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How To Play Darts, Our Ultimate Guide

How To Play Darts

Darts have become a long-standing tradition in bars, pubs, basements and garages. It takes up very little room and requires minimal preparation in order to start playing. It’s a very popular game in the UK, and a sport that is often broadcast internationally. Like a deck of cards, there are many ways to enjoy; with various dart games each supplying their own challenges, darts can keep everyone entertained for hours. It is one of few activities where anyone from ages 10-100 can enjoy. Here’s what you need to know about how to play darts and how to start enjoying this centuries-old pastime.

Playing darts with friends is great fun; we’ll help you with everything you need to know.

Getting Set Up

A huge advantage to this game is that not a lot of space is needed. It can be played in apartments or dorm rooms or even outdoors. The only requirements are a dart board, 6 darts (3 minimum) and about 7 feet of space. Be sure to place your board in a safe location. Try to hang it far away from doors and windows so there is no threat of anyone unexpectedly getting in the way. Also, be sure to install your dart board in a low-traffic area. For example, if a board is installed near a bathroom then there is a good chance that someone may cross the dart path. If you have an electronic dart board it may need to be near a power supply.

At the end of the day, darts are sharp and can cause injury so locate the safest possible place to install the board.

The Basics

There are different variations of throwing darts and each place will have its own darts rules. All games will involve each player throwing three darts to score points. Wherever your dart lands on the board will determine your score.

All players must throw from behind the throwing line which is located 7’ 9¾” away from the board. The bullseye should be exactly 5’8” off the ground. These are universal measurements and are used by professional players as well as recreational players. In some cases, the goal is to score as many points as possible while other games will require you to hit specific numbers.

Make sure the rules of the game are clearly outlined before play starts to avoid any discrepancies during gameplay as there are no referees.      

Darts Game Variations

Keeping track of different games and scoring them can be tricky, so we have provided an overview of the popular variations.

Darts Game Variations

501 And 301

These two games are exactly the same when it comes to the rules:

  • Each player starts with a predetermined score of either 501 or 301
  • The object is to be the first one to reach zero
  • Each dart thrown will correspond to a score that will be subtracted from the overall score
  • If player 1 throws their three darts and the total score is 100 then that is subtracted from either 501 or 301 and it now becomes player 2’s turn

This is one of the most basic games since each dart will score anytime it hits any number on the board. The tricky part is at the end: in order to win, the player must hit zero exactly and that player must hit a double on their last dart to do so. A double can be made by hitting the outer ring to any number, as long as that double score represents zero exactly. If the player hits a number higher than that and their score goes beyond zero then their turn ends and the other player continues.  

Around The Clock

Often referred to as Around The World as well, this game is great for beginners. It is a very basic game as each player must throw their three darts in the hopes of hitting each number on the board in sequential order:

  • Starting at 1 the player cannot advance to 2 until 1 has been hit
  • If a dart lands on a number that the player is not going for then it does not count
  • The first player to make their way from 1 to 20 and then hits the 25 and the bullseye wins

In this game, the double and triple sections do not count as doubles and triples. They only count as their corresponding number. So if you are shooting for 3 and hit triple 1 it still only counts as 1 and cannot be used to advance to 4.


This game is great for any number of players. It starts by determining an order of play and each player throws in that order for the whole game.

  • Start by throwing one dart with your off-hand (righties use your left hand and vice versa)
  • Whichever number you land on is now your number for the game
  • The first objective of the game is to earn 5 lives; to do so you must hit your number 5 times
  • You can also utilize the double and treble scoring areas to expedite your progress, so if you already have 2 lives and then hit the treble on your number that would push you to 5 lives

Once you have 5 lives then the second part of the game starts. You are now a “killer”. With 5 lives you can start aiming for opponents’ numbers and subtracting their number of lives. If the killer hits an opponent’s number in the double or treble section then that reduces the opponent’s number of lives by either double or triple.

If your number of lives gets reduced to zero then you are out of the game. Whoever is the last player alive is the winner.

