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The most important dart rules: Dimensions, distance, height & darts games

Dart player throws at dartboard

Table of contents

Alex Krist
Alex Krist

Always at the start with the hottest darts news!

Although more and more people in Germany are taking up darts, the exact rules of darts are still unclear to many. Today we explain to you briefly and succinctly what exactly it's all about when playing darts and what you have to pay attention to. The sport of darts has a very long history, dating back to the Middle Ages in England, and accordingly the rules of darts have often been changed. Today's dart rules - as we all know them - got their origin at the beginning of this century. The five most important points up front:
  • Each player has three arrows in hand and therefore also three throws
  • Only arrows that are still stuck in the board after the last of the three throws are scored 
  • Most tournaments count backwards from 501 or 301 points
  • The goal of the players is to get to the score of zero as quickly as possible
  • The professionals usually play with "double out", for beginners we recommend the variant "straight out" (no matter how to get to zero)

Game preparation: dartboard, distance, height & dimensions

In order to be able to throw the first darts and start the game, certain preparations must be made. There are some dart rules and dart dimensions to consider.

Dartboard with Dart Surround


First of all, we will deal with the dartboard or dartboard on which the darts are thrown. It doesn't matter if you throw on an electronic dartboard (like the CB 90) or a classic dartboard (like the Blade5).

All dartboards are divided into 20 segments of equal size, which are assigned to the numbers 1-20. The numbers are mixed up, so that mostly large and small numbers alternately follow each other. The 20 as the highest value is always at the top in the middle.

All segments are crossed by two narrow rings. The outer of the two rings is the so-called double segment and surrounds the target at its outer edge. A hit in the double segment doubles the value of the respective segment. Towards the inside of the disc, a small ring passes through the disc. Here we speak of the so-called triple segment, which triples the value. The maximum number of points per throw is therefore the triple-20, i.e. 60 points.

In the center of the dartboard there are also two other fields: The green Single Bull (counts 25 points) and the red Bull's Eye (counts 50 points). The Bull's Eye has a diameter of 1.27 centimeters, the Single Bull of 3.18 centimeters.

The other dartboard dimensions are as follows. The value area of the disc, that is, the area encompassed by the double ring has a diameter of 34 centimeters. The entire disc, on the other hand, has a diameter of 45.1 centimeters.


Dartboards at Darts World Cup

Distance and height

After we have familiarized ourselves with the scoring system on the dartboard, let's take a look at the dimensions and spacing of darts. These have changed a lot in recent years, especially for e-darts (=playing on an electronic dartboard), so that now almost uniform rules apply to the entire sport of darts.

Only the dartboard height is different: The classic dartboard is mounted on the wall so that the bulls-eye hangs at a height of 1.73 meters. With e-darts, the dartboard height is 1.72 meters.

We especially recommend protecting the wall behind the dartboard as well as the floor inside the playing zone. This is especially true when playing with stone darts - i.e. darts that have an iron tip. For this purpose there are ready-made back walls for the dartboards, so-called surrounds, as you can see them e.g. also in use at the World Championship.

Now we come to the dart distance: The distance from the front of the dartboard to the drop line - also called oche - is uniform for all variants 2.37 meters. It is advisable to play with fixed drop marks to maintain the dart distance. This way no player can overstep. Meanwhile, there are even specially produced dart mats or small lasers that project a drop line at the touch of a button.

Hang dartboard correctly


Now that the dartboard is hanging in the right place, all we have to worry about is getting the right darts. Buying perfect darts is initially a science in itself, especially for beginners and newcomers to the sport of darts. Since the weight of the darts is very important, we have taken care of this topic in a separate blog article.

Only the following general conditions apply: In steel-dart tournaments, only darts with a maximum length of 30.5 centimeters and a maximum weight of 50 grams may be used. In e-dart tournaments, where the players aim at an electronic dartboard, the soft darts may be a maximum of 16.8 centimeters long and 20 grams in weight, depending on the dart machine.

Now that all the preparations have been made, we can finally start throwing darts: Game On!

Darts rules at a glance

Gameplay: Basic dart rules, game mode, arithmetic.

Now let's start with the basic rules of darts. As mentioned above, each player must stand behind the oche, i.e. the drop line, when throwing. If the player is standing far to the right or left of the line, the stance must be behind an imaginary extension of the oche. When throwing, at least 1 leg of the player must always touch the ground.

Each player has three darts in his hand at the beginning and therefore also three throws for each shot. However, the darts must of course be thrown onto the target individually and in immediate succession. In theory, each player has a maximum of one minute for a throw, i.e. he may take a maximum of three minutes for each shot (=three throws). In practice, however, this time is usually never exhausted; most players need a maximum of 30 seconds for their shot.

Any dart that falls or bounces off the board will not be scored. Only darts that are still stuck in the board after the last of the three throws will be scored. The darts must be pulled out of the board after the score has been registered and announced by the referee. To prevent these bouncers, steel tips with a grippy surface are especially helpful.

Sometimes it even happens that a player aims so accurately that he throws his dart into an already stuck dart. This is known as a "Robin Hood". Although this throw looks very spectacular, only the one dart that is stuck in the board counts.

Shanghai dart game

Game mode

Now that we have familiarized ourselves with basic procedures, let's move on to the most common game mode. Depending on the tournament mode, it is mainly 501, 301 or Cricket that is played. The classic among the dart games is 501 Double Out.

