In this post, we're going to talk about dart games!
I'm our gaming master here at Gamertelligence, and I've covered all sorts of things. Games, board games for adults, I'm an expert on all kinds of games. You can also look for fun things to do with friends over at Mantelligence.
So, without further ado, let's get right down to it.
Game of Darts: All You Need To Know
Here, I've assembled all the information you need to enjoy a good game of darts. Its history, what things you'll need, and what games you can play with darts - all will be answered in the following sections. If you want to play darts with friends or are just interested in learning about the sport, there's useful information here for everyone.
Darts started its life over 700 years ago, in the early 1300s. At the time, it was a pastime for soldiers who were bored between battles. They would throw spearheads, knives, and other sharp objects at the bottoms of upturned wine husks while sitting in trenches.
It was a way for them to practice their aim without being in the thick of battle. Later on, they moved on from wine husks to tree stumps, using the growth rings as a way to keep score.
Using rings to determine accuracy would later transform into the modern game of darts we know today - but for a time, everyone had their own scoring system, and there were no official rules made for the sport. It wasn't until 1896 that a proper ruleset and scoring system was devised by a Lancashire carpenter named Brian Gamlin. That version is the one most popularly used today.
Dart games are simple games requiring only two tools: the dartboard and the darts used to throw at it. The rest is all up to player skill. Because of this simplicity and ease of access, anyone can play a round of darts, no matter their build, size, or age.
The dartboard is a circular piece usually made of wood, hung on a wall or as part of its stand. It is composed of two circles and two rings. There are many types of dartboards - some of them are a bristle dartboard, a magnetic dartboard, an electronic dartboard, etc.
The main differences are the durability of the dartboard and the size - the bigger the dartboard, the easier it is to get a lot of points. For the more traditional game of darts, bristle dartboards are the most widely used and available, but some more modern locations like the automatic scoring and electronic dartboard offer.
These are the main tools you'll be using in dart games. Darts are composed of four parts - the flight, the shaft, the barrel, and the point. The flight is at the very back of the dart and is a fan-shaped construct that helps the dart fly through the air.
Going up the dart, we have the shaft, which is what you'll be gripping when throwing a dart. The barrel follows, which is mainly used to hold the next part, the point, together. The point is what pierces the dartboard and determines the score you'll get after a throw.
Naturally, there are many types of darts as well, and going through all of them will take some time. For the most part, the main things to look out for are the type of tip you'll be using and what metal is used to make the dart itself.
There are two types of tips: steel tip darts and soft tip darts. Generally, steel-tip darts are the more traditional option - being weightier means they can be thrown more precisely and are more durable. These kinds of darts are best used with a bristle dartboard.
Meanwhile, soft-tip darts are lighter and cheaper but safer to use; they won't cause the type of injury a steel-tip dart would. The choice here depends on whether or not you prioritize safety over gameplay.
Finally, I'll go into the metals the darts are usually made of. Brass darts are the most common kind and the cheapest, perfect for casual play. You might choose a nickel dart for a more serious game; they are more durable but cost slightly more.
Finally, if you're looking to go pro, consider a tungsten dart; professionals swear by these because of the unique physical characteristics of tungsten. However, these are naturally the most expensive kind. The choice here depends on the game; if you do it for fun rather than sport, brass darts are the most economical choice.
Scoring is mainly determined by where on the dartboard the dart falls; thus, the larger regions of the inner circle are worth fewer points than hitting the thinner areas of the rings.
The outer circle, called a single, has numbers 1-20 on it, which denotes the score you get. The inner circle is split into twenty sections painted in two alternating colors - usually red or white. These sections are aligned with the numbers on the outer circle, meaning that a point scored in the same section yields the same score as the number it's aligned with.
At the very center of the inner circle is what is known as the "bull"; in a traditional game of darts, it is worth 50 points.
The outer ring is a double, and any dart that lands in it score double the number it's aligned within in points. For instance, hitting the double 20 yields 40 points in a traditional game of darts. Meanwhile, the inner ring is called a triple; as you can imagine, it scores triple the points. That means that the most points you can achieve in one throw is 60 - triple a 20, more than that of the bull.
