Mastering 501 Dart Rules

Written by
Cole Hoskins

501 is one of the most widely played and traditional dart games globally, enjoyed by players of all skill levels. This article will provide comprehensive information on the objective of 501, the rules of the game, and how to score in a 501 dart game.

501 Darts Objective:

Each individual or team will start with 501 points, hence the name 501. The objective of the 501 dart game is for each individual or team to work their way from 501 down to zero points. The team that hits zero points first will win the leg of 501. Traditionally, dart games consist of legs, and the winner of a match will have won a particular number of legs, such as best of 7 legs, best of 9 legs, etc.

Dart Rules 501: 

There are some dart rules for 501 that one should be aware of in order to become the best dart player possible. Team composition is one aspect that one should familiarize themselves with as the 501 dart game can be played by one player against another or by two teams composed of several individuals. If you are playing 501 darts as a team, players will rotate after each turn throughout the game. Now that you have determined if you are playing as a team or with two individuals, you might ask, "How do we decide who throws first in a 501dart game?"

Determining who throws first in a 501 dart game is decided by a coin flip or "diddling/cork." Diddling, which can also be called cork, is when each player throws one dart at the bullseye. If one player hits the bullseye and the other misses, the player who hit the bullseye would throw first in a 501 dart game. However, if both players miss, whoever is closer to the bullseye will throw first. Below are a couple more rules on this process:

- A double bullseye beats a single bullseye

- Two single bullseyes tie

- Two double bullseyes tie

- If you can't determine who is closer to the bullseye, players throw again

The individual or team who throws first in the 501 game does gain an advantage, as the game is all about who reaches zero first.

Another 501 dart rule is how many throws per round. During the match, each individual or team will throw 3 darts per round. To start the game, some tournaments or matches require the individual or team to hit a double and “double in” to have your points start counting. However, other tournaments or matches will not require you to double in, and you can begin scoring points immediately.

Once you begin the dart match, you are playing against your opponent or opposing team to try and reach zero before them. While trying to get to zero first is important, it is also equally important to understand darts 501 scoring as well.

Darts 501 Scoring:

Darts501 scoring is pretty simple as long as you know which ring on the dartboard is doubles and which is trebles. The outer ring on the dartboard will be doubles, and the inner ring will be trebles on the dartboard. For example, if a player hits the inner ring on the 19, it would be a treble 19 for a total of 57 points.

With the objective of getting to zero as fast as possible in a 501 darts game, one might think they should be aiming for the bullseye. However, to maximize darts501 scoring, most players will shoot for the treble 20. This is because the treble 20 is worth 60 points, and the center bullseye would only be 50 points. The maximum number of points that can be scored in three darts is 180, which is done by hitting the treble 20 three times.

Another important aspect of darts 501 scoring is understanding how to finish a game. A couple of terms to familiarize yourself with to finish a leg or game of 501 are "out" and "bust." An out is the final throw that leads a player or team to zero points left on the board. To finish a 501 dart game, the player or team must double out. This means that if the player had 32 points left to complete a leg or game, they would have to hit the double 16 to finish and go out.

One thing to note about 501 dart scoring is understanding what a bust is. Say you were to have 32 points left to complete the game and accidentally hit the treble 16 instead of the double 16. This would be more points than you need, meaning you would bust. If you bust, you will not be awarded any points, and you will have to go for that double 16 again in your next round. For more terminology help, check out our Shot Darts Jargon Buster article.

You now know the 501 darts objective, dart rules for 501, and how to score a game of 501 darts. With this knowledge, it is time to get practicing! If you do not know where to start with darts practice, make sure to check out some of our practice articles, such as Three Routines for Dart Practice and Darts Practice: Time, Breathing, and Focus.

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