The PDC World Championships are here! It's the greatest time of the year, not because Santa comes down my chimney, but because Phil Taylor, Co Stompe, Simon Whitlock and the rest of the PDC brigade are at the Alexandra Palace for the start of the World Championships.
We have 15 days of darting action in store and I honestly couldn't be happier. We had the World Cup of Darts at the start of December, which Holland won, but it was a pointless betting medium, so now we can get back into the darts betting swing of things with some proper action.
Here are all the free bets on offer during the PDC World Championships
Well, with all that out of the way and hopefully you're got some free money to bet with now, let's get on to the tips for Thursday's action at the PDC World Championships.
Paul Nicholson (16) vs Steve Farmer.
This really isn't an easy match for the "Aussie Geordie". Paul Nicholson isn't in the best form of his life, but the main thing for him is that he's into the PDC Top 16. However, the furthest he's been in his last 10 tournaments (including floor tournaments) is the last 16 and he was unfortunate not to make it out of his group at the Grand Slam of Darts. So Nicholson not coming into the tournament in great form. The same can't be said of his opponent, Steve Farmer. Farmer is having the darting year of his life, with a floor tournament victory in Holland, where he beat Kevin Painter. That was on the back of a runners-up spot in Crawley. Farmer lost in the first round of his first ever PDC major, the World Grand Prix, but he lost nothing in defeat. Since his move to the PDC, things are improving and he'll be looking to cause what many would see as an upset here. From a betting perspective, Nicholson just screams out at being a terrible price at around 2/9, considering the form he's in and Farmer must just be a little bit of value in the first match of the night at around 100/30. The fact is, while Nicholson is undoubtedly the bigger player, the prices are all wrong.
Recommend: 0.5 unit.
Gary Mawson vs Juanito Gionzon - Prelim match.
These prelim matches aren't everyone's cup of tea and, to be honest, most of them do nothing for me. They are a race to 4 with no tie-breaker, so it's really almost a crap shoot. Gary Mawson is the player with experience, especially in front of the cameras, while Juanito Gionzon is Filipino qualifier who, I'll be honest, I know nothing about. Mawson is a 1/3 favourite, rightly so, but in a race to 4 legs, I wouldn't be banking on him against a player who is unknown.
Recommend: No bet.
Steve Beaton (24) vs Mark Hylton.
Steve Beaton is coming into the World Championships in great form. His semi-final at the Grand Slam of Darts was an exceptional run, especially as he defeated Phil Taylor along the way. Hylton's appearance at the GSOD was slightly different, losing all three of his group matches to Gary Anderson, Mark Webster and Wayne Jones. However, he was far from disgraced in defeat and showed he's got what it takes to mix it on the stage with the more experienced players. However, when all is said and done, Beaton's experience should see him through and the price of 2/9 shows the bookies agree with me. However, Beaton likes a high checkout and Blue Square's line might seem a little low at 116.5, so I think we should be taking the overs in this instance. It might be a close run thing, but if Hylton wants to think about even winning 1 set, he'll have to take a couple of big finishes and Beaton isn't adverse to scoring a few of his own.
Recommend: 1.5 units @ 5/6.
Mark Webster (25) vs Steve Maish.
Last year's third place finisher, Mark Webster, will be looking to go at least one step further this year and his first round opponent, Steve Maish, might not be the most daunting person he could have faced in the first round. Webster will be encounraged with his fine performance in the PDC World Cup, where he and compatriot Barrie Bates finished second to the dutch team of Co Stompe and Raymond van Barneveld.
Webster has had a reasonable year, although it wasn't quite the breakthrough year he had been hoping for. However, he's comfortably in the PDC Top 32, which is the important thing for now and some decent runs in recent floor tournaments will set him in a good frame of mind to defeat Maish. Maish hasn't had the greatest year, with his best efforts being 3 semi-finals on the floor, with a lot of early exits. Miahs didn't make it past this round last year and the chances are that he'll suffer the same fate again.
Webster is best priced at around 1/6 to beat Maish, which is probably fair enough. I don't think the bookies will see too much action at that price, but any higher and they might have queues of people waiting to bite their hands off. Maish is 5/6 to take a set off Webster, which is generous enough, but we'll leave this match alone, as we've got plenty more action over the next two weeks that we don't need to be involved in every match.
Recommend: No bet.
Phil Taylor vs Mawson/Gionzon.
Well, the match hasn't been confirmed yet, as the prelim match will be getting player earlier in the evening. However, Phil Taylor will be a short, short, short price to beat either or the two, so just watch and start making notes for tomorrow's action.
Recommend: No bet.
And that's all the action for the first day of the PDC World Championships. Hopefully we'll get some good action, but I don't think the real fireworks will start for another couple of days yet. I've got some cracking bets lined up for you over the coming few days, so hopefully you've subscribed to the mailing list.
So, enjoy the darts, let's get some late Christmas money into the accounts and I'm sure you know the score by now: happy betting!