The Best Dart Games: 7 Fun and Popular Games for All Skill Levels

best dart games

There are hundreds of great dart games, but certain games have stood the test of time.

In this post we’ll introduce you to 7 fun and popular dart games you should learn how to play, including Cricket, 01 Games, Around the World, Legs, Killer, Halve-It and Shanghai.

These dart games are great for players of all skill levels.

In the following sections, you’ll learn how to play each game with an overview of the setup, rules, tips, strategies and popular variations for each game.

Let’s get started!

Popular Dart Games for All Skill Levels

Table of Contents:

1. Cricket
2. The 01 Games (301 and 501)
3. Around the World
4. Legs
5. Killer
6. Halve-It
7. Shanghai

For a full list of dart games with clear instructions, official rules, tips on technique and more, check out the American Darts Association Book of Darts.

1) Cricket

Cricket is our first pick for one of the best dart games, and it’s usually the first game that comes to mind in any conversation about darts.

Cricket is fun, easy to learn and can be enjoyed by players from complete beginners all the way to expert level players.

Here’s what you need to know..

Players

Cricket is usually played with two players or teams of two. It can also be played with 3 players.

Numbers

The numbers in play are 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15 and Bulls.

How to Play Cricket

The objective of Cricket is pretty simple: close out all the numbers in play before your opponent, including the Bull, while being even or ahead in total points.

Starting Out

Start out by picking teams (if doubles) and choosing who shoots first.

Tip: Select who goes first by each taking a shot a the bull’s eye. The player with the closest dart to the bull’s eye gets to throw first.

Closing Numbers

You close a number by scoring three of that number. This is done by hitting three singles, a single and a double (outer ring), or one triple (inner ring) shot. Numbers can be closed in any order.

Scoring Points

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 the 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.

For instance, say you closed 16 and your opponent hasn’t yet. Now if you hit a double 16, you would score 32 points. Keep a running total of your points in the left column next to the numbers column on the scoreboard.

As mentioned, the cricket numbers can be targeted and closed in any order.

Yet many players begin at the top with 20 and try to work their way down to the bull’s eye. However, it is not required to play this way unless you are specifically playing Cricket in order.

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.

Illuminated Dart Scoreboard for Cricket and 01 Games
Illuminated Dart Scoreboard for Cricket and 01 Games

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.

Don’t forget the bullseye

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.

(Learn these basics to improve your accuracy and consistency.)

Cricket 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.

Play in numerical sequence

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 will not 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.

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.

FAQs about Cricket

How many points is the Bull worth?

The outer ring of the bull is worth 25 points. The inner (bull’s eye) is worth 50 points. The inner counts as a double, the outer counts as a single.

What are the official rules of Cricket?

We have a summary of Cricket darts rules in this post. The American Darts Organization includes official Cricket rules here.

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.


2) The 01 Games (301 and 501)

Scoring a game of 301
Scoring a game of 301

If you play in a dart league, tournament or watch darts at the professional level, you are probably familiar with the two international standards: 301 and 501.

These are two very popular dart games among competitive dart throwers, and the rules of the 01 games are actually very simple.

Yet while the game is simple in concept, the actual mechanics and “out” strategies require a lot of skill.

How Many Players

The games of 301 and 501 are usually played with two players (1 v 1) or teams of two.

Numbers

All the numbers are in play in these dart games.

However, the most common numbers by far to aim for are 20 and 19, as these are high percentage shots that will score the most points and get you out sooner.

The inner bull’s eye (aka “double bulls”) is worth 50 points. The outer bull’s eye (aka “single bulls”) is worth 25 points.

How to Play 301 and 501

Each player or team begins with a score of 301 or 501.

The goal of each game is to get to a score of  “0” by subtracting each three-dart score from your total points.

Doubling In

The game of 301 begins by “doubling” in. This means that you cannot begin subtracting points from 301 until you hit a double of any number on the dart board.

