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If you have a dartboard at home, you might be getting tired of playing regular games of darts time and time gain. The cool thing is of course that with a dartboard, there are actually many different games you can play, with 301 being one of them.
Let’s get right to it and teach you how to play 301 in darts.
How Many People Can Play 301?
The game of 301 is generally played by two people facing off against each other.
That said, there is no reason why more than two people could not play. Although the game will take much longer to complete with more players, realistically, you could play with any number of people. Moreover, if you just want to get some practice in, you could technically play 301 by yourself as well.
How to Play 301 in Darts: The Rules
Three-oh-one in darts is actually quite a simple and straightforward game, one that is very easy to learn. Let’s figure out what the main objective is and what all of the rules are.
The game of 301 starts with each player having a total of 301 points. The objective of the game is to be the first player to reach zero points, but no less. Whenever a player hits a number with a dart, that number is then subtracted from 301 (or from the remaining total), until a score of zero is reached.
The final score a player reaches must be exactly zero, no more and no less. If a player goes under zero with their last throw, it’s considered a bust and the score resets to what it was before that last turn. Each player is allowed to throw three darts per turn.
Starting the Game
To decide the order of play, players will throw a single dart at the dartboard. The player who gets his or her dart closest to the bullseye is the first person to play, and so on and so forth.
The normal game of 301 in darts is played according to double-in and double-out rules. This means that in order to start scoring (or to start subtracting from 301 in order to reach zero), a player must first hit a double, or in other words, hit a dart into the outer thin ring.
A player must first hit a double before scoring can begin, and the first double which opens scoring does not count towards the total. Once a double has been hit, a player can then begin subtracting each hit from 301 with subsequent shots.
In order to finish the game, the last shot a player makes also needs to be a double. If a player hits a single as the last shot, it does not count, and the score stays where it is at. For instance, if you need ten to close out, and you hit the single ten, it does not count.
If you need ten points to finish, you would have to hit the double five, and so on and so forth. This is a very challenging aspect of the game. Keep in mind that the objective of 301 in darts is to finish with exactly zero points, not more or less.
Scoring in 301 in darts is very simple. A double counts as double the number value (besides the first double shot required to open scoring), a triple counts as triple the number value, and a single counts as the corresponding number. A bullseye counts as 50 points, and the outer bullseye counts as 25 points.
There are various situations that qualify as a player going bust. The most common is going under zero. Having to hit a double on the last shot makes it just that much harder. For instance, if you need 18 to finish the game, you must therefore hit a double nine. If you hit anything higher than that, say a double ten, then you are bust, and you go back to 18 points (if you had 18 points at the beginning of your turn).
Moreover, if you are playing double-out, and you manage to get to zero, but your last shot was not a double, you go bust and return to the same amount of points you had before the start of your turn. Finally, if you are playing double-out, and you are at exactly one point, there is no way to finish the game, and not only do you go bust for that turn, but your game is totally over.
Remember, if you go bust, your score returns to what it was at the beginning of your turn before all three darts were thrown.
Single-In and Single-Out
There is another variation of 301 in darts that may be played, a version that is more relaxed and suitable for beginners. This version involves following single-in and single-out rules, which means that players do not have to hit a double on their first and last shots but instead can hit singles, doubles, or anything else.
It’s more suited for beginners, but professional players looking for a challenge do usually stay away from this version.
301 vs. 501 vs. 801: What Are the Differences?
Three-oh-one is generally the most popular count-down type game played with a dartboard, but both 501 and 801 do also exist. The rules in all three versions, 301, 501, and 801, are the same.
The only real difference is the starting number of points, with the other difference being that it will of course take longer to complete a game of 801 than 501, and longer to complete a game of 501 than 301.
For beginners, in order to not get frustrated, we recommend starting with a short game of 301.
Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks
Finally, let’s go over a couple of tips and tricks to make you a better 301 player.
The number one tip in 301 in darts, for beginners, is to try to get to 32 points first.
This way, you can finish the game with a double 16. However, if you miss, and you only get a single 16, you can then shoot a double eight to finish. If you miss that and only get a single eight, you can then shoot a double four to finish, and if you miss the double four, you can then shoot a double two to finish, and then, finally, if you miss the double two, you can finish with a double one. For a beginner who has a bit of trouble with aiming, this is the best way to ensure that you do not go bust (due to needing a double to finish).
You may be tempted to shoot for the triple 20 in order to get from 301 to zero as quickly as possible. However, beware that if your aim is not very good, you will probably end up hitting low single numbers, particularly one and five. Focus on the relatively high numbers that you know you can hit.
Three-oh-one is a great variation on the classic game of darts, a very fun and relatively high paced game that is ideal for two people or more.
If the double-in/double-out version is too difficult for your current level of skill, you can always start with single-in/single-out rules. In fact, unless you are a superb darts player, it might be better to start with the latter. It will help you avoid frustration and also make each round quicker, making the game more dynamic.