Steve Davis was only saying what everyone in the snooker world already knew when he revealed in the Daily Star on Sunday that players have for years bet on themselves to lose and bet on high breaks being beaten.

It's called insurance betting. It also happens to be against the rules.

There was a minor scandal in the 1990s when John Spencer, the then WPBSA chairman, was revealed to have done it.

As Davis says, it doesn't mean players were trying to lose. They were just covering themselves against defeat.

Nevertheless, it remains a shady practice open to misinterpretation and Barry Hearn quite rightly wants it stamped out.

Hearn has raised prize money on the circuit by £1m. There is now an opportunity to play more and earn more money.

Players unable to make a living from the game should get another job, not top up their incomes with money won from bookies through losing.

It does not do anything for snooker's image to have players found to be indulging in side bets on their matches - even though most of it has been done in all innocence.

In the last few years a culture has grown up in which a blind eye has been turned to all this. It started when the round robins were introduced for the Grand Prix - something bookies hated - and has ended with the world no.1 being suspended.

Players need to realise that the sport now largely depends on the financial support of the betting industry - just as it once did on tobacco companies.

It does nothing for snooker's prospects to have players dragged into stories about betting.

I know some people find the involvement of betting companies distasteful and would argue it encourages a culture of gambling. Perhaps it's therefore hypocritical to try and clobber players for betting.

Well, the game has been so badly run in the past that snooker has few other options right now.

And the fact is, snooker is one of the most honest sports out there. Players routinely own up to fouls - and not just on TV - and generally maintain an etiquette that has existed for over a century.

As in any sport there are rotten apples - and they must be dealt with.

This is why the culture of small scale betting that goes on behind the scenes has to stop.

Like so many other areas of our sport, the old way of doing things has to change.


Anonymous said...

Correct but the hypocrisy also comes from gamblers who rage against all this and then take to the internet the minute a player they've backed misses a ball, smearing their integrity just because they are out of pocket.

They think the world owes them a living just as much as snooker players do.

CHRISK5 said...

It's a scandal & it isn't.

A scandal that players do this sort of insurance betting - so the
term 'win at all costs' no longer applies & that they can be just as happy losing a match,as long as they 'break even' so to speak.

It is hypocritical though that only certain players & matches get revealed to the public domain.

Whereas NOTW & Alex Higgins know there are other skeletons lurking in the closet !

Not just since tobacco sponsorship ended - but the collusion between the bookies & snooker goes back
many generations.

Then again,this cloak & dagger stuff gets mainstream publicity,
sells newspapers & gives snooker more column inches than it would otherwise get - or am I being too
cynical ?! LMAO

CHRISK5 said...

Just to add - The players will just get their family members or friends to lay the bets if they are unable to do so themselves.

Are the bookmakers going to go to such lengths to prove a punter isn't related or connected to
the player ? - I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

it doesn't matter what gamblers do the result is out of their hands

but sportsmen of any sport that bets against them losing is corrupt no other word comes close to describing the people who do that.

it needs to be stamped out and if Barry cant stamp it out throw the players thats caught out of the sport for ever.

Anonymous said...

For an ambassador of the sport, Davis should choose his words more carefully. A while ago he said that that if you bet on 1st round Malta Cup matches you were asking for trouble, the implication being that if players went bent then it serves the punter right. Secondly David as you well know, Davis was involved in a Premier League game against John Higgins that aroused more than just a little suspicion, to say the least.

Dave H said...

I think you should choose your words carefully when it comes to putting words in Steve's mouth and referring to past matches, particularly if you're going to do it on my blog under the cloak of anonymity.

Anonymous said...

I've got no sympathy for gamblers. Mugs game. Try working for a living instead.

Anonymous said...

Steve Davis choses his words because he knows how it can look like.

it would be easy for him to say nothing letting it go on if it does but by coming out saying theres a possibility then the sport looks how to stop it happening.

anon 3.29pm what would you prefer everyone to keep quiet and let it happen ?

Anonymous said...

The Premier League match in question saw Higgins go 3-0 up and Davis draw 3-3. No bookmaker complained and no charges were brought.

But most importantly: no suspicion was ever placed on Davis and to suggest otherwise is irresponsible and suggestive of a whole different agenda.

Noel said...

With betting sponsorships in hand and an entertainment impressario in charge and
players willing to play their tune...
Snooker could become the WWF of cuesports.

Anonymous said...

its like the horseracing case of owner/gambler harry findlay....

technically even though it is against the rules theres no harm in a direct insurance bet, but some players MAY play differently, knowing the pressure is off financially as theyve cut their losses....mind you, it may make them play better as they know they are guaranteed £6000 or £8000, and not the losers fund of 4k...

