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Just For Fun

A Beginner's Guide to Playing Darts

December 12, 2019

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Darts is one of the most popular games played in bars around the world. And while you probably know the mechanics of the game (meaning throw a dart at a board), you may not know some of the specifics. Here is a beginner’s guide to playing darts.

The Basics

To play darts, you first need a dart board. Each dart board is split into 20 sections of varying numbers. This is the amount of points a person gets if they throw their dart in that section. In each section there is also an outer ring, which is worth double points, and a middle ring worth triple points. So, if you hit the outer ring in the 20 section, you get 40 points, or 60 points if you get the middle ring.

In the middle of the board is a circle section called the bullseye. There is an outer bullseye and an inner bullseye. The outer bullseye is worth 25 points, while the inner bullseye is worth 50.

You will also need darts. Darts can be made out of different materials and shaped differently, but they all include a sharp point, the barrel that holds the point, the shaft to hold as you throw the dart, and the flight, which is the feather-like shape on the back of the dart to stabilize it.

The dart board is hung so that the center of the bullseye is five feet, eight inches above the floor. Players will usually throw the darts from seven feet, nine inches away from the board.

Different Games

There are many kinds of dart games that can be played. Here are some of the most popular.

301 or 501

In this game, players start at either 301 or 501 and try to reduce the number of their points to zero. Each person throws three darts, and the score from their darts is subtracted from their score. First person to get to zero wins. Note: The final dart to get to zero must be thrown either into the bullseye or one of the double rings.

If a player throws a dart that takes them below 0, they have gone “bust,” meaning their turn is over and they stay at the same score. So, if a player has 16 points left and throws a dart into the 20 section, they have gone bust—their turn is over and they’re still at 16 points.

Professional darts matches are played using 501. If you are playing in teams, the score can be increased to 701 or 1001.


Cricket is another popular darts game that’s often played by more casual players since it takes less time than a 301 or 501 game.

In cricket, two players (or teams) race to score the most points possible. Players can only score on the 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 or bullseye sections. The goal is for a player to get three hits in one of these sections. The double ring counts as two hits, and the triple ring counts as three hits.

Once a player gets three hits in the same section, that section is “open,” which means they start earning points for every subsequent hit they get in that section. So, if you get three hits in the 20 section and open it, you’ll get 20 points for every dart you throw in that section going forward. You will only stop earning points if your opponent gets three hits in that section, at which point the section will be closed.

The game ends after all the sections have been closed. Players then add up their score to see who won.

Interested in playing darts? Check out one of Accel’s leagues over on Illinois Darts. Or if you already play, let us know where in the comments below.

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