Beer-bellies meet spread bets as arrows fly this week

MENTION the name Mervyn King in the City and most readers of this newspaper will think of the chap who&rsquo;s in charge of the Bank of England. But there is another fellow with the same name, who is far more at home on the oche than discussing the finer points of quantitative easing. This other Merv is one the country&rsquo;s best darts players and he along with the likes of Raymond van Barneveld and Phil &ldquo;The Power&rdquo; Taylor will compete in the Grand Slam of Darts this week. <br /><br />As you might expect for a game based on some rather fearsome feats of maths, there is plenty for the spread better to get excited about (if the sight of Steve Beaton&rsquo;s mullet isn&rsquo;t enough, that is). <br /><br />Each game offers a host of bets, such as leg supremacy, numbers of 180s, total match legs, highest checkouts and so on. <br /><br />One popular price is the highest checkout score in a leg. In matches with the top players, this could be worth buying, if you bear in mind that the highest checkout in last year&rsquo;s group stages was 170, by Gary Anderson in his 5-4 defeat to Paul Nicholson. The lowest was, amazingly, just 47 by Andy Hamilton in his 5-1 win over Alan Tabern. <br /><br />For example, take Phil Taylor&rsquo;s first round match against Andrea Dobromyslova. For each leg, Sporting Index&rsquo;s spread is 45-48, or 45-49. If Taylor is on form, it could be worth buying. <br /><br />Spreadex also has a popular bet called the 10-3. The winner of a match gets 10 points plus three for the difference in legs won. So Phil Taylor&rsquo;s 18-9 victory over Terry Jenkins in last year&rsquo;s final had a make-up of 37 (10 points for the win plus 3x9 for the number of legs won). Spreadex say that a number of clients won on this result last time out. For example, one client made a &pound;10 sell of Taylor&rsquo;s 10-3 quote at 17 and made &pound;300 when the market settled at -13. <br /><br />Finally, it&rsquo;s hard to resist a bet on the number of times we hear the famous cry of &ldquo;one hundred and eighty&rdquo;. The most popular bet here is on the number of maximums in a match. The players to look out for here are the top seeds, of course. In the 2007 PDC World Championships, for example, van Barneveld racked up a total of 51 180s on his way to winning the event, including 21 maximums in the final alone. <br /><br /><strong>MAXIMUM SPREADS<br /></strong>Spreadex offers a total 180s spread for games &ndash; for Van Barneveld&rsquo;s first match, the spread is 1.3-1.8 for both players&rsquo; total, 1.3-1.5 for Barnie alone, and 0.1-0.4 for his opponent, Francis Hoenselaar. <br /><br />Sporting Index has a price for the number of maximums in each leg multiplied by 10 (ie, a single 180 would count as 10, two as 20 and so on). The spread in the Taylor-Dobromyslova game is 3.25-3.75 per leg. As the big guns face each other, the maximums are sure to come thick and fast. Add a pint, a big of flag-waving and a man in a comic outfit, and you can ask for nothing more.