What Is Your Favorite Darts Game?

Throwing arrows at a round board on the wall, sounds dangerous. It is not dangerous at all if played responsibly, but it is popular. A game of darts go hand in hand with a drink in the bar. It is one of the most popular bar games in the world.

It is such a popular game, it is played professionally and watched by many fans on TV. The professionals play just one game, but there are many others to enjoy. This is what makes it such a great game to include at your home bar. A perfect evening has to be a few drinks with friends at your home bar and a game of darts.

But which game?

What Is Your Favorite Darts Game?

A top favorite darts game has to be Cricket, a great game. Then you have the 501 game played by the professionals. We can’t forget Killer, Shanghai or Knockout though. Around the clock, a great beginners game, and a good game for practicing darts has to be up there as a favorite.

Home Bar Darts

Every home bar or games room should have a dartboard, just like it should have a pool table. A pool table is not always possible if space is tight. A dartboard though can fit into a tighter space, although you do need a little room while playing, it can pack away out of sight.

For more great game ideas read Home Bar Games – The Fun Bar

We all love a target and we all love to hit that target, this is why darts is such a popular game. Include a dartboard in your home bar set up and you will always have a game to play. It is a versatile game that can be played alone, against one other player or against many players.

This is a game that needs no experience, you can put up a dartboard and start throwing darts straight away. The more you play, the better you will become. The best game to start off as a beginner is around the clock, it’s good for practice too.

Around The Clock

Around The Clock

Anyone that has played darts or has their own board has played this game, even the professionals. It is probably the most straightforward darts game there is.

How To Play Around The Clock

It does not get any easier than this darts game. The aim is to go around the clock of the darts board from number 1 to number 20.

  • Hit number 1 and you’re off.
  • Continue to hit each number in turn 2,3,4,5,6 and so on.
  • When you hit number 20 you have finish.

There are a few variations of this game, one being to finish on the bulls eye. This is how I have always played this game. Once you have hit 20, then hit the outer bulls eye, followed by the center bulls eye. Another variation is to hit each part of every number. Hit any part of number 1, then the double 1, then the triple 1, then go on to number 2 and so on.

This game can be played with any number of players, and is more of a race than a scoring game. First to reach the 20 or bulls eye wins.

This game can also be played on your own. You can beat your previous time or by the amount of darts you finished the game in. This is what makes it such a great game to practice your darts. You have to be accurate, if you hit another number it does not count and can’t be added to your score, like other games.

Around The Clock is a great all-rounder that doesn’t take much thinking, and no math. It’s just great fun.



A favorite for many dart lovers, this game requires two players, or two teams of players. It is played with the numbers 20,19,18,17,16,15 and the bulls eye. The game does carry score throughout, although if you want you can just play the numbers without scoring points.

How To Play Darts Cricket

  • The object of the game is to hit each number 3 times to own it or close it out.
  • You can hit any of the numbers in play and score, they don’t have to be done in any order.
  • An example is – The first time you hit 19 you will score 19 points and a / is put next to the number. When you hit 19 again a \ is put through the / to make an X and another 19 points is scored. A third hit on 19 gives you 0 around the X and another 19 points scored.
  • You now own this number and every time you hit it you will score 19 points.
  • Once your opponent hits the 19 three times it is closed out, and no one can score on this number again.
  • This happens with all the numbers and the bulls eye.
  • If you hit a single number it counts as one hit. The double counts as two hits, and the triple as three hits.
  • The outer bulls eye counts as one hit and scores 25 points. The inner bulls eye counts as a double, so two hits and scores 50 points.
  • The winner is the player that closes all the numbers first and has the highest score.

It is a great game of skill, and one where you can rack up a lot of points, if you own a number for some time. A perfect darts game to enjoy with friends and a drink at your home bar.

The 501 Game

The 501 Game

This is another popular darts game and loved by many, it is also the game that is played by the professionals. Instead of racking up scores to win, in 501 you are eating away at that number down to zero. Normally played with two players or teams, but can be played with more. You start with 501 points and each point you score comes off of that total.

To win you will need to finish on a double, so if you have 12 points left a double 6 will get you out. A 13 would be a 1 followed by double 6. Another popular version of this game is 301, which is normally a quicker game.

How To Play 501

  • Each player starts with 501 points.
  • You throw 3 darts to achieve the highest score possible (3 treble 20s will score you 180).
  • The points you score with your 3 darts are deducted from your total. (180 scored would leave 321).
  • When you have a score low enough to finish on a double (50 being the highest to finish would be a bulls eye, and 40 a double 20).
  • The winner is the first player to eliminate all their 501 points by finishing on a double.

