Darts is another one of those games that all men should be half-decent at. It’s always painful to see a guy at your local bar who gets talked into a game, and struggles to even hit the board! If you’re all too familiar with this situation, then this post is for you. The following is a brief guide with everything you need to start playing darts. I can’t turn you into an expert, but a little knowledge will make you at least competent!
First of all, let’s take a look at the dart board. You probably know already that the board is divided into three main parts; the singles area, double ring and triple ring. The wider section around the outside scores you doubles, whereas the narrower one closer to the centre counts for triples. The small, usually red dot in the centre is worth 50 points, and the green iris around it is worth 25. While there are many custom and electronic models out there, a regulation bristle dartboard is generally all you need, and it won’t take long to find the best dart board for your purposes.
So, onto the different games that can be played on a dart board. The most popular game, which you’re probably most familiar with, is 501. Some players like to make the game longer or shorter by playing 801 or 301, but all of these variants are more or less the same. Every player starts with a certain number of points, and they have to shave that number down to zero by scoring before the other player. You need to hit a double to start scoring, and the final shot which brings you down to zero also needs to be a double. The catch is that when you’re shooting for an out, if you hit your exact score you’ll have to start over again. Furthermore, if you shoot higher than the score you’re on when going for an out, you go bust and all the points you scored in that turn are voided. These two rules are usually the most difficult things to get used to for new darts players, and adds an element of strategy to the game.
Cricket is another fairly popular variation of darts. You’ve probably been into a bar or pub at some point, and seen a grid drawn out on the blackboard, with the numbers 15 through to 20 written in its cells, along with a bullseye. This is the scoring grid for the cricket variation. When you’re playing cricket, the aim is to “close” all of the numbers on the grid, and finally the bull. Here, “close” means hitting each of the listed numbers three times, or get a double and a single, or a triple. If you’re able to close a number before your opponent, and you hit the same number again, then you get that amount of points. The bull and iris are worth the same amount of points as in a regular 501 game, and the person who closes all of the numbers first with the most points wins.
Shanghai is a variation that’s much more straightforward. Instead of having to close numbers or get a score down to zero, you simply throw darts and tally up points, one number at a time. For the first round, you and your opponent would only be shooting at one. Then two, then three and so on. Any darts that fall outside of the given number are void, and the winner is the player with the most points by the time you make it around the whole board. Alternatively, you can win by hitting a “shanghai”, which is getting a single, double and triple all on one section.