Darts isn't just party games you can play with friends at your local pub; it's also a sport with its own rules, competitions, and organizations. These organizations sponsor skilled players and pit them against other players in matches, many of which they host themselves. We'll be talking about some of the major ones here.
Most professional darts players are sponsored by an organization that recognizes their skills, pitting them against other players in professional leagues. A bracket full of professional darts players usually fall under their organizations, competing for supremacy in the highly competitive sport. Each organization also has its own ranking for its top players, many of which are professionals themselves.
1. British Darts Organization (BDO)
Dart games originated in Britain in the 19th century and are very popular pub games. So naturally, Britain has its own darts organization. This organization was founded in 1973 by Olly Croft and, for a time, was one of the key players in the darts games scene.
However, in later years, it began to fall into a steep decline due to a dispute between Olly Croft and its top players over TV coverage and sponsorships. These players would then form their own organization, the Professional Darts Corporation. Subsequently, in September 2020, it fell into liquidation.
2. World Darts Federation (WDF)
Primarily a governing body for the sport of darts, the WDF is also a tournament organizer for the arts scene in general. It stages a world championship, called the WDF World Cup, and many continental cups such as the WDF Americas Cup and the WDF Europe Cup. The WDF is composed of 74 member countries, all competing for the title of Darts World Champion.
Following the dissolution and collapse of the British Darts Organization, the group has plans to start both the WDF World Championship and WDF World Masters.
There is also an amateur league for darts games, having smaller competitions and, thus, smaller prize pots for winning players. While not as high-level as professional darts games, it is more accessible, allowing those with little background in the game to play and compete against other similar players. Amateur players who win in multiple categories can also become professional players following a sponsorship.
1. American Darts Organization (ADO)
The American Darts Organization was formed in 1976, at a time when there was no greater unity in the darts game scene in the United States. Seeing the potential for a national organization set on unifying these individual scenes, Tom Fleetwood and Ed McDevitt formed the ADO to bring everyone together. In its beginning, it had 30 member clubs and 7500 players, and in recent times has achieved a yearly 250 clubs and around 50,000 concurrent members. It hosts professional league and amateur league competitions for players of all stripes.
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5 of The Easy and Most Popular Game of Darts (and How To Play)
Now that I've talked about the history and basics of dart games, it's time for us to learn about some of the easiest and most popular dart games and how to play them. I'll talk about the number of players needed, the numbers used for the game, and how to play them naturally. What are you waiting for? Read on, and you'll enjoy a fun game of darts with friends.
Dart game #1: Cricket
The game of Cricket is known in Britain by many other names, such as Mickey Mouse, Horse and Carriage, and Faldo, but for simplicity's sake, we'll just call it Cricket. The game aims to prevent the other player or team from scoring on specific numbers while scoring them yourself.
No. of players
All you need is two or more players to play this game. If you have four or more players around, you can form teams.
The only numbers you can use are 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, and the bullseye.
How to play
Players or teams each have three throws. The object of the game is to seal off specific numbers by scoring them thrice. Doubles count as 2 times, and triples count as 3 times.
Sealing off a number prevents the other player/team from scoring with that number. When all the numbers are sealed, everyone adds the numbers they have sealed and takes the score - the player or team with the highest total score at the end wins!
Dart game #2: Killer
The aim of this game is to make others lose all of their three lives until you are the only surviving player left. To do so, you must become a Killer by scoring double your number, which is determined early on in the game by throwing a dart with your non-dominant hand.
No. of players
There's no limit to the number of players that can play! It's most fun when played with three or more players, though.
All numbers are allowed, but your number is determined by landing a shot with your non-dominant hand.
How to play
First off, everyone in order throws a dart with their non-dominant hand. If they miss, they try again. The number they land on is their number.
Now, everyone must take turns trying to hit the double of their number. If they do so, they become a Killer. Now, these Killers must hit the doubles of the other players' numbers'; if they do, they take life from that person.
