If Cricket is the most common dart game, then 301 is probably a close runner up. The game is not only fun and challenging, but you can have a great deal of control over the length of the game by adjusting the number of points you start with. Some common variations are 501, 701, and 901 darts. We cover 301 and the popular variations below in more detail.
How to Play
The way to play 301 is very simple. The game is played with at least two players and can have any number from that point up, though it’s a wise idea to break into teams of two when you start getting enough people.
Each team starts with 301 points (or 501, 701, etc.) per person and the objective is to get down to exactly zero first. Every time you throw a dart, you subtract that number of points from your personal score with the inner bullseye being worth 50 points and the outer bullseye worth 25 points. If you end up overshooting zero, you “bust” and your score returns to the last score you had in order to try again.
The winner is the first person to reach exactly zero. If you’re playing in a team, the first person to reach zero ends the game, then the team scores are totaled and the lowest score wins. For example, if I’m playing with a friend against another team and he has seventy points when I get to zero, we still might win. However, if both players on the other team only had thirty points each, their combined score of sixty is lower than my teammate’s score of seventy, so they would still win the game even though I got to zero first.
A “match” in 301 is considered a best two out of three tournament.
There is a lot of strategy that can go into a game of 301. As mentioned above, it’s possible to win the game even if you’re not the one to get to zero first just by being close enough.
More advanced players have compiled what are often referred to as “out charts,” which are specific scoring strategies, but these are really deep in the weeds for most beginners. There are two really good strategies for this game if you’re just starting.
First, try to get down to 32 points if you can. This is a reasonably easy score to aim for throughout the game since there are a lot of simple to hit areas that will subtract to this number. Once you’re there, try to shoot for the double 16. If you hit it, you win. If you miss, you’ll likely hit a single 16 and can try for a double 8 next time. Even numbers are your friend since there are no half-point sections.
The other tactic: shoot for your strongest numbers. If you’re really good at hitting 15, don’t waste time going for the 20 and get 1s and 5s instead. Hit 15 over and over again. The winner is the person with the lowest score, not the largest intervals to get there.