While cricket is, worldwide, the most popular of dart games, 301 and its variations come close. While it’s fun, it is also challenging and requires a degree of skill and the ability to effectively strategize. There are several variations of 301, depending on how many points you start out with, but the more popular ones are 501, 701, and 901. These numbers refer to the number of points each player starts with at the beginning of the match. In this article, we’ll cover the rules and gameplay for 301 and its most popular counterparts. We will refer to all of these variations as “01 Games.”
Basic Gameplay for 01 Darts Games
All 01 darts games are relatively easy to play if you have a grasp on how to aim and throw and on your overall strengths and weaknesses in terms of hitting certain areas of the board. As with all darts games, the ability to strategize goes a long way toward winning (we’ll cover strategies later in this article). You will need a minimum of two players; from there you can have as many players as you want, but it’s best to create teams of two players each when you have more than 3 people.
The aim is to reduce your points until you get to exactly zero points. To start, flip a coin or shoot for the closest bullseye to determine which player or team plays first. Each player then throws three darts per turn. You have to hit a double to start collecting points and a double again to win; you have to hit either an inner or outer bullseye. Inner bullseye is 50 points, outer is 25 points.
When you make the first double, you count down those points and all points scored thereafter from each dart thrown from the number of points you started with. Points are distributed per person, not per team, and are deducted from your individual score. For example, if you’re on a team of 2 players, your team’s starting score would be 602 (in the case of 301 darts). At the end of the game, if your points go below zero, it’s a bust.
You will forfeit the rest of your turn and your score remains the same. You will go again when your turn comes unless the other player or team ends the game. In that case, you retain the score you had and combine it with your teammates’ scores to determine which team wins the game. If you’re playing as an individual, your score stands as-is, meaning you lose.
If you’re playing on a team, the player who hits zero first ends gameplay, and team members’ scores are combined for the team’s score. The team with the least amount of remaining points wins the game.
In other words, if you’re on a team with one other player and he or she has 50 points when you hit zero, your team might still win. But if the two players on the other team end up with 20 points each (a combined total of 40 points), that team wins, even though you hit zero first.
Strategizing is a key part of any darts game, but especially so in 01 games; you can still win if you’re close enough to zero even if you don’t get there first. Experienced players have created “out charts” that contain game strategies; we’ll explain those in the next section, as they’re a little complicated if you’re just starting out. But don’t fret if you’re a newbie: there are still many highly effective and simple strategies available.
You can start by trying for 32 points. That’s a fairly easy score to hit consistently for the remainder of the game since there are a lot of easily reachable areas that will get you there. When you’re at 32, go for double 16s; that will bring you to zero.
And even if you don’t hit the double, you will in probably (statistically, anyway) get the single. At that point, try to get double 8s on your next throw. Since there are no half-point areas, the numbers are your friend with this and other strategies.
Or, you can try hitting the sections you’re best at landing. If you’re consistently best at getting a 15, don’t waste your energy trying for a 20 and winding up with 1s and 5s instead. Just keep hitting that 15 repeatedly. Remember, it doesn’t matter which player or team takes the longest to reach the lowest score; it only matters that you get it before your opponent(s).
You can also try to hit a triple 20, which will give you a total of 60 points. If you miss, the odds are still in your favor to get a single 20. You are always required to get a double on your last turn in order to win, but when you get down to 101 points, you will be close enough to dropping below 100 that it will be easier to hit zero.
Again, it doesn’t matter how long you or your team takes to reach zero or a combined low score. The idea is for you and your teammate(s) to use the strategy that best utilizes your strengths and best fits your style of play to get you to the finish line.
Advanced players have developed “out charts” to aid in strategizing once you go below 100. These charts have 2 sets of 3 columns: the bold left column is your current score, and the next 2 columns represent which doubles or triples you should go for to finish the game.
For example, if you currently have 98 points, the best strategy according to an out chart would be a triple 20 (T20) or a double 19 (D19), and so on. All final throws show a double because you have to get a double to end the game. If your dartboard doesn’t come with an out chart, we suggest you buy one.
These are just some basic strategies for playing 01 games. There are probably as many other strategies as there are players; your goal should be to develop one that best suits you.