When you think about darts, you probably squirm at the memory of the holes you put in your parents’ basement wall as a kid. Or maybe you recall that time you were completely wasted at the bar with your buddies and still managed to miraculously achieve that perfect throw.
Regardless, darts is a serious professional sport. And while it is a more “obscure” sport to wager on than basketball, football, or the other major sports, it is one that a lot of Online Sportsbooks offer.
In this guide, we will tell you everything you need to know to start betting on darts. We will explore professional darts events you can bet on, types of wagers you can make, basic strategies, and where to bet on sports now. Let’s begin.
Darts as a Professional Sport
Most of us only have casual experiences playing darts. That means you may have played a wide variety of darts games, and even used different types of boards.
Professional sports is standardized. The Darts Regulation Authority sets rules for the sport, as does the World Darts Federation (WDF). For a board to be an acceptable regulation darts board, it must measure 451 mm (17 3⁄4 in) in diameter under the rules set by that organization. A web of metal wire or sheet metal bands splits this surface up into 20 radial sections. Under WDF rules, the dartboard must also be hunt at a specific height and distance from players.
From the floor to the center of the bull’s eye, there must be a height of 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in). If a person is standing across from the dartboard at this height and their own height is six feet tall, the bull’s eye should be roughly at the level of their eyes.
The line that throwers stand behind is called the “oche.” Measuring from the face of the board, the distance to the oche must be 2.37 m (7 ft 9 1 ⁄ 4 in). As discussed previously, the dartboard is split into 20 radial sections. These have scores of 1-20. Each radial section is subdivided for single, double, and treble scoring.
In the center of the dartboard is the bull’s eye. It has an inner and outer ring. The outer ring is worth 25 points and the inner ring is worth 50 points.
Multiple variations and formats of darts games exist.
The most common form of darts you will see in professional tournaments is called “501,” or sometimes “’01.”
In this game type. players start with a fixed score of 501. As they hit segments on the dartboard, points are subtracted accordingly, bringing them closer to zero with each player’s turn involves throwing three darts.
It gets especially tricky as one approaches zero, because if a player does not “check out” according to the rules, their score resets to what it was prior to the start of the turn. They also forfeit what was left of that turn. Generally, to “check out,” a player must strike either a double or the bullseye to get to zero.
Wondering who shoots first in a darts match? There is a coin toss to make this determination in some cases. In others, the players both shoot for the bull’s eye, and whoever gets closest gets to take the first official shot in the match. Note that while 501 is the most popular competition format, you may also encounter other darts formats in professional matches. Some examples include 301, 701, 801, and 1,001.
Different leagues may have different rules variations on starting matches and checking out even for the same format of game. A lot of these variations are regional, so, before you wager on any professional darts event, you should always do a little research to make sure you are familiar with the format being played and the exact rules variations that apply. Also, note that there are many other types of darts games that you might encounter in a pub setting that you are not likely to encounter in a professional environment.
Is Darts a Sport? Or Is it a Game?
A lot of people think of darts as a game, and some may balk at the notion of calling it a sport.
You may be familiar with this attitude with respect to sports like billiards. It seems that if one can play a particular sport inside the confines of a bar, someone will always question whether it counts.
In our opinion, yes, darts is absolutely a sport.
What makes darts a sport and not “just a game?”
Cambridge defines “sport” according: “A game, competition, or activity needing physical effort and skill that is played or done according to rules, for enjoyment and/or as a job.”
That is just one definition, but most others are fairly similar. Clearly, professional darts is played according to rules. Darts can be played for enjoyment or for money.
Does playing darts involve physical effort and skill?
Just because you are not running around a track or field or court when playing darts does not mean that you are not exerting physical effort. Playing darts requires:
- Motor skills
- Cognitive function
All of these are aspects of athleticism, and challenging skills to develop. So, even though playing darts involves standing in place behind a line and not running around, it still requires the physical effort and skill needed to call it a sport.
Reasons to Bet on Darts
We have established that professional darts is a sport, and you now know a little bit about formats and variations of this game. But if you have never watched or bet on darts before, you might wonder what makes this sport an appealing one to follow. Here are some reasons to think about giving betting on darts a try.
- You can learn about darts firsthand. You can play most sports firsthand to learn about them, but it isn’t easy or convenient to try and regularly get a bunch of people together to play baseball or basketball, is it? But if you want to play darts, all you need is a dartboard. You don’t need to even compete against other players to understand the skills and strategy involved with this sport. Are you need to do is compete against yourself. Doing so will give you valuable insights as you are wagering.
