If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent a night or two in the pub (or bar, depending which side of the Atlantic you live). For those not in the know, darts is a sport (some take it rather seriously) or, better yet, a game where you throw small darts, also known as arrows at a dartboard, usually mounted on a wall.
The most common dart games are 501 or 301 like the professionals play, however there are many more easy dart games you can enjoy.
Of course, playing darts isn’t limited to pubs. You can do what I do and invite friends over to your man cave to play darts, and have all the fun of playing the game without strangers intruding.
Or to improve your darts game you could just practice playing a game of darts by yourself. Here are 5 popular dart games to get you started (assuming you know the basic principles of darts).
Around the Clock
Around the Clock is fairly popular due to its simplicity and practice potential, as you basically use the whole board. This is a game I used to play a lot with my mum when I was young and I play it now with my kids.
It can be played as one player for practice, but two players make it more fun, though you can play it with how many players you want. Everyone gets three darts.
The goal is to hit each number on the board in order starting with 1 then 2 then 3 and so on. The winner is the person who hits each number, followed by the 25 and then the bull.
You can add variations to this, for example if a player score a run of three consecutive numbers, they get an extra go. For example, if it was my turn and I was on number 6 and I hit a 6, 7 and 8 with my three darts, I would get another go instead of it being my opponents turn.
Some people also play where if you hit a double 6, your next number would be an 8. Start with the basic rules first and see how you get on.
You could introduce handicaps for stronger (sober) players by limiting the target area to make it more interesting.
Much like the real cricket, Darts Cricket is divided into innings (three darts constitute one inning/turn). You can play it in teams or individually, but you need an opponent.
With cricket, you only use numbers 15,16,17,18,19 and 20, plus the 25 and bull. The goal here is to “close” or “own” each of those numbers
You need to hit the numbers three times to “open” them and to “close” the number. You can do this with three singles, a single and a double, or one triple .
So now here’s the fun part.
Let’s use number 15 as an example. If I open the 15 by hitting it three times before my opponent, every time I hit the 15 afterwards I add the points to my score.
My opponent can not score any points from 15 because I opened it first but they can stop me from scoring more points by closing it, and to do this they have to hit it 3 times (the same as for me when I opened it).
The game finishes when all the numbers are closed including the bullseye. for opening and closing the bullseye, 25 (outer ring) counts as one and the bull counts as two.
The person with the most points wins. You will require a chalkboard or a pen and paper to keep score.
The image above includes a scoreboard for 501/301 and for cricket.
A variation of this is cutthroat cricket. The rules are the same except instead of scoring points for yourself, each time you score a point you add it to your opponents score, not your own.
The winner is the player with the least amount of points.
Shanghai is an incredibly popular darts game, and with good reason, it’s great. As per usual, you get three darts per go.
The goal is, naturally, to score the most points, and it plays similar to the Round the Clock, in that you start with 1 and go around the board. Each person gets three darts at each number.
The aim is to score as many points from each number as possible and the person with the most points wins.
For example – round 1 (3 darts), everyone aims a number 1. If I only hit it once and my other two darts hit the 20, I only score 1 point.
Round 2, we aim at number 2 (3 darts). I hit a treble two, single two plus the number 17.
I score 8 points this round and add it to the 1 point scored in the previous round. You do this until you get to number 20 and the winner is the player with the most points.
There is another to win and that’s to throw a Shanghai. If you hit a single, double and triple of the same number on your go with three darts you win the game.
It doesn’t matter if you hit a Shanghai on number 1 , 2 or 17. Hit it and you win the game.
Otherwise, you travel the board, and the person with the highest score wins.
Killer is a great game if you have a crowd of people who want to use the board at the same time, as it’s a knockout game. You can determine who goes first whichever way you want.
I usually use the two-dart splash – throwing two arts at the same time, and then adding them up. The person with the highest score goes first.
Each player gets a number off the board (1–20). You can do it by drawing lots or simply picking one.
Each player also gets a number of “lives”, usually between 3 and 5. The goal is that a player hits his own number’s double three times.
The first player to do this becomes the Killer, and can hunt the others’ doubles, in any order he wants. For every double the Killer hits, a “life” is taken from the one whose number he hit, until they’re out.
There’s a variety of this game called Blind Killer, where you don’t know anyone’s number but your own. This way, everyone plays as the Killer, with the winner being the last one remaining.
Darf is another popular dart game, though it’s one that needs a clear head for the maths. The goal is to have the lowest score at the end of the last round.
It’s usually played in six rounds, but you can set as many rounds as you like. All the rounds, except for the last, count at their value, adding up to the score.
As usual, you get three darts per round, except, again, the last one – here you get a single dart which subtracts from the total score. So, essentially, you spend five rounds looking to hit as many 1’s as you can, and then switch to 20 in the last.
That’s the safe way – the interesting way would be to shoot for the bullseye.
The above 5 easy dart games should provide hours of manly fun, especially if you have your own dart board – my favorite is the Winmau Blade 5.
If you have young children and don’t want to damage your man cave walls, another option would be to purchase a magnetic dart board that doesn’t use steel tips. Theses boards are often reversible and come with a variety of games. Check out our magnetic dart board reviews for some ideas.
Do you popular dart games you want to share? fill in the comment box below and we will add them.