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UK Open Darts 2012 Betting Preview - The Contenders

Can The Power make it UK Open title number five? (credit: Lawrence Lustig/ PDC)
The Premier League may be over, but the darting year is just getting started as the 'FA Cup of darts' prepares to roll into the Reebok Stadium for four days of tungsten drama.

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The unique £200,000 event gets underway on Thursday June 7 and features a who's who of big names pitched alongside a host of amateur qualifiers all aiming for glory in front of the TV cameras.

In total, 178 players will take to the oche in a darting free for all, with the open draw potentially pairing together any two players at any stage of the competition.

It is the unpredictable nature of the format that is reflected in the pre-tournament odds, but one thing remains the same, Phil Taylor starts as favourite.

Here is a low down on the usual suspects expected to challenge for glory in Bolton:

Phil Taylor 2/1 SportingBet

The Power is no stranger to this event and has often produced his best darts over the frantic four days, winning the title four times, hitting four incredible nine darters and setting the world record average in whitewashing Kevin Painter in 2010.

He suffered defeat at the Quarter-Final stage to rival Paul Nicholson last year and will no doubt use that pain as motivation to win back the crown.

He is likely to come across tough opposition along the way but has thrived under the gruelling schedule which could see him play three matches in a day should he remain in the running on the final Sunday.

The 15-time world champion is best priced at 2/1 with Sportingbet and is without doubt the man to beat in Bolton.

Adrian Lewis 9/1 Bet365

Reigning world champion Adrian Lewis continues his bid for a major ranking title outside of the World Championship and is well fancied for a good run at the UK Open this year.

Having come unstuck at the third round stage last year, Jackpot will be determined to settle the score this time around but will need to find the round-by-round consistency that he has been lacking in recent events.

Questions may be raised over his freshness coming into the event following a bitty 14-week Premier League campaign which saw him miss out on a play-off place as well as a recent tour of Asia.

The Stoke ace however possesses an unrivalled natural talent and is capable of dispatching any opponent (including Taylor) when on top form. 

James Wade 11/1 Bet365

James Wade comes into the event as defending champion but will again have to do it the hard way if he is to retain his title.

A disappointing qualifying campaign means he is forced to play on opening night, making him vulnerable over a short format and facing the possibility of a second round tie against a BDO England international.

The Machine is renowned for winning tournaments after Phil Taylor has been knocked out, but he could face many other serious challengers this time as the bar is raised.  

Although his ability is unquestioned, he is often let down by his fragile mentality going into events. The best of both on this occasion could prove to be a winning combination for Wadey.

Raymond van Barneveld 16/1 Bet365

The Premier League saw the rise of a new-look Barney as he hit back at the critics who wrote off his chances after his World Championship embarrassment.

Although he narrowly missed out on a place on finals night, the five-time world champion appears refreshed and boasts a refreshing attitude towards the game.

He is now competing in most ProTour events and reaped the rewards during the UK Open qualifiers, topping the order of merit following the eight events.

He will be hoping to end his long TV title drought by making it a third UK Open title this month and may offer each way value providing he brings his 'A' game to the stage.

Gary Anderson 12/1 Bet365

Scotland's number one Gary Anderson has suffered a huge slump in form over the past six months, boiling down to a variety of problems on and off the stage.

The world number four ended the Premier League season bottom of the table having won it the previous year and sadly lost his Father midway through the event.

He did however show signs of resurgence by ended the season on a high with draws in his final three games against Adrian Lewis, Raymond van Barneveld and Phil Taylor.

His 12/1 price may look short on current form, but the former finalist is one of the heaviest scorers in the game and could do damage if he matches that with a strong finishing percentage.

Simon Whitlock 12/1 Bet365

Australian ace Simon Whitlock has established himself as one of the game's hottest properties in recent times and come into the UK open on the back of a run to the Premier League final.

Despite losing out to Phil Taylor, the Wizard produced a sensational nine darter in the Semi-Finals and is a formidable big occasion player.

Many will be hoping to avoid the former world finalist in the early stages and his clinical all-round game could see him live up to his 'beard to be feared' reputation in Bolton.

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UK Open Darts 2012 Betting Preview - The Contenders

The Premier League may be over, but the darting year is just getting started as the 'FA Cup of darts' prepares to roll into the Reebok Stadium for four days of tungsten drama.

Read more »