How to Play 501 Darts!

How to Play 501 Darts

Introduction to 501 Darts

Darts is a game of precision and skill that has been enjoyed for centuries. Among its various formats, 501 darts stands out as one of the most popular and challenging versions. In this guide, we’ll delve into the intricacies of playing 501 darts, from understanding the rules to mastering techniques and strategies for success.

Understanding the Rules

In 501 darts, the objective is to be the first player or team to reduce their score from 501 to zero. Each player starts with a score of 501 and takes turns throwing three darts at the board, aiming to score points by hitting specific areas.

Scoring Basics: The dartboard is divided into numbered sections, with the outer ring representing double points and the inner ring representing triple points. Players aim to score as many points as possible with each throw, subtracting the total from their starting score.

Starting and Finishing: To begin the game, players must hit a double segment on the board to “open” their scoring. Once they’ve opened, they can then score in any segment. To finish the game, players must reach exactly zero by hitting a double segment with their final dart.

501 dart game dartboaord

Setting Up the Game

Before starting a game of 501 darts, it’s essential to ensure that the dartboard is properly set up and players are positioned correctly.

Dartboard Setup: Hang the dartboard securely on a wall with the bullseye at eye level for the players. Ensure proper lighting to illuminate the board and make it easier to see the scoring segments.

Player Positioning: Players should stand at a consistent distance from the dartboard, typically around 7 feet 9.25 inches. Maintain a comfortable stance with feet shoulder-width apart for stability.

Techniques for Playing 501 Darts

Mastering the fundamental techniques of griping, stance, aim, and throw is crucial for success in 501 darts.

Grip and Stance: Find a grip that feels comfortable and allows for control and consistency in your throws. Experiment with different grips until you find one that works best for you. Maintain a stable stance with your dominant foot forward and your body aligned with the target.

Aim and Throw: Focus your gaze on the target segment you intend to hit and visualize your throw before releasing the dart. Keep your arm straight and follow through with a smooth, controlled motion to ensure accuracy.

Strategies to Win

Developing effective strategies can give you a competitive edge in 501 darts, leading to more consistent scoring and successful finishes.

Consistency in Scoring: Aim for the larger scoring segments, such as the triple 20, to accumulate points quickly and steadily reduce your score. Avoid risky shots that could result in busting, or exceeding your target score.

Effective Finishing: Plan your approach to reaching zero strategically, prioritizing segments that will leave you with a double to finish. Practice different finishing combinations to increase your versatility and confidence in critical moments.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Understanding common pitfalls can help you avoid costly errors and improve your overall performance in 501 darts.

Overthrowing: Trying to throw too hard or too fast can lead to inaccuracies and inconsistency in your throws. Focus on maintaining a smooth, controlled motion for more precise dart placement.

Poor Decision-Making: Rushing your shots or failing to assess the optimal scoring opportunities can result in missed chances and wasted darts. Take your time to evaluate each throw and make strategic decisions based on the current game situation.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in 501 dart game

Practicing to Improve

Consistent practice is essential for honing your skills and becoming a proficient player in 501 darts.

Drill Exercises: Incorporate targeted drills into your practice routine to work on specific aspects of your game, such as accuracy, consistency, and finishing. Practice routines like doubles practice or scoring challenges can help sharpen your skills.

Playing Against Opponents: Engage in friendly matches or join dart leagues to gain valuable experience and test your abilities against different playing styles. Playing against skilled opponents can push you to improve and adapt your strategies.

Etiquette and Sportsmanship

Maintaining proper etiquette and sportsmanship is integral to fostering a positive and enjoyable darts-playing environment.

Respect for Opponents: Treat your opponents with respect and courtesy, regardless of the outcome of the game. Congratulate them on good shots and conduct yourself graciously, win or lose.

Proper Conduct During the Game: Avoid distractions and refrain from disruptive behavior while others are throwing. Wait for your turn patiently and refrain from coaching or offering unsolicited advice to other players.

Benefits of Playing 501 Darts

Beyond the enjoyment of the game itself, playing 501 darts offers numerous physical and mental benefits.

Physical Exercise: Engaging in dart throwing requires hand-eye coordination, muscle control, and precision, providing a form of low-impact exercise that can improve dexterity and coordination over time.

Mental Focus: Concentrating on hitting specific targets and calculating scores sharpens mental acuity and improves cognitive skills such as focus, concentration, and strategic thinking. (Learn Best Different types of Dart Games.)


Playing 501 darts is not just a recreational pastime but also a challenging and rewarding pursuit that offers physical, mental, and social benefits. By understanding the rules, mastering techniques, and employing effective strategies, players can enhance their skills and enjoyment of the game while fostering a spirit of camaraderie and sportsmanship.


1. Is it necessary to hit a double to start scoring in 501 darts?
  • Yes, hitting a double is a prerequisite to opening your scoring in 501 darts. It adds an element of skill and strategy to the game, requiring players to aim precisely from the outset.
2. What happens if a player’s score goes below zero in 501 darts?
  • If a player’s score goes below zero, they are said to have “busted,” and their turn ends with no points scored. The player’s score remains the same as it was before the bust, and they must try again on their next turn.
3. What is the significance of the bullseye in 501 darts?
  • The bullseye, located at the center of the dartboard, holds special significance in 501 darts. Hitting the inner bullseye (worth 50 points) or the outer bullseye (worth 25 points) can greatly impact a player’s score and strategy.
4. Can players switch between different scoring segments during their turn in 501 darts?
  • Yes, players have the freedom to target different scoring segments on the dartboard during their turn in 501 darts. They can strategically aim for areas that will maximize their points and bring them closer to reaching zero.
5. Are there any specific rules regarding the order of play in 501 darts?
  • In 501 darts, players typically take turns throwing three darts each, alternating between players or teams. There are no strict rules regarding the order of play, as long as players adhere to the basic principles of fair competition and sportsmanship.

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