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How the Pros Do It

By: Ken Berman

There are two aspects in becoming a good dart player, they are accuracy and strategy. Accuracy is your ability to hit a particular target. Strategy is the decision making process that one goes through to decide on what target to shoot at. In any dart game accuracy is about 90% of winning, and 10% strategy. Who ever hits the most triples is usually going to win, however if the other guy is hitting just as many triples as you are, that's where strategy will make all the difference. I have noticed in most dart games a player will experience a brief lull in his accuracy It may be at the beginning, middle or end of the game, but a superior strategy will help carry you through those lulls. Also having good strategy can improve your accuracy in two ways. First is confidence, I always get a real confidence boost when I'm up against a player that I can see doesn't know his outs or plays catch-up in cricket. I know that if this game comes down to strategy, I got him. Second, is rhythm. I have found that when players are shooting their best, it is when they have established a rhythm in their darts. The most common thing that will disrupt a players rhythm is a lack of strategy, it is very hard to maintain a rhythm when you have to stop and add your score in the middle of your throw. One of the most common excuses in darts is, "I got down to an out, but I couldn't take it out.". Many times the reason for this is because in the beginning of an '01 game a player is not concerned with the score, he is just trying to bring it down, but when he gets close to an out he has to stop after each dart to figure out what to shoot at next. Here is a 501 example of this: a player is on 92and is stepping up to the line with three darts in his hand. He knows the out T20, D16. He throws his first dart and hits only a single 20 then he has to stop and subtract 20 from 92 and then figure out where he should go next. The player knew where to go if he hit the triple but not if he hit a single Here's the trick, do the math before you go to the line. Doing the math first a player knows if he hits a triple 20 he goes right to the double 16 and if he hits a single 20 then he is going right to the triple 16 (or what ever triple that he likes for a 72 two dart out, there are several options) and finish with a double 12. An advanced player will also figure out what he is going to do if he hits a single 16 with that second dart. He would have 56 left and may choose to go back for another single or triple 16. To recap the player says to himself, "I'm going at the triple 20 with the first dart, if I hit I'm going double 16, if I miss I'm going triple 16, If I hit the second dart I'm going double 12, if I miss I'm going back at the triple 16." This may seem complicated but it gets easier with practice and you will be surprised how much better you shoot. Notice this strategy doesn't require you to memorize every out on the board, only to do the math before you go to the line.

This paper will deal mainly with strategy but here are some helpful hints on accuracy. The best way to improve your accuracy is to practice, practice, practice. When you practice have a few routines where you can measure your progress. This will force you to improve and help your concentration. For instance, when I practice I like to start by throwing 100 darts at the 20's and count how many I get, 3 for the triples 2 for the doubles and 1 for the singles. Every time I do this I am always trying to do 1 better than the time before. A good "A" player should be able to get 100 20's out of 100 darts. The key is to be able to measure your progress. You may also want to count how many actually hit the triple 20, this will tell you what percentage of your darts are hitting triples, and more importantly what percentage don't. This percentage will be important later in deciding strategy.

Another form of practice that is largely overlooked is warming up. Having a specific warm-up routine will help your confidence. A key to good accuracy. For instance when I warm up the day of an event I throw 100 20's, 30 darts at each cricket triple, including bulls , and throw at every double on the board until I hit it. That way I know later in the day I won't find myself on a number that I have not already shot at. When Calvin Peters warms up He throws at every double and does not move onto the next until he hits 2 out of 3 darts in each double!

501 is a race, the player who finishes in the fewest darts wins. The fastest a player can finish is in 9 darts, although I've never seen this. If you can finish in 20-25 darts you will win a lot more games than you lose. There are many opportunities on the board to help you get to an out in fewer darts. First, you must learn to use the whole board, shed the beginner's habit of trying to get to a favorite out. The pros know that all of the doubles are the same size and one is just as easy to hit as another (except for the double bull). If there are certain areas of the board you don't like you're giving yourself a handicap right off the bat. Many beginners like double 16 because it breaks down 4 times all the way to double one. But when playing advanced players you are likely to only get one or two sets of darts at an out before its over.. Here is another example to illustrate this point. A player is on 61 with two darts in his hand and his opponent is on 32. Chances are if he does not take it out with these two darts he will lose. Many beginners will try for triple 15 double 8. But any pro will tell you there is only one way to take out a 61 with two darts, triple 11 double 14. The reason for this is whether or not he hits a triple or single 11with the second dart he is guaranteed a third dart at an out, double 14 or double bull. A single 15 will leave you on 46, you have just given your opponent three more darts!

In either 501 or cricket, a good rule of thumb for picking which triple to shoot at, is to assume the dart is going to hit a single. Which ever single will do you the most good, that's the triple. Remember even good "A" players only hit triples 15%-20% of the time, which means that on any one dart there is a 80%- 85% chance that at best you will hit a single!

Now for a detailed look at 501. There are basically three sections of numbers for all the outs. These are determined by how many triples it takes to hit the out . The first group is 170-131 all these outs require two triples to get to a double. The second group is 130- 91, all these outs require you to hit at least one of your first two darts in a triple. And from 90 down you can get to an out without having to hit a triple. {Exception: You can get to an out from 132 and 135 with only one triple if the first dart is a single or double bull, and you can get to an out from 91-95 without a triple if the first dart is a single or double bull. } The highest number in each of these groups are target numbers (170,130, and 90). Once you get into the 200's you should know, before you go to the line how many points are needed to get to 170. If you'r on 229 you should be aware that 60 points will not put you on an out, and if your first two darts only hit single 20's then throw the third dart at the triple 19. Both the triple 20 and triple 19 will bring you to a respectable three dart out, but only the single 19 will also leave you on a three dart out. Notice how the single points the way to the correct triple. It is also important to commit to memory the numbers under 170 that can't be taken out even with three darts (159, 162, 163, 165, 166, 168, and 169).Make sure that when you're coming down from the 200's you do not leave yourself on any of these numbers. If it's easier for you to remember the numbers you can take out they are (170, 167, 164, 161, 160, and 158-down) Notice the pattern of them being separated by three.

You should always try to get as many points as you can until your at an out, but as your coming down, try to make sure you at least get to the next target area. It will save you darts! The next target area starts with 130 and goes to 91.There are a few numbers to avoid in this group 129,128,and 125. I will explain this further later, but these are very ugly outs. This is a good time to discuss the two dart outