Throwing darts is the easy part for most people, calculating and keeping score on the other hand is something that 75% of players tend to struggle with – especially beginners.
While watching a game of darts, it’s easy to assume that professional dart players are good at math because they calculate scores within split seconds of throwing the next dart. If you’re new to darts and get slightly confused by the scoring system (especially when factoring in checkouts and bust numbers) then read on.
We’ll be showing you how to score darts for most of the common dart games and also give you some tips and tricks for easily scoring darts.
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How to Score Darts
To score darts, the point total of each dart is subtracted from a starting score of 501. Players throw 3 darts per turn and subtract the points scored from a running total with the aim of reducing the score to 0. Once a player reaches a point total of 50 or less, they must check out by hitting a double.
To score a game of 501 is relatively easy and the more you do it the easier it becomes as you master the maths involved in deducting scores from a running total.
The score of the 3 darts is added up and taken from the previous total until one of the players checks out, or hits a double to win the game. There is no need to start a game of 501 with a double (although you can) so scores will be deducted straight away.
So, make a column for each player on a scoreboard or piece of paper and clearly mark their name. Then add up their scoring darts after every 3 darts thrown, deduct that from their previous score and write down their new running total next to it and this shows the player how much they need to win.
An example scoring board for 501 darts would look like this:
|Round||Player A||Player B|
The first column will show the round, the second column will have the first player along with a starting score of 501 and the third column will have the second player with a starting score of 501.
In this example, Player A on their first throw scored 41 points, this was subtracted from the starting total and left a new remaining score which is marked as the starting score for the second round. Player B scored 60 points so again, this is subtracted from the remaining total and gives the player a remaining point total of 441.
By showing this visual total, it enables players to formulate their finish and the direction they may need to follow depending on their skill and accuracy. It’s worth noting that not all people need a visual guide though.
Play continues in this manner with scores being subtracted each round until a player reaches a checkout.
What Is a Checkout In Darts
So you often hear the word ‘checkout’ in darts and it’s just another way of saying a player has finished the game by scoring the appropriate number of points. This is done by means of a double and the only other way this can be done is by hitting a bull worth 50 points with a single dart, therefore not needing to hit a double.
The double is the section of the very outer ring of each number on the dartboard, it’s a small target and therefore takes a certain amount of skill and lots of practice to hit. There are 20 numbers on a dartboard and so it follows that there are 20 doubles too and any one of these can be hit to checkout.
To be able to checkout, a player must be able to reach 0 exactly; if they go over this mark then they bust and their score is invalid for that particular throw.
So for example, if Player A requires 60 to win and has 3 darts and hits a single 20 with their first dart, they now need 40 to checkout. They can attempt to hit double 20 (which is 40 points as double is twice its corresponding number) and if they achieve this with either of their 2 darts then they will win.
However, if Player A hits a single 20 and another single 20 to score 40 points, this leaves them needing 20 to checkout, and the only double that will achieve that is double 10 ( 2 x 10 = 20).
There are literally thousands of different ways to check out because the mathematical permutations of using 20 numbers are endless, however, regular players will shorten that equation by using well-chosen paths, ie they use the same doubles to check out on a regular basis and should they fail initially, they will have already decided which numbers to aim for next.
Personally, I like double 20 and if I miss and hit the single, I’ll leave 20 points meaning double 10 – which is also like. Other players like to leave 32 points (double 16) for a checkout because if they miss, they’ll leave double 8 and if they miss that, they’ll leave double 4.
Missing a double but still leaving yourself with a shot at a checkout increases your chance of winning the game as you’ll still have darts that can be used to win the game.
For beginners, try to avoid leaving yourself on bad checkouts or bogey numbers. As an example, if you leave 38 points (double 19) to checkout but hit the single, you’ll then be left on single 19 which doesn’t have an immediate double. You’d therefore need to throw for another single like 7 in order to leave 12 points remaining and a shot at double 6.
Checkouts can be achieved with either 1, 2, or 3 darts, the highest available checkout is 170 with 3 darts (treble 20, treble 20, and bullseye 60 + 60 + 50). The highest 2 dart checkout is 110 ( treble 20 and bull 60 + 50) and the biggest single dart checkout is 50 (bullseye) which is the only time you can checkout by not hitting a double.
What Is the Easiest Way to Score Darts
1. Use a Darts App
It is possible to score your game via a mobile or tablet by using a darts app.
This online application allows you to input which game you are playing, 301, 501, etc with the number of players and it will do all the work for you. Some of the darts apps will also analyze your scoring and give you tips on how to improve your game
The very best apps will even announce you to the oche and tell you possible ways of checking out! They can also be used to practice against the app opponent to improve your game and whilst they won’t be everyone’s preference, they are another useful addition to your overall darts setup.
The best darts scoring apps include:
2. Use a Calculator
The simplest method to score darts is to just use a good old-fashioned calculator. they are simple to use, quick and available on your mobile or other online device and they can also just be bought to carry for next to nothing.
3. Learn Dart Math
If you are keen to take your game to the next level it’s very important for you to do darts maths. This basically means knowing every section of the dartboard and its value, so that when you play regularly it will help you hit consistently high scores or alternatively help you score low by staying away from pitfalls on the board.
Once you are completely familiar with the value of every section, you can plan and aim for particular doubles, trebles and group your darts for maximum gain. If you’ve ever watched a professional throw their next dart while you’re still trying to calculate the score from the first dart it’s because they understand dart math.
It’s not that they are incredible at sums but they understand before throwing that if they have a particular score remaining, they need to hit certain numbers and have already calculated the shots before stepping up to the throw line.
This takes practice but drastically changes how fluent you are when throwing. As soon as you need to stop to calculate a score you lost the rhythm and consistency of your throw so learning dart math should be a priority for anyone looking to improve at darts.
4. Learn Dart Checkouts
If you watch the top players on TV it’s amazing how they consistently hit checkouts without even breaking thought and the reason is, is that they are so confident of their ability and have played so many thousands of legs of darts, that they will have played every eventual outcome many times over.
They know every darts checkout like the back of their hand and if you want to play at the highest level then you must be able to replicate their knowledge and be able to know every possible checkout, be it with 1, 2, or 3 darts.
There are some really good online checkout charts to help you, they will literally give you a visual picture of every checkout available, and remember that at the end of the day you must be able to hit doubles to win, so if you have a favorite double it’s probably a good idea to know how to reach that when you are setting up your finish.
You can also just get a cheap outshot chart for reference and practice some of these checkouts each day until you become familiar with the most frequent ones – which for most players will be in the 40 – 100 points remaining range.
5. Use an Electronic Dart Scorer
Personally, I calculate most scores mentally but I’ve been playing darts for around 20 years so I remember most scores rather than doing calculations (I’ve basically learned dart math like mentioned above). With that said, I still own an electronic scorer with the Arachnid Touch Pad Darts Scorer.
The reason is that sometimes it’s just easier to use a scorer, especially in competitions where you want to focus on the throw and not work out your remaining score. Some scorers have a range of functions and features which include tracking legs and sets, different game modes, and some even track your dart averages!
If this is an option that interests you, check out our guide on the best dart scorers here
Scoring darts is not as complicated as it might first seem, even if you’re not great at maths!
To score darts, you’ll subtract the point total of each dart from a starting score of 501. Players will keep a running tally for each throw as their point total is deducted with the aim being to reach a final score of 0. Once players reach a checkout, they must finish on a double in order to finish on 0 points and win the game.
A range of aids can be used in order to score darts including a calculator, darts app, or even an electronic darts scorer which will do all the work for you.