A starter for 5: basic dart games you should know

A starter for 5: basic dart games you should know

If you’ve watched a dart tournament, you’ve probably seen 301 or 501 played. But what if you feel like mixing it up? Check out this article that outlines the rules for five easy to play dart games, including the classic 301. Then gather some mates and get ready to impress them with your encyclopaedic knowledge of the art of darts. You may even feel like adding a little wager to crank up the competition a notch. 

Here are some common rules to all of these games below:
1. Each player takes a turn in, throwing 3 darts.
2. To decide who starts, each player throws one dart at the bullseye - the one closest begins the game. (If you prefer, toss a coin.)
3. When it's your turn, throw one dart at a time, each dart score will tally to the total of all three darts thrown in that turn.  But any dart that misses, bounces off or falls from the board, earns no score. If a dart sticks in another dart, it counts as a throw and gets no score.


dartboard scoring chart

Each player starts with a score of 501.  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, BUT the last dart thrown must land in a double or the bullseye. 

Now you have the basics sorted, try out some of these popular games. 


Players: Any, but usually two players or two teams

Numbers in Play: All the numbers are in play, but 19 and 20 will quickly get you to zero like a hero.

Rules: Each player/team starts with 301 points. The goal is to reach zero, exactly, by subtracting the amount you score in a turn from the number you have left.

Before you start subtracting though, each player/team has to ‘double in’ (hit any one of 21 possible doubles including the double bull). To end the game, players also need to double out (eg. if you’re on 28, you’ll need to throw a  double 14 to reach zero, and if you hit a single 14, your next target is a double 7). Hitting more pints than you have left to get to zero will get you ‘busted’ (this is not what you want). That means the turn is over and next time it’s your turn you’ll start again from your previous score.


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Round the world (aka Round the Board/Round the Clock)

Players: Two

Rules:  The object is to be the first player to hit every number on the board in sequence from 1-20. Hitting any part of the number – single, double or triple – counts, and numbers must be hit in order to advance to the next. Players alternate after three throws. The first player to hit a 20 is the winner.


Players: Two players or two teams

Numbers in Play: bullseye, 20,19,18,17,16,15

Rules: The aim is to 'close' these numbers on the board, and get the highest point score. The player/team to do so first, wins.

Each player/team takes turns throwing three darts in a row (an 'inning'). To close an inning, the player/team needs to score three of a number – with three singles, a single and a double, or a triple.

Once a player/team scores three of a number, they ‘own’ it. Once a player/team closes an inning, he/they may score points on that number until the opponent also closes that inning. All numerical scores are added together.

Once both players/teams have scored three of a number, it’s 'closed', and it can’t be scored on by either player/team.

To close the bullseye, the outer bull counts as a single, and the inner bull counts as a double. Numbers can be 'owned' or 'closed' in any order. No need to call your shot.

The player/team that closes all the innings first and has the most points, wins. If both sides are tied on points, the first player/team to close all innings is the winner. If a player/team closes all innings first, but is behind on points, they need to keep scoring on any innings that aren’t closed until they make up the points or their opponent wins the game.


Players: Any, but three or more players is more fun

Numbers in Play: The numbers used are determined by the players.  Each player throws a dart with their opposite hand to randomly choose their number. If you miss the board or hit a number that’s already claimed, you’ll need to throw again.

Rules: Using three throws in a turn, each player first tries to hit the double of his or her own number – they’re then called a ‘killer’ and a K is placed next to their name on the scoreboard.

Once a player is a killer, they aim for doubles of opponents' numbers. Each player has three lives and when a killer hits an opponent’s double the opponent loses a life. If a killer hits their own double by mistake, they lose one life. It’s possible to completely kill an opponent in one turn by throwing three doubles. The last player standing is the winner.

English Cricket

Players: Two players or two teams

Numbers in Play:  All numbers, but as each score must be higher than 40, the 20 is pretty popular.

Rules:  Ten stripes are marked on the scoreboard as wickets. One player bats and the other bowls. The batter goes first.

The bowler's job is to erase these wickets by hitting bullseyes. Each single bullseye erases one wicket, and each double bullseye wipes out two. The batter needs to score as many points (runs) as possible while their wickets remain. The tricky bit is that only scores over 40 count. E.g. scoring 37 = no runs. Scoring 45 = 5 runs etc.

Scoring stops when all 10 wickets are taken out by the bowler. The batter records their final score, and then they swap roles. The winner is the player with the most points, or runs, from their round as batter.