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Things you should know about darts rules


The darts game has been around since the end of the nineteenth century, and as it grew and attracted followers all over the world, it started developing into many varieties. Depending on where you are located on the map, you’ll also get to use different versions of the dartboard and darts.



Having a dart board allows you to play Cricket, Dartball, Round the clock, Killer, Shanghai and many other games based on the same principles and using roughly the same instruments.

The board doesn’t always look familiar, a dartball board, for instance, is square. But most of the time you can quickly adapt to the change of rules. Some of these games are regulated by the same darts organizations that set out the rules for the common darts games.  

Presented below are some of the basic rules used in the most popular games played by darts fans. Usually called ‘01 games’, they all aim at reducing a fixed score (301, 501, 701, 901 and even 1001) to zero.



The game can be played by two competitors or two opposing teams. The purpose, as we’ve mentioned, is to get the score to zero. It’s called ‘checking out.’

A throw that reduces the player’s score below zero, to exactly one or zero but without ending with a double is known as ‘going bust.’ In these cases, the player’s score is reset to the value prior to starting the turn, and the remainder of the turn is being forfeited.

The general rule is that a game starts straight down from 501, but sometimes a double must be hit to begin scoring, known as ‘double in.’

To start a game, the two players or teams can draw, toss a coin or throw for the bull to determine the order of play in each match. A darts match is played over a fixed number of games, called legs. It can be divided into sets. The number of legs in a set and sets in a match has to be odd. The minimum number of thrown darts required to complete a leg of 501 is nine.


Darts and boards

From cut down arrows, darts have evolved into a four parts missile. They have points, barrels, shafts, and flights. Depending on the material used for the tip, there are soft-tip darts and steel-tip darts.

Steel-tip darts are 1¼ inches or 1.6 inches in length, and some are designed to retract a little on impact, so they don’t bounce out. Darts used in competitions cannot exceed 12 inches or weigh more than 1¾ ounces.

Instead of using steel, soft-tip darts are made of plastic. Safer to use, they have a lower weight of about 0.6 ounces.  

Soft-tip darts are paired with a dartboard full of tiny holes that can accommodate the point. When they’re equipped with an impact sensor, these boards are mounted on a stand and have an electronic system for keeping the score.

The standard dartboard used in competitions is an 18-inch bristle board with a 1-20 clock pattern, while electronic dart boards have a regulation size of 15.5 inches.

All dartboards that are used by professional players have fixed diameters for the inner ring or bull, the outer ring, the double wire, triple wire and spider wire gauge.


Players should come to the game with their own darts, and these have to match the standards. Once the game begins, they throw them one at a time, by hand. A throw consists of a maximum of three darts.

You can’t use freestyle when you throw the dart. The needlepoint has to be facing the dartboard, otherwise, the throw will be declared ‘foul throw’ and it won’t count in the leg, set or match.

The opponent has to stand at least 2 feet away to the rear. In front of the player only referees, markers or electronic indicator operators are allowed.

How the game is called is essential. If the game is a called a straight-in, the first player throws three darts trying to score as much as possible.

If it’s a double-in game, the players must hit the double before the counting starts. The rest of the rounds can start without another double. In the double-ins players have to find a strategy to get to zero. Beginners prefer 40 or 32, while experts want to get their score to 160, so they can triple and double the 20.

A ‘double out’ game means you have to hit the double to win the game. If your score is 40, a single dart in the double wire 20 is what you need. If you miss and score 16 instead, you’ll have to hit the double 12 to win. When you don’t need a double to win, it’s a ‘straight out’ game, but you can still go bust by having less than zero.



The person who records the score is called a chalker, a marker or scorekeeper, which sounds pretty logical. You’ll also need a scoreboard. A caller is a person who calls the score.

Darts hitting the inner bull count as 50 and those hitting the outer bull count as 25. Those thrown into the thin inner ring count three times the indicated number and darts in the thin outer ring count as double. The rest are face value.

To win the set or match, you have to get the best of three, five or seven. In other words, you need to win two out of three legs or sets depending on how you play.

In case you want to protest a score, you can do that only before the score is recorded and the darts retrieved. If the incorrect score results in a leg win, the score will stand.

In case an error in arithmetic is made and then written on the scoreboard, it has to be corrected until the next throw of that player starts, otherwise, the score stands. So pay attention to the math.

The score required by a player must be shown on the scoreboard, clearly visible, in front of the players and board marker. On the other hand, the caller or chalker cannot give indications concerning the required ‘double out’. Spectators or teammates can do that during the game.



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