Once a player scores a double, he or she can start subtracting points by hitting singles, doubles, or triples of any number on the board.

That’s why its important to practice aiming for the outer ring so you can get this part over with quickly in a real game of 301.

Straight In

The game of 501 usually starts “straight in”.

This means that hitting a single or more of any number on the board will start the game.

Once you get on the board, you continue your turn and subtract the points from the 501 total.

Sale
DMI Sports Deluxe Bristle Dartboard Cabinet Set with Electronic Scorer Includes 2 Dart Sets and a...
  • Light cherry finish with finger joint frame construction - holds 2 sets of darts
  • Includes official 18" x 1½" bristle dartboard

Doubling Out

In either 301 or 501, a player must “double out” to win.

Doubling out means that you must hit a double to reach the exact score of “0”.

For example, if you have 28 left, you need to hit a double 14 to go out.

If you hit less than that number, play begins from the remaining total.

So, if you had 28 left but hit a single 14, you would have 14 remaining. Now you would hit a double 7 to win.

You can see how this game gets pretty interesting. And yes, there is a lot of dart math involved. But the more you play, the easier it gets to keep score.

301 and 501 Tips and Strategies

Aim for numbers on the side of the board when doubling in

If you aim for the numbers on side of the board (i.e. 15), you increase your odds of at least hitting a random double on the outer ring above or below the target.

And that’s all you need to get ahead of your opponent and start subtracting points.

Aim for high percentage points

Most players will focus on the 20 and 19 because they are high percentage shots that can maximize points for a single turn.

Side Note: The highest possible points in a single turn is a “Ton 80”, or 3 triple 20’s, for a total of 180 points.

Learn more about darts scoring.

“Out” Combinations

the-01-out-chart_750x970
Download Our Custom Out Chart for 01 Games

As we mentioned, players can hit as many points as possible with each three-dart turn to quickly subtract from the 301 or 501 totals.

But “out” strategies, and the various combinations, are more complicated.

A basic strategy is to aim for even numbers to double out.

Here, if you miss the double but hit a single, the number can be halved.

But if you land on an odd number, you’ll need to get a little more creative.

Most seasoned 01 players have an understanding of some of the well-known out combinations.

For example, the highest score to go out on is 170 (Ton 70). An out of 170 would require triple 20, triple 20, and double bulls (60, 60, 50).

But there are a lot of possible combinations.

Just take a look at the Out Chart we created. It shows 140 possible ways to double out!

Here’s a basic demonstration on how to play and keep score in 301 and 501:

Beyond 301 and 501

While 301 and 501 are the most popular 01 games, you can play other versions as well.

Other fun 01 games include 701, 901, 1101 and 1501.

A great way to try all these different 01 games, among many others, is to play on an electronic dartboard.

A high-quality electronic dartboard will come programmed with all the 01 variations and make scoring and tracking much easier.

3) Around the World

Just like it sounds, the goal in Around the World is to work your way around the dartboard in numerical sequence.

It’s one of the most popular dart games because of its simplicity. Plus, it’s a lot of fun to play with a group.

Around the World darts is perfect for any number of players.

Playing around the world is also a great way to practice, especially when warming up for an 01 game, as you are forced to aim at different parts of the board than the standard numbers.

Players

Around the World darts is fun with any number of players. The more players in your group the merrier.

Numbers

You will use all the numbers on the board, 1 – 20. Usually the bull’s eye is not included.

But, as we’ll explain, the bull’s eye can be added to make things more interesting.

How to Play Around the World Darts

Around the World darts is a very simple game. You start with number 1 and work your way around the board in numerical sequence, all the way to the 20.

Move from one number to the next, erasing and marking numbers in your column as you go.

Around the World Darts Wall Protector
Wall Protector for Your Around the World Dart Game

In basic Around the World darts, doubles and triples do not count for more points.

Once any part of a numbered segment is hit, you just move to the next in sequence.

