How to Play Darts: A Beginner’s Guide

Darts is one of the most popular pub/bar games, up there with the likes of pool and foosball. It is an excellent ice-breaker, and everyone enjoys the sport. Though sometimes, what looks easy tends to be a bit tricky to master in reality. 

It is interesting to know that this modern-day sport was invented in 1896 by a carpenter named Brian Gamlin. The sport originated in England and soon became a popular game all across the world. Even though Darts is yet to find a spot in the Olympics, there are several world championship tournaments where people from across the globe participate. 

To know more about Darts, we should first understand its rules, so this guide will help us learn all about how to play darts.

Starting Setup

The dartboard should be set up in a space where you can throw the pointy darts safely. Pick a wall or space where you can allow for all the official darting measurements, and have buffer space all around it. You also need to have ample space for the players to stand at the throwing line and aim at the dartboard. 


A standard dartboard has a diameter of 18 inches and a thickness of one and a half inches.

The height between the floor and the dartboard’s center (bullseye) should be 5 feet 8 inches, or 1.73 meters. This height is internationally recognized, and is followed in all international and national tournaments for both soft-tipped and steel-tipped Darts. 

The throwing line needs to be 2.37 meters away from the face of the dartboard.


Usually, two players or two teams compete against each other in any game of darts, but not necessarily. There are various versions of darts where the 1 to 4 players play a particular game. 

Getting Points

You get points when you hit a numbered section on the dartboard with the dart. Hitting in a single area fetches you the number of points you hit. Hitting in a double area gets you twice that amount, and hitting in a treble area gets you three times that amount. In a game like 501, the aim is to reduce the points to zero in the shortest time.

Singles, Doubles, Triples

The dartboard’s outer ring is called a Double. Its inner ring is called a Triple. A hit on the dartboard that is not in either of these sections is called Single and counts as one mark. A hit on the Double’s ring counts as two marks (in a single throw), and a hit on the Triple’s ring counts as three marks (in a single throw).


The score point for the inner bullseye is 50. The outer bullseye is worth 25 points. 


Cricket is one of the most popular dart games in the US and goes by the name “Mickey Mouse” in the UK. 

In Cricket, you need to close the Bullseye and each number from 1 through 15 on the dartboard before your opponent. If you then were either even or ahead in points, you win.

Opening Numbers

A single counts as one hit, a double is two hits, and a treble is three hits. Once you have three hits on a number, you can then start scoring points on it.

For example, if you have three shots and on the first landed a treble 20. This would “open” the 20 section for you, and any other dart you hit in that section would score points, until your opponent hits that same section three times and “closes” it to you.

Closing Numbers

If your opponent opens a number by hitting it three times, you have to hit it three times to close it. Once you have both hit it three times, the number is closed and can no longer be scored on.
Once all the required numbers have been opened or closed by a single player and that player is equal ahead in points, then they win, because their opponent can no longer score more points than them.

Bowlers and Batters

Bowlers and Batters, also known as English Cricket, is a different game to the more popular American version. It essentially follows the rules of regular field Cricket, in which you have a “bowling” team or player and a “batting” team or player.

40 Minimum

A coin toss is done to decide which player “bats” (throws) first. Every player gets three darts per turn, and they try to score using the 501-point system, e.g. with singles, doubles, and trebles. If the batting player scores more than 40 in a single turn, the player scores the additional points above 40. 

For example, if a player scores 68, only 28 points are added to his score. Otherwise, the player doesn’t score anything.

Opponent – Bullseye and 25

The goal of the opponent (bowling team) is to aim at the bullseye. The player gets one wicket for the 25 ring, the outer bullseye, and two wickets for the inner bullseye. The teams take turns until the bowling team scores the tenth wicket, and then the roles reverse. 

How to Win

Both teams play two innings, and the team with the maximum score at the end of both innings wins. If by mistake the batting team’s darts land on bullseye or 25 ring, they lose wickets. If the bowler’s darts do not land on the board, the batting team is awarded 20 points.

01 Dart Games

The 01 Games are the classic English pub version of Darts that you have most likely seen played. Some examples are 301, 501, 701, 901, and 1001 darts. It is played either between two players or two teams. Each player gets a set amount of points at the beginning of the match, and you work to eliminate those points and reach 0.


This is one of the most common forms of the game, and most professional matches are played in “501 up” style. With a starting score of 501, each player takes a turn to throw three darts. The score after every throw is deducted from the total score of 501.  

The first player/team to reduce the score to zero wins. But the challenge is that the last dart thrown has to be either bullseye or a double.

If the score at the end is either one or below 0, the score is bust, and it returns to the score at the start of that turn. For example, if at score 32, the first dart thrown gets 16 points and the second thrown gets 15, a balance of 1 is left. Therefore, the score is returned to 32. 


This is similar to playing 501, except the score you start with is 301. The goal is also to reduce the score to exactly zero. The first player or team to reach zero wins.

How to Win in 01 Darts

The first team/player who reduces their score to zero wins. If their score is below zero, it is called a “bust,” and the player needs to restart from the score he had in the previous round. Every player gets three throws per round.

Aim for higher scores in the beginning, like the treble 20 or the bullseye. If you miss it, you land on a single. Have the calculations set in your mind and strategize on reducing the score to zero. Try to leave numbers that are easy to combine other numbers into (24, 32, 36, 40, 50, 60).

For example, if you leave 32, you can aim for a double at 16. In case you miss it or get a single 16, you still have the opportunity to recover. Adjust your points in a way that you score multiples of 8, in addition to 32. It makes it easier to reduce to zero. 


Any number of players can play Legs. The players concentrate on 19 or 20 on the dartboard, but all the numbers can be used. The first player tries to score the highest score. The next player needs to exceed the first player’s score, else he “loses a leg.” 

Every player starts with three legs. The player left with the most number of legs in the end wins.


Most tournaments are played in Legs format. In a Set format, a player/team must win a set by grabbing the best of five legs. The match can be best of thirteen, eleven, nine, seven, five, or three sets.

Ending Throws

The darts that stick on the board at the end of the throw is counted. The ones that bounce off are not scored, and they cannot be thrown again. 

Other Rules

You should also familiarize yourselves with a few additional terms in the game of Darts. These terms are the ones most commonly used in tournaments, both local and international.

Bounce Outs 

When the dart bounces off the board after hitting a wire, it is called a Bounce Out.

Double Start

The 01 Games are also known as a straight start, double finish. The alternative is known as a double start, double finish. In this alternative, the player needs to start the game by hitting either the bullseye or any double.


This is also known as Darts Finish or Darts Checkout. The checkout table can help you end a 01 Game easily. The table helps you identify which number to throw next so that you end the game in the shortest possible time.

9 Dart Finish

This is also known as a nine-darter. The aim of this game is to reduce the score of 501 to zero using nine darts (the fewest possible). It is not easy to achieve even for expert professionals.


Darts is a great way to kickstart a party. You can enjoy this game in the comfort of your home as well. With so many professional tournaments like the US Open by the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC), Dafabet US Darts Masters, etc., Darts is gaining more recognition worldwide.

Many players like Jocky Wilson, Adrian Lewis, Martin Adams have inspired people to take up the sport seriously and not just restrict it to be a bar or pub game. The game has easy rules, and it takes very little time to grasp the basics. The most popular games to play are the 01 Games and Cricket.