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Mr Steve Davis. Hello Dave
It’s nice of you to come out of hibernation to visit the Dave Hendon blog. You really didn’t need employment Steve from a news paper to address “Your Union Members”.

As union Shop Steward Steve your only job is to find reasons for a members “Faux Pas” or a possible mistaken identity by the bosses or employers.
You do realise Steve that the new union (SPA) is to cancel the old cosy relationship of the disciplinary board and the WPBSA.

I hope Steve you know what “Hat” to wear when these innocent members come up for trial. Are you going to defend some and condemn others as you have two hats?

A good Shop Steward Steve can always find a foul reason by the employers that caused the members to be mistakenly charged.
Dave’s blog would be grateful for a daily or even weekly bulletin on how “Things” are progressing. Mr hey you

Dave H said...

Davis has nothing to do with the SPA now. I understand the new president is Patsy Fagan.

kildare cueman said...

Its not even remotely hypocritical to ban players from gambling while the game is dependant on the gambling industry.

Jockeys have been banned from punting on horses for years now, and in a sport that is far more reliant on the same gambling industry more than snooker probably will ever be.

It is unbelievable that players were allowed to bet on or against themselves, or have had a blind eye turned away from it, regardless of their reasons and is just another symptom of the ineptitude of previous boards.

It is not too hard to follow a money trail to catch anybody who decides to indulge in these practises.

Most large bets these days are automated and it is getting more and more difficult to get on, especially if you are a regular winner.

There is no doubt that if the guilty are weeded out and dealt with severely, then the practise will end, or at worst be confined to small pockets of no hopers.

Betty Logan said...

As 4.53pm points out, insurance betting isn't just about guarding your earnings but also a tactical manoeuver. If you take prize money out of the equation it will lift some of the pressure. Personally I don't think there is a problem with a straight win/lose bet just so long as there is no actual incentive to lose.

CHRISK5 said...

Noel - That is funny !

Though ALL & 100% of WWE matches are scripted & choreographed.

You never know,it could still be
Quentin Hann's next career move !

Seriously,Snooker is a more noble,
decent,transparent profession &
afew rotten apples shouldn't
affect or change the perception of
it being a geniunely competitive & legit sport.

I hope in afew months or years we DON'T have to keep referring to these type of misdemeanors in the game that we all like & love.

Anonymous said...

i agree betsy (i was 4:53)

and PMSL at Dave pointing out what a NOBODY Mr Hey You is by showing how out the loop he is. :)

Anonymous said...

QHs character in WWF could see him wear a suit which explodes red balls all over the place.

SupremeSnooker.com said...

The Daily Star on Sunday article hasn’t told me anything I haven’t known for years. However, that doesn’t make it right, and it needs to be made crystal clear that such behaviour will not be tolerated in this new era for snooker. There are an ever-increasing number of opportunities for players to make some money, and if they can’t make an honest living from the game now it’s because they’re not good enough- simple as that.
I don’t particularly like the fact that snooker relies so heavily on the gambling industry. This is NOT because I have anything against gambling per se (although it can certainly be as destructive as alcohol or tobacco) but because I don’t like the game relying so heavily on ONE sector.
For example, if, for whatever reason, there was a major downturn in the online gambling sector, and all major firms were reducing their investment in sports sponsorship, snooker would be in quite a state (as would many other events Barry Hearn is involved with, for that matter).
From a moral point of view, the legislation passed by the Labour government was completely illogical. Smoking is bad for you. That’s why it’s illegal to sell tobacco products to under 18s. Any shop found selling tobacco products to under age people ought to be heavily fined. However, I don’t believe anyone ever took up smoking because a snooker tournament was sponsored by a tobacco firm.
Similarly, the main consequence of the ban on junk food advertising was to make children’s television in the commercial sector completely unviable. ITV has more or less pulled out of children’s programming completely. Children eat junk food excessively because parents let them get away with it. Too many parents don’t use the word ‘no’ often enough.
If tobacco and junk food are worthy of bans from a moral perspective, why not gambling as well? I’m sure plenty of under-18s manage to bypass the pathetic security checks on many gambling websites. Gambling can ruin lives, split up families and put people on the street if abused. The law makes no sense whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

Sup Snoo said:

"However, I don’t believe anyone ever took up smoking because a snooker tournament was sponsored by a tobacco firm"

MY COUSIN DID JUST THAT, so youre wrong.

Betty Logan said...

Your cousin took up smoking because he's an idiot, not because Benson & Hedges sponsored a snooker tournament.

Anonymous said...

