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How to Play Shanghai Darts

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Shanghai darts is one of the most simple and easy to pick up games that you can possibly play in darts.

When starting out as a beginner player, it’s difficult enough learning how to throw your darts with any sort of accuracy before you then add in the mental arithmetic side of calculating your score in traditional 301/501 games. 

In terms of practice or starter games, I’d say that Shanghai is the easiest game to learn and start practicing on right after around the clock darts. Not only is the mathematics side simple but it allows you to practice every number on the board and familiarise yourself with the location of all numbers. 

How to play Shanghai darts? Players will take turns throwing 3 darts at a single number from 1-7 each turn. This means you throw 3 darts for number 1, 3 darts for number 2 all the way to 7. The aim of the game is to tally up your score after each throw and have the highest total score after all players have thrown for 7. 

Don’t let the simplicity of Shanghai darts be taken for granted, this is an excellent game that can be used to teach players to score highly on every number. 

To score highly and finish on a wide range of checkouts you need to be able to utilize all numbers on the board which means learning to group your darts on more numbers than just the 20s and 19s and few games can do this better than Shanghai!

How to Play Shanghai Darts

The game of Shanghai darts is quite simple, players will take turns throwing at a single number consecutively around the board. This means player 1 will throw 3 darts at the number 1 on their first turn, 3 darts at number 2 on their next turn and so on in consecutive numbers around the board. 

Traditionally, Shanghai darts is played from numbers 1 through to 7 only as this makes it much easier to keep score and means that you will get 21 darts per round (the equivalent to a league average darts leg in 501). While some variants of the game will play from 1-20 for a round, this can be quite long and therefore the 1-7 format is often preferred. 

A single, double, and treble are all active in this game so if you hit a single 1, single 1, and double 1 on your first throw then your score for that round will be 4. I’ll run you through an example game shortly however, the aim of the game is to score more than your opponent by the end of round 7. 

Shanghai Darts Rules

The following are some of the rules for Shanghai darts:

  • Players will each throw 1 dart at the bullseye to determine who will go first.
  • The single, double, and treble are all in play for the specific number that you are throwing for only (eg, you can only score a treble 2 when you are throwing for 2’s)
  • A Shanghai finish (hitting the single, double, and treble of the same number) will automatically win the game regardless of the other player’s score. 

** I’ll cover a Shanghai finish in more detail later in this article.

  • If no Shanghai finish is hit, the player with the highest scored after round 7 wins. 

Advanced Shanghai Darts Rules

As Shanghai is such a simple/basic game, there are a number of rules that you can implement in order to make it more advanced and challenging. 

The first is to set a rule whereby missing a specific number will result in an automatic loss as this is a rule to add a certain level of concentration and competitiveness to the game. If for example, you set 3 and 5 as your ‘bogey’ numbers, missing the number 3 with 3 darts on your throw will result in an automatic elimination. 

If you are playing with 2 players then it’s an automatic loss, if playing with 3+ players then the game will continue and you will need to join in the next game. 

You can also set a rule that means single numbers do not contribute towards your total score meaning you need to hit either a treble or double in order to score. 

Finally, you can include Shanghai finishes in the game to give an alternative way to win the game without having the highest score. 

What Is A Shanghai Finish In Darts

Before finishing off this article I just wanted to answer a quick question that sometimes confuses people in relation to shanghai darts and that is a Shanghai finish. You might have heard certain commentary in a professional game saying:

“He’s left himself with a Shanghai finish”

What this means is that you check out on a number with a finish based on the Shanghai game. The most common example is a Shanghai finish of 120, for this, you need to hit a single 20, treble 20 and finish on double 20. This video shows Adrian Lewis taking out a Shanghai finish in a game –

As you have hit the single, double and treble (not in that order as you need to finish on a double in 501 darts) then you have done a Shanghai finish. 

Unlike 501 darts however, in Shanghai darts you can hit the single, double, and treble in any order, all that matters is that you hit all three in a single throw to automatically win the game when playing Shanghai darts.

Shanghai Darts Example Game

Below is a simple Shanghai darts example game showing you how to score a game for a single player, I’ve also added a quick video to show a more visual example. 

Throw 1 – single 1, single 20 and treble 18 hit, total score = 1 (scored 1 on 1’s)

Throw 2 – single 2, single 2 and single 17 hit, total score = 5 (scored 4 on 2’s)

Throw 3 – treble 3, single 19, single 19 hit, total score = 14 (scored 9 on 3’s)

Throw 4 – single 4, single 4, single 4 hit, total score = 26 (12 scored on 4’s)

Throw 5 – single 5, single 5, treble 5 hit, total score = 51 (25 scored on 5’s)

Throw 6 – single 10, single 6, single 6 hit, total score = 63 (12 scored on 6’s)

Throw 7 – single 19, treble 7, single 7 hit, total score = 91 (28 scored on 7’s)

End of game, total score = 91 points. 

As you can see, the aim of the game is to score as heavily on each number as you can making use of the trebles or double if your skill level affords you this level of accuracy. 

Shanghai Darts Advanced Tips and Strategies

Strategies for Shanghai darts will vary from player to player and will depend upon your skill level. The following are strategies you should look to use for each skill level which will give you the best opportunity to score highly or win outright with a Shanghai finish. 


A beginner should only be concerned with hitting the target number, therefore throw your first two darts for the center of the bed (eg the middle of number 1) and if you’ve scored with both darts then you can attempt to hit the treble with your last dart in order to boost your total score. 

This strategy looks to take advantage of percentages, if you go for the treble with all three darts then chances are you’ll miss by a greater margin as a beginner and finish with a lower total score than if you play it safe and score slowly and steadily. 


As an intermediate dart player, your first dart should be thrown for a treble in order to give you more options depending on what you hit. If you hit a treble, you then have the option to either follow it up with another treble to score highly or you can go for a double and a single to win outright with a Shanghai finish. 

If you miss the treble with your first dart then you can either play it safe and go for the singles or you can continue to aim for the treble to attempt to make up for the missed first dart.


As an advanced level player, you should be throwing for the treble with all three darts. This is to practice a range of trebles around the board in order to have more versatility with your checkout scores in 501 games. 

The aim should be to score as highly as possible, though for most advanced players scoring a Shanghai finish could be easily achievable and therefore the aim should be to win the game as quickly as possible with a Shanghai finish. 

If a Shanghai finish is too easy then going for a maximum score gives you a great opportunity to practice grouping your darts whilst also being a great warm up game.


If you are looking for a simple and quick practice game that will not only help with your double finishing but also your treble scoring on different numbers around the board then Shanghai is one of the best games to play. 

You’ll also have the added option of just turning it into a fun game with a group of players so definitely make sure you try out Shanghai darts to see why this is such a hidden gem.

If you are looking for more practice games then you should also check out:
How to play Gotcha darts
How to play around the clock darts
How to play killer darts

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