Basic Dart Rules

Once you know basic dart rules, you can play a variety of games. The main rules involve setting up the board correctly and knowing how to keep score.

Setting Up The Board
The dart board is placed with the bulls eye measuring 5 feet, 8 inches from the floor. The toe line, also called "oche," is measured 7 feet, 9 ¼ inches from the wall with the mounted dartboard. It can be marked with tape or a piece of wood. Each player needs three darts, although players can share one set of three.

Throwing To See Who Goes First
The game is commonly played with two players, or two teams of players, and each player throws one dart to determine who will take the first turn. The darts are not retrieved until both have thrown. The player whose dart lands the highest score goes first. If it's a tie, players throw again. Players must always stand with both feet behind the toe line, or the throw is not counted. If the dart bounces off the board, it does not count. However, if an electronic dart board is used and the dart bounces off, the score will count if it is registered by the board.

Game Play
On a turn, each player throws three darts in succession. After the darts are thrown, the score is updated, and the darts are retrieved. It's best to look at the dart board when throwing, and don't lean over the toe line. Balance and control are key to aiming well.

The dart board is divided into wedges, with a number assigned to each wedge. If your dart falls in one of the larger portions of the wedge, you earn the number that corresponds with the wedge. The wedges also have narrow bands, one toward the outside of the board and one toward the inside. If your dart falls in the band toward the outside of the board, you earn double the number that corresponds with the wedge. If your dart falls in the band toward the inside of the board, you earn triple the number that corresponds with the wedge. If you land in the outer ring of the bulls eye, you earn 25 points, and hitting the bulls eye itself nets you 50 points.

Games for Beginners
The two most common games are the 501 and the 301 game. The numbers refer to what score is used to start the game. The players start with either 501 or 301 points (depending on the game chosen). A 301 game is shorter than a 501 game. The total of the points thrown in a turn is subtracted from the score. For example, if your dart lands on the bulls eye, you subtract 50 from 501. The first team or player to reach zero points wins the game. The zero must be reached exactly, without going over, in order to win.

Another difference between the 301 and the 501 game is that scoring for the 301 game begins once a player has "doubled." Doubling means the dart has landed in a double-scoring space, including the bullseye. Each player must do this in order to start scoring. This is called "doubling-in." In addition, both games need a double-score to take the score to exactly zero in order to win. This is called "doubling-out."

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