Friday, May 31, 2013

Japan struggling ahead of Confederations Cup

Japan’s hopes of clinching an unlikely title at the 2013 Confederations Cup later this June already appear in tatters after the squad fell to a second defeat within a week on Thursday night.

The Japanese national side played a friendly against Bulgaria in Toyota as preparations for two World Cup qualifiers and failed to impress sports betting fans during their 2-0 loss.

The defeat came four days after a disappointing 2-1 qualification loss to Jordan, which means they cannot secure safe passage to next summer’s World Cup until later this week.

In fact, they couldn’t have had a worse preparation heading into games against Australia and Iraq and even if they win these two fixtures are unlikely to find much success out in Brazil.

Japan are set to book their place in the World Cup and will use their Confederations Cup experience this summer to acclimatise to the South American conditions. They face Brazil, Mexico and Italy in Group A and are favourites to finish bottom on Betfair’s sports odds.

Yet winning is not everything at the Confederations Cup and the experience of Brazil’s varying conditions is far more important for head coach Alberto Zaccheroni. They play in Brasilia, Recife and Belo Horizonte – three completely different cities that cover a huge expanse of the country.

This will put Japan in good stead for the World Cup next year, regardless of the results. Should they beat Australia and Iraq this week they may go on to prove an upset against Mexico and the hosts, although second place in Group A behind Italy is the most they can hope for.

Betting fans are advised not to back Japan for glory this summer and instead consider how far they can go in one year’s time. That’s what Zaccheroni will be most focussed upon and the results should show at the World Cup.

Not interested in the Confederations Cup? Check out the latest odds on Champions League on the Betfair website.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Kaymer still Basking in Ryder Cup Glow

Former world number one Martin Kaymer will head to this year’s US Open knowing he will probably still be reminded about how his nerve-tingling five-foot putt on the 18th green broke American hearts in last year’s Ryder Cup at Medinah.

The German, who spends the majority of his time in the States playing on the US PGA Tour, has admitted he has found himself persona non grata with a lot of American fans following his exploits for Europe last year.

"A couple of times in the gym and once when I went out for dinner there were guys that came out and said, 'I didn't really like you before but now I really hate you'," the 2010 PGA champion revealed ahead of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

"If it comes down to crucial moments in the last two or three holes of tournaments I am prepared well because I know I did something very special a few months ago. The belief I gained from the Ryder Cup has been very valuable."

While the Ryder Cup experience was a real high point for Kaymer last year, it was one of only a handful of occasions in 2012 in which the German star will have been happy with how he had performed. 

It’s been something of a similar story for Kaymer so far this year. Still without a tournament victory since the end of 2011, Kaymer will go into this year’s US Open with a relatively lowly ranking of 32 in the world.

But the 28-year old will be more than aware of the fact that a strong showing at Merion could catapult him right back into the Open Golf Betting Tips, and breathe new life into a career that has appeared to have become a bit stuck in the mud.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Geography of Poker

The game of poker will evolve differently depending what country you originate from. This is true whether you are playing live or online, such as in a Betfair 5 card draw event. Understanding this can give you an edge when creating a read on the player types sitting at your table.

The Global Poker Index (GPI) is the universally recognised poker ranking system. It was first created as part of the doomed Epic Poker League (EPL) and now belongs to Alexandre Dreyfus, the former CEO of Chiligaming.

The GPI also has a country ranking system and at the top of that list with just under half of the 300-top players in the world is the United States.

So, it goes without saying that the game in the States is much tougher than say the game in Italy. There is a steeper tradition and more people have played the game for longer.

The Scandinavians are notorious for their super aggressive playing style, in Asian countries there is this happy go lucky gambling attitude and in France there is more of a calling station vibe to their play.

If you are readless at a table then it does you no harm to start out with the default country settings. If playing against someone from Sweden then consider him, or her, a loose aggressive player until they give you reason to believe otherwise.

Another thing you should keep an eye out for is the fundamentals of a poker player’s game. There is a huge difference between someone who knows how to navigate their way through a tournament field and those that don’t. The limited skills and experience should shine and it will also help you formulate some good reads.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

NBA votes to keep Kings in Sacramento

The Kings will stay in Sacramento rather than move to Seattle after the NBA ruled that the team should remain where they are. The decision brings to an end a saga which began in January when the family of George Maloof, which owns a majority interest in the team, looked at the possibility of moving the team to Seattle after failing to persuade the city of Sacramento to build a new arena. The Maloofs reached a deal to sell the team to a local investment group led by Seattle hedge fund manager Chris Hansen. The city of Seattle has been without its own basketball team since the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City in 2008. However, the mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson, vowed to start a campaign to keep the Kings in California’s capital and he put together a team that promised to match Hansen's bid. The group also persuaded the city council to back a proposal for a new $450million arena. NBA Commissioner David Stern is pleased that a resolution has been found, saying to NBA betting news reporters: "It's nice to see two great cities so interested in an NBA franchise, but the winner here is Sacramento. “It is my expectation that we will now be able to reach a deal with the Maloofs.” Last month, a committee of NBA owners voted that the team should stay in Sacramento, but Hansen vowed to fight on, raising his bid for a controlling interest in the Kings to $406million, which valued the team at $625million. Punters who bet on NBA always favoured the status quo, which is how it has prevailed. Meanwhile, Johnson believes the construction of a new arena will create jobs and provide more economic development opportunities for Sacramento but accepts that Seattle deserves a team of its own, saying: "They know what it feels like to lose a team. We just don't want that to happen to us."

