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Darts – A Complete Guide

Anatomy of a Dartboard

The standard english dartboard consists of twenty numbered segments or pies ranging in value from 1 to 20. In the center of the board is the bullseye.

The outside number ring dictates the value of each segment or pie. The thin outer ring is the double ring, darts landing in these areas are worth 2 times the value of that number. The thin inner ring located halfway between the double ring and the bullseye is the triple ring, darts landing in these areas are worth 3 times the value of that number.

The bullseye is divided into two rings and outer and an inner. The outer ring is worth 25 points and the inner ring is worth 50 points.

Interestingly enough the highest value on the dartboard is not the center bullseye but the triple 20. A dart landing in the triple ring of the 20 segment counts for 60 points and is the highest single dart value on the dartboard.

Roll your mouse over the names below to see a description and close up of each of the parts of a dartboard


Dartboard Set-up

Setting up your dart space is very important. You will want to pick a room that is comfortable and affords you the space needed. Remember to allow for room for lighting, scoreboards, and an ample amount of room behind the throwing line. Avoid mounting your board too close to a wall as this may restrict both movement along the oche and hinder form.

The center of the bull’s-eye should be 5′ 8″ exactly as measured from the floor. The throwing line should be 7′ 9 1/4″ from the face of the dartboard to the front of the line. Remember that the dartboard has a thickness and to add that measurement from the wall to the front of the throwing line. The line itself should be 2′ centered to the bull’s-eye in width. Try to keep an extra 2′ on either side of the line for a walking lane.

See the picture below for a graphical representation of a proper dart set-up

Image result for dartboard setup


Types of Dart Games

Rules of 501

501 is probably the most popular dart game and the one used most often for International dart tournaments. Each year the world champion is decided over a match of 501.

The rules of the game are extremely simple. Each player starts with 501 points and the object is to reach zero. A turn consists of 3 darts and the sum total is then subtracted from your current score. Players alternate turns and the first person to reach zero wins.

So far it sounds pretty easy, right?

Well, there is a twist. A player must finish the game on a double.

The double ring is the skinny outside right of the dartboard, worth 2x the value of the segment. For instance, a double 20 is worth 40 points.

This twist brings an element of mathematical strategy to end game situations.

The most common scoring wedge used is the triple 20 segment. Triples are the smaller skinny right located half way between the bullseye and the double ring. And they are worth 3x the segment value. In this case, a triple 20 is worth 60 points and is the highest value on the board.

Image result for triple 20 dartboard

Once a players score is decreased sufficiently outshot combinations come into play. 170 is the highest possible sum that can be finished with one turn of 3 darts.

There are many dart outcharts available online to help beginning players become familiar with the different combinations.


Rules of Cricket

Cricket is probably the most popular dart game in the US. It differs from 501 in that cricket allows for a wider range of strategy. In fact, strategy between equals is often the difference between winning and losing.

First lets take a look at the basic rules of cricket.

The game is played using numbers 20 through 15 and the bull’s-eye.

The object of the game is to score three marks in each number with singles counting as one, doubles as two, and triples as three respectively.

But there is a wrinkle and this is where the strategy comes into play. You may score points on any number you have hit 3 marks in and your opponent has two or less.

The value of each additional dart is added to your score until your opponent also has hit three marks in that number. Once both players have hit 3 marks in a number that number is closed and no longer eligible for scoring in the game.

Marks are scored as slashes for one, an x for two, and a circle for three. The first person to hit 3marks in a particular number is said to have “opened” that number.

Opened simply means that the number is now available to be scored upon until the opponent also hits 3marks in that number. When this occurs that player is said to have “closed” the number.

Closed means that the number is no longer eligible to be scored on by either player and is effectively out of play for the duration of the game.

The winner is the first player with the most points to have scored 3 marks in all the numbers 20 through 15 and the bull’s-eye. You cannot win the game until both of these conditions are met.


Basic Cricket Strategy

There are a few concepts that you will need to be aware of to become a proficient cricket player.

First of all cricket is not a race like is the case in 501. Cricket is a WAR!

If the word war frightens you, think of chess. Any good cricket strategy attempts to control the opponent while systematically gaining a strategic advantage.


Own the High Ground

Because of the pointing aspect of cricket having control of the higher value numbers is important. Each turn the maximum amount of marks that can be hit is nine.

Obviously 9 twenties are greater then 9 fifteens. In point battles, the person owning the highest number has the advantage. In the case of 20’s vs. 15’s the person owning the 20 has a 3 to 4 advantage. Meaning it only takes 3 twenties to equal 4 fifteens.


Know Your Capabilities

Just like any good general should have the pulse of his troops, you need to be in touch with what your strategic capabilities are and be able to adjust.

Good cricket strategy is not about set rules. It is about being able to adapt to many different circumstances.

While you may not know everything about your opponent you do have a good idea of what you’re good at shooting. Try to point on your better numbers while quickly closing the ones you are less proficient at hitting.


Control Your Opponent

A cricket game does not end until someone has closed all their numbers and is ahead on score. For this reason, you can dictate the length of the game.

Whenever possible control your opponent into shooting numbers that they are uncomfortable with attempting and try to stall the game in times when you are shooting a good number for you and they are on a number they struggle with.

The more extended the game becomes when you have the advantage the harder it is for them to overcome your lead. And the easier it is to overcome any advantage they may have previously held.


Don’t Waste Ammo

Your opponent will have pretty close to the same amount of darts as you each game (within three). Just as each time you miss out of the pie hurts your chances so does wasted triples.

