In darts the golden saying applies: Triple is funny, but double makes the money. How true this saying is, especially among professionals, is shown week after week in the big tournaments where a lot of prize money is at stake. The dart checkouts – often referred to as finishes – are therefore an essential part of the tactics in the game of every professional. You see again and again that professionals use the same dart checkout methods to end a leg. We explain why this is the case and which dart checkout methods are particularly popular with professionals in this blog post.
What are checkout methods?
All numbers in the classic darts game 501 Double Out are known as checkout paths and can be brought to zero with three arrows. As soon as this possibility exists, in darts jargon it is called a checkout. As a synonym, there is often talk of a finish that a player leaves behind. A short example that is perfect for clarification.
The highest checkout in darts is exactly 170 points (T20, T20, Bull). The 169, although it is lower, cannot be “checked out” – or brought to zero – by any combination of three fields on the dartboard with a final throw for a double. Down from 170 there are exactly seven of these numbers that cannot be played with three arrows to zero. We're talking about a bogey number here.
Especially for beginners, it is recommended to hang a so-called checkout table next to the dartboard at the beginning. All sensible routes for every checkout below 170 are written down here. In practice, all darts checkout methods can be learned and remembered quite quickly. We have already published a dart checkout table ourselves and it can easily be printed out.
At what point does a professional start to do the math to face a specific dart checkout?
The leg starts at 501 and is played down to zero - at least that's how it is in the PDC in professional darts. Especially when there is a lot of money at stake, it is important to keep every option open to ending a leg. Therefore, the question arises for many players: when do the professionals even start calculating in order to be able to set a finish? The magic limit is 350. With 350 points remaining, players try to get themselves into the best possible starting position to end a leg.
Why the 350? The answer is simple: If you throw the highest possible shot with 350 points remaining and score 180 points, the highest possible checkout ends up being 170. So you keep the option open of ending the game with a 170 finish in the best case scenario. Admittedly, this is relatively unlikely even for professionals, but the following applies: If you don't even have the opportunity, you have no chance of finishing a leg. If you position yourself in such a way that it is mathematically possible to check, your chances increase significantly. Simple probability calculation.
Tact with checkout methods – keep one option open
Triple is funny, but double makes the money.
Darts is also tactics. It's not uncommon for players to be so stuck in the tunnel that they don't do the math and suddenly end up with a bogey number - one of the seven numbers under 170 that can't be checked. Therefore, as already mentioned in the previous chapter, it is particularly important to start calculating early. But that's not all.
Professional players aim to use exactly the same checkout paths as often as possible to achieve a finish. This also means that as a player you should set yourself a checkout in which it is possible, for example, to end the leg with just one hit in the triple field. Here is also an example of what exactly we mean:
- With 130 points remaining, the player still has the opportunity to end the leg with just one triple hit (20, T20, Bull). Even if the optimal path would be T20, T20, D5, the player still has the option of being able to check if he only hits the simple 20 with the first arrow.
- From 131 points onwards, this advantage no longer applies (with the exception of 132). With 131 points, it is already necessary to hit two triple fields in order to end a leg. Therefore, 130 is also a popular limit that you should always keep in mind when it comes to maximizing your chances of checking out a leg.
Which dart checkouts do the professionals face most often – an overview
Below we will take a closer look at a few dart checkouts and explain why professionals keep asking these exact numbers over and over again.
- 170: As the highest finish, it always makes sense to aim for 170 instead of leaving yourself with a bogey number.
- 164: The 164 is so popular because, like the 170, it is possible to end a leg with two hits in the same triple field and the bullseye. For comparison: 167 is considered a much more difficult finish to play as the player has to switch from T20 to T19.
- 150: The 150 can be played in many different ways, which is why it is also considered a popular checkout. Whether completely via the bullseye, via the T20 or via the T19. The number 150 can be played variably.
- 132: The 132 has a very special charm. Ultimately it can be checked without any triples. Two bulls and the D16 at the end bring 132 points to 0. Even if the first arrow lands in the single bull, there is the possibility of checking via T19 and bullseye.
- 124: The 124 is listed here as a placeholder for a whole range of finishes (121-130). These numbers are so popular because it is possible to check them with a triple. Using 124 as an example, it looks like this: The favored path could look like this – T20, T14 D11. If the first dart misses the target, the path changes to 20, T18, Bull. If the second dart misses the target, the path would again be called T20, 14, Bull.
- 64: The 64 is so popular because it can be checked using the numbers 8 and 16, which are known to be next to each other on the board. Be it 16, 16, D16 or 16, 8, D20. A very popular finish for beginners as it forgives a missed throw into the neighboring field.
Why do dart players often face the same checkout paths?
This is about routine. Dart players try to acquire a routine that makes it much easier to play certain ways over and over again. Ultimately it's about safety and trust in your own game. It's not for nothing that many professionals have a favorite double and try to set higher dart checkouts so that they can bring them to zero by throwing on the favorite double field.