Darts scoring is relatively straightforward, especially when playing games like 501 or 301. Something that often causes confusion for beginners though is how to finish the game and what some of the rules are for winning.
There are certain rules in play that can catch players out when trying to hit a double to win the game and one of these is busting.
What is bust in darts?
A bust in darts is when a player hits a score that is greater than what is needed to checkout. Hitting a number that brings a score to 1 or zero (if you require 10 but hit a 9 or greater as an example) will result in a bust. With a bust, you forfeit the rest of your turn and resume play on your prior score.
This is not an extensive topic so, in this article, we’ll quickly cover what a bust is in darts (as it’s not just relevant to X01 based games) and also some tips on how you can avoid busting.
What Is Bust in Darts
In darts, in particular, X01 dart games like 501 – the most popular and well-known game – the aim of the game is finishing. Ex player Bobby George had a great saying which was:
“Trebles for show doubles for dough”
What this means is that you can hammer the treble 20 with frightening regularity but if you can’t pin down the double at the end, you won’t win many games. A key to hitting a quick checkout is to avoid busting.
You get 3 darts per throw and anytime you bust within your first or second dart, you essentially waste a throw and give your opponent a good chance to win the game (or steal it in some situations when they’re behind).
To avoid this, it’s important to first know what a bust is and as outlined earlier, a bust in darts is throwing a score that leaves you with a remaining total of 1 or zero. To give an easy example, if you have a score of 20 remaining but then hit 20 with your first dart, this will bring your score to zero and you will bust.
After busting, you forfeit your darts for that throw and your score resets. To use the same example above, if you have a score of 20 and hit a single 20 with your first dart, you forfeit the remaining two darts, your score resets to 20 and it’s then your opponent’s turn. If your opponent doesn’t win the game on their throw, you’ll then have another throw with your previous score of 20.
Darts Bust Examples
The easiest example to demonstrate a bust in darts is a checkout of 2 (double 1). When throwing for the double 1, if you hit anything else inside the board it’s an instant bust. If you throw and hit a single 1, this will leave a score of 1 and this is not an outshot so you automatically bust.
Another good example is if you have a checkout of 6 (double 3). Either side of the 3 is a high number in 19 to the left and 17 to the right. If your dart strays to the right or left of the 3 then at a minimum you score a 19 or 17 (or 38/34 if a double is hit) instantly bringing your score to zero for a bust.
It’s not just the doubles to watch out for when busting either as technically, you can bust once you get to a score of 180 left or under. The best (and most common) example is when players are left with a score of 60. The obvious dart to throw is for a single 20 which will leave a checkout of 40 (double 20).
What can occasionally happen with a lazy dart though is you fall into the treble 20 with your first dart, score a total of 60, and bust, giving away a great opportunity to win the game. Therefore, busting isn’t too common once you become a more accurate player but you still need to take care as lazy darts can result in an unexpected bust.
How To Not Bust in Darts
This may seem obvious and the answer is going to be you can avoid busting by hitting the target number but for 501, there are some strategies you can use to avoid busting and give yourself a better chance of winning the game.
Firstly, when landing on a double for a checkout, try to leave yourself even numbers.
If you miss the double on an even number (like double 20 or double 16) and land in the single, you are then left with another viable option to checkout (double 10 or double 8 using the same example). If, however, you left yourself on an odd number (double 19) and missed the shot, you’d be left on single 19 which is not an outshot.
In this situation, you’d need to then throw for another single to leave yourself on a double finish and when throwing for a single number, it’s very easy to miss and bust! In the example of having 19 left, if you throw for 3 to leave 16 (double 8 outshot), there’s a good chance you could miss the 3, land in the 19, and bust.
Therefore, a good strategy is to leave yourself on an outshot that offers the most missed opportunities and double 16 is the best number for this.
If you miss double 16 and hit the single, you’ll be left on double 8, if you miss this and hit the single, you’ll be left on double 4, if you miss this and hit the single, you’ll be left on double 2, and if you miss this and hit the single, you’ll be left on double 1.
The more opportunities you give yourself for an outshot, the less likely you are to bust as a result.
Secondly, leave yourself on outshots that are not next to a number that you can bust on. If your favorite double is 3, that’s next to both the 17 and 19. A wayward dart with your first shot could see a quick bust so always opt for higher checkouts that are not next to a busting (or awkward) number.
Also check out:
What is a hat trick in darts