- Once you have tried darts yourself, you’ll appreciate the skill involved. Darts is a sport that can be really fun to watch, but it can be hard for those who have not played the game to really understand what they are watching. If you try darts though, you will grasp what goes into a successful match, and you will be in awe of the abilities of darts professionals.
- You can bet on the underdog for a nice payoff. With a lot of darts matches, there is an obvious favorite and a clear underdog. What this can make it difficult to find value if you want to bet on the favorite, it can sometimes make it easy to find value if you want to back the underdog.
- Close matches can be very entertaining. Although many darts matches feature a clear favorite up against an underdog, sometimes, there are matches where you have two opponents who are relatively evenly matched. These matches can be very intense. Watching them can be exhilarating in and of itself, but betting on them makes them even more exciting.
- You may find some nice odds. Sportsbooks tend to put the most time and effort into coming up with odds for major sports. They have fewer resources to dedicate to coming up with odds for minor sports such as darts. So, betting on sports like these offers you opportunities to be more competitive with the bookies, potentially finding an edge that they do not.
- Darts is easy to follow. Although there is a lot of weird terminology in the darts world (more on that later), it is pretty easy to pick up on the basics just by watching a match. So, if you want to learn about a sport rapidly, darts is a good option.
Top Darts Sporting Events
Excited to bet on darts, but not sure what events to watch and wager on? Let’s talk about some of the most important darts events that take place during the year.
Most of the big darts events that take place are organized by the Professional Darts Corporation, or PDC. This organization is based in the United Kingdom and came into being in 1992. In the past, it was known by a different name, the World Darts Council, or WDC. Some of the key events that the PDC organizes include the following ranked tournaments:
- The PDC World Darts Championship:
- The World Matchplay:
- UK Open:
- World Grand Prix:
- Grand Slam:
Among the most iconic darts events each year is the World Darts Championship, which begins as December nears its close and finishes early in January. The first of these championships took place in 1994. What is fascinating is that despite running so many years, the entire collection of winners in this tournament comprises ten people. Indeed, if there is one professional darts player you can name, it is likely the championship’s top winner, Phil Taylor. Taylor has competed in the PDC World Darts Championship 25 times. 14 of those times, he won.
This popular event brings large crowds of spectators to Blackpool. Phil Taylor has dominated this event as well, winning 16 times, including his first 15 appearances back to back.
Guess who the top winner is for the UK Open, another major PDC event? That’s right. Once again, the answer is Phil Taylor, with 5 wins. You may sometimes hear someone refer to the UK Open as the “FA Cup of Darts.” But “UK Open” is its official name.
This event began running in 1998, and replaced an event known as the “World Pairs” that used to exist. Short opening rounds are the distinctive feature that defines the format for this event. Phil Taylor is the event’s top winner with 11 wins under his belt.
The first Grand Slam took place in 2007, and is a combined PDC and BDO event. Phil Taylor is the top contestant with 6 wins so far.
The PDC also runs the following non-ranked tournaments:
- The Masters:
- The Champions League of Darts:
- The World Cup of Darts:
- The World Series of Darts:
The top 24 players as ranked by the PDC Order of Merit participate in this tournament. The event has taken place since 2013, and happens in January/February of each year.
The top 8 players in the PDC participate in this annual competition, which takes place over a period of two days. It features a group and knockout format. One noteworthy feature of this competition is that
there are two cash prize pools. One goes to the players, while the other goes to the audience if there is a nine-dart finish. Worth £100,00, it might be the largest such prize available in any sporting event.
This tournament is a bit different from most others in that teams with two players on each face off against each other rather than two individual players.
This tournament series started in 2013. Some years, the series has consisted of only two tournaments. On other years, it has involved up to seven. Top PDC players take place in the World Series of Darts, but local qualifiers also are able to participate.
These major events should keep you pretty busy betting on darts, but you will find other darts competitions you can wager on as well.
Types of Bets You Can Place on Darts
Now you are familiar with major competitions in the world of professional darts. That may leave you wondering, what types of bets can you place on darts?
- Outright: Who do you expect to win an upcoming tournament? Betting on the winner for the full tournament (not just one match) is an outright wager.
- Match winner: If you just want to bet on the winner of a specific match, that is a “match winner” wager.
- Correct score: What will the final score be at the end of a match? You can bet on it with a “correct score” or “exact score” bet. This is not an easy type of wager to win, but the payouts can be spectacular.
- Over/under: Wager on whether the number of legs will be over or under a certain amount, or do the same with the match score.
