Ever wondered why dart games are so popular? That’s because they’re easy to learn, fun to play, and are perfect for all types of hangouts, parties, or even as a competitive sport.
Darts is a pretty humble game that has grown in popularity over the years. The vast majority of people have played some form of darts at least a few times in their lives. All you’ll need to get started is a standard dartboard and a set (or two) of darts.
However, if you thought darts was a one-trick pony, you couldn’t be more mistaken! There are so many variations of the game that anyone can easily pick the best suited for them and begin. Or maybe try a few back to back and make a tournament out of the different games!
Therefore, we’ve taken the liberty to put together a list of the 20 most popular dart games available right now. Choose one and let the games begin!
20 Most Popular Dart Games to Play with Your Friends
1. 301 Darts
Each player in a game of 301 Darts begins with a score of 301 points. Each player is permitted to throw three darts per round, and the sum of the three darts is then reduced from the total score.
However, at the beginning and end of a game, sometimes a player is expected to target the double area in order to be able to start getting points. This is called a “double in”. Until you get a double, you can’t score any points.
Another important law of the game is that you can’t go over the target score of 301. For example, if you only have 10 points remaining and you win 15 points, your score would stay the same. Likewise, once you hit a single ten, the score would also stay the same since the game needs one single as well as one double to finish.
2. 501 Darts
The 501 Darts game has the same rules as the 301 game. The only change is that the players begin with a 501 score, and rather than shooting for the “double in” at the beginning, they can go straight into the match. These guidelines are applicable to both competitive and recreational games.
3. Cricket Darts (AKA American Cricket)
Cricket is one of the most popular darts game out there. Each player in this version of Cricket is required to “close out” specific numbers on the board, which means to hit that number three times. If you have closed a number before your opponent, you can score points on it.
Once all of the numbers have been closed, the player with the highest points is declared the winner. If one player ends the match first and has the same number of points as their opponent, they are also then declared the winner. Cricket is a game that can be played on many electronic dartboards that have it as a built-in option, such as the Arachnid Cricket 800 Pro electronic dartboard.
4. Around the Clock
In the game Around the Clock Darts, also known as Around the World, players are required to hit the sections of the dartboard in ascending order. Each player takes his or her turn throwing three darts first at the number 1 area, then at the 2, then the 3, and so on, all the way up to 20.
In each round, you get points corresponding to the number you’re on. Double and treble areas count as double and triple points, respectively. The player with the most points at the end of 20 rounds wins.
5. Killer Darts
Killer Darts is a very popular darts game, and can be played with up to five players. All the players are given numbers ranging from 1 to 20, or they can choose a number by throwing one dart at the board using their weaker arm.
When a player hits their number at least five times (here, a double provides two, whereas a treble gives three lives), he or she is then called a “killer.” After that, the killer can go after the opponent’s numbers, and if they hit a number belonging to an opponent, that player then loses a life.
If an opponent’s double is hit, they would lose two lives, and if a treble is hit, they tend to lose three lives. To rebuild your lives, just hit your own number again, again with a double adding two lives and a treble adding three. Any player who loses all of their lives is removed from the game. The last player remaining is the winner.
6. English Cricket
This game varies from American cricket in that it includes a “batter” and a “bowler.” The batter aims to score the maximum number of runs they can throughout the game, and the bowler’s goal is to knock down ten “wickets.” The batter bats first and has ten wickets drawn on the scoreboard as sides. The bowler must attempt to strike the bullseye and outer ring in order to eliminate these wickets.
The batter needs to score maximum runs with wickets in his hand. In order for any runs to be counted, you need to hit over 40 points on the dartboard, and the number of runs per inning is the number of points minus 40. So, a score of 50 points in a round would result in 10 runs.
After all the ten wickets have been eliminated, the players have to switch roles, and then the new batter’s goal is to outplay the new bowler’s run total.
7. Shanghai Darts
In Shanghai Darts, only the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 are used in play. Each player begins with at the number 1 with three darts and must try to hit as many points as possible, and each round you then move to the next number. If the 1 area is in play, the highest score you can get in that round is 3, and if the 7 is in play, the highest score is 21. The winner of the game is the player who scores the most points after 7 rounds.
Also, a player can automatically win if they hit a “shanghai” at any time throughout the match. A shanghai means hitting the single, double, and treble areas of the number in play, one area per dart thrown in the round.
8. Baseball Darts
Baseball is comparable to Shanghai, and is also a very popular version of darts in its own right. In Baseball Darts, you play nine innings, or rounds. Darts that hit the inning number is counted.
