How to Play Darts

Darts is an easy game to learn how to play, but very hard to master.

How to Play Darts

The beauty of darts is its simplicity. Anyone can pick up a dart and throw it at the dartboard.

You might even get lucky and hit your intended target. But as you’ll quickly find out, there’s a lot more to this sport than meets the eye.

First, learning how to play darts begins with developing a basic comfort level with holding and throwing the dart.

Then, once you have the fundamentals down, you can move on to popular games to play at the bar or at home.

These dart games can be played with steel tip darts on a classic bristle board, or with soft tip darts on an electronic dartboard or simple soft tip board.

Some electronic boards also accept steel tip darts.

In this guide, we’ll provide an overview of how to play darts via the various articles on Bar Games 101.

If you are a complete novice, or if you’ve you played darts a few times and want to learn more, this is the guide for you.

Dart Mechanics

Master the Basics of Darts

Even before you learn how to play basic dart games, which we cover in great depth on this website and reference below, you need to start with an understanding of the basic throwing mechanics.

As you practice the basics of dart stance, grip, aiming and throwing, you will develop a comfort level when you step up to the line.

You’ll be less concerned about throwing and missing the board entirely, and more confident to join in on the fun when you see others playing at the bar.

To begin, start with our article about how to throw darts consistently.

This article covers what you need to know about grip, stance and throw.  It includes an overview of each point with additional resources.

To summarize, the grip should be relaxed, but firm enough to retain control. Do not grip too tightly. This is a common mistake with beginners.

Try using a “pencil” grip with your thumb on the bottom of the dart and first two fingers on top.

The stance should be comfortable, with your throwing side foot first, and your back foot roughly at a 45-degree angle.

Weight is on the front foot, which edges up to the throwing line. Stance is a personal preference and takes time to learn.

For more on how to perfect your dart throwing stance, read these 5 tips.

Finally, the dart throw can be understood in three parts: The set-up, your arm movement, and your follow through. Putting these together will increase your accuracy and make you a more consistent player.

Read the full post here.

Practice Your Darts

Dart Basics

Most people don’t take time to actually practice darts, including the skills outlined above.

Instead, the more common approach is to play a game of Cricket here and there.  You may even start to see some improvement after a few games, but nothing sustainable.

The real way to get better is to practice. But how do you practice darts on your own? Just throwing darts randomly at the board can get pretty boring pretty quickly.

Luckily, there are tons of ways to add some structure to throwing darts and practicing on your own.

The best way is to come up with a few solo dart games that will keep you entertained while also improving your skills.

Practicing darts can be relaxing, improve your focus, and train your mind to stay in the present.

If you’re ready to practice, check out these 7 solo dart games.

Know the Basics

Once you’ve developed some muscle memory with your grip and throwing technique, and hopefully your form isn’t too unconventional, it’s time to learn the rules.

There are tons (and tons) of different dart games. But before we get too game-specific, there are some rules and scoring guidelines that apply to pretty much every game.

These rules also cover basic darts etiquette, which you’ll definitely want to know if you’re in a league or up against a more serious player at the bar.

Furthermore, many people learn darts because they either received a board as a gift or as a hand-me-down.

If you’re the proud owner of a new dartboard, or really just curious about how to set one up in your home or apartment, you’ll want to review this guide about dartboard measurements and set-up.

Okay, back to the rules.

First, check out this post for 13 basic dart rules that apply to most games.

Also, review our guide to darts scoring. This will teach you about scoring popular games like Cricket, as well as the international standards of 301 and 501.

You need to sound like you know what you’re doing too, so read our post about 28 common dart terms you should know.

Learn How to Play Popular Dart Games

How to Play Darts

Next, it’s time to dive in to the actual games that are typically played on bristle and electronic dartboards.

The most popular dart game – by far – is the game of Cricket.

To learn how to play Cricket, start with this post.

It is a very easy game to understand, but it helps to review the basics as well as some of the popular variations.

For example, standard Cricket is played by aiming at numbers 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15 and Bull.

When you get three of any number, you have closed it.

You can score points if the number is still open for your opponent (they haven’t closed it yet). First one to close all numbers and lead in points wins.

Cricket can be played with or without points (fun for beginners), in order, with different numbers, and with multiple players. Read more here.

For a complete overview of the best dart games, please read our guide to the 7 dart games you should learn how to play.

This list includes an overview of Cricket, as well as the 01 Games, Around the World, Halve-It, Legs, and more. Each game description provides an overview of rules, scoring, and variations.

For more about the 01 games, check out our guide to doubling out in 301 and 501.

These games require a player to “double out”, that is, you need to hit the number that when doubled will equal your remaining points. There are hundreds of ways to combine numbers and double out. This post includes a chart with all the possible out combos.

Your Own Dart Equipment

Dart Equipment in the Man Cave

If you know how to play darts, and you’re ready to take the next step and buy your own board or your own set of darts, you’ve come to the right place.

One of our most popular articles is about how to find the best electronic dartboard.

This is because as darts is introduced to a younger generation, there is more interest in owning an electronic board that has interactive features, programmed games, and other bells and whistles.

Plus, these boards are generally much safer than traditional bristle boards.

But.. since many of us prefer using a traditional bristle dartboard, with real sisal fibers, thin scoring rings, and staple free construction to reduce bounce outs, we have a quick guide to the best bristle dartboards for an authentic playing experience. 

If you’re looking for a nice set of darts, take a look at our overview of some of the best steel tip darts out there.

There are so many darts to choose from on the market, many with distinctive and innovative materials, shapes, and engineered performance characteristics.

This article provides an overview of the different types of steel tip darts and what to look for when choosing your own set for the first time.

For soft tip players, we also have a guide to choosing the best soft tip darts.

While we love electronic dartboards, there’s nothing quite like playing on a high quality bristle board. We will be reviewing some of the best options in the near future.

In the meantime, if you already own a nice dartboard made from quality sisal fibers, you should also know how to take care of it so it lasts as long as possible. In this case, check out our guide to dartboard maintenance.

Finally, one of our favorite ways to combine the benefits of an electronic board with the authenticity of a bristle board is by using an electronic darts scoreboard.

And if you need a quality dartboard cabinet, check out this post.

Learn more about the best dartboard accessories

For Fun

We all have off nights playing darts. Part of learning how to play darts is developing the right excuses for when these nights occur.

And you can’t always blame alcohol.

Ok, maybe you can.

But if you’re looking for some other explanations, check out these 20 darts excuses. They may come in handy. 

Further Reading

For a concise yet complete guide to darts, check out the American Darts Association Book of Darts. This book includes throwing guidance as well as instructions and rules for most of dart games.

Stay tuned as we update this guide with more resources so you can learn how to play darts and enjoy this game with your friends and family!