How to Play Darts: Dartboard Rules


Do you want to know how to play darts? If so, you have come to the right place. Luckily for you, playing darts is not that difficult if you learn the rules of the game, understand throwing techniques, and practice. Without further ado, let’s get started!

Board Description 

Today, the most common dart board design is the “clock” or “trebles.” You are probably most familiar with this board type; it is circular and has a bullseye at the center. Although there are other board types, this is by far the most common, and the games discussed in this article use this board type. 

A good dartboard should be made from vegetable fiber, which is called a “bristle board.” It consists of 20 segments, numbered from 1 to 20. A black circle called the “bullseye” is at the center of the circle, and a red ring called the “25 ring” surrounds the bullseye. 

From there, the segments spread out. They are broken up by a “treble” ring that is about halfway to the edge and a “double” ring, which marks the rim of the circle. These two rings help to denote scoring. For example, if a dart lands on the segment marked 8 and is within the treble ring, you have scored a “treble 8.”

Board Placement 

If you want to be in regulation, the board should be placed so that way the middle of the bullseye is 1.73 meters, or 5 foot 8 inches above the ground. An “ooche” (pronounced okky) is placed 2.37 meters, or 7 feet, 9.25 inches from the front of the door. Most people, however, just make some kind of mark on the ground for casual play. 

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Playing Darts: 501 And 301 

There are several types of games that you can play when you’re playing darts. The two most common games are 501 up and 301. These games are often played in professional matches. Here’s how to play both: 

501 Up

501 up is the simplest of the dart games. To begin, each player starts with a score of 501 and takes turns throwing three darts, which are front weighted and flighted. The objective of the game is to be the first player to hit exactly zero. The catch of the game is that the last dart thrown must land in a double or a bullseye. 

Every time you throw a dart, the score is calculated and deducted from the player’s total. A bullseye is worth 50 points, the outer ring is worth 25 points, and the double or treble rings are worth double or treble the segment score. You do not have to throw all three darts to win, meaning that if you score 0 on the second throw, you don’t have to throw the third throw. 

If you reduce the score to one or drop below 0, that score is a bust. What this means is that the turn ends, and the score is returned to whatever it was at the beginning of the turn. For example, if the player began with a score of 32 and dropped below 0 on their second turn, they do not get their third turn and their points immediately go back to 32. 


301 is played the same way as 501 up, but the main difference is that players start the game with 301, instead of 501. Depending on the game you’re playing, some games will require a double to start scoring, as well as to win the game. 

In 301, professional players know the numbers to aim at whenever the score gets below 171. The reason for this is that they will be able to hit zero with three darts. Obviously, there are many combinations for this, and it takes a lot of practice. 

Other Games 

501 up and 301 are not the only games to play, but they are the most popular. Here are a few other popular dart games to play: 

  • Around the Clock
  • Cricket 
  • Killer 

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Throwing Tips 

Even if you know how to play the dart games, it can be difficult to play if you do not know how to throw the dart properly. Throwing a dart consists of the grip, stance, and release. Here are some tips for how to throw like a pro: 

1. Grip 

Grip refers to how to hold the dart before you throw it. There are several factors that go into the proper grip: 

  • Aim And Direct: Aim the dart so that way the end of the dart is pointing up in each throwing stage. This allows the dart to slice through the air easier. 
  • Solid And Relaxed: You want your grip to be stable and firm, but also relaxed. Do not put tension in the muscles of your fingers. If your grip is too tense, it will be difficult to release the dart properly. In contrast, a grip without stability will not have any trajectory. Try to grasp the dart so that way it cannot slide, and you maintain control over it. 
  • Use At Least Three Fingers: The more fingers you use, the more regulation and control the dart will gather. At the same time, using more fingers will make it more difficult to release in coordination. Try to use at least three fingers, but this may take a little bit of time to master. 
  • Shape Of The Dart Barrel: The shape of the dart barrel will determine how you grip the dart. Longer barrels need more fingers, while shorter barrels need fewer fingers. You want to find the best grip and barrel for you. 
  • Do Not Make A Fist: Make sure that the fingers not on the dart are comfortably spread apart from the fingers on the dart. If they are too close, it will cause poor release. Do not let them come together in a fist. 

2. Stance 

Stance is another important factor in throwing a dart correctly. If you have a poor stance, you are unlikely to hit the target. Here are some techniques for having the proper stance: 

  • “Right Foot Forward” Stance: Good dart players position their bodies so that way their eye, the dart, and their target are in a line. When they throw, they must try to maintain that movement in a plane of two dimensions. Try to mimic this stance, which is called the “right foot forward” stance. 
  • Weight Distribution: When throwing a dart, most of your weight should rest on the forward foot, while your rearfoot balances your posture. Remember your posture should be very firm and unshakable. Make sure that the forward foot remains firmly on the ground. 
  • Lean: The more you lean forward, the closer you are to the board. However, the further forward you lean, the more likely you are to throw off your balance or strain your back. Try not to lean very much, practice, and try to find the best position for your body. 
  • Balance: You want to stay as balanced as possible. Avoid lifting your leg, even your back leg. Try to keep your feet on the floor at all times. 

3. Release 

Finally, release is the last factor to consider when throwing a dart. Your release will determine whether or not your dart goes where you have lined it up to go. Here are some tips for having a proper release: 

  • Release Evenly: Whenever you release the dart, it is easy for your fingers to not release evenly or in coordination. This causes the dart to go in a different direction than you intended. Try to release your fingers evenly or in coordination so that way the dart goes straight. 
  • Maintain Stance: As you throw, try to maintain your stance and posture as well as possible. This can be difficult at first, but it will make your release and throw better. 
  • Allow Arm To Maintain Even Movement: In the process of throwing the dart, it is easy to let your arm change speed or direction. Try to make your arm maintain an even movement. This ensures that the dart lands where you intended to land. 

Final Thoughts 

Darts is a fun game to play, and it can take a lot of time and energy to master. If you put in enough time and practice, however, you will quickly learn the rules and better improve your dart-throwing abilities. 

If you are new to playing darts, we recommend playing 501 up because it is straightforward and easy to play. Additionally, you don’t have to worry as much about board regulations since you are still learning to play. However, do try to master the tips relating to grip, stance, and release because these tips will help you better improve your game. 

Regardless of whether you are playing a serious game or casually throwing darts by yourself, always remember to be safe and smart. Do not throw the dart around anyone or animals because they’re sharp. If you are safe, then you’ll have a lot of fun learning how to play darts. 

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