- Futures: If you want to bet on a darts match or tournament that will take place later down the road, you can make a futures wager.
- In-play bets: As you watch a darts match live, you can make in-play bets. This can be very exciting, especially if it is a close match.
- First dart score: This type of wager is a bet on the initial score the first player will make with their first throw.
- Highest checkout: What will the highest checkout be during an event? Place your wager and find out if you are right.
- 180 in the first leg: This is a “yes” or “no” wager on whether or not a 180 will be scored during the first leg.
- Most 180s: Which player will get the most 180s? Place your wager.
- Additional prop bets: Some sports betting sites may offer additional prop bets.
Darts Betting Strategies
Considering how often Phil Taylor wins at professional darts competitions, we would be only half-joking to suggest that your darts betting strategy be, “Just wager on Phil Taylor.” But you might not find favorable odds if that is your strategy, because the expectation so often is that he will win!
Here are some general recommendations for how to approach betting on darts:
- Always check the format of the tournament you are betting on.
- Look up statistics for participants.
- Read up on the participants.
- Pay attention to injuries.
- Look for opportunities to back the underdog.
- Consider building some accumulators.
- Futures bets may also work out for you.
Always, always, make sure you understand the specific rules of any game you’re going to wager on.
These will give you an idea for what types of throws they excel at. You also can take a look at head-to-head data.
You may be amazed at what you can learn about their personalities and mindsets.
You might not think those would be as crucial with a sport where players stand behind a line as they would be in a game like football or basketball, but you would be wrong. Even a minor injury might have a major impact on a player’s throw since so much precision is required.
When there is a heavy favorite, you will find incredible value if you know something the bookies don’t. Just remember that you should always have a researched, well-informed reason to back an underdog. Wishful thinking won’t pay off, at least not with consistency.
Darts is a great sport for accumulator wagers. In fact, this can be a good strategy if you want to bet on heavy favorites but cannot find decent odds with straight bets. With a parlay or teaser, you can get a better payout. Just don’t forget that even if all your selections are favorites, it can be a challenge to win. Flukes happen, and even the most “predictable” matches often turn out very differently than you expect.
If you are betting on an event that is going to take place months from now, you may get better odds even if you are wagering on a favorite.
Where to Bet on Darts
We have now gone over types of bets, strategies, and much more regarding darts. After this section, we will include a brief glossary.
Below, you can read up on our recommended sports betting sites for darts. If you scroll down below these overviews, you can review a glossary of some key terms that are helpful to know when you are following darts events and placing your wagers.
BetOnline and SportsBetting
If we had to pick an absolute favorite sportsbook, it would probably be Bovada. This is probably the most famous US-facing sportsbook online. And there is a good reason why that is the case—a lot of good reasons, actually. It is hard to beat Bovada for transparency, integrity, fairness, reliability, and betting markets.
Darts is one of the numerous sports Bovada takes wagers on. At the time of this writing, we are seeing action on the England – PDC UK Open. Types of bets we see available include straight bets, futures bets, and live bets.
We don’t see any special promotions aimed at darts players specifically—but we wouldn’t expect to, given that it is not one of the major sports. But you can take advantage of the $250 sports welcome bonus when you sign up for an account, or the $750 bitcoin sports bonus when you make your first crypto deposit.
Bovada also offers a generous rewards program to loyal punters. As you bet on darts and other sports, you earn points that you can redeem for cash-back rewards. As you climb the tiers of the program, the redemption rate improves.
Two other sportsbooks we like that offer darts betting are Sportsbetting and BetOnline.
Why are we mentioning them both together? Because they are both run by the same company. We were fans of BetOnline already when they purchased Sportsbetting back in 2012. That seems like forever ago now! These sister sites are very similar in terms of what they offer, so it usually makes sense to discuss both of them at the same time.
Both of these websites offer betting on darts. But at the moment, they do not have any darts wagers available, so we cannot offer specifics about what types of events and bets they accept. But we can tell you that you will find competitive odds on either site along with great bonuses, fast and easy deposits and withdrawals, and great customer service.
We suggest you sign up for both sites, because then you can grab the bonuses at each. If you deposit using a regular fiat currency (i.e. USD), you can snag a 50% welcome bonus up to $1,000 on both sites. You can then claim 25% sports reload bonuses on your future deposits.
Both sites also offer identical bonuses for crypto bettors. You can get a 100% match on your first crypto deposit, and 35% reload bonuses on subsequent crypto deposits.
