How To Play 301 Darts
Darts is very versatile in the sense that there are a whole bunch of different games and rules available to keep you entertained, with 301 being a very common game that is usually played casually amongst friends, and also incredibly popular within the competitive scene.
With that in mind, we've put together a handy guide on the ruleset and how to play 301 darts.
What is 301 in Darts?
301 darts is a fairly simple concept. You start with a score of 301, and the goal is to work your way down to zero. You may also hear of people playing '501' and '801', which are the same games in principle, but starting with a higher score.
301 is often the most commonly played of the group, with it being the shortest game respectively.
Before beginning, you must first determine who goes first. Feel free to either flip or a coin, or go with the more traditionally used method of 'closest to bull'.
Rules & Scoring of 301 Darts
301 darts can be played in a 1v1 scenario, or within a group, and each player shall take turns in throwing three darts each.
To begin scoring, you must start your game by hitting a double on the board. The same rule also applies to win the game, with your final dart having to be a double in order to win the game.
'Hitting a double' consists of hitting the outer-side of the board, or a double-bull. Once you have hit your first double, you can remove the scoring from your points, and begin hitting any numbers on the board to further reduce your score.
When you have reached a low enough score to be able to finish on a double, then you must also finish your scoring the same way you started. If you reach a score of 1, or your score goes below zero, then you will bust and your turn shall finish. You must then pick up from the same score on your next turn and repeat the process until one player eventually checks out on a double.
Tips & Tricks
While there is never a simple magic trick that will help you win in darts, there are a few little tricks you can try to help improve your game and allow for more efficient scoring.
- 'Double in' as quick as possible.
The quicker you get yourself started on the board by doubling in, the more pressure your opponent has to get themselves on the board and catch up with you.
This means that you should not necessarily aim for the highest scoring options such as double 20, but rather aiming for any double on the board just to get yourself started.
Aiming for a number that will allow your dart to drop-down into a number below if your target is missed can significantly improve your chances.
- Avoid taking unnecessary risks and going 'bust'.
Going 'bust' is the term used when over-scoring (going below zero) or landing on 1, as this means you cannot finish on a double.
For example: If you have a score of 50 remaining, you may find the better choice to be to aim for a single 10 and then finishing on a double 20, as this allows for you to potentially miss and only score 20, still leaving you with further options to still finish on a double (double 15 in this scenario).
- Get used to 'doubling out'.
As with starting the game, you must also finish on a double in 301 darts. Many pros will begin a game of 301 darts with a plan already in place on how they plan on doubling out, often aiming towards a 3-dart or 2-dart double-out.
There are hundreds of ways to plan towards this. By no means are you expected to memorize all of these, but keeping track of numbers that you commonly find yourself landing on can really help to improve your doubling out game.
For example, if you were to find yourself frequently winding up with a score of 87 remaining, then remembering that you can double-out with a treble 17 and double 18 could quite easily secure you a couple more wins than you would usually expect.
Of course it's not as easy as simply doubling out like this every time, but it always helps to know what to aim for, and practice makes perfect!
You can download this handy chart below to keep near your dart board when you're playing 301 darts so that you can easily refer to the scoring needed to double out. Within time you'll find that you start to naturally remember the required scores.