• Introduction
  • The object of the game
  • Scoring in darts
  • Gameplay
  • 301, 501, 701 and 1001
  • Around the clock
  • Cricket
  • Fives
  • Killer
  • Shanghai
  • The dartboard
  • The oche
  • Rules and regulations of darts equipment
  • Other rules of darts
  • Sources

Setting up

  • Dartboard height: the center bull must be at the height of 1.73m (5ft 8in). 
  • The oche (throwing line) is located 2.37m (7ft 9.25in) from the dartboard.

Scoring

  • Inner bullseye is worth 50pts.
  • Outer bullseye is worth 25pts.
  • The double ring (outermost ring) doubles the dart’s points.
  • The treble ring (inner small ring) triples the dart’s points.

Gameplay (301 & 501)

  • Most common darts games are the 301 and the 501.
  • A game can consist of multiple sets/legs.
  • Players throw 3 darts per round.
  • Only darts on the board count, fallen darts may not be thrown again.
  • After each round, points are calculated and deducted from the overall score.
  • Players must reach exactly zero points.
  • Last throw must land in a double or a double bullseye.
  • Reaching 1 point or going below 0 results in a bust. In this case, the player starts the next round from the same score the previous round.

Scroll down for more darts games.

Introduction

The game of darts is believed to be invented by English soldiers in the 1300s. Back then, soldiers threw spearheads at wine casks or tree trunks. This was also seen as an effective way to practice accuracy and throwing, making it an effective pastime between battles. It is even said that King Henry VII enjoyed the game so much that his wife to be, Anne Boleyn, gifted him a decorated set of darts to win his favor.

The modern-day rules of darts were invented by a carpenter named Brian Gamlin in 1896. The biggest impact he had on the game was the invention of the number system we all know today (although doubles and trebles were not introduced until later). This further boosted the game’s popularity, making its way into the pub scene. This increased popularity eventually lead to the founding of the National Darts Association (NDA) in 1924, and the World Darts Federation (WDF) in 1976.

Nowadays, darts has grown from a humble pub pastime into one of the most popular sports in the world. Due to its accessibility, it has a loyal following of nearly 50 million active players around the globe. Its biggest events include the World Darts Federation (WDF) World Cup and the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) World Cup of Darts. 

The object of the game

The basic rules of darts are relatively simple; you must throw metallic darts into a dartboard and try to score more points than your opponent. Of course, your opponent has the same goal as they try to out-score you.

Scoring in darts

Players score points by throwing darts at the board. Wherever the dart lands, the player gets an equal amount of points. The board also has a double point area (small outermost ring) and a treble/triple point area (smallest ring closer to the center). A double bullseye (red ring) is worth 50 points whereas a single bullseye (green ring) is worth 25 points. 

Once all darts have been thrown, the points will be added to the player’s overall score. A game is finished when a player or team reaches a predetermined amount of points/legs. This varies greatly depending on the gameplay style.

Gameplay

There are several different playing styles in darts. The most common ones are 301, 501, 701, and 1001. The 501 is also the preferred playing style in darts competitions and elite-level tournaments. 

Although the scoring methods vary between playing styles, most of them share some similarities. These include the throwing distance of 2.37m (7ft 9.25in), dart board height of 1.73m (5ft 8in) and the use of three darts. Additionally, most games only count the darts on the board whereas fallen darts may not be thrown again. Most games also use the double and triple rings of the board.

Below you can find the most common darts games played around the world. 

301, 501, 701 and 1001

Most professional matches are played as ”501 up”, often simply referred to as 501. This means that both players start from 501 points and take turns throwing three darts. After each turn, the points are calculated and deducted from the overall score. The objective is to reach exactly zero points. However, the final dart must land in the double segment or the bullseye to win. Of course, 301, 701, and 1001 follow the same rules but start at a different amount of points. 

If the player goes to one point, below zero, or zero without ending with a double, the turn ends immediately in a bust and the score remains the same as at the beginning of the round. There is also no need to use all three darts in a single round. 

In some tournaments, such as the PDC World Grand Prix, a player must hit a double to begin scoring. This is known as ”doubling in”. 

Around the clock

The rules of this darts game are to hit all numbers on the board in order from 1 to 20. The game is played with two players, each throwing three darts in a row. The player who hits the all numbers first is the winner. Players may also choose to hit the inner and outer bullseyes at the and for added difficulty.  

Cricket

Cricket is played in two teams or by two players. Each round consists of three darts per team/player, also known as an ”inning”. The game only uses the numbers 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, and the bullseye. 

The idea of cricket is to ”close” the numbers on the board and get as many points as possible. Closing an inning is done by scoring three of a number – three singles, one single and a double, or a triple.