For the first inning, you have to throw at the 1 area, in the 2nd inning you throw at the 2, and so on. A dart that lands in the single areas counts as one run, a double is two runs, and a treble is three runs. And, as is similar to real baseball, the team with the most runs at the end of nine innings wins. If there is a draw after 9 innings, play extra innings until someone wins.
9. Gotcha Darts
Gotcha is a simple darts game that performs best for a wider group of players since each player is on their own. To win this game, you must simply reach an agreed-upon number of points. Games are often played to 301 or 501, but you can choose any number you want.
In a section of the scoreboard, write down everyone’s names. Label the total current points beside the player’s initials after each three-dart turn.
One cool thing in Gotcha is that you can “destroy” an opponent and reset their score to 0 by reaching their current points total in a single turn. So, if they have 80 points and you score 80 points in one turn, their score drops to 0.
Your score also resets to the previous total if you go above the sum required to win. To win, you need to hit the exact number of points previously agreed upon. E.g., if you are playing to 301, and you have 265 points at the start of your turn, you can bust if you score more than 36 points. If you bust, you return to 265 for your next turn.
10. Golf Darts
Golf darts is another casual darts game for all. This is also a great way to learn your 301/501 skills, as you need to master the double ring in order to succeed at golf darts.
Any number of people can play; just make sure there’s enough space on the scoreboard. You can play numbers one through nine or one through eighteen (corresponding to the hole numbers in a round of golf).
How Do You Play Golf Darts?
To begin, determine the number of the holes you’ll play for, as well as who will throw first. This can be accomplished with a basic nearest-to-the-bullseye single throw, followed by a ranking of players based on score. Label each player’s initial over the card’s top, then the numbers (1 to 9 or 1 to 18) down the left hand side.
The target is to get the lowest possible score per turn. Here’s how the scoring system works: The lowest score is the double area, which is worth one point. A treble is worth two points.
Three marks are awarded for singles on the wedge’s narrow section (here between the treble ring and the bullseye). Four points are awarded for singles in the wedge’s fat portion (between the triple and double rings). You get 5 points if you miss the face of the dartboard entirely.
Begin with the first hole (called number 1). Each player has three throws per turn, and only the final one counts. This means that if you get a double on your first shot, you may (and should) opt to finish your turn on that dart and label a score of 1.
You can try again if you fail to hit the target. After 9 or 18 holes, count the points by marking the score of each player per hole. The player who achieves the lowest total is declared the winner.
11. Halve – It
Two or more players can participate in this game. It is usually a game for more experienced players, but less skilled players should give it a go, in order to improve their aim!
There are only 7 specific very areas in play, and that is all. These places are: 20, 16, Double 7, 14, Triple 10, 17, and the Double Bullseye.
The object of the game for each player is to hit these specific numbers, in the order of first to last. If you hit the area you are supposed to, you get the points added to your total. If you miss the area with all three darts, your score is cut in half. The player with the highest score at the end of all 7 rounds is the winner.
12. Hare and Hound
Another enjoyable dart game is hare and hounds. Two or more people can play this game. The game starts with a coin toss; the winner is known as the hare, while the loser is known as the hound, whose duty is to chase the hare.
The hare begins at number 20 and must race around the whole board clockwise, whereas the hound begins either at number 5 or 12. The hare wins if he or she crosses 20 before getting caught by the hound, but the hound wins if they overtake the hare. Three darts are permitted for each round.
This is another darts game that does not involve a set number of players. More players are more fun, so if you have a big family with many children, this game would be ideal and bring a great deal of fun.
Simply draw three lines underneath the name of each player; these are known as legs. Each player must achieve a score that is equal to or greater than that of their predecessor in order to stay in the game.
A player loses a limb if their score is not similar to that of the player immediately before them. A player is disqualified from the game if he or she loses all three legs. E.g., if a player scores 40, the player who comes after him must either score 40 or higher. The last player left standing is the winner.
Be sure to change the first player at the start of each game, as they have an advantage of one round over every other player.
Two players or teams compete in this darts game. There are nine spaces on a tic-tac-toe board. The bullseye is drawn in the middle, and other numbers are written in the remaining eight squares.
Players must mark their “square” by hitting one of the assigned numbers in that square, much as in the original game that this is named after. The person or team that achieves three squares in a row is the winner.
15. Chase the Dragon
Chase the Dragon is probably one of the most famous darts games, but it isn’t for the faint of heart! In this game, players try to hit the designated numbers from 10 to 20 and then the outer and inner bullseyes.
The points must be scored in the correct order. The game’s object is for each player to hit the treble area in each number section from 10 to 20. Trebles must always be played in order, meaning you can’t even play a treble 17 until you’ve played a treble 16. Whoever does this first, and then hit the outer and then inner bullseye, in order, is the winner.
