An Overview to Darts Rules

This overview provides a comprehensive understanding of the rules governing the classic game of darts, delving into its objectives, equipment, scoring, and key regulations. Whether one is a seasoned player or new to the world of darts, understanding these rules sets the stage for an enjoyable and competitive experience in this universally cherished game.

Louis Hobbs
Louis Hobbs

Last Updated: 2024-01-05

6 minutes read

two darts on a bullseye

What is Darts?

Darts, a cherished and accessible sport, boasts a rich history and a variety of engaging variations. Among these, 501 stands as the traditional and widely recognised format played competitively across the world. Players engage in the game by strategically reducing their score from 501 to zero through skilful throws at a standard dartboard. 


The sport has been propelled into popular culture, thanks to the efforts of organisations like the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) and the remarkable performances of legendary players such as Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen.



What are the Rules of Darts?

Darts is a popular game enjoyed by players of all skill levels around the world. Generaly, the objective of the game is to score points by throwing darts at a board and ultimately reach zero by hitting a double or a bullseye, however there are many different variations of this game to enjoy. Cricket and 501 are the most popular variants of darts. 


In standard competition, players aim to reach zero from a starting score of 501. The game concludes when a player successfully checks out by hitting a double or a bullseye with their final dart. The first players to reach zero wins the leg or match. Professional tournaments held by the PDC follow this format, as well as adopting a “best of” legs or sets format which extend the game and makes it much more competitive. 

Players and Equipment

Darts requires minimal equipment: a dartboard and the darts themselves. The standard dartboard, established in 1896, features 20 numbered sections, double and treble scoring areas, a bullseye, and an outer bull. Darts are typically composed of metal, nylon, and plastic, with a maximum weight of 50g and a length not exceeding 300mm.

Rules of Darts Scoring

Players score points by throwing three darts per turn, aiming to maximise their score. The highest possible score is 180, achieved by hitting three treble 20s. Different sections on the board have varying point values, with the bullseye worth 50 points, the outer bull 25 points, and numbers scoring their face value, doubled, or trebled based on their section.


dartboard scoring actual .jpeg

Winning The Game

To secure victory in a game of darts, a player must skilfully navigate their way to zero by hitting either a double or a bullseye, following the initial reduction of their score from the starting point of 501. This strategic aspect of the game emphasises precision and planning, requiring players to make calculated decisions with each throw. 


For instance, if a player finds themselves with a remaining score of 40, the path to triumph lies in hitting the double 20 segment on the dartboard, rather than opting for two single 20s. This rule adds an extra layer of challenge and decision-making to the game, encouraging players to strategize and execute their throws thoughtfully as they approach the coveted zero score.

Top-line Rules of Darts

Here is a breakdown of the top-line rules to consider when playing any form of darts: 


  • Determining the starting player: You can either flip a coin to decide or have a 'bull-off'. This is when both players aim for the bullseye prior to a match commencing, with the closest to the bullseye in a one-dart throw taking the first turn.

  • A standard throw consists of three darts, but the game may end in fewer throws.

  • Only darts in the board at the end of a throw are counted; those bouncing or falling out cannot be thrown again.

  • If a player exceeds their remaining points with a throw, the score for that round is bust and will not count. 

  • The centre of the bullseye should be exactly 5ft 8in (1.73 meters) high.

  • Darts are thrown from a marked toe-line, often called the oche, at least 7ft 9 ¼ in (2.37 meters) from the board, measured horizontally.

Conclusively, darts is a game of skill, precision, and strategy, with simple yet engaging rules. Understanding the basics of scoring, gameplay, and key regulations enhances the enjoyment of this timeless pub game. Whether you're a seasoned player or new to the sport, these rules provide the foundation for an exciting and competitive game of darts.

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Louis Hobbs
Louis HobbsLead Journalist

Meet Louis Hobbs, our esteemed authority on all matters sports-related. With a wealth of knowledge and experience, Louis effortlessly emerges as our go-to expert. His particular expertise in the realms of darts and snooker sets him apart and brings a level of insight that goes beyond the ordinary. Louis also holds a deep affection for all things related to US sports, with a special emphasis on basketball and American football, which stand out as his particular favorites. His content may not resonate with you, if you don't consider Lamar Jackson the most skilled player in the NFL.