Speaking of crypto betting, if you are looking for a site where you can wager on darts that is aimed specifically at crypto gamblers, you will want to check out Cloudbet. This site keeps all customer funds in cold storage, ensuring that your cryptocurrencies remain secure after you deposit them. The minimum deposit is only 0.001 BTC, and you can wager anonymously.
At the time of this writing, we see that you can place wagers on the UK Open at Cloudbet. This site allows you to place your wagers ahead of events or live in-play.
One of the best things about wagering at Cloudbet is that you can claim a huge bonus when you sign up for your account and make your first deposit. The welcome bonus can range as high a 5 BTC. Crazy, right?
This site also offers some other cool, original promotions, though we do not see any specifically for darts at this time.
Are you a Canadian sports bettor? If so, you have another option for wagering on professional darts, and that is to sign up for an account at Bodog.
Bodog has been around since 2000, and is one of the biggest names in Canadian sports betting online. In fact, only Canadians are allowed to wager at Bodog. So, unfortunately you are out of luck if you are in the US or another country.
Bodog is actually a particularly good choice for betting on darts, because the site is really involved with the sport. In fact, Bodog has sponsored the World Grand Prix before. Back in 2010, Patrik Selin, CEO of Bodog Europe, said of that sponsorship, “We have made some giant strides in establishing the Bodog brand here in the UK recently with our sponsorship with Fulham Football Club and this is another important landmark for us. Darts and Bodog are a perfect fit on every level.
Darts and Bodog remain a perfect fit today over a decade later. So, if you are in Canada, consider opening an account.
Darts Betting Terms to Know
As promised, here is a brief glossary of some of the most basic terms you should know involving darts. We will include a longer glossary in a separate article as this is a sport with quite a lot of jargon and slang.
- Arrows: This is another word that people use sometimes to refer to darts.
- Average: When a player throws a set of three darts, an average score is computed.
- Bed: When you are looking at a dartboard, you will notice all the separate sections between the wire web. These sections are all called “beds.”
- Bounce out: What if a player’s dart hits the wire? We call that a “bounce out,” as that is what happens to the dart when it hits.
- Buckshot: When a player scatters their darts all over the place, they have fired “buckshot.” The next player will likely find the buckshot inconvenient.
- Bull’s eye: This may also be spelled “bullseye,” and sometimes it is just “bull.” It is the center of the dartboard. The bull consists of two parts: the outer bull, and the inner double bull.
- Bunting: If you see a player kneeling down to shoot, they are “bunting” their darts.
- Bust: We talked about how the goal of darts is to get down to zero. If a player scores too many points, they “bust,” and forfeit what is left of the turn. The score also returns to what it was at the start of that turn.
- Carolina leaner: A player leaning way over the line while shooting is a “Carolina leaner” in American parlance. You probably won’t hear British people using this term that often.
- Carpentry darts: Also called “masonry darts,” these darts didn’t even hit the dartboard.
- Chalking: When the score is written down, it is “chalked.”
- Checkout: Players in darts matches are trying to bring their scores down to exactly zero. Reaching zero in accordance with the rules for the format and variant being played is known as “checking out.”
- Circle it: If a player gets fewer than 10 points during three throws, you may hear calls to the marker to “circle it.” As the circle is sometimes drawn in the shape of a fish, they also sometimes yell “fish!” They also sometimes will say “whale!”
- Cork: This is a reference for the middle of a dartboard.
- Dartitis: If a player is skilled is playing below their regular ability level, they are suffering from a case of “dartitis.”
- Deming: This is what we call it when a player shoots for one bed, but winds up hitting the bed next to it, just barely.
- Double: The outside ring is the double ring. We call it that because landing a dart in it doubles the score for that radial spoke. So, for example, if a player hits the double 20, they get 40 points.
- Double in: Some variants of darts require that players “double in” by starting out with a double.
- Double out: If the rules of a game require that a double be part of checking out, then we say that players need to “double out” of the match.
- Double top: This term simply refers to the double-20 since it is at the top of the dartboard.
- Double bull: The inner bull is known as the “double bull.” Hitting it results in 50 points.
- Easy in: If there is no rule stating that you need a special shot to commence a darts match (like a double), it is an “easy in” or “straight in” match.
- Fat: You can refer to the double and triple beds on a dartboard as its “fat,” which is a visual reference to the way that veins of fat run through meat.
- Flights: Every dart needs wings called “flights” to make it aerodynamic. Many shapes and materials of flights are available to professional darts players.
- Fogle: This is another term that refers to shooting buckshot.
- Game shot: The winning shot in darts is sometimes called the “game shot” for that match.
- Greenpeace dart: This is what you might hear someone call a dart that almost became a whale, but didn’t.