Here, an initial value of 501 points per run (=leg) applies. The goal is now to reduce the score from 501 to exactly zero as quickly as possible. The players take turns throwing three darts. The points of the squares hit by the player are deducted from the remaining score. The player who can play his score to zero first wins the leg.

To end the game or get to exactly zero points, this must be done via a roll on a double field (outer ring) or the Bulls Eye. For example, if there are 40 points left, the player can use the double 20 (=D20) field to win the round. The highest possible score you can check (throw to zero) with three darts is 170 points. For many starting scores there are different ways to throw to zero. Therefore, there are so-called checkout tables where you can quickly look up which squares you need to win.

If the player scores a higher number of points than necessary, he has overthrown. This is considered a "no score": The shot is therefore not scored and it is the opponent's turn again. If it is now the turn of the player who overthrew again, he starts again with his initial score before his last throw.


To prevent this, it is very important to master the basics of arithmetic, especially in the 501 Double Out game mode. Most players will probably remember the small 1×1 from dark math lessons, but at the latest with the big 1×1 the fun stops. The correct and fast calculation can be just as important as mastering the rules of darts.

At big dart tournaments on the worldwide stages of the PDC (=Professional Darts Corporation) and the BDO (=British Darts Organization) the game is played with so-called callers. A caller calculates the score of the shot in a fraction of a second and then announces it loudly to the audience. The legendary "onehundredandeightyyyy" announcements at the World Darts Championship in Alexandra Palace are probably present in every ear of a darts fan.

But not all of us have the skills of a caller. Until you are able not only to add up the shot (the three darts thrown) in a few seconds, but also to subtract the rest from the 501 Double Out, for example - that definitely takes a long time.

Darts rest points bill

Calculation aids

For newcomers to the sport, it is essential to finish the throw first, then add up. Otherwise, unfortunately, you will quickly lose concentration. The easiest way to start is to use a pen and a piece of paper. Write 501 as the starting value on top and subtract the thrown points round by round. It makes sense to do this like in school: first the ONE, then the TEN!
If, for example, the starting value is 501, and you throw 26 points (this could happen more often at the beginning), you first subtract six points and get 495 points left over. Then you subtract the remaining 20 points and finally get 475 points.

Even though it might be a bit tedious at the beginning, you should be aware that the players on TV and also all other experienced dart players often don't calculate consciously anymore. Through years of practice they have practically all the subtractions of the most frequently thrown combinations in their heads!
But even for the very lazy calculators among us we have a solution ready: The Dartcounter App! All you have to do is add up your three hits and enter them into the app. The app will then automatically subtract your points from your current score and will also display possible checkout options in the finish area (see table above). You can find everything else here.

More Darts Games: "Straight Out", "Double In", "Around the Clock" & Co.

Especially when starting out in the sport of darts, the 501 D.O. game mode can cause boredom relatively quickly. Especially the attempt to finish the game with a double is often very tedious at the beginning and quickly leads to resignation.

Straight Out

The variant to end the game with "Double Out" is the most popular among experienced dart players and through the TV also the best known variant, but there are also numerous other possibilities. As explained before, to finish a round of darts you need to hit the double ring. In addition, there is also the version "Master Out": Here the game may be ended with a "Triple" throw or a "Double" throw. In the "Straight Out" version, any square may be thrown to end the game, as long as it brings the player to zero points. For beginners it is recommended to start with this variant and later adapt the game to the correct dart rules.


However, there are also variations of the game where you have to hit a given square at the beginning of the game. In the "Double In" game, you have to hit any double field before you can start counting down the points. The thrown "Double" is deducted from the score. In "Triple In", on the other hand, you have to start by hitting a triple field, and only then do the points you hit (including the triple you threw) count.

Darts finish on dartboard

Around the Clock & many more

In addition, there are many other game modes on the dartboard. These include well-known dart games like "Cricket" or "Around the Clock", which can be found on every standardized dart machine. Especially the game "Around the Clock" is well suited for beginners, because there the accuracy on individual segments of the dartboard is increased.

The aim of the game is to hit all the numbers once, one after the other, in a clockwise direction, starting with "1". The winner is the first player to hit the "20". It is irrelevant whether the player hits a single, double or triple segment. After the segment "1" has been hit, the next dart is immediately aimed at the "18", then at the "4" and so on. There are also countless variations of this game, e.g. also with bull or hitting the numbers from 1 - 20 in numerical order, i.e. first the "1", then the "2", the "3", etc.

In addition, there are other more exotic dart games, such as "Darts Match 4" or "Darts Yahtzee". For this we have written a separate article, in which we introduce and explain five hot darts minigames. Also in our Youtube channel you can find presentations of different game variants, training tips, more darts rules and much more.

4 responses

  1. Hello,

    we are "arguing" right now: Does the double in count as a regular in?



    1. Hello Kami,
      Yes the bullseye (the inner red circle) also counts as a regular double in double-in mode.

      However, professional dart players rarely throw on the bullseye in double-in mode. With 50 points it is the double field with the biggest value, but the area is much smaller than the "normal" double fields on the outer ring. Furthermore, the players are more accustomed to the outer ring, because they practice it more often and also use it more when making out.

      Kind regards,
      Your myDartpfeil Team

  2. Is it allowed to run forward on the last throw ?

    I don't know exactly how to explain it
    Person X runs towards the target while throwing the dart.

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