What is darts?

Darts, indoor target game played by throwing feathered darts at a circular board with numbered spaces. The game became popular in English inns and taverns in the 19th century and increasingly so in the 20th.

The board, commonly made of sisal (known familiarly as “bristle”) but sometimes made of cork or elmwood, is divided into 20 sectors valued at points from 1 to 20. Six rings determine the scoring: an inner bull’s-eye worth 50 points, an outer bull’s-eye worth 25 points, a wide single-scoring ring, a narrow triple-scoring ring, another wide single-scoring ring, and, outermost, a narrow double-scoring ring. Throwing is free-style. The recognized standard length is 7 feet 9.25 inches (2.37 metres), though traditional distances vary up to 9 feet. The centre of the board is posted 5 feet 8 inches (1.73 metres) above the floor. (These and other rules may vary slightly in countries outside the British Isles.)

how to play darts?

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.

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.

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.

Darts events @ epic ipswich

Epic Ipswich does not currently have any regular darts events up and running as of yet. There is however, three lighted dart boards and darts available to play with at any time.

Darts fun facts

1. Original dartboards were made of different materials

Nowadays, if you play the traditional game of darts, the one that involves a set of steel tip darts, you’re playing on a sisal or bristle dartboard. However, this was not the case more than a century ago when the first dartboards were made of pieces of rope that were tightly compressed together so that they made up an item that was similar to the one we play on today.

2. This is one of the oldest established games in the world

Darts was born in English pubs where people used to enjoy a pint of beer with their mates in the evening while aiming for the target. As they grew fonder of the game, passionate players decided it was time to take it to the next level. This is how darts became one of the first established games, with leagues appearing before the First World War.

3. This game has had regulatory bodies for almost 100 years

Today, there are different darts organizations that oversee the way in which darts is played worldwide, the WDF or World Darts Federation being the main regulatory body. However, this sport started having such organizations as early as 1925 when the National Darts Association was formed in England.

4. Brian Gamlin put the numbers on the dartboard

Many players out there might not be familiar with the name Brian Gamlin, but this English carpenter definitely deserves a place in the history of darts. This skilled craftsman is the person who invented the dartboard numbering that is still in use today and helps players challenge their precision.

5. The first player who managed to get a perfect score was John Lowe

Another name that has made history in darts is John Lowe. He was the first player who managed to get a perfect score in the classic 501 game. This happened in1984 during the World Matchplay championship that was transmitted live on television. On this occasion, Lowe hit the triple 20 for 6 times in a row. Then, he scored on the triple 17, double 18, and finally, triple 18.

6. Darts flights were not what we’ve gotten used with today

Nowadays, if you want to buy a set of dart flights, you’re faced with myriad choices. Basically, they are all pieces of plastic you attach to the end of the dart to enhance its flight trajectory and enable its front part to stick in the target. However, the first dart flights couldn’t have been made of plastic, so players used turkey feathers for this purpose.

7. Darts is officially recognized as a sport

Long has been the debate about whether darts can be considered a sport or not. Given its informal and casual character and the fact that anybody can play it at home or in a pub, many consider darts a mere game. However, let us not forget that this game has a federation, official tournaments, and elite players that earn considerable amounts of money by competing. Moreover, in 2005, Sports England officially granted darts the sports statute.

Darts resources

PDC – Professional Darts Corporation is a great website to see news about darts tournaments, buy tickets, watch streams etc.


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