Learning How To Throw – Top Tips

Step by step tips for learning to throw:

  1. To throw a dart accurately the first thing a player must do is develop a stable and balanced stance. Ensure your weight is evenly distributed on both feet and your hips are centered. Try to avoid leaning forward as this will throw off your balance.
  2. When grasping your first dart try to do it lightly. The power will come from your arm and not your fingers so they should be ready to let go easily. Hold it like a pencil with the sharp end pointing at the board.
  3. Try to position the dart in front of your face so you can properly aim. This will help you when shooting for different numbers around the board. Your elbow should be bent at a 90° angle.
  4. When you are ready to throw, try to only move your arm. Keeping your movements to a minimum will make it easier to repeat the motion. It will also reduce your margin of error since there are only a few moving parts to your motion.

What To Look For When Getting Your Own Darts And Board

Now you know how to play, time to get your own board and darts!

What To Look For When Getting Your Own Darts And Board


The most common darts board is a “clock” board or “treble” board. This is usually made from vegetable fiber which makes it very easy for darts to stick.

  • The board is segmented into 20 sections, each representing a point value. The numbers are randomly placed on the board but in the same order from board to board
  • There are two rings around the board that count as either double or triple the point value
  • The outer ring scores double and the inner is the triple ring and is referred to as the treble ring

In the middle is a 2-section bullseye. The outer bullseye ring is usually green in color and is worth 25 points. The inner bullseye scores 50 points and is usually red. This is sometimes called the double bull. The double bull should be placed exactly 5’8” off the ground to install the board at regulation height.

A lot of boards come in a cupboard that is mostly used for decorative purposes. However, there are many of these cupboards that also provide a chalkboard to make keeping score a lot easier.

If you haven’t already got a dartboard, check out our bristle dartboard reviews next.


Choosing your darts will be a matter of personal preference. There are lots of different weights and fly setups in order to fit each player’s preferences. The fly refers to the fins or the tail on the back of all darts. This helps keep it flying straight and prevents wobbling. If you are new to darts then choosing ones that are a bit heavier is recommended. This will help you focus more on technique and accuracy rather than having to put any strength into your throws. Usually, a game of darts comes with 6 darts so each player has three darts. You can always replace these as you get better with your own darts.

There are also a lot of options to customize your darts as well. Many are available with your favorite sports team logos or different animals etc. The sky’s the limit as you can even get your own portraits printed on them if you want.   

Frequently Asked Questions

To play basic darts a player’s score will be determined by where their dart strikes the board. Each player starts with 301 points and the first person to get down to zero is the winner. A player throws three darts during their turn. Once they have added up the total of those darts they can start subtracting from 301. In order to win, you must land on zero exactly while using your last dart to score in a double section.

To throw darts with precision a player must maintain balance throughout their throw. With good technique, this process can be repeated with consistency. Ensure that your setup is the same each time you throw. Centered balance, a light grip on the dart, elbow at a 90° angle, and with as little movement as possible. Having this routine will ensure that your accuracy will improve over time.

The most popular darts game is 301. This is a great way for beginners to get introduced to the game because the first few throws will count towards your score no matter what number is hit. As the game progresses the player will have to focus more on strategy and accuracy in order to try and win the game. Each player starts with 301 points and the first person to get their score all the way down to exactly zero wins the game.

To score in darts, your dart must hit a section on the board that corresponds to a point value. If your dart lands in the 20 point section then that dart is worth 20 points. If your dart lands in the outer ring of the 20 point section then it counts as double, 40 points. Finally, if your dart lands in the triple area of the 20 point section then that dart is now worth 60 points.

The aim of a darts game is to have fun but also to win. Darts is a great game that can be played by all age groups so it’s perfect for family gatherings since you can always make up your own house rules. The other aim of a darts game is to win and have bragging rights over your friends. You don’t necessarily have to have the highest score to win but it sure helps.


Now you know how to play darts, a game that has been enjoyed for decades by people all over the world. It is a wonderful game that does not require a lot of practice or physical ability to enjoy. You can play it indoors and outdoors and it doesn’t take up a lot of space either. There are professional leagues though so if your game is good enough, you could make a few bucks from it in the future…

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