Noel - Hearn isn't an 'entertainment impressario'

he's worked in sport since 1974

Anonymous said...

technically even though it is against the rules theres no harm in a direct insurance bet, but some players MAY play differently, knowing the pressure is off financially as theyve cut their losses....mind you, it may make them play better as they know they are guaranteed £6000 or £8000, and not the losers fund of 4k...

of course its wrong in the same way taking drugs is wrong sport is about winners and losers you play to win if you cant handle it you lose simple as that.

its absolutely scandalous any player puts a bet on themselves to lose.

if i was in charge of any sport those players would never play again.

Anonymous said...

The first brand of cigarette I smoked was Embassy. Guess why! And I'm not an idiot.

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Hello Dave.
Thanks for the posts and getting me in “The Loop” on Steve’s replacement. The new lad Paddy will be “Filled in” no doubt by Steve and Barry with sound advice

I hope Dave that dear ole Paddy’s appointment is not just to curry favour with our Irish friends if disciplinary decisions on the alleged “Wrong Doers” are less than harsh.

Paddy has quite a job travelling all over the main land interviewing and giving advice to the four worried members plus the many witnesses for and against the charges.
It’s no wonder Dave that Steve bailed out as the time factor would possible infringed on the ex-champions contracts and earnings.

I guess Dave that Paddy’s appointment could be grounds for further postponements. Though John’s trial may being on neutral ground he must insist on his own Shop Stewards presence.
It would be nice Dave if Paddy would join the Dave-Den blog with some detail on his travels.
Mr hey you

kimball said...

I wonder how much you could have won
on Tian Pengfei in his win against
100/1 2-4 and 0-45 and O'Sullivan
still playing.
Last black 1000/1 or more.

Fascinating opportunities on Bet Fair!

Anonymous said...

This business of high break insurance betting is a non starter regarding underhand tactics.
It was started by players approaching the on-site bookmaker who offered them the relevent prices and were almost encouraged by big bookies to do so.
This bears no relation to any other corruption in the sport.
To put the two matters together is naive and palpably wrong.
As mentioned, similar to the buffoons in charge who warned Harry Findley off all racecourses for something they didn't totally understand.
Harry won his appeal and everyones time was wasted.
If snooker does the same as racing and randomly bark up the wrong tree, then the top names, who have all insured a high break will be dragged in for no reason.
Why not concentrate on the real issue of match fixing and spot fixing, not some old musty antiquated complete non issue?

Anonymous said...

betty, my cousing IS a SHE

so that makes YOu the idiot


Anonymous said...

how many times can the Mr Nobody cares about hey you mention "paddy" as if it is his best friend he is talking about?

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

The SPA is still a going project?! Seriously?

So is Higgins/Mooney still involved, or has somebody else helped Fagan?

Obviously, Hearn can't get involved.

And according to Hearns radio interview, they - wsa - are in the process of setting up a body to make the sport 'whiter than white!'

If so, all these allegations will have the book thrown at them. And as much as the sport tries to clean its image, it'll always have that 'grey' area around it.

All the time it is backed with sponsors from cigarettes to bookies it'll never get rid of its tarnished reputation...Ditto for Darts.

Until they get sony,mcdonalds or even tescos involved with the game, you can kiss goodnight the negative vibes that will attract and forever disminsh the sport. Broadcast sport and society how it is am afraid.


Anonymous said...

i agree 946, that is why i was the first on here to mention the similarities with Harry..

Anonymous said...

The only 'insurance ' bet that could be allowed in snooker is when a player makes the highest break and then bets with a bookie that his break is beaten. Don't forget that if he goes on to beat it himself he gets paid both ways so the incentive is bigger for him to try to beat it and if someone else beats it he still gets his insurance bet. Any bets on the result of a match should not be allowed under any circumstances.

CHRISK5 said...

The next PR 'own goal' will be when they ask for Willie Thorne's take on all this !!

Anonymous said...

anon 9:46 PM

barks up the wrong tree or not a snooker player bets on himself to lose see you down the job centre.

zero tolerance no betting if you a player end of.

Anonymous said...


Like most people you dont actually get it do you.
Read it again, NOBODY is betting on themselves to lose in this instance.
If insurance betting is banned then so be it, but the Star article shows how little people understand about what is right and wrong and what changes the result of a match and what doesn't.

Anonymous said...

No, people do understand it but are saying that, in the current climate, players SHOULD NOT be betting on tournaments at all.

And any who do should be disciplined. They've had it too good for too long.

Welcome to the real world.

Anonymous said...

Joe - yeah snooker could take McDoanlds money and then someone would bleat on about how harmful fast food is.

Any money taken from sponsors is tainted but no company or brand is better than any other and beggars can't be choosers.

kildare cueman said...

6.03 and 10.47-

No doubt your cousin is currently playing online poker while shovelling pukka pies down the hatch.

Anonymous said...