Monday, May 20, 2013

Surprise Candidates in the NCAA

Each and every season we have a few teams that emerge and make a noise in the NCAA that you would not have considered as contenders but when you look back the signs are there; they may have laid good foundations the year before and built on those or they may have added a missing piece of the jigsaw.

So are there any teams that meet that criteria this year, we think there are, and although you could have some question marks over these three that we have selected they do have the talent to emerge and thrive.

As NCAAB betting fans know, the Virginia Cavaliers have the potential to be one of the elite teams in the country with a team that has experience and well defined roles and most important the players take care of the ball, have shot discipline and are tough to score against.

The Cavaliers also have one of the best players in the ACC in Joe Harris and he is the fulcrum of the side that they can play around although they will need to find a replacement for point guard Jontel Evans who was the heartbeat of the side defensively. If the Cavaliers get consistent point guard play, we feel they will finish in the top four in the ACC and be a dangerous team in the NCAA tournament.

LSU look like a side that has momentum, they had 19 wins last season with 9 coming in the SEC; their victories against Missouri, Arkansas and Alabama sent a message that these were no paper Tigers but a young and talented team that is athletic enough to compete within the conference.

They have a good anchor offensively in Johnny O’Bryant and he was playing as well as anyone in the SEC at the end of last season. Around him he has plenty of talent in Anthony Hickey, Andre Stringer and Shavon Coleman and the Tigers’ top-10-ranked freshman class will provide even further strength in depth and this team has the potential to go to the Sweet 16.

If you are looking for a side that could really breakthrough then look no further than the Arizona State Sun Devils especially after they won 22 games last year. ASU are one of the fastest-playing teams in the West.

The Sun Devils averaged 72 points per game last season, and we expect them to play even faster next season especially with explosive players like Jahii Carson on the court, and his dynamic skill set is backed up by a good supporting cast plus the Sun Devils have two transfers they expect to contribute; Brandan Kearney from Michigan State and Richie Edwards from Valparaiso.

Both are skilled and can make shots, fitting perfectly into the Sun Devils' system. We would expect the Sun Devils to make the NCAA tournament this season and cause a few surprises when they get there especially with Carson, one of the best point guards in the country.

We are sure that there will be other surprise teams to emerge over the season but as things stand these three have as good a chance as any of breaking the out when the new season starts.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Guest Runs Excellent Hunt Cup Trial

Excellent Guest finally got his head in front in a big handicap when coming fast and late to land the valuable Betfred Victoria Cup at Ascot at the weekend, in the process running the perfect trial for the Royal Hunt Cup, and delighting fans who placed a Royal Ascot bet.

Trained by George Margarson, the six-year-old had fallen to a mark of 93 after ending last term on a low note in finishing last of the 33 runners in the Cambridgeshire Handicap at Newmarket having run little better on his previous outing. 

Margarson had endured a series of near misses with the gelded son of Exceed and Excel in top handicaps over the last few seasons and had begun to wonder if he would ever land a decent prize.

Ridden in the 26-runner Victoria Cup by Tom Queally, Excellent Guest was held up for much of the straight seven-furlong contest before making good headway in the final quarter mile. Running on strongly well inside the final furlong, he burst through to hit the front and then stayed on well to hold another fast finisher, Bertiwhittle, by half-a-length.

Second in recent seasons in the Bunbury Cup, the Royal Hunt Cup, and the Buckingham Palace Handicap, Excellent Guest was certainly not winning out of turn and delighted his handler who is already looking forward to returning him to the fray at Royal Ascot next month for another crack at the Royal Hunt Cup over an extra furlong on the straight mile.

The 25/1 chance was landing his fourth win from 26 career starts and is a half-brother to the yard’s Imperial Guest who suffered a fatal injury at Kempton in January having proved a standard bearer for Margarson in recent seasons, including wining a valuable heritage handicap at Glorious Goodwood. 

In Excellent Guest, it appears that the Newmarket handler has a ready-made replacement for his much missed stalwart, a point that Betfair pundit, Jamie Lynch, has supported in recent days.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Djokovic return Game the key to Clay Success

Novak Djokovic has always been known for his ability to return even the world’s fastest serves with consummate ease and last weekend this gift proved the difference between winning and losing yet again.

Facing Rafael Nadal in the final of a tournament the Spaniard has won eight times before must be a daunting task but when you’ve got a return master at the other end of the court the balance of power evens somewhat.

This is what fans betting Betfair enjoyed on Sunday afternoon as Nadal and Djokovic clashed for the Monte Carlo Masters final and few of us expected the result we witnessed.

Djokovic was simply too dominant for the Spaniard and bounded to a 5-0 first-set lead before taking the opener 6-2. Although Nadal fought back hard to force a second-set tie-break, Djokovic’s dominance on single points proved the difference between the pair as he won the second and the championship on a 7-1 mini set.

What gave Djokovic the edge on Sunday was his ability to return serve and if he keeps this up he is the logical choice to win the French Open later next month.

Djokovic only made 62% of his first serves compared to Nadal’s 72%, yet the Serb won 63% of his first serve points, while Nadal only won 55% of his.

So, despite having a better serve Nadal failed to make it count, and this was because Djokovic is the master at retuning.

His reaction to serves is second to none and because he possesses at 6ft 2” frame he can stretch across the court in a flash and excavate those impossible balls. The 2013 Australian Open champion won 40/78 return points to Nadal’s 23/61 and that is where the pair differed.

If Nadal is to win the Roland Garros crown he must improve his return game or find an extra 10mph in his serves. That is unlikely to happen and so betting fans should back Djokovic to win the clay slam this summer.