What Are The Chances Of A 147 In A Snooker Match?

looking down a snooker table all balls in position black ball in focusIn snooker, a ‘147’ refers to the highest possible break a player can achieve in a single frame. It is considered the pinnacle of excellence in the game and is achieved by hitting a series of shots without the opponent having a chance to play. To achieve a 147 break, a player must pot all 15 red balls, each followed by a black ball, and then clear the remaining six coloured balls in the specific sequence of yellow, green, brown, blue and pink before finally potting the black ball again. The player must pot all the balls in a single visit to the table without missing a shot or committing a foul.

Completing a 147 break is a remarkable feat in snooker and is met with great applause from both fans and fellow players. It is a rare occurrence, given the fact that it requires flawless execution and a high level of concentration. Over the years, numerous professional players have achieved this feat, with each 147 break adding to the rich history and excitement of snooker as a sport. The question is, what are the chances of a playing managing to achieve it? This is something that you’ll now doubt want to know if you’re planning on placing a bet on it being achieved in a tournament.

147 Breaks Are Not Common

woman playing snookerThe chances of a 147 break occurring in a snooker match are extremely slim. The probability depends on various factors, including the skill level of the players involved, the conditions of the table and the pressure of the match. To understand the likelihood of a 147 break, it’s important to consider the statistical odds. In professional snooker, where players are highly skilled and experienced, a 147 break is still a rare thing to see happen. Even the top players in the world, who consistently perform at an elite level, do not achieve a 147 break in every match, which tells you a lot.

The length of a snooker match also affects the probability of it happening. In shorter matches, such as best-of-nine frames, the opportunity for a player to compile a 147 break is significantly reduced compared to longer matches, such as best-of-25 frames. On top of that, the conditions of the table, such as the tightness of the pockets and the speed of the cloth, can impact the likelihood of a player successfully potting all the required balls. Considering all of these factors, it is estimated that the chances of a 147 break occurring in a professional snooker match range from roughly 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 20,000 frames.

147s At The Crucible

the crucible theatre panoramic snooker
Bvayb, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

These odds highlight the incredible skill, precision, and concentration required to achieve such a perfect break in snooker. In order to get a sense of just how unlikely it is to happen, here is a look at the 147s that have been notched up at the Crucible, which is arguably the toughest venue in which to play snooker in the world. It is located in Sheffield and is the home of the World Championship, which is about the most high-stakes competition that the sport offers. Remarkably, it has happened a lot less often than you might have thought over the years.

Here is a look at all of the 147s that the Crucible has witnessed up to 2023, with the first occurring in 1983:

YearPlayerOpponentStage of Competition
1983Cliff ThorburnTerry GriffithsSecond Round
1992Jimmy WhiteTony DragoFirst Round
1995Stephen HendryJimmy WhiteSemi-Final
1997Ronnie O’SullivanMick PriceFirst Round
2003Ronnie O’SullivanMarco FuFirst Round
2005Mark WilliamsRobert MilkinsFirst Round
2008Ronnie O’SullivanMark WilliamsSecond Round
2008Ali CarterPeter EbdonQuarter-Final
2009Stephen HendryShaun MurphyQuarter-Final
2012Stephen HendryStuart BinghamFirst Round
2020John HigginsKurt MaflinSecond Round
2022Neil RobertsonJack LisowskiSecond Round
2023Kyren WilsonRyan DayFirst Round
2023Mark SelbyLuca BrecelFinal

You can see from the table that the achievement of Ronnie O’Sullivan and Stephen Hendry, who have managed three 147s apiece, is not to be sniffed at. It is also interesting to note that both Jimmy White and Mark Williams managed to achieve a 147 themselves and also have a 147 scored against them at the Crucible. Perhaps the biggest achievement of all came from Mark Selby, who managed to get a 147 at the Crucible in the final of the World Championship in 2023; the only player to achieve it at that stage of the competition.

Here is a look at how many frames of snooker were played in each of the years in which a 147 was achieved:

YearFrames Played147sOdds

In total, 6,762 frames were played in years when at least one 147 was achieved. Given the fact that there were 14 147s during that time, it means that the odds of a 147 happening in a year when there is one are 483/1. Of course, there are a wealth of years in which no 147 has been scored, but it would be all but impossible to go through the total number of frames played between 1983 and 2023.

If we say that there are an average of 563.5 frames played a year, that would mean that 22,540 frames will have been played, on average, during the 40 years in question. That equates to a 1 in 1,610 chance of there being a 147 during a World Championship match. In other words, the odds are not particularly generous when compared to what the bookies will be offering you as a payout were it to happen.

This is just the World Championship, with countless other professional snooker tournaments taking place around the world. Yet the fact that the World Championship at the Crucible is considered to be the pinnacle of snooker means that it is exactly the right one to take a closer look at in terms of whether a 147 is likely. There might well be one, but with just 14 147s notched up in 40 years’ worth of tournaments, it isn’t the sort of thing that you’re likely to win a huge amount of money from betting on.