, that the young forward’s season ended in frustration as Sturridge was carried off with an ankle strain just half-an-hour into his full international debut.

It was an innocuous challenge that saw him go down but, after a quick check-up by medical staff on Wednesday night, it was clear he wouldn’t be on the plane to Brazil, a match that could prove taxing for England.

So Sturridge now has the summer off to rest his swollen foot and get ready for the new season ahead. Much will be expected from this sprightly 23-year-old and he has the backing of the Anfield kop to go forward with zealous next term.

Liverpool have already brought in defender Kolo Toure while they’ve agreed a £6m fee for Celta Vigo hitman Iago Aspas, so clearly Brendan Rodgers is looking to move this club up a level. Yet they remain reliant on Sturridge and Suarez to win games each week and this situation won’t change.

It’s a long way away from warming the bench at Chelsea and Sturridge should be proud of his successful transition to a new club this season. Next term will be even tougher, however, and the England forward must be ready to step up.

Did you know that you can get a free Confederations Cup Bet on the Betfair website?

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Fowler Closing in on major success

Rickie Fowler returns to the scene of a nightmare this weekend as he plays in the Memorial Tournament, a year on from his final-round meltdown in which he carded a staggering 84.

The American was all set to vie for the title heading into that Sunday 12 months ago but crumpled under the pressure, finishing the round 12 over and tied 52nd overall. It was a bad day in the office and Fowler knows it, but he is unlikely to suffer the same fate this year.

In fact, golf betting fans have Fowler down as a strong outside favourite for the Memorial Tournament as well as the US Open and Open Championship later this summer. He’s slumped in form of late – missing the cut at the Players Championship and finishing tied 38th in the Masters – yet has the class to turn it around.

That was proven in his first three rounds at the Memorial Tournament last year where he’d bogeyed just seven holes, birdying 10 with an Eagle to sit comfortably on five under. He even made a birdie on the first the following Sunday, yet a shocking six on the par-three third ruined all momentum.

It was a freak occurrence and betting fans can be assured it won’t happen again, so this weekend should he be in contention he’ll stay in contention.

The same can be said for Fowler’s future exploits at the US Open. Many Open Golf Betting Odds markets have him down at a good price to claim either major this summer and Fowler shouldn’t disappoint.

He’s 24 now and ready to start challenging at the top, despite a single PGA Tour victory, and he is worth a small bet this summer as he comes out of a spring slump in form.

Rickie Fowler is currently an each-way selection for the Memorial Tournament with Betfair.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Delayed C-Bet and Flop Check-Raises

The continuation c-bet (c-bet) used to be as popular as The Beatles, but these days everyone is playing the same old tune.

Today, when you make a c-bet in a Betfair 5 Card Draw event, everyone makes the call irrespective of what trash they have, and this is especially true when they have position on you.

In order to adapt, players are now taking a line known as the delayed c-bet. They have faced one too many floats and flop check-raises and it’s time the tables were turned.

The delayed c-bet is actually getting the same sort of sincere response as the c-bet first did when it was introduced. Another great advantage of the delayed c-bet is it does allow you to retain tighter control of the size of the pot and therefore reducing your variance.

Your opponent’s who were ready and waiting with the flop check-raise are left without a game plan by the time you have c-bet the turn. They aren’t prepared for it and generally just give up. The check-raise on the turn is far less common that it’s cousin called flop.

Another way of dealing with the flop check-raise is to call when you hit a big pair and just dangle the rope. It is very unusual for a player to check-raise the flop and then check back the turn.

They almost always go for the second barrel, and a lot of them also get caught in the bluffing vortex meaning they may also fire the river with air. Once again, just stand strong and go with your hand. Make the call and watch them squirm.

Looking for more poker tips? Continuing your education for free on the Betfair website:

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Cleveland’s Hoyer signing a waste of time

Cleveland Browns fans are unlikely to be pleased with the news the team have signed reject quarterback Brian Hoyer on a two-year deal from free agency.

The 27-year-old has swilled around the bottom of the NFL’s quarterback ratings for years now and Cleveland is his third team since leaving the Patriots in 2011.

Both Pittsburgh and Arizona dropped him from their roster after unsuccessful stints and many fans betting on NHL  expect the Browns to do the same. Hoyer will be third choice at best and is unlikely to rival projected Week 1 starter Brandon Weeden for a place at shotgun.

Last season he made just two games for the Cardinals, which both ended in defeat, and although he threw a touchdown against San Francisco (only the second of his career) he didn’t do enough to warrant a new deal.

He’s only thrown 616 yards in his entire career and with a 0.8 rushing average has very few tricks up his sleeve.

So why has general manager Michael Lombardi bothered to waste his time bringing Hoyer to the team? Well, Lombardi has been a long-time admirer of Hoyer for some reason and called him a starting QB when at the Patriots.

Maybe the Browns GM sees something no one else does in this 6ft 2in quarterback but Hoyer is not going to get much chance to prove himself with two men in front of him in the roster.

What most Browns fans crave is a better QB than their current starter, not a backup to make Weeden look good. Weeden himself was one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL last year with just 14 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, which is one of the reasons Cleveland finished 5-11 in 2012.

The NHL betting odds suggests they won’t be securing a winning record in 2013 either, for if Hoyer is the best man they can get to challenge Weeden then no opponent will fear this disappointingly weak offense.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Looking Forward to the NCAAB Season

The 2013-14 college hoops season is still some way off but that doesn’t stop us looking forward with anticipation to the new season and with that thought in mind here are the top four things we are looking forward to next season.

We’ll start with the new ACC realignment – now some of the changes that have been made to the tradition-rich conferences we hate but what’s not to like about what we have in store in the ACC. Here we have added Notre Dame, Syracuse and Pittsburgh – that gives us Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams and Jim Boeheim all in the same league that has to be a major leap forward.