The 'minor' John Spencer thing in 1997 was a serious matter. The only reason it remained 'minor' was that the WPBSA decided to ignore it and turn a blind eye to Spencer's activities because he was Chairman.

As for McDonald's sponsoring snooker, yes, I'm sure they are ready to turn their backs on the Olympics and World Cup just to get the prize of a sport no-one knows about outside of about six countries

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised Hearn hasn't demanded the immediate disbandment of the SPA seeing Higgins and Mooney are/were involved. And the players hace had it too good for too long, any player found to be involved in this should be thrown out of the sport.


Anonymous said...

John Spencer resigned as chairman in 1996

Snooker is played in over 100 countries

Anonymous said...

Alpha - why on earth would they disband the SPA just because someone snitched to the News of the World in an effort to bring down snooker? Comments like yours worry me, are you Rodney Walker in disguise?

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Supreme Snooker, Hello Dave.
Granted Snooker is not popular with sponsors but your negative reminders mister SS are less than helpful. The game is in its “Early life” and devoid of original or even “Something” different since Joe Davis died in 19-78.

We’ve had the same old words on coaching recycled and probable in many languages leading to the games sameness and lack in entertainment value.

The Pro’ game is dead Dave except to us Snooker Addicts. The country is full of sponsors plus the hundred more countries that Dave has just mentioned.
Every country has a coaching industry that will soon die if not harnessed to share the vast profits with the mother game.

The equation is simple Dave! Every person that coaches and teaches snooker must apply to W/S or Mr Patsy Fagan of the SPA annually for a permit.
The other plus factors Dave is creating a benevolent fund for older members and selling the idea to other countries to create interest and income for an annual payment.

Anonymous said...

you are wrong


As for snooker being played in 100 countries, so what?

There is a difference (possibly lost on you) between it being played in 100 countries and 100 countries either staging major events or providing players competing in major tournaments

Anonymous said...

And there's a difference between what people say when they are employed within snooker and what they say when they've been sacked. Again.

Anonymous said...

By that logic nobody would ever sponsor cricket.

It comes down largely to cultural and class snobbery.

John McBride said...

Snooker & Gambling have always gone hand in hand. I remember well, that when Jimmy White turned Pro every time he played John Spencer they always played for a 1'er on the side, be it a WC qualifier or whatever.

Snooker has been trying to change its image for years, yet, by only announcing something like this now, shows how much they tried & can be taken as a reflection on the competence of the people that looked into the game. They just skimmed over the top, that type of thing.

I'll be back playing in a couple of weeks & its a dot on the card that every frame I play, will be either for money, be it best of 5's, for the lights, whatever, money will be involved.

Only a month ago we had an ex World Champ in our Club, still on the Tour, taking on all comers & would only play for a minimum of €250 per frame. Then played high stakes Poker all night when the Snooker finished.
Its not the players fault. If there are opportunities to earn an extra few quid, while struggling to make a living at their chosen profession, & not breaking any rules while doing so, why shouldn't they?

There has always been ambiguity in our game when it comes to gambling. Now, hopefully, the rules are clear & anyone who steps outside them rules can expect to be punished.

As for the John Higgins saga, anyone who knows the Man will also know that he's no crook. He has been an asset for our game & we should wait until the findings are released before passing judgement on the man or casting aspersions on his character. He makes jokes because he's a good humoured guy. My mind is still open on this.

Anonymous said...

Mr Hey You we have had your same old words about fine art, talking absolute garbage about balls that dont roll and pretending to be in the know about snooker, but habitually getting things wrong and thereafter corrected by other general users of this fine blog

you are a disgrace to snooker with all this fart ****!

Anonymous said...

To 4.18pm, it's a very interesting article which I'd never seen before so thanks. You also seem pretty aware of the dark age in terms of politics in the game, which perhaps wrongly, I assume you may have been involved in at some point, I apologise if that is not the case.

My own view is that those days are gone and good riddance to them and it's time to move on and accept, but not forget that it happened and be very careful it never happens again.

The temptation will be there, no doubt about that, but the players and their associates need to realise we live in a very different world now, the speed at which one can rise and fall has accelerated, it's called 'fraud'. My advice would be: Get used to it.

CHRISK5 said...

John McBride - Your tale of White & Spencer 'partnership' in a gambling sense is quite amusing.

One of my earlier memories of Snooker was when John Spencer won a frame from FIVE SNOOKERS down against Jimmy White at the 1987 Dulux British Open.

I was so impressed with the skill &
awareness that Spencer had in that frame - even before he got all the snookers required - It seemed so inevitable he would claw them back & take the frame aswell.

Maybe White had won all their
recent 'wagers' before that particular match - to motivate
Spencer even more !