Once a player/team has scored three of a number, they ”own” it. After owning a number, the team/player may score as many points on that number as possible before the other team/player ”closes” it. This is done by scoring three of the same number. To close the bullseye, the outer bull counts as a single whereas the inner bulls counts as a double.

The team/player that scores the most points and closes all innings first is the winner. If teams/players are tied, the one that closes the last inning is the winner. However, if a team closes all innings first but is still trailing in points, they may keep scoring on any innings that are not closed. 

Fives

Fives can be played with any number of players. The game starts with choosing a target number, usually 50 or 100 (choose a lower number if several people are playing). 

The idea of fives is to throw three darts on the board and score a number that is divisible by five. For every five points you score, you get one point. If you score a number that is not divisible by five, you do not score any points. 

Note that doubles and trebles are not included in this game. 

Killer 

Killer is a knockout game for three or more players (the more the better!). At the beginning of the game, players throw a single dart to the board with their non-dominating hand. The number it lands on becomes the player’s assigned number. If two players land on the same number, the latter must throw again to get another number.

After all players have their assigned numbers, the game continues with each player trying to hit their predetermined double area. Each player throws three darts on their turn. Once the player has hit their double area a predetermined amount of times (usually 1-3), they become the killer.

A killer may eliminate other players by throwing a dart to the other player’s assigned double. When a double is hit, the victim “dies” and is removed from the scoreboard. Note that a killer may also accidentally remove themselves from the game. The last player alive is the winner. 

Shanghai

Shanghai is played with two or more players, each throwing three darts in one round. The basic rules are simple; players must try to hit all sections (single, double & treble) of the same number, starting from number 1. These sections may be hit in any order. 

The first player to hit all three sections in a single round is the winner. However, if players are unable to do this on number one, the game continues from number two, and so on. 

To spice things up, some numbers may also be used to eliminate players if they don’t score any points on them. Often times 5, 7, and 9, are used for this because they are the most challenging. 

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The 501 is the standard playing style in tournaments and championship-level events.

The dartboard

An official dartboard is divided into 20 radial sections and has a diameter of 451mm (17.8in). Each section is separated by a metal wire and offers a different amount of points from 1 to 20. Other dart board dimensions are as follows:

  • Double (outer small ring) and treble (inner small ring) rings are both 8mm (0.3in) wide. Throwing a dart in these rings scores double or triple points. 
  • The Bull, also known as the bullseye or double bull, is the red dot in the middle of the dart board which has an inside diameter of 12.7mm (0.5in). It is 107mm (4.21in) from the inside of the double wire and 170mm (6.7in) from to the inside edge of the treble wire. Throwing a dart here is worth 50pts. 
  • The single bull, or the outer bull, diameter is 31.8mm (1.25in). Throwing a dart here is worth 25pts. 

According to the official rules of darts, the center bull must also be at the height of 1.73m (5ft 8in). 

The oche

The oche (pronounced ”ockey”) is the line behind which the player must throw. It is located 2.37m (7ft 9.25in) from the dartboard. In official tournaments, the oche is 25mm (0.1in) tall and 915mm (3ft) wide.

Rules and regulations of darts equipment

Darts consists of only two pieces of equipment; the dartboard and a set of darts.

The dartboard is a cylindrical board divided into 20 radial sections. It is made from sisal fiber, cork or coiled paper.

The darts are made from four parts, the point, barrel, shaft, and flight. All of which have their own specifications.

  • Points are the sharp metallic ends of a dart. They come in two lengths, 32mm (1.23in) and 41mm (1.61in).
  • Barrels are the parts where a dart is usually help. They are made from iron, tungsten, brass, copper, or silver-nickel alloy, and come in cylindrical, ton and torpedo shapes.
  • Shafts, also known as stems, are the parts between the barrel and the flight. They are made from plastic, aluminum or titanium, and come in a variety of lengths which provide different characteristics to the dart’s trajectory and speed. 
  • Flights are placed in the rear of the dart to produce drag. They are made from plastic or nylon and come in many different shapes.

For competition purposes, a dart may not be longer than 300mm (11.8in) or heavier than 50g (1.76oz).

Other rules of darts

Although darts consists of various different games with their own characteristics and rules, players still follow a set of unspoken rules and sportsmanlike etiquette. For example, at the beginning of every game, players shake hands for good luck. Naturally, they also do so after the game along with a friendly ”good game”. This sort of conduct is similar in other English-born sports like tennis and curling that rely on a certain etiquette.

Sportsmanlike conduct also means that players should not distract each other when shooting. This means no sudden movements, no remarks, no keeping score, and no telling the other player where to hit next. As a general rule of thumb, players should stay out of their opponent’s line of sight and be quiet during the other player’s turn. 

Did you learn anything new about the rules of darts? Let us know in the comments. 

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