Wasted triples occur when your opponent has closed and number and you hit more then 3 without scoring.

For example, my opponent starts the game with 3 twenties. My response is S20, S20, and T20.

I have hit FIVE twenties to his THREE but despite my better darts the score is equal and he still has the advantage of throwing first!

This is because I wasted a triple.

Whenever possible try to acquire targets that if you hit more then three on produce points. In the above example, I would recommend shooting the 19 segment.

As I mentioned before good cricket strategy is not about set rules but adapting to the moment.

While it is often advisable to risk a wasted dart for a key close it is also equally viable to sacrifice territory for position.

Knowing the proper mix and timing is often the difference between winning and losing between players of similar skill.


Advanced Cricket – Buried Alive

Buried alive is a tactic used best on meek or passive aggressive personality types. Psychology is a very important factor of strategic success.

Our goal with buried alive is to take the will to win from the opponent early. We aim to inject feeling of frustration into the opponent and control their mind. The more they think or worry about what we are doing the less able they will be to mount an adequate defense.

The strategy itself is simple. Point the opponent early and aggressively. Make obvious shot choices that will sacrifice position and territory for maximum points.

The key is to capitalize on their mistakes effectively compounding their error. Remember this strategy relies solely on disrupting the opponent’s mental balance. The more frustrated they appear the heavier you pour on the points. Eventually, they will resign mentally and resort to very poor strategy or quit trying.

Be careful how much territory you give up doing this though. Remember to count each dart they have in a number ahead of you as that point value.

So if they have two 18s and I have none I credit them with 36points. Often I will try to skip numbers and close ahead of them. .

When using this strategy I try to pick optimum times to aggressively point. One such occasion is when they try to open a new number and fail hitting 0-2 marks. I do not close that number behind them. Instead I will try to pick off 5 or more marks in points.

This is especially frustrating considering I already have a point lead. And is enough to drive most weak-minded players over the edge.

A word of warning! This strategy is not conducive to making friends and if carried on in excess can result in a knuckle sandwich. If you try to execute this tactic on the wrong personality type it can very often backfire and motivate them to shoot better then normal.

Having said that I have used this strategy many times to great success. But it takes a good feel for the situation.

The aspect that makes this strategy very powerful is it will often win you a match in just one game. If your opponent gives up his will in the first game there is very little chance he will be able to regain the composure needed to finish the match effectively.


Advanced Cricket – Flanked!

Flanked is a powerful technique that uses acquisition of territory to overwhelm the opponent. It is especially effective against players who rely heavily on points. The goal is to leave your opponent on one number trying to get points while you close the rest of the board.

This tactic can be very demoralizing tho the opponent when you finally close their score number.

Basically you will leave a number for them to score on as much as they can. Keep the points close but dont worry if you fall behind a little. Just keep closing out numbers and scoring while ignoring their “toy”.

The advanced strategies are intended for players of higher then average skill. Attempting these strategies at lower skill levels or when outmatched is highly ill advised. As with any tactic perception and timing is crucial. And these primers assume that the reader has the skill and feel of the game to recognize appropriate usage.


Image result for darts on tv

The Popularity of Darts

Isn’t Darts a game that you play in the pub while tossing back a few cold ones? Who watches Darts on TV anyway?

ESPN has gone crazy!!

What is next the world series of marbles? Questions like these have been floating around the Internet by confused Americans lately. Not a lot of information has been given to the public and they aren’t very aware of Darts as a sport. But that’s all about to change, in deed, it has begun.

Allow me to present some facts and figures about the sport of Darts. I’m sure many of you will be surprised at how big of a draw Darts is worldwide.

The National Sporting Goods Association tracks sports participation analysis. During the year 2017 over 17 million people participated in Darts right here in the USA. Sounds like a lot right?

Well it is. Consider that darts ranked higher in total participation then Football, Soccer, Baseball, Skating, Tennis, Skiing, and Martial Arts. And Darts was able to accomplish this feat without being represented in the elementary or secondary schools athletic curriculum. Based on participation and potential for growth I’d say Darts seems a good bet and an excellent opportunity to gain early market share in an emerging market.

Okay so a lot of people play Darts, but who is going to watch it on TV? Certainly this figure cannot be high enough to deserve a prime time slot here in America right? Well, lets take a look at some numbers of where darts has been televised. The 2006 World Championships was shown in over 80 countries and in over 100 million homes.

In Holland for instance, over 5 million people tuned in to watch the finals. That’s 1 out of every 3 of the entire population! Can you imagine the ratings if you translate those figures to Americans? It would be the highest rated show of all time…

Because Darts is not a highly athletic sport some people call its legitimacy as a sport into question. While it is true Darts does not require a great deal of strength or speed it does have heavy requirements in other areas.

The accuracy required in a repetitive motion is almost unmatched by other sports. It is a sport that judges performance in millimeters rather then feet. And the professional dart player must maintain this standard over long hours in heat that often exceeds 100 degrees.

Top professional darts players practice routinely up to 8 hours a day. I don’t think you will find the same practice habits following an NFL or NBA player year round. And these players push themselves without the aid of teams, coaches, and trainers. They are self-motivators… true sportsman.

The demanding mix of skill, coordination, focus, endurance, and dedication makes Darts one of the most demanding sports available. And yet because of the lowered limitation of physical size and strength it remains a sport open to a broader range of the populace. No longer are million dollar sports prizes earmarked for only those born of a certain given stature.

With Darts hard work, precision, and mental focus are the trademarks of a champion.