Oh, and Louisville and Rick Pitino will join the conference in 2014, according to the bet365 betting news. No conference will be able to match the ACC and it will take some side to win it and we can envision some mouth-watering tussles ahead.

Over at Kansas, the Jayhawks will be on a quest of the 10th straight Big 12 title; the Jayhawks' feat of nine straight league championships is one of the most remarkable accomplishments in college basketball history. No team from a major conference has won that many consecutive titles since UCLA won 13 in a row from 1967 to 1979.

It will be quite some test though as Kansas lose all five starters from last season’s team that went 31-6 and with Oklahoma State and Baylor in good shape this would be no mean achievement, although they did lose all their starters from their 2008 national championship squad and still won the Big 12 title the following season. Their recruiting class is ranked No2 in the nation so they have a chance but there are sure to be ups and downs but if anyone can pull off the feat it’s the Jayhawks.

We just touched on freshmen there with the Jayhawks and we’ll follow on by making freshmen the third thing that we are looking forward to next season by looking at the recruiting class that Kentucky has assembled, and what a class it is. You have to be looking forward to seeing the Harrison twins, Julius Randle & Co playing together and it could get better if Andrew Wiggins joins that group.

That’s not to say though that there are not outstanding freshmen at other schools, just take a look at this line-up of talent coming into the NCAA;  Aaron Gordon (Arizona), Jabari Parker (Duke), Jerrell Martin (LSU) and Wayne Selden (Kansas). Fresh talent and stars are always welcome and the 2013-14 season has plenty of those from its freshman class.

And finally, you always have to have a look those teams which have been sleepers and while they might not win anything in 2013-14 they will or could make significant strides and we would be surprised if these three didn’t have a shot at making the NCAA tournament despite not receiving much respect.

The LSU Tigers feature an up-and-coming programme and a couple of outstanding players such as Johnny O’Bryant and Anthony Hickey; St John’s Red Storm with Jakarr Sampson leading the way are dreadfully underrated and the Arizona Sun Devils also have a squad with depth and talent led by point guard Jahii Carson. All of threes three are not getting much love pre-season but could well fire their way to the NCAA tournament.

Plenty to look forward to therefore in 2013-14 and we - like many NCAAB betting fans - can’t wait much longer for it all to get started.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Marengo Remains on Course for Epsom Derby

Aidan O’Brien landed his fourth Derby trial within a week when his long odds-on Battle of Marengo duly obliged in the Group 2 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes at Leopardstown, although not everyone was impressed with what they saw.

Expected to dispose of his three rivals with the minimum of fuss, the son of Galileo took over the running after four furlongs and duly dominated the race from thereon, although he had to be strongly ridden three out to keep up the momentum in the rain-softened ground and then had to respond to young Joseph O’Brien’s urgings inside the final furlong to hold Jim Bolger’s running on Loch Garman by a length-and-three-quarters.

Aidan O’Brien suggested that Battle of Marengo had been in need of the outing to bring him to concert pitch for the Derby itself just 20 days later and that being in front for the final six furlongs had also been far from ideal.

The Royal Ascot betting tips left the perceived leading Ballydoyle Derby candidate unchanged at 5/1 second-favourite in a market dominated by the tremendously impressive Qipco 2000 Guineas winner Dawn Approach.

O’Brien’s colt was landing his fifth race in succession having achieved a hattrick at the end of last season, including a maiden victory at Gowran Park, success in listed company at Leopardstown in September (where he beat the useful Trading Leather with something to spare), and then overcame heavy ground in the Group 2 Juddmonte Beresford Stakes, beating Origlio Bay by three-and-a-half lengths.

Kingsbarns had been the stable Derby first-string, but after his much publicised difficulties earlier this season, it is Battle of Marengo who has emerged as the assumed principal contender for Ballydoyle, even allowing for this week’s other classic trial successes of Ruler of the World, Magician, and Nevis.

Looking for more horse racing previews? Jamie Lynch's York Preview: Tourist Attractions.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Murray should Learn from Djokovic Performance

If Andy Murray is to have any chance of winning the French Open title this season, he must study Novak Djokovic’s performances at the Monte Caloe Masters last week and try to replicate that style.

Murray crashed out of Monaco in the third round after a dour performance against Stanislas Wawrinka led to a 6-1 6-2 defeat. It shocked Betfair French Open pundits and seriously unsteadied confidence in the world number two’s ability to mount a challenge at Roland Garros.

He made 24 unforced errors against Wawrinka and won just 25% of return points. That’s what cost him and if he performs like that again in Paris he will last two rounds at best.

No, what Murray needs to do is concentrate on his return game and not come to rely on those serves as much as he does on hard courts.

If he watches Djokovic’s final triumph over Rafael Nadal Murray will see that the Serb’s returns of serve won him the title. Djokovic had a worse first-serve percentage than Nadal but won 51% of his return points compared to Nadal’s 38%.

That ability to eke out rallies from nothing effectively earned Djokovic a break chance during each Nadal serve, so that Djokovic was a threat throughout the entire match.

Unlike matches on hard surfaces when the serve is so commanding it almost ruins the spectacle, clay gives the returnee a chance to stay in the point and that is where Djokovic beat his rival.

Murray is roughly the same height as Djokovic, is the same age and has the same playing style – mainly using powerful serves to pin opponents back and dominating proceedings from there.

If he replicates Djokovic’s return game then he should, theoretically, find similar success on clay.

Granted, Murray is unlikely to win the French Open this year – the field is simply too good – but he can go a lot further than the first week if he keeps his mind on his game and irons out those unforced errors on the return.

Despite the pessimism surrounding the Scot, pundits believe that he – not money – will inspire the next generation of tennis stars.