Game Variations

There are a few ways to make the basic dart game of Around the World a little more interesting:

Add the Bull’s Eye

Typically the game is over once you reach 20. But skilled players often add the bull’s eye at the end. So, your journey is not complete until you hit a cork.

You can also add the bull’s eye at the beginning, so each player must hit a cork before they can start their journey around the board.

Add Doubles and Triples

If you’re really an expert, try using only doubles or triples as legal shots. For instance, make it so you must hit a double of each number to move on to the next.

Or, try speeding it up by allowing players to skip numbers if they hit a double or triple.

As an example, if you hit a double 3, you skip the 4 and advance to 5. If you hit a triple 3, you would advance to 6.


4) Legs

Fourth on our list of fun and popular dart games for most skill levels, the game of Legs is all about hitting the highest possible number of points for each turn.

It’s similar to the 01 dart games without the doubling in and out requirements.

Players

Any number of players can play. But this game is definitely more fun when several players are involved.

Numbers 

All numbers on the board are in play. Yet just like in 301 and 501 games, the most commonly targeted numbers are 20 and 19.

How to Play Legs

Each player begins with 3 legs. Mark each “leg” with a stripe next the players’ initials.

Shoot your darts and note the score. The next player must either match or exceed your score.

If that player does not match or exceed your score, he loses a leg.

Every player must match or exceed the score of the player immediately before them.

So, if player ONE shoots a 55, player TWO must score at least 55.

If player 2 scores a 45, he loses a leg. Now player THREE must meet or exceed 45. And so on.

Make sure you mix up the order of players after each game, too.

Tip:

Playing challenging darts games like Legs requires solid darts mechanics. One of the most important aspects of a good darts throw is the stance.

Check out this post to learn more about how to improve your darts stance.


5) Killer

Killer is a fun darts game to play with three or more people. This game requires hitting doubles only and can involve some careful strategy.

Players

Killer is best to play with at least three people.

Numbers 

Only the selected numbers are in play. Read on for an explanation.

How to Play Killer

At the start of the game, each player chooses a random number by shooting at the board with their non-shooting hand. This makes the game more interested and forces you to play a little out of your comfort zone.

Once you have a number, you then try to hit a double of that number. Hitting a double of your number makes you a “killer”.

When you become a killer, you can try to “kill” your opponents by striking doubles of their numbers.

Each player gets three lives. Each double is worth one life.

To set up the dartboard, mark each player’s initials in a single column. Note each player’s number to the left of their initials. Then mark three lives with lines to the right of each player’s initials.

When a player is killed, erase one line.

The player with any lives (lines) remaining wins the game.

Strategies

For starters, do not hit your own double after you become a killer.

If you do, you will have “killed yourself” and must erase one of your lines.

You can also team up on other players by targeting their doubles and quickly “killing them off” the board.

If you’re really an assassin, you can hit three of your opponent’s doubles in one turn to quickly erase them from the board.

Sale
The Viper Dead-On Tournament Board
  • Constructed from self-healing sisal bristle fibers compressed together, providing unsurpassed durability
  • Features a staple-free bullseye which helps prevent bounce-outs; A movable number ring further extends the dartboard's life

Tip:

Aiming at the double ring only in Killer increases the number of bounce outs.

Make sure you use some good steel tip darts to improve your precision and reduce the number of bounce outs.

6) Halve-It

Halve-It is a fun dart game for more advanced players. But that doesn’t mean novice dart throwers can’t give it a try.

The game of Halve-It is more advanced because the numbers in play are challenging (i.e. you must hit a double-bulls in the last round).

Plus, the penalty for missing a target number is that your score is cut in half (hence the name of the game).

Players

Any number of players can play Halve-It.

As mentioned, it’s an advanced dart game, so usually only a few players are experienced enough to choose this game over some of the other less challenging and more popular dart games.

Numbers in Play

Halve-It is played by aiming at numbers 20, 16, Double 7, 14, Triple 10, 17 and Double Bull.

These numbers must be played in order and each player gets a 3-dart turn.

