Darts is a game played by fixing a board to a wall and throwing arrows (also referred to as darts) at it. Over the years the game has evolved a sophisticated method of awarding its players rating points.
There are two main governing bodies when it comes to overall dart player ratings, the British Darts Organization (BDO) and the World Darts Federation (WDF). The BDO was the original governing body, but in 1993 a group of major darts players and organizers split from it to form the WDF. Both organizations have separate players and ranking systems. Mark McGeeney is currently the world number one darts player according to both the WDF and the BDO.
But you don’t need to keep this wider context in mind when playing darts for fun. Here’s how darts scoring works:
The dartboard and scoring On a dartboard, the inner ring of the bull’s-eye is worth fifty points, the outer ring twenty-five. When a dart hits the area on a segment, the score equals the number corresponding to that segment. When the dart lands in the double or triple section of the segment, the score is correspondingly doubled or tripled.
Darts scoring system Every player begins with either 501 or 301 as their score, depending on the type of game you’re playing. A player gets to throw a total of three darts per turn. Scores are determined by where on the dartboard the dart lands. The scores are then deducted from either 501 or 301.
The goal of the game is to get one’s score down to exactly the number zero. In order to win the game, the final dart that is thrown has to land either in the bull’s-eye or in the double area of a segment on the dartboard. If in the course of a turn the total score of a player falls below zero, or s/he lands in a position where the score cannot hit exactly zero, that score is considered bust. This can happen when a player’s score hits one, because the player can no longer reach a score of zero by hitting a doubled segmented area of the board. The moment this happens, the turn comes to an end. The score then returns to the same number it was before the turn began.
A game does not have to end on the third throw of a turn; it can end on the first throw or the second one, provided that the other conditions are met.
Advice on strategy As you get closer to scoring zero, you want to get your score to an even number, so that you can effectively win the game by scoring a double. Ideally, you want your score to stay at a number that can be repeatedly bisected, such as 48 or 32. The likelihood is that if you miss the double of a segment, you will end up hitting the single. Therefore, with an easily bisected number, your score will not fall below zero. These are the strategies employed by good players.