16. Nine Lives
This game can again be played with any number of players, and each player starts with nine lives. The goal of this unique darts game is to become the first player to hit all of the number section from 1 to 20 in clockwise order.
A player loses a life when they fail to reach the correct number with at least two of their three darts. The winner will be the last player left or the first to reach 20 and hit it with all three darts in a round.
First, each participant throws a single dart, and whoever lands closest to the bullseye shoots first. That first player must try to hit the highest possible score they can, which is then registered.
The next player is supposed to beat the previous player’s ranking, and if he doesn’t, his name is circled. You’re out of the competition if your name has three circles against it. The winner is the last one left.
This game is essentially the same as the game Legs, with the added stipulation of throwing at the bullseye to determine the throwing order. As a variation, you can choose whoever throws farthest from the bullseye to go first, and closest goes last.
18. 51 By 5’s
The term “All Five’s” is sometimes used to refer to this game. Any number of players can participate, but the more, the better. Each player throws three darts in their turn. If a dart misses the board or bounces out, the player earns a 0 for the round.
The aim of each round is to ensure that the three darts get a combined score that is divisible by five. Divide the average score of the three darts by 5 to get the player’s real score. So, if a player hits a total of 30 points with their three throws, their score for that round is 6.
If the sum is not divisible by five, the round’s score is 0. A player must achieve an overall score of 51 to win the game. E.g., if they have a total of 50, their next round of three darts should score a total of 5, because 5 divisible by five will give 1 that will add to 50 and makes 51.
This game resembles a tennis game in several ways. The receiver and server positions are assigned to each player. You can play either with two players, or play “doubles” with four players.
The server begins on the left side, with numbers 5-19, in their first round, and then alternates to the right side, which has numbers 1-17, every other round. This is equivalent to a true tennis match, when a player serves from one box and then the other. The goal of the game is to take three of the six sets.
The server is the player who lands their dart nearest to the bullseye. When the server fails to hit the required numbers, their opponent receives a point. If the server hits a double on their first throw, they receive an “ace” and win the point. If a server doesn’t even get an “ace,” they keep scoring many more points as possible again from the specific number area.
A treble is worth three points, a double is worth two, and all other segments are worth one point each. When the server’s turn is over, they tell their opponent how many points they scored. After that, the receiver fires darts at the same number area to try and outscore the server.
If the receiver succeeds, he receives a point. If he loses, the server receives a point, and if there is a tie, the server throws the darts once more to determine a new score. The player then shifts his or her location to a different place, and the next round begins.
After a game, the players switch roles as receiver and server. The new server then fixes a new score. If the game ends in a tie, the players will have to play a set breaking round.
Mulligan is a darts game where the aim is to hit the trebles. Trebles can be challenging to hit, so this is a game for more skilled darts players. There are a total of seven numbers in play, and a player must hit three trebles of each number to close it. They must then hit the bullseye to win the game.
The players take turns trying to hit three trebles of the current number. You can accumulate trebles until you reach three, so you don’t have to hit three trebles in only one round. The players then switch on to the following number until that one is closed. Before going on to the next goal, each player must complete their own. The player who hits three trebles in all seven of their assigned numbers, and a bullseye to end, is the winner.
Rules that Apply to All Dart Games
Many of the dart games listed above have various goals, scoring systems, number of players, and guidelines to remember. There are, however, specific universal dart laws that extend to all variations and games.
Rule #1 – Three Darts Per Turn
Rule #2 – Remove Your Own Darts
Rule #3 – Fallen Darts Are Out of Play
Rule #4 – Dropped Darts Can be Thrown Again
Rule #5 – Stand on or behind the Throwing Line
Rule #6 – Record Your Score Before Removing Darts
Rule #7 – Do Not Touch Darts Until After Your Turn
Rule #8 – Keep it Simple
Rule #9 – Decide Who Shoots First
Rule #10 – Decide Player Shooting Order
Rule #11 – Do Not Distract the Throwing Player
Rule #12 – Stay Clear of the Throwing Player
Rule #13 – Only Throw Darts Needed to Win
No matter what game you decide to play at the bar or at home with friends, the above set of dart rules will apply.
These dart games will bring a lot of variation and fun to your game night. We went through all of the rules and regulations for many of the most popular darts games, including 301, 501, Cricket, Around the Clock, Halve-It, and several more.
Darts is a sport that people of all ages and nationalities play. Some people play for fun, while others are passionate about their sport. However, there are several games to pick from for everyone. Some are built for beginners, while others need a high level of ability to play well. It is essential to know which dart game suits you and your group of friends the best.