Cricket is fun, easy to learn and loved by dart players from complete beginners all the way to expert level players. Here’s what you need to know about how to play Cricket darts.
What is Cricket?
Cricket is the most popular dart game in the U.S. It’s also played around the world, and often known in the UK as “Mickey Mouse”.
The goal of Cricket is to close each number on the dartboard, 1 through 15, plus the Bull’s Eye, before your opponent while being even or ahead in points.
You close a number by hitting the number three times. The “fat” part of each number counts as one, the double ring (outer ring) counts as 2 hits, and the triple ring (inner ring) counts as 3 hits.
Numbers can be closed in any order, although most players like to start with the 20 and work their way down. If you close a number, and it is still open for your opponent, you can score points on that number.
Let’s now look at the details and rules for how to play Cricket darts.
Cricket Darts Rules
The objective of Cricket is pretty simple. Your goal is to close out all the numbers in play, including the Bull. And you need to close the numbers before your opponent while being ahead or even in total points.
How Many Players
Cricket is usually played with two players or teams of two. You can also play with 3 or 4 players individually. There is no set rules on the number of players that can play.
A standard game of Cricket is played using the following numbers on a dartboard: 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15 and the Bull.
Start out by picking teams (if doubles) and choosing who shoots first. For the first game, select who goes first by each taking a shot at the bull’s eye. The player with the closest dart to the bull’s eye gets to throw first. The winner, or a player from the winning team, throws first for subsequent games
Each player gets 3 darts per turn. If playing partners, you’ll alternate turns with players on the other team.
You close a number by scoring three of that number. This is done either by hitting three singles, a single and a double (outer ring), or one triple (inner ring) shot.
The numbers can be closed in any order. Although you can play cricket in order too. Playing in order is a fun and challenging way to play Cricket for more advanced players.
To mark your score use the following standard marks to indicate one hit, two hits, or three hits (aka closed) per turn:
Scoring Points in Cricket
If you have closed a number that is still open for your opponent, you can start scoring points on that number until your opponent closes that number.
The double and triple count as 2 or 3 times the numerical values of each number in play. Scores are added to the previous balance.
As an example, let’s say you closed the 16 and your opponent hasn’t yet. Now if you hit a double 16, you would score 32 points. You can keep scoring on that 16 until your opponent closes the number. It’s that simple. Keep a running total of your score or your team’s score in the outer margins of the scoreboard.
Note: Do not remove your darts from the board until you have marked your score for that turn.
(Learn more about the best dart games to play with your friends)
Simple Strategies for Winning Cricket
Aim for the triple
One common strategy is to always aim for the triple ring of your number.
This is because a triple will close out a number in a single shot.
Aiming for triples will also quickly add up the points if your opponent hasn’t closed that number yet.
Of course, you won’t always hit the triple ring.
But aiming for the triple keeps you focused on the fat part of the segment, increasing your odds of at least marking a single.
Throw first and gain points
Another advantage in Cricket is throwing first.
This is why getting closest to the bull”s eye at the start of the game, if you choose that method, is important.
If you throw first, you can close out a number and start adding points before your opponent has even started. And when they finally take their first turn, they will be starting the game by playing catch-up. Ideally you want to try to keep a points margin throughout the game.
Know Your Comfort Zone
If you have some numbers that are easier for you, try to close these first and build a buffer with points.
For example, many players start with the 20. But most games are not played in sequence. So, if you’re more comfortable with numbers at the bottom of the board (i.e. 16 or 19), aim for those initially to create some room and give yourself more time on the numbers that typically cause some problems.
Don’t forget the Bull
Another strategy is to take care of the bull’s eye sooner than later.
Remember, you can’t win unless you hit three corks.
For many players, closing out the bull is the most challenging part of the game.
Even if you’re ahead on numbers and points, leaving the cork open gives your opponent a chance to catch up.
So take care of it sooner than later if this is a concern.
Cricket Darts Variations
There are some popular Cricket variations that can make the game a little easier, speed things up, make it harder for skilled players, or just change things up if you’ve been playing the standard format for a while.
Play without points
If playing without points, each player just closes out the numbers without worrying about scoring points. Pretty simple.
This is a good way to go there are people waiting to play, or if you’re just keeping things light among friends.
Playing without points works well in a more relaxed bar atmosphere too and is great for beginners.
Play in Order
As mentioned, you can make it more challenging by only counting numbers thrown in sequence, starting at the 20 and counting down to bull’s eye.
If you hit a number out of order, it doesn’t count.
Add more numbers
If you want to extend the game, you can just add to the numbers in play.
For example, after the 15, add the numbers 14 through 11 before the bull’s eye. This extends the game and adds the challenge of targeting different parts of the board.
Play “Cutthroat” Cricket
Also known as 3-way Cricket, this is just the standard game with three players instead of two.
Cutthroat makes scoring a little more tactical, as two players can team up and pile on the points to eliminate the other player.
Play Solo Cricket
If you’re looking for a good way to practice darts, playing a solo game of cricket, and extending numbers as mentioned above, is a great way to improve your skills.
FAQs about Cricket Darts
How many points is the Bull worth?
The outer ring of the Bull is worth 25 points. The inner circle (bull’s eye) is worth 50 points. The inner counts as a double, the outer counts as a single. If you close the Bull first, you can quickly add up serious points with extra hits.
What happens if I close all the numbers but am still behind in points?
If you close all your numbers first but you’re still behind in points, you must keep trying to score on any of your opponent’s open numbers until you exceed your opponent’s points total.
What happens if I close all the numbers but we are tied in points or the points total is ‘0’?
In this case, you would be the winner because you closed the numbers first and are not behind in points.
How high does the dartboard need to be to play a game of Cricket?
The official board height for Cricket (and any darts game for that matter) is 5’8” (floor to the center of the Inner Bull).
Check out our complete guide to dartboard measurements and setup to learn more.
Where can I find the official rules of Cricket?
The American Darts Organization includes official Cricket rules here.
For a full list of dart games with clear instructions, official rules, tips on technique and more, also check out the American Darts Association Book of Darts. For general rules of dart games and etiquette, check out this post.