How to Play Halve-It

As you can see, the numbers in play are a little different than other dart games like Cricket.

Starting with the 20, each player shoots his or her 3-dart turn aiming at that number. You total your score after each turn and add to your running points balance. If you miss the number, your points balance gets halved.

Let’s look how this would look in a real game of Halve-It.

Let’s say you are playing with three players.

First, set up the score sheet as a grid. The players’ initials should go along a row at the top. The numbers (20, 16, D7, 14, T10 and DB) will go in a column on the left side of the grid.

You will mark your score in a column corresponding to your initial’s and the number in play after each round.

For Round One, each player shoots 3 darts at the 20. So, let’s say you hit a double 20 and single 20. Your total score for that round would be 60.

After the other two players take their shots at the 20, you start the next round by shooting at the 16.

If you miss the 16 with all three darts, your score of 60 would be halved to 30. If you hit one 16 (for instance) your score would be 76.

The game carries on so each player gets a turn at each number and the player with the highest points total at the end of the game is the winner.

You can see how this dart game gets hard when you need to hit a double 7, triple 10 or double bulls.

Tip:

If a player missed on the first turn (aiming for the 20) their score would be ‘0’. If your points balance is an odd number and you miss a number, you halve the number by rounding up.


7) Shanghai

The final entry on our list of popular and fun dart games is Shanghai. This is the perfect game for a large group of players.

It’s named after the dart term Shanghai: when a player hits a single, double and triple of the same number in a single turn.

You’ll see why this is the name of the game in a minute.

Players

Any number of players can play this game. But Shanghai is best when there are several players involved.

Numbers

The numbers in play are 1 through 7, corresponding to the inning numbers.

How to Play Shanghai

Shanghai is based on innings (a shorter version of baseball). There are 7 innings played in sequence. Each player takes 3-dart turns at numbers 1 through 7.

The goal is to score as many points as possible in each inning. The points correspond to the inning number in play.

For example, if it’s the 2nd inning, you can only shoot at the 2. A single would be worth 2 points; double would be worth 4 points; and a triple worth 6 points.

Any dart thrown outside of the inning number in play does not count.

You win this dart game by either scoring the most points after 7 innings, or scoring a “Shanghai” in any single inning.

Now you see why the game is called Shanghai!

Remember, this means hitting a single, double and triple in a single turn. It’s pretty rare, but even if you scored a “Shanghai” in the first inning, it would be game over. You win.

Keep track of the scores by writing each player’s initials along a row at the top of a scoring sheet. Write the inning numbers in a column to the left. You can then create a grid and note each player’s score for each inning as you go.

Shanghai allows for some pretty drastic comebacks, as the possible scores can increase significantly in later innings.

Here’s a good demonstration of how to play and practice with Shanghai:

Shanghai Game Variations

If you miss a number, you’re out

At the start of the game, all players can agree on a few numbers that must be hit in a single turn. If you miss that number, you’re out.

For example, you can decide that a player will get an out if they miss the 3 in the third inning, 5 in the fifth, or 7 in the seventh. Get three outs and you’re eliminated.

Or, you can just play Baseball!

Baseball is a very popular darts game in its own right.

Instead of the 7 innings with corresponding points in Shanghai, you just play the traditional 9 inning baseball format.

As in Shanghai, only darts hitting the inning number in play count.

But, unlike Shanghai, in Baseball each dart only counts as a single, double or triple. Just like real baseball.

At the end of nine innings, the player with the most runs wins. If there is a tie at the end of 9 innings, you can play extra innings until someone wins.

We’ll have plenty more ideas for some of the best dart games to share in the near future.

But the 7 games mentioned in this article are tried-and-true popular dart games that will always be some of our favorites.

If you’re looking for a place to start, or if you just need a break from Cricket, try these out.

Or if you’re looking playing solo and looking for a single player dart game, check out these ideas.

Have any suggestions on some other great dart games? Let us know! We’d love to hear from you.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here