- High ton: A player who has achieved a “high ton” got a score between 151 and 180 while playing 501 or 301.
- Hockey: Sometimes the oche (throwing line) is called the “hockey” line.
- Leg: Darts matches are made up of legs. Different formats have different numbers of legs for each match. The winner of a match is the player who wins the majority of the legs.
- Maximum: A score of 180 is a “maximum,” since you cannot achieve a higher score with three throws. To get a 180, a player must put all three darts in the triple 20 bed.
- Maximum checkout: If a player checks out by putting two darts in the triple-20 and one in the inner bull, they have achieved a “maximum checkout” and a score of 170.
- Nine-darter: Earlier we mentioned the audience prize pool for a nine dart finish available as part of the Champion League of Darts. The very fact that such a pool exists should tell you how uncommon it is for anyone to manage such a finish. If you get to witness it live, count yourself lucky, prize pool or not.
- Oche: The line that players throw behind is called the “oche.” Players can lean across the oche, but they cannot put their feet over it.
- Out for bull: As we talked about before, sometimes there is a coin toss to decide who goes first in a match, but other times, the players compete to hit the bull. They are “out for bull” to see who gets to take the first turn.
- Perfect Finish: A maximum checkout is a “perfect finish.”
- Perfect Game: Completing 501 with nine darts is a perfect game. Doing the same with six darts in a game of 301 is also a perfect game.
- Points: Players score points while throwing darts, but the word also can refer to the sharp ends of the darts. Common measurements for dart points are 32mm and 41mm, and the material most commonly used is coated steel.
- Points per dart: You will see this phrase abbreviated as “PPD” a lot.
- Round the Clock: Also known as “Around the World,” this is a challenge where a player tries to strike each sector on the board once, in a predetermined order. Oftentimes, professional darts players will do this by themselves as a practice activity, but you might see competitive forms of it as well from time to time. If you try playing darts in order to learn more about what it takes to be a successful pro player, you might try playing Round the Clock yourself.
- Seeding: This is the same as seeding in other sports. In matches that require qualifiers for most competitors to enter, top players may be “seeded” in without that step.
- Shaft: We have talked about the point and flights on a dart. The part in the middle is the shaft. Dart shafts can be made of materials like nylon, aluminum, or polycarbonate. They can be longer or shorter to adjust the center of gravity.
- Shooter: The person throwing a dart at a dartboard is a “shooter,” but this term is usually used in America and not abroad.
- Shut out: If you hear someone say, “That player was shut out,” they mean that they didn’t score during a match.
- Single bull: The outer bull worth 25 points is sometimes called the “single bull.”
- Spider: Since the metal wires that separate the beds of a dartboard look a bit like a spider web, some people call them the “spider.”
- Stacker: If a dart lands in such a way that it is touching another, it is a “stacker.”
- Stick: This is another word for a dart.
- Straight in: As mentioned earlier, when a darts match allows players to go “straight in,” they do not need to make a special shot.
- Straight out: If players do not need to make a special shot to check out, the match is “straight out.”
- Target: This is another name for the bull.
- Triple: The triple ring is the inner ring of beds because hitting those beds triples the score. So, if you hit the triple 20, for example, you get a score of 60. Sometimes, it is also called a “treble.”
- Triple in: Just as there are games that require doubling in, there are games that require tripling in.
- Upstairs: If you hear somebody talking about shooting “upstairs,” they are talking about anything in the top half of a dartboard.
- Web: The metal wires that divide the beds may be called the “web.”
- Wet feet: If a player has “wet feet” or is “paddling,” it means that their feet are over the oche. It is not legal to set so much as a toe over the throwing line.
- Wire: You can call the web of wires between the beds the “wire” if you want.
- X: You will see “x” as a prefix in darts variants names if a double-one out is required.
That wraps up our darts glossary—and yes, that really was the short version. There are a ton of slang terms for various scores in darts, many of them based on Cockney rhyming slang.
Even if you are from the UK, you may not know what a lot of those terms mean without looking them up, and if you are from the US, Canada, or another country, you will find them particularly confusing. So, if you do find yourself scratching your head when listening to commentators and others talking about darts, you’ll want to look up the terms you don’t understand. Eventually, you too will know what a “big fish” or “breakfast n’ bed” are.
Bet on Darts Now
That wraps up our 101 guide to professional darts! Ready to wager on exciting professional darts events around the world? Click on any of the links in this article to sign up at one of our recommended sports betting sites for darts. Think about opening accounts at more than one site to grab extra bonuses and shop the odds!
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