How To Play Darts

Embark on a journey into the captivating realm of darts with our comprehensive guide on 'How to Play Darts.' Whether you're a curious beginner or an experienced player seeking to elevate your skills, this curated collection is your go-to resource for mastering the art of precision and strategy. From understanding the anatomy of a dartboard to perfecting your throw, and exploring various different games, our in-depth articles cover it all.

Louis Hobbs
Louis Hobbs

Last Updated: 2024-01-02

9 minutes read

players on the darts stage

What is the Game of Darts?

Darts is a precision-based indoor sport that involves players throwing small, pointed missiles, known as darts, at a circular target, typically affixed to a wall. The standard dartboard consists of 20 numbered sections, each further divided into single, double, and triple scoring zones.


Darts enthusiasts and novices alike often find themselves drawn to the magnetic allure of a dartboard, commonly found in bars that exude a lively atmosphere with other social games like pool and shuffleboard. The game of darts is not only a pastime but also a source of friendly competition and camaraderie among bar patrons and acquaintances.


Not sure where to begin? Let us guide you through the basics of this wonderful sport! 

The Basics of the Game

As previously mentioned, darts is played on a circular board divided into 20 sections, each numbered one through 20 in a nonsequential order. Understanding the scoring system is pivotal:


  • Single: Found in the yellow or black sections on a conventional dartboard. 

  • Double: Present in the outer red or green ring on a conventional dartboard. 

  • Triple: Located in the inner red or green ring on a conventional dartboard. 

dartboard scoring actual .jpeg


Landing on a "single segment" scores the value of the numbered slice. The outer ring earns you double points, while the inner ring triples your score. The bullseye at the centre of the board also holds significant value: the outer ring yields 25 points, and the inner ring rewards you with 50 points.

How to Hold and Throw

Achieving accuracy in darts begins with a steady stance. The line where one stands to throw is known as the "oche," positioned 7 feet and 9 1⁄4 inches away from the board. Holding the dart in the dominant hand, players use their fingers to grip it comfortably. 


Typically, the thumb rests on one side, with the index and middle fingers on the other. A controlled throw without excessive force ensures the dart travels straight towards the target.


For a deeper exploration into the art of dart throwing, delve into our specialised article dedicated to uncovering the skills and professional techniques involved. 

How to play ‘Count Up’ in Darts

For those venturing into the world of darts, 'Count Up' stands out as one of the easiest and most engaging games to initiate your dart-throwing journey. The rules are simple: choose a target number, be it 300, 500, or 1000, and aim to reach or surpass it. 


Each player, in turn, throws three darts at the board, adding up the scores to move closer to the target. The beauty of ‘Count Up’ lies in its accessibility; even beginners can quickly grasp the game dynamics.


To ensure fairness, all players receive an equal number of turns, allowing everyone a chance to showcase their skills. In the event that multiple players hit the target simultaneously, the excitement intensifies with several ways to determine the winner. 


Count Up accommodates ties, recognises the participant with the highest overall score, or spices things up with a sudden death round. In this thrilling finale, each contender who hit the target is granted three darts to outscore their opponent, adding an extra layer of suspense to this beginner-friendly darts variation. 

How to play ’01’

One of the most popular and traditional variations of darts involves starting with either 501 (the Professional Darts Corporation’s standardised game) or 301 points. The primary goal is to be the first player to reach zero points. 


The game begins with each player commencing with 501 or 301 points and takes turns throwing three darts at the board. After each turn, players add the points earned and subtract them from their total. The game continues until a player reaches exactly zero points to secure victory. 




However, players face a crucial decision regarding how to conclude the game. The traditional winning strategy is the ‘Double Out’ method which is adopted by most of the PDC’s major professional tournaments. This method requires hitting a double that reduces the score to zero. For instance, with 18 points, hitting a double nine is necessary.


For beginners, it may be easier opting for the ‘Straight out’ winning strategy. In this format, players can end the game by hitting any combination of numbers if the final total is precisely zero. For example, with 18 points left, hitting 18 once or nine twice would secure victory.

How to play darts on iMessage

If you find yourself without access to a physical dartboard, there’s always the virtual option. You can enter the world of digital darts by utilising the Game Pigeon app on iMessage. 


imessage darts.jpeg


Start by confirming the iMessage app is installed on your iPhone and open an iMessage conversation with the friend you want to challenge. You must then tap the App Store icon within the conversation, and then click the “+” icon to enter the iMessage App Store. In the search bar, look for “game pigeon” and download the app from the available options. Once downloaded, Game Pigeon will be added to your iMessage apps, and you can start playing darts by selecting it from the variety of games offered.


The iMessage darts game, presented by Game Pigeon, boasts a user-friendly interface resembling a traditional dartboard. Within the in-game mode, you can choose from three options: 301, 201, and 101. Familiarise yourself with the scoring area, the target, and the throw button. The scoring system typically adheres to the standard ‘01’ rules of darts. Take turns virtually hurling darts at the digital board and embrace the convenience of a virtual darting experience, all within the confines of your iMessage conversation. It's a seamless way to enjoy a classic game of darts with friends, no physical dartboard required!


Whether you are a seasoned darts aficionado or a newcomer eager to try your hand at this engaging sport, understanding the nuances of the board, perfecting your throw, and mastering different game variations will undoubtedly enhance your overall dart-playing experience. So, step up to the oche, take aim, and let the games begin!


If you have purchased your own dartboard and want to play at home, check our page on how to expertly set up your dartboard as per the Professional Darts’ Corporation’s official standards. 

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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.