If a Killer hits their own number's double, then they lose a life! The game progress until there's only one left standing. That person is the winner!
Dart game #3: 501 and 301
These are two versions of the same game: the object is to deduct points from your total, whether it's 301 points or 501 points until you hit exactly zero. Bring a notepad for this - you're going to need to do some math ahead.
No. of players
There should be a minimum of two players. If there are four or more players, you can form teams! Each player or team gets a number of points specified by which version of the game you're playing.
All numbers are in play, including the doubles and triples. They deduct the same amount from your score when hit.
How to play
Players or teams take turns throwing darts and deducting points from their score. The goal of the game is to hit exactly zero points. If you go over the number and end at a negative point number, that turn is called a bust, and the point deduction is considered invalid.
So, the idea is to hit a big number early on in the match, and when the score total becomes small, you start hitting small numbers instead until you get exactly zero points left.
Dart game #4: Around the clock
Notice that a dartboard looks like a wall clock, except with 20 numbers instead of 12? Well, this game takes full advantage of that. The goal is to hit every single number on the board in sequence, starting from 1 all the way up to 20 and the bullseye as well. This is a simple game that doesn't require a lot of precision - so there's no benefit to hitting a double or triple.
No. of players
One player can play by themselves, but there's no limit to how many people can play this game.
All numbers are needed for this game, including the bullseye. Every number must be hit in order.
How to play
The game's objective is simple: you must go around the clock. That means hitting all numbers in order from 1 to 20 and, finally, the bullseye. There is no score involved; you just have to hit all the numbers in that particular order until you win.
If you hit a double or a triple, there's no bonus. The only thing you need to do is to go around the clock.
Dart game #5: Nine Lives
Like Around The Clock above, this game is about hitting all numbers in order. The difference is you have three lives (misleading, I know), and if you miss hitting the next number in all your throws, you lose a life.
No. of players
Two people are the minimum required to play. There's no limit to how many can play this game simultaneously.
Every number from 1 to 20 is used. Players must hit them in order to proceed with the game.
How to play
Players use their three throws to try to hit the numbers in order. This means starting from 1, going all the way to 20. You lose a life if you miss the next number with all three of your throws.
If you lose all your lives, you're out of the game. However, if you miss only one or two of your throws, you resume from the number you hit instead, without losing your life. So, a perfect game involves never missing, while a normal game has everyone continue from their previous number until they hit 20.
8 Dart Game Pro Tips
Looking to improve at darts? Darts may be simple and easy to pick up, but they can be hard to master, especially professionally. Luckily for you, I've got some basic rules and some pro tips for you to learn, and hopefully, these will help you improve at playing this wonderful, highly addictive game.
Tip #1: Three (3) darts only per turn.
Everyone only has three throws per turn. This is an ironclad rule of darts games, and everyone has to follow it. This means that you have to plan your shots carefully; you have to aim for either the highest score you can get or the next number in succession.
By planning your three throws around getting the best score, you can more efficiently clear the games you'll be playing. If you miss a throw, that's okay; you still have two left.
Tip #2: Decide who shoots first.
Turn order isn't just a formality; it can be vital for strategizing for a game. If you go after the first person, you have ample time to watch their turn go and coordinate your turn after theirs. It can help you find that winning strategy to win the game with.
If you go first instead, you can win first in many games if you perform well enough to get ahead of the pack. The ideal turn order depends on your play style and can be beneficial to you if planned right.
Tip #3: Do not stand beyond the throwing line.
It's more of a safety precaution than a pro tip, but it's highly important to recognize. However, standing at the right spot can help you aim your darts properly; the throwing line is meant as the ideal distance for throwing a dart. So, by heeding this most ironclad of rules, you can significantly increase the amount of fun you'll have playing.
Tip #4: Fallen darts are out of play.
If you miss, then that throw is considered a bust. It's not the end of the world for most darts games; you'll just have to continue where you left off. Ultimately, the idea is that missing entirely is worse than getting a pretty low score - so in games where score matters, it's okay not to aim for the highest score you possibly can - you just have to avoid missing entirely for it to count.
