How to Play Gotcha Darts

Darts is a classic game of skill and accuracy, and is played around the world in various ways, from the backrooms of pubs to online multi-players. 

Gotcha darts is one of the many variations on the classic game of darts, one with slightly different rules and strategies. In this post we’ll go over the rules of Gotcha, as well as how to score points and win against your friends.

What is Gotcha Darts?

Gotcha Darts is a fun game modified from the original version of darts. There is no limit in the number of players, and it can go on for hours.

Each player has takes their turn to score the highest amount of points they can with three darts, to eventually get to the determined score. 

Players will continue to throw until they reach the specified score. The player that scores that exact number will be the winner.

How to Play Gotcha Darts?

Gotcha is a basic dart game that is really fun for beginners and groups. There is no limit in the number of participants or the time of the game, but the more people, the longer the duration. 

Usually the game is played to a specified number of points, like 301 or 501. You can choose any number, but these are the most common.

Scoring Points:

Each player has to throw three darts in a round, whose total score is then subtracted from what the score was at the beginning of the round. You score points by hitting the dartboard, and the number of the section you hit corresponds to the amount of points you get.

If you hit the 17 section, you get 17 points. However, if you hit either the double or treble sections, you get double or triple the amount of points of that section. For example, a treble 20 is worth 60 points, and a double 8 is worth 16.

The single area just counts for the regular number of points. The uuter bullseye is 25 points and the inner bullseye is 50.

How to Win 301 and 501?

To win a gotcha dart game is pretty simple. The first player to reach the target score exactly wins the game.

How to Win 301?

The 301 game is of shorter duration if compared to 501 and 801. With fewer points to score, the risk of making errors is significantly higher. You can have a tough time getting ahead of someone if you fall behind, and due to its shorter duration, you may lose the game. 

Rules are the same as mentioned; the main aim for you is to score 301 points exactly. Before you begin with the game, you have to decide who goes first and takes the shot. You each have three darts to play with. 

Often players have a rule that you have to hit a double to start the game, and a double to end it, called “double in” and “double out”.

How to Win 501?

501 is also a game of counting down like the 301. The only difference between these two games is that 501 starts with a much higher number, and therefore it takes a longer time to play. You have to keep on playing until someone wins.

If you intend to play for a good value and longer period, 501 would be the better game to go with. The rules of 501 are pretty similar to 301, and, similarly, the game will be played using three darts only. You have to keep on scoring until one player wins.

Keep in mind that under any circumstances, you have to end your game with a double.

What is Killing in Gotcha Darts?

One of the most fun and vital aspects of Gotcha Darts, and what separates it from regular 501 and 301 darts is killing. Now, what is it killing?

Killing is a competitive edge that allows you to reset your opponent’s score all the way back to zero. To do that, all you have to do is score the same points in one turn that your opponent has scored in the game so far. If you successfully get this done, your opponent will have to start from zero. 

This is one of the best ways to get ahead of someone, even if you are not a great scorer. It is easier to do at the beginning of the game, and once both players get above 180 neither one can be killed, because that is the maximum number of points you can score in one turn.

For example, if your opponent has 90 points total over three turns, and on your next turn you score 90 points, that “kills” your opponent and they have to restart from zero.

What Happens When You ‘Bust”?

Another aspect of Gotcha Darts is that you can bust. A bust happens when a player crosses the specific number for winning. You have to score the exact number, no more or less than that.

If a player fails to score that was decided at the beginning of the game, your score will reset to the previous throw. For example, if you had 450 points out of 501, and you hit a treble 20 (60 points), then you have busted by going over the allotted 501 points. This reverts your score back to your previous score.

Strategies for Gotcha Darts:

Gotcha is a very simple game. The first player to score the same number of points that was decided initially, wins the game. Strategies to win this game are killing your opponents early and often at the beginning of the game and also trying to get above 180 as quickly as possible so you can’t be killed.

Another is to take note of how many points you have left at all times, and carefully map out where you’re going to throw and hit. Do all this and gotcha! You will be the winner.

The Out Chart:

The out chart helps your sketch out your winning strategy. When you have fewer points to go than others, you need to consult the out chart. It will guide you and tell you what exactly you areas you need to hit to pull off the win.

For example, say you need exactly 75 points to win; if you look at the chart, it will tell you to go for a treble 17 and a double 12, which will earn a total of 75 points.

The Front Runner:

If you happen to be the front runner, which is often decided by a toss, you will go first and have the advantage.

You have to keep in mind that you have to score many points to not get killed in the initial stages.

Also, you have to be more cautious, make sure you do not bust because that will give your opponent an excellent chance to defeat you from behind. 

To do this, you have to make certain deductions regarding your opponent’s first shot. You also need to work on anticipating their next shot constantly. And always be aware of your opponent’s skill level and capability.

The Chaser:

Things are entirely different when you are the chaser. You have to be very receptive to the first player’s score. Because if he scores low, you will not gain much by killing him, so focus on making a high score to get yourself on the front runner position.

And, if their score is in a mid to high range, you would think to kill them and secure your place above them. This could be the fair call to take their position because it would be a bit hard for them to repeat and kill you on their next throw and reset your score. 

You have to bear the risk of busting on your next throw because by then, your opponent will have the upper hand being closer to the target.

Therefore, when chasing, you will have to take your chance and hit the target number, even if there is a busting risk.

Where is Gotcha Popular?

Gotcha dart variations are popular all over the world, in countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom, and many more. 

All you need is a dartboard, some darts, and some friends or family to play with. People love to play this version of darts because it is a fun, competitive game and very exciting. 


To sum up everything that has been said so far, Gotcha dart is a very straightforward type of game. This is a game that everyone can play and does not require any particular skill set. 

Most importantly, you can adjust the target number to make each match quicker or longer. It is a great pick up game for some fun, and doesn’t take much practice, so anyone can join and immediately start playing!