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How to Play Nine Lives Darts (More Challenging Around the Clock Darts Variation)

Nine Lives Darts

As you’ll see by the title, Nine Lives darts is a variation on the hugely popular beginners game – Around the clock darts. The objective of the game is similar, to be the first player to make it around the board before your opponents. 

What’s the catch? If you miss a number you’ll lose a life and players only get three lives per game. This means nine lives darts is a more challenging game that experienced players will appreciate. It can also be a great game for beginners that have become more confident in their play, are capable of hitting numbers with accuracy, yet still can be prone to occasional misses. 

If nine lives darts sound like a dart game you’ll enjoy then read on, below I’ll be covering how to play nine lives darts with rules, scoring, tips, and strategies to give you the edge over your opponents and finish the game with all lives intact. 

Number of Players

2 or more players

Nine Lives Darts requires a minimum of two people to play. You can have as many people as you want, as long as you aren’t playing by yourself.

Nine Lives Darts Rules and Scoring 

Nine Lives Darts is played in a similar way to Around the Clock Darts. However, in Nine Lives Darts, if you don’t hit the right number with all three of your darts in one turn, you lose a life. Each player gets three lives. 

The first thing you need to do is determine the order of the players. You can do this however you want, but the most common is by age or alphabetically. Once you have the order figured out, the first player will try to hit the number 1 with their three darts.

If they are successful in hitting number 1, they are now aiming for number 2. If they fail with all three of their darts, they are down to two lives. 

If the number 1 is hit and there are still darts remaining in their turn, they can shoot for number 2. The same goes for number 3 if they hit number 2 on their second shot. 

After the first player has thrown all three of their darts, their turn is finished, and the next player does the same thing. This goes on until one player makes it all the way to 20, hits the bullseye, and wins the game.

Every round, a player needs to hit at least one number to stay in the game and keep their lives. You have to hit the numbers in numerical order. This means you can’t hit only a 3 on your first three darts, because this won’t count. You would need to hit a 1 to keep your life. When a player loses all three of their lives, they are out of the game.

Since there is the potential to hit up to three numbers per round, an excellent player can possibly win the game in as few as seven rounds.

The scoring for Nine Lives Darts is really easy. You just need to write each player’s name at the top of a piece of paper or a whiteboard and make three lines under each name. When a player loses a life, you erase a line.

How to Play Nine Lives Darts

Nine Lives Darts is basically a survival game where each player only has three lives. Though the name might sound confusing, the game is actually really easy to play. The main goal is to hit every single number on the dartboard in numerical order. 

Each player will start by trying to hit directly on 1, then 2, and so on until 20. After 20, it is time to shoot for the bullseye.

During their turn, players will each get three darts. You can hit more than one number in the same turn. For example, on your first turn, you can hit 1, 2, and 3 as long as you hit them in numerical order. 

If you hit the 3, then the 2, then the 1, only the third shot will count. You will have to try again on your next turn to hit the 2, then the 3, and so on. 

Should a player miss on all three throws of their turn, they lose a life. When all three lives are lost, that player is out of the game.

Nine Lives Darts Example Game

You are playing Nine Lives Darts with three of your friends. First, you decide what the order is going to be. If you are all the same age, you might want to play alphabetically. When you have determined the order, you will need to set up the scoring. Write all four of your names at the top of a whiteboard or piece of paper and make three marks under each name.

The first player up throws three of their darts and hits 1 and 2. Their third dart hits 7, so that doesn’t count. Since they hit both the 1 and 2, they keep all of their lives.

The second player shoots all three darts and hits a 4, but no other numbers. This shot doesn’t count since it’s not in numerical order, so they will lose a life.

The third player doesn’t hit any numbers, so they lose a life.

The fourth player hits a 1 but misses with the other two. Since they hit the first numerical number, they get to stay in the game.

This continues until someone makes it around the board to hit the bullseye, making them the winner. 

Nine Lives Darts Tips & Variations

Nine lives is already a moderately challenging game – if you miss a number you lose a life. There are further variations you can add to this game mode to make it more enjoyable. Firstly, you can have the doubles and trebles in play. 

With this variation, a double 1 would advance you to the number 3, a treble 5 would advance you to 16, etc… This variation would mean that more experienced players can excel. If players are good enough to play this variation, another thing you could include would be reducing the number of lives that each player has. 

if a player misses a number, this could be their only life making the game much more challenging for experienced players. One final addition you could make is that you can only go around the board hitting trebles or double. 

This is definitely for more advanced players and having three lives will be a challenge so you could increase the lives to 5 depending on playing experience and skill level. 

In terms of specific tips for this game, the key is to play it safe and ensure you hit a number with each throw. If you are playing the standard rules, you can’t go for doubles or trebles to skip forward numbers so the key is to just not miss a throw. 

Sounds simple but it’s very easy to have a lapse in concentration and unnecessarily lose a life. 

For those playing advanced rules – the tips are far more relevant and include:

  • Trebles 1, double 4, double 9 is an ideal first throw
  • Treble 6 will advance you to 19
  • double 5, or 6 are not really beneficial
  • Treble 3 will advance you to 10 but will leave a lot of pressure on hitting double 10, if you miss you need to go all the way from 11 – 20 without the opportunity to skip numbers


If you want a more casual darts game with a slight challenge, nine lives darts are likely going to be the best choice for it. Similar to around the clock darts, nine lives darts are a more challenging variation where players lose a life if they miss the number. 

This hit a number or be punished concept is also key with a number of other dart games so if you like the idea or have enjoyed playing nine lives darts, you might also enjoy these other similar dart games:
Knockout darts
High/low darts
Killer darts