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How to Play Prisoner Darts

How to Play Prisoner Darts (Great Game for Large Groups)

There are a lot of dart games that follow a similar concept. Throw three darts each round and either track your score or move around the board. A game you may not have come across before – prisoner darts – provides an interesting twist on the typical game rules in darts. 

I won’t give too many spoilers but let’s just say that the more darts you miss with, the fewer darts you’ll have to throw each turn… 

Read on and I’ll cover how to play prisoner darts with all the rules, scoring, and example games showing you exactly how to play this game yourself. 

Number of Players

2 or more players

Prisoner Darts is suitable for 2 or more players and is an ideal game for larger groups. The more players, the better! 

Large groups are especially ideal for this game because it adds more twists to the game and makes gameplay more exciting. If you can get 20+ players, then it’ll definitely make for a great party game.

Whether or not each player has their own set of darts is up to you, but there needs to be enough to ensure that each player can at least throw 2 darts per round. 

Although it might not be possible, if each player has their own set, it helps to avoid any confusion throughout the game.

Prisoner Darts Rules and Scoring

The aim of Prisoner darts is to consecutively get from 1 to 20. Each player will take it in turns to throw their darts (3 darts per throw), and the first player to reach 20, wins. Starting at 1, players should move around the dartboard clockwise.  

This is different from games like around the clock darts where you go around the board in numerical order. 

You don’t have to keep score every round, but each player must make a note of where they are. Although it can be more fun with large groups, it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of individual scores.


  • Darts – As previously mentioned, the amount of darts that’ll be needed will depend on the size of the group. The more darts there are, the easier the organization!
  • Standard Dartboard
  • A chalkboard or scoreboard

Getting Started

To determine who goes first, each player should aim their dart at the bullseye. The closest player starts. If two players hit the bullseye at an equal distance, then they’ll have to compete in a ‘throw-off’ to see which player goes first. That is to say, aiming for the bullseye again.

Once the winner is established, you’ll then need to decide which order the other players will throw their darts. 


Each player begins at 1 and will work their way around the dartboard. A number is considered to be scored if there’s a dart in it. If a player misses, i.e. the dart lands outside of the doubles ring or it misses the board entirely, then their score for that round is 0. 

Now, for the prisoner darts. When players land a dart in the bullseye, or in the triple of a specific number (there is another variation on this), the dart remains stuck. This means it will remain there until an opponent player hits the same number, and it becomes their prisoner.

If the prisoner is freed, the player who did so can claim this dart as their own and use it for an extra throw. This way, they have more chances of getting around the board quicker. 

The winner is declared when a player has scored around the board in every single number from 1 to 20. 


Scoring doesn’t need to be conducted every round but it might be wise to keep track of where you’re at and where you need to aim for next. Essentially, you’ll score the number of points for the number that you’re on if you aim correctly. 

Freeing a prisoner doesn’t necessarily gain you extra points. So, if you’re not that far away from winning, you might not see it as worth your time, but it gives you an additional chance to score. 

How to Play Prisoner Darts

There is a knack for most games you play, and this isn’t an exception. Here are a few things to consider when playing prisoner darts.

The key to prisoner darts is accuracy. Each turn, you’ll only have a certain amount of darts. Therefore, it’s important that each throw you take is carefully considered. If you want to win, every throw that you take must be precise. 

If you’re behind, you might need to free a prisoner dart to try and get ahead. The only way you can do this is by hitting a targeted number, and the determining factor that makes this happen is – you guessed it, accuracy!

During this game, one or two extra throws can make all the difference. Deciding on a strategy and potentially freeing prisoners can increase your chances of winning.

How to Free a Prisoner Dart 

The best advantage you can get in this game is to capture an opponent’s dart for your own, making it your “prisoner”. 

Why is this beneficial? When capturing an opponent’s stuck dart, you’ll gain an additional dart allowing you to potentially get around the board quicker, which gives you a better opportunity to win the game. 

To capture an opponent’s dart and take it as your own prisoner, you just need to hit the treble or bullseye that the dart is stuck in. There is of course a risk with this, if you try to capture an opponent’s dart and miss, you’ll have wasted a throw (which could cost you the game). 

If you hit it though, you claim that dart for your own and now have 4 darts each through – which is obviously a huge advantage. 

Prisoner Darts Example Game

Say that a player has got round to 17. Another player then lands a dart in the triple of 16. On their next go, this player can then decide if they want to continue trying to make it to 20 or free the prisoner for an extra throw.

How to Win Prisoner Darts

There are two ways you can win prisoner darts. The first, and simplest way, is to make it all the way around the board to the 20 segment first. The second way to win is to capture all your opponent’s darts once they are a prisoner. 


Prisoner darts are a great game for groups of players. The standout feature with this game is of course the ability to lose (or capture) a dart on your throw which can significantly change the outcome of a game. 

Because of this stick or twist aspect, skilled and experienced players can enjoy this game more than a beginner. This is because they are more likely to take advantage of the unique rules. 

If you like games where you don’t keep score and race around a dartboard, we’d definitely recommend prisoner darts!