If you have 10 points left, you will need to throw a double 5 to win. But, miss and hit a 15 which is next to the 10 and you bust, and have to try again on your next throw. Hit the 5 which is the other side of the 10, and you will then have to hit a 1 and double 2 to finish.

The numbers 20 and 19 are the most targeted numbers, especially by professional because they have the highest impact on reducing the points. You will need to be good at math, or have a calculator handy to deduct the points. The rules are simple and it is a great game to play. No wonder it’s a favorite darts game.

Killer Darts

Killer Darts

A great game of elimination, kill off your opponents one by one. You need the killer instinct for this game, not really, you just have to be a good shot. Only the doubles are used for killer, which makes it that much harder to win.

There is no scoring in this game, just hit your own number and you are in. Then you can start to kill off your opponents (not literally) one by one. Each player has three lives. Remember, just as you are trying to kill your fellow players, they are trying to bump you off too.

Your number is determined by a throw with the non dart playing hand. If you hit a number already taken, then you throw again until you hit a number not taken.

How To Play Killer Darts

  • Each player throws a dart at the board using their non darts playing hand. This determines their killer number.
  • Each player will throw to hit their own killer number, it must be a double.
  • When you have hit the double of your number, you become a killer.
  • A killer will throw to hit the double of one of their opponents number.
  • Once your number has been hit three times, you are out ( or dead, so to speak).
  • The winner is the player left wilt one or more lives.

It’s not a violent game, but it is a good game and a race against time to kill off your fellow players. One point I nearly forgot to mention is that you can kill yourself off, so be careful. If you hit your own number in the double, you will lose a life, so avoid your own number.


Shanghai Darts

This is a favorite for good reason, it is unpredictable, but a lot of fun. You can play with any number of players, and it really is any ones game. There are 20 rounds to this game, each number on the dart board will be a different round. Starting with the number one, each player will score as many 1s as possible, 9 being the highest score. This is three darts in the treble 1, if you miss 1, then the score will be zero.

Number 2 will be the second round, all players will score as many points from number 2 as possible. The highest score is 18 by hitting three trebles. The scoring becomes more important as the rounds go on. Round 20 has the highest score of 180 with three trebles.

The twist to this game is the Shanghai element, and it can come from the player trailing behind. Hit a single, double and treble of the number in play and bingo you have cleaned up and won the game.

How To Play Shanghai Darts

Determine the order of play, by throwing nearest to the bull, or tossing a coin, you decide.

In order of players, throw to hit the number 1 with your three darts, then tot up the score.

When all players have completed their throws at number 1, continue to round two and throw for the number 2.

Repeat this all the way round to round twenty.

If a player manages to hit a Shanghai then they win, if not the player with the highest score wins.

A truly brilliant game, and shanghai happens more than you may think. That’s because I am a great player, Just kidding 🙂

This is worth playing if you have missed out on it up to now. Make it a priority at your next home bar gathering.

The Dartboard

The dartboard is the biggest part of the game darts, there are many available, but some do stand out from the crowd. A good quality board is worth the investment and will serve you for years. Here are a few quality boards to consider when you are on the hunt for your dartboard.

Winmau Blade 5 Dartboard

Winmau are a well-known make that have been used in the professional game over the years. The 5 Blade version has thinner wire, giving a higher scoring potential. The wire has a sharper angle too, this helps deflect a dart into the scoring area. It has a triple lock and level system which stops movement of the board once in place.

Easy to set up and a joy to play on too. The Wimau Blade 5 Dartboard.

Unicorn Eclipse HD2 Pro Dartboard

This is another brand that has been used on the professional championship circuit, It is similar to the spec of the Winmau. It has the thinner wire which is staple free. A unilock leveling system makes sure you can get the board ultra level for accurate darts throwing. Apparently the only board approved by the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC).

A professional home bar set up The Unicorn HD2 Pro Dartboard

Viper Shot King Dartboard

This board is a good all rounder, great quality with two sets of darts included. It has compressed sisal fibers which heal over time, to keep the surface in good condition. It includes easy to mount hardware and a measuring tape to get the right set up. The Viper Shot King is a good starter board, so if you are buying your first board, then this one is a good option.

A great first time set up The Viper Shot King Dartboard

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of dart games to be played and you should try them all over time, even make up your own. The ones I have included above are some of the most popular games. These are the ones that you should definitely play with your family and friends.

My personal favorite is the 501 game, probably because it is the first game I played. I have played this game the most, but I do love killer and shanghai too. If you don’t have darts as part of your home bar set up, now is the time to put that right. Choose your dartboard and darts, then get playing, use Around The Clock game to practice.

Once you start improving, invite your friends round and challenge them to one of the games mentioned. Let me know what your favorite darts game is by sharing your thought below. Happy darts throwing 🙂

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