This past Monday, September 4, 2017, members of the sports betting community gathered at the Sports Bar and Grill in London to celebrate the relationship between snooker and betting with Ronnie O’Sullivan, the best snooker player in the world. The event was organized by Sports Betting Community (SBC), the same group behind the upcoming Betting on Sports Conference, in partnership with Betcris.
I have had the pleasure of working with O’Sullivan several times over the past few years and his friendly, down-to-earth demeanor stood out straight away, especially from someone who is world-famous. My time with him on Monday was no different.
One of the many things I admire about O’Sullivan is his ability to learn from life’s experiences and how to overcome emotional challenges. Regardless of your interest in snooker, Ronnie O’Sullivan is the best in the world at something and in turn, we all have something to learn from him.
While continuing to compete in snooker tournaments around the world, O’Sullivan is now serving as a brand ambassador for Betcris with a focus on the Asian market, a region where snooker popularity is on the rise.
“I think its early days, really. Ding has been around for 10 years now, he’s an established player, he’s won many, many tournaments, he’s seen as a massive icon in China. I think snooker is slowly, slowly developing in China. In another 10 years, you’ll probably have tournaments and may be playing for a first prize of a million pounds. It’s a massive market, a lot of people there and everybody wants a piece of China”, he said.
Seeing as O’Sullivan is quite popular with snooker enthusiasts in China, Betcris identified an opportunity for enticing Chinese bettors by signing him on as a brand ambassador. However, Ronnie’s life these days is not limited to snooker related activities, for example, he is the star in The History Channel’s “Ronnie O’Sullivan’s American Hustle” series, an exploration of America’s 300-year history with the game of pool.
“It was like a paid holiday in a way, we went to four fantastic cities, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Memphis – I wasn’t too buzzed up about Memphis, it was really hot and there wasn’t a lot to do there, but the other cities were fantastic. We got to shoot tommy guns, we got to play football with the San Francisco ’49ers, a boys’ holiday if you like”, O’Sullivan shared.
Diversifying his lifestyle beyond snooker is something O’Sullivan has been focusing on since he hit the big “4-0”, even though he loves everything about the sport and is thankful for this blessing.
“Up until about three or four years ago all I’ve done is just played snooker and I wasn’t really interested in doing anything else. But you look around and you think, ‘hold on a minute, I probably can’t keep winning forever, its got to come to an end at some sort of time’ and rather than wait until it comes to an end and think ‘right, what shall I do’, I tried to plan ahead a little bit and think, ‘what else is there out there for me to do?’”
“Doing the show in America was one thing, I’ve done a bit of punditry in snooker which is obviously a safe thing for me to do because snooker’s my game. Now I’m in a position where I don’t depend on snooker, I do it because I love it. I don’t play it for the money, I play it because I want to do it and I enjoy it and there’s no buzz and there will never be a buzz that I get from anything else that [snooker] gives to me, so I’ll always be thankful for snooker and my heart will always be in snooker”, O’Sullivan shared.
“I’ve had the first 40 years of my life and I maybe want to think about the next forty years of my life and that’s a bit of a Chinese philosophy– they say your first 40 years is your first half of your life and then you have to think about the second half. So that was the thinking behind it and I feel a lot more happy in life because I’m not as driven by snooker because it can be quite a mentally tough and demanding sport, really”, he said.
When it comes to mentally preparing for a huge match, O’Sullivan’s advice is try and stick with a regular routine rather than work ourselves up in anticipation.
“I’m quite relaxed about it, really. I’ve always believed you should never change anything you do, so when I’m at home, I go for a run, I go to the club, maybe hit balls for 20 minutes, half an hour and then I play somebody. So when I’m at a tournament, I do the same thing because if you start to think ‘well, I’m going to change my routine from what I usually do for this competition’, then that wouldn’t feel right”, O’Sullivan shared.
“I think sometimes you can put too much meaning on ‘this is such a big occasion’ when its really just a game of snooker, but you’re just playing in front of a thousand people, two thousand people, people watching on TV, but that makes me play better anyway, so you just go out there and enjoy it”, he said.
“A lot of people have to go and do jobs they don’t enjoy nine to five, so even if I lose, it doesn’t matter because there’s a tournament next week or the week after and I just think I’m lucky to do something I love and enjoy’, he added.
In the past O’Sullivan has stormed out of tournaments because he was frustrated and felt he wasn’t playing well, understandable for someone who is one half Sicilian, but an emotional pattern he worked hard to overcome in recent years.
“Obviously I’ve had to have a bit of help with it because I didn’t realize emotions are fickle- one minute you can be happy, one minute you can be sad and I think in the game of snooker you can feel a lot of those emotions. When its going well I used to think ‘yea I’m loving this’ but when it wasn’t going so well I would think ‘I want out of here’ and I just realized knowing that emotions are fickle, that when I’m not feeling too good, just give it a little bit of time, because it can turn around quickly and you can start loving it again”, he shared.
“I have that kind of mindset now to when I play snooker because I used to sabotage a lot of my own success in a way, I was my own worst enemy and now I’m not, so I get a lot more out of myself and I think the last six years have probably been the best years I’ve ever had as a pro even though I should be on the decline. But I think by thinking a lot clearer and more calmly has helped me prolong my career, if you like”, O’Sullivan added.