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How To Play 501 Darts

Most professional dart matches use the rules for 501 darts. It is one of the most straightforward game variations and starts with a high enough score for players to use various strategies.

While 501 darts is popular, beginners may not understand all the rules. Luckily, the gameplay is straightforward.

Keep reading to learn how to play 501 darts.

What Is 501 Darts?

501 darts is a game where each player starts with 501 points. The goal is to be the first player to reach a score of 0.

501 darts is the most common form of darts played in official competitions. It is also one of several ’01 dart games.

501 Darts Rules and Gameplay

The rules for 501 darts are simple, as the game is played in turns and rounds. 

Each player takes turns throwing three darts. They then subtract their total score for the round from their point total. 

Each player takes turns throwing until their score reaches 0.

How to Play 501 Darts

Now that you know the basics of 501 darts, what are the steps in playing a match?

  1. Prepare the board
  2. Decide who goes first
  3. Players take turns
  4. Track your scores

In a game of 501 darts, players must first ‘double in’ and ‘double out.’

Doubling-in requires players to hit a double before they can start subtracting points. Hitting a double requires you to hit one of the double sections on the outer ring of the board. Any darts thrown before hitting a double do not count.

Prepare the Board

You must first set up your dartboard to the standard height and distance regulations.

Take Turns Throwing

The order of players is typically determined using the “bulling-up” method. Each player throws one dart. The player who hits closest to the bullseye throws first.

Each player throws three darts. At the end of the round, the players take turns in the same order as in the first round. Play continues until a player reaches 0 points. 

Track Your Scores

Players should update their score at the end of each turn. Your score for the round is equal to the total of all three dart throws.

The board is divided into 20 separate scoring areas, extending from the bullseye. The outer bull is worth 25 points, whereas the inner bull is worth 50 points.

The 20 scoring sections are worth the value of the number listed on the outer edge of the board. However, the 20 sections also include two rings. 

The outer ring is the double ring, which doubles the point total for that section. The middle ring is the triple ring, which triples the point value.

Your score for each round is subtracted from 501. The first player to reach exactly 0 wins. 

What Happens If You Go Over 501?

Going over 501 points occurs when you are close to 0, and your point total results in a negative number. For example, you have 40 points left and score 54 points for the round, resulting in a point total of -14.

With 40 points left to win, you need to score 40 points to reach exactly 0. If you go over 501 points, your score for the round does not count.


501 darts is a darts game where players start with 501 points. Players throw three darts and subtract the total until a player reaches 0 points.

After reading this article, you should now be able to set up and play your own game of 501 darts.

Michael Fielding

Michael Fielding

Michael has been playing Darts for more than 20 years and is passionate about helping others improve their game through his own experiences.