The basics of Darts

the basics of darts from jester's billiards

If you have never played darts before, but are interested in the game, we present here some information about darts and how the game is played. We call this “the basics of darts.”

At Jester’s Billiards, we are BIG on darts. We are proud to be the host for darts leagues and tournaments. It’s a great game, and we have some “darts heroes” like J.C. Martinez and Chuck Puleo who not only play here at Jester’s for fun, but also play in competitions internationally. If you have never played darts before, but are interested in the game, we present here some basic information about darts and how the game can be played.

the basics of darts from jester's billiards

Here are some basics from mastersofgames.com:

“Unlike many traditional pub games, Darts has become popular enough to be organised by large governing bodies. Since the game originated in England, it is not surprising that the most prestigious of them is the British Darts Organisation and consequently the rules from the BDO have been used as guidelines.”

Let’s start by looking at the dart board itself:

“By far the most commonly used design of darts board today is the “clock” or “trebles” board and that is the only board that will be considered in these instructions. A good board should be made from vegetable fiber and is called a “bristle board”. “

“The pattern on the board is delineated by wire and color. It consists of a circle of 20 segments numbered from 1 to 20 in a seemingly random fashion. At the center is a small black circle called the “bullseye” and, surrounding that, a thin red ring called the 25 ring. The segments spread out from this ring broken only by the “treble” (“triple”) ring about half way to the edge and “double” ring which marks the rim of the circle. So, for instance, if a dart lands in the segment marked 14 and is within the triple ring, a “triple 14″ has been scored.”

“Each player has 3 darts which are front-weighted, flighted, weapons a few inches long with a sharp point.”

Next we move on to some instructions about the most common of dart games, “501” and “301.”

“501 is the simplest of games. Each player starts with a score of 501 and takes turns to throw 3 darts. The score for each turn is calculated and deducted from the players total. Bullseye scores 50, the outer ring scores 25 and a dart in the double or treble ring counts double or treble the segment score. The objective is to be the first player to reduce the score to exactly zero, the only caveat being that the last dart thrown must land in a double or the bullseye.”

“If a player reduces the score to 1 or goes below zero, the score is bust, that turn ends immediately and the score is returned to what it was at the start of that turn. (For example, if a player has 32 to go out and the first dart is a 16, the second is a 15, the player is bust and the score is returned to 32. So on the last turn, it is not necessary to throw all 3 darts – a player can win with the first or second dart of the turn.)”

“Because a player who misses a targeted double is likely to score the single of that segment, good players attempt to leave themselves with a repeatably bisectable number such as 24 or most ideally 32 – double 16. So for instance, if a player has double 16 left, and hits a 16, he has double 8 left and if he then hits an 8 he has double 4 left and so on – this is advantageous because no extra darts need to be thrown in order to reduce the score to an even number.”

“301 is played in exactly the same way but players start the game with 301. Some games require a double to start scoring as well as to finish the game.”

Next, from dartspiks.com, the basics of another very popular darts game, Cricket. It’s very British… and very popular!

“[Cricket] is a favorite among bar dart games across America. It’s strengths are that the rules are simple and it gives weaker darts players a chance against stronger players. The object is to close numbers 15 through 20 and the bulls eye by hitting them each three times before your opponent. Once a number is closed, you can then score points each time it is hit while your opponent is still trying to close it.”

“Each team takes turns throwing three darts. After a player throws three darts they tally up any hits for that round on the scoreboard and collect the darts from the dartboard. If points are scored on a number or bulls eye keep track of the running points. If teams have more than 1 player they will take turns every time it is their teams turn to throw. This continues until numbers 15-20 and the bulls eye are closed out. Once everything is closed out by both teams the team with the most points wins.”

“The game can also be played without points and the game is won by the first team to close out all numbers and bulls eye. This version is quicker since it does not require both teams to close out all numbers and bulls eyes and it also simplifies the games strategy.”

…and speaking of strategy for Cricket darts…

“If played without points, the strategy becomes very simplified. Try to close out all numbers and bulls eyes before your opponent. If you are playing with points what you go for will depend on how the specific game is going and the strengths of the opponent. “

“A good starting place is to try to close 20’s since they will yield you the most points once closed out if your opponent hasn’t closed them first. If you can close out your 20’s early it is a great way to rack up some points early in the game.”

“Players tend to have numbers that are easier for them to hit. If you know your opponent, try to close out the numbers that are easier for them to hit. This will avoid leaving it open and allowing them to rack up points on you. If your opponent hits a number twice and you have yet to hit it once it may be a good idea to turn your attention to that number. Cricket is about having a good balance of offense and defense.”

… and there you have it! The basics of Darts!

Here is a great YouTube video on the basic rules for playing 301 and 501, presented by Darren Parzow, Darts Hall of Famer!


For more info about darts at Jester’s Billiards, please check out our Darts page.

Jester’s Billiards, the best sports bar for pool, billiards, darts and craft beers in Phoenix, at the intersection of two main streets, Gilbert and Baseline Rds.

JESTER’S BILLIARDS, the BEST Sports Bar for SPORTS – billiards, darts and craft beers in Gilbert and East Phoenix! Look for us at the intersection of the main streets of Gilbert and Baseline Roads, in the Encore Plaza in Gilbert, Arizona.

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