When a 147 stands to net a player 147k prize money that's got to put enormous pressure on the player from the moment they decide to go for it.
When you posit the above, does that mean when a 147 stands to net a player 10k there would be far less pressure on them? I would say yes.
Are we seeing a higher frequency of 147s because the prize money is lower and thus less pressure?
I think this is an interesting and valid theory. The problem is that it will take deep pockets to put it to the proper laboratory testing. I wonder if anyone from within the Snooker world or without has pursued the idea of the 147 maximum as a marketing scheme. Currently, when a player makes a maximum, everyone knows about it and celebrates for a couple of days, wonder what sort of pocket change he received for this one, but where does the money actually come from?
For instance, many golf tournaments, there is a shiny, new car sitting on a pedestal by the tee box of a par 3 hole of course with the sponsor dealer's information emblazoned for all to see. Player gets a hole-in-one, drives away in a new car. Nobody gets a hole-in-one, dealer drives his car back to his lot.
Now imagine...an outside sponsor, nothing whatsoever to do with snooker or gambling (or back in the old days, booze and cigarettes) pledges the prize, $147,000 or whatever is deemed appropriate (let the mathematicians and statisticians work out the risk/reward curve for maximum advert benefit). That is all they do is pledge, no additional money but they get their name and logo emblazoned on the banners. And at some point in the break, say the player makes three reds and three blacks (happens at least several times a match), an unobtrusive watermark comes on the screen pointing out the fact that this company is the sponsor in the event that this turns out to be a 147 maxi.
I could see this being useful to something like an investment company that you would entrust with your money. They could have a gimmicky motto attached, "We strive for perfection to grow your investment" or something of the sort.
And if they are really worried about Ronnie constantly swindling them with a maxi at every event, they could make a side deal with him (no one would need to even know) so he becomes a spokesperson and he is exempted from the prize (it is in the fine print...employees of Such and Such Company are ineligible for the contest) although they would certainly take care of him. But just to keep Ronnie honest, they set up the deal that he has to produce at least one maxi a season or else he doesn't get paid. Need to make sure he doesn't pull his usual shenanigans.
Think outside the box. Get on it marketing people!