Before I start this week’s Premier League Darts preview, I’ve got a confession to make: I’m hopeless at maths.
I always have been and, sadly, I always will be. While words always came easily to me, numbers seemed about as natural as Jordan’s chest.
It’s a problem that put paid to my darts career at a very early stage. While I can happily stand in my bedroom and fling arrows at the dart board all night, don’t ask me to try and keep score – it just won’t happen.
Thankfully, watching darts on the TV has never posed too many problems for me, with the kind people at Sky Sports providing every conceivable out shot and combination in handy, real-time graphics at the bottom of our screens at all times.
I might not be able to tell you what three-dart combination is required to check out a score of 135, but it doesn’t matter because Eric Bristow and his team of spotters are there to keep me right.
Tonight, however, there is a new problem for ‘mathephobes’ (yes, I made that word up, I’m a writer, it’s allowed) like me.
As the league stage of the competition draws to a close, the number of qualification permutations is mind-boggling.
Simon Whitlock has qualified already but needs a point to ensure second place in the table. If he loses, Adrian Lewis, James Wade or Raymond van Barneveld could still take second place if either can win by a healthy margin and the other two can’t.
I’m hopeless at maths. I always have been and, sadly, I always will be. While words always came easily to me, numbers seemed about as natural as Jordan’s chest. It’s a problem that put paid to my darts career at a very early stage.
So far so good. Now, take a deep breath and concentrate.
Lewis is going for second place, but could still fall out of the top four completely if he loses or draws and Wade, Van Barneveld, Kevin Painter or Andy Hamilton win.
The world champion can draw and still qualify, provided that Wade and Van Barneveld also draw, and as long as neither win too many legs against the throw.
Wade will qualify with a win, but he will be left waiting on the result of Lewis v Whitlock and Painter v Hamilton if he draws, while defeat will mean elimination.
Van Barneveld must win to ensure qualification, although a draw will be enough if Lewis loses and Hamilton and Painter draw. Defeat will end the Dutchman’s campaign due to his poor leg difference.
Still following? It gets better. Painter and Hamilton could both win and still be eliminated, but Painter could draw and still go through if Lewis loses and there is a winner in the Wade v Van Barneveld game.
Nothing less than a win will be good enough for Hamilton, who is also relying on there being a loser in the Wade v Barney game as long as Lewis loses or draws, but if Jackpot wins, the Hammer will require Wade and Barney to draw if he is to scrape through on leg difference.
Gary Anderson is out, but can still avoid a last-place finish with a big win over Phil Taylor, while the Power is guaranteed top spot whatever happens after another dominant Premier League season.
It couldn’t be clearer, right?
If you think you had a hard time reading that, you should try explaining it clearly and concisely in 500 words. My head will be hurting for days.
In any case, no player will want to leave anything to chance and going all out for the win seems to be the only option available to all the challengers.
With that in mind, here are tonight’s odds:
Adrian Lewis 21/20 v Simon Whitlock 3/2, Draw 9/2
Andy Hamilton 11/10 v Kevin Painter 7/5, Draw 9/2
James Wade 6/5 v Raymond van Barneveld 13/10, Draw 9/2
Gary Anderson 6/1 v Phil Taylor 1/4, Draw 7/1
In such a complicated and confusing situation where literally anything could happen, trying your luck with an accumulator might be asking a bit too much.
Instead, I would advise using your free £25 bet for registering with bwin to back Adrian Lewis at 21/20 or James Wade at 6/5, which you can do here.
Both men have the experience and temperament to win on the big stage when it matters and both men will allow you to more than double your money.
With an unpredictable night ahead, that’s about as good as you are going to get on this one.
Adrian Lewis to beat Simon Whitlock @ 21/20
James Wade to beat Raymond van Barneveld @ 6/5
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