Tip #5: Record your score before removing your own darts.
This tip is more for convenience than anything. Once you remove the dirt from the board, it becomes hard to remember where you exactly hit, so record your score ahead of time before removing your darts. It'll save time and memory space for you.
Tip #6: Stay clear of throwing player.
Safety is important! Darts can cause serious injury to any bystanders. Everyone has to steer clear of the throwing player, ideally being behind them, to ensure everyone is safe from harm. Stand a clear distance away from the line of fire, and everyone can enjoy a safe, fun game of darts together.
Top 3 Best Dart Players of All-Time
Now that you've learned quite a bit about the rules, tools, and versions of the game, plus a few handy pro tips to improve your playing, you might be wondering what professional darts look like. I've compiled a list of the three best darts players of all time and included a video demonstrating them at their best, so you'll know what it looks like.
#1: Phil Taylor
Though now retired, Phil Taylor is one of the most iconic and successful darts players in the world. He won eight consecutive World Championships, reached 14 consecutive finals placements, and reached 21 world finals. Every single one of these achievements is a record for the game. He was the world's number one darts player for thirty years, a testament to his skill in the game.
#2: Michael van Gerwen
Following Phil Taylor's retirement, Michael van Gerwen held the world's number one spot in his place for a period of time. He was the youngest winner of the PDC World Championship at 24 years old in 2014, a record still held by him today. He's won many tournaments in his time since and is the second most successful darts player after Phil Taylor.
#3: Eric Bristow
Also retired, but still no less impressive is Eric Bristow. Before Phil Taylor, he was ranked the number 1 in the 1980s. He's a five-time world champion and four-time World Cup singles champion. He was instrumental in the evolution of darts as a sport, turning it into a world-renowned spectator sport during his years.
Frequently Asked Questions
I've done it all; I talked about the game's tools, how to play it, gave some tips, and even talked about some professionals at darts. Still, you must be hungry for more answers. I respect that desire, so I'll answer just a couple more to satisfy your burning curiosity. So, let us begin.
What is the most popular dart game?
Cricket is the most popular darts game. It's a short but fun game one can play with friends doesn't require too much skill and is still fun to play. Cricket is the game of choice when you just want to enjoy darts without being overly heated in a competition.
Are dartboards made of horsehair?
Not at all. Wood is the primary material of choice for most dartboards. However, this question may be born out of the similarity that the material used in making dartboards looks and feels similar to horsehair. We're completely sure it's not horsehair, though.
What is the easiest dart game to play?
High score darts are the easiest and simplest dart game to play. With your three throws, you aim to achieve the highest score. It's simple, fast, easy to play with friends, and you can go multiple times. Other dart games are fairly more involved, but this you can pick up and go.
What happens if you go below zero (0) in darts?
If you go below zero, then it's a bust. Your turn is considered invalid, and you must start your next turn from where you left off. In some games, however, you start from 12 points instead.
How should a dartboard look?
A dartboard is a circular object, most commonly. As mentioned earlier, it is comprised of two rings and two circles. The rings are very thin and designed to be higher scoring portions, while the circles are much larger and are easier targets. After playing darts for a while, the dartboard may be full of holes, but that's okay; it won't affect your performance any.
More Exciting Plays To Explore
Now, I bet you've had your fill of darts info and darts games by now. However, if you're still hungry for more games to play that aren't darts, we've got you covered. Have some more fun games to play.
- Only got a minute? How about some minute to win it games?
- Got some marbles lying around? Play some fun marble games!
- Want to bounce around? We've got some trampoline games for you!
- And lastly, would you like to try some swimming pool games?
If you're ever at a pub, dart games can be fun to pass the time. By learning to play dart games, you're expanding the number of things you can do and improving your accuracy when throwing things to boot. Being simple and easy to pick up, Darts can easily be as fun as board games to play!
Why not try some fun things to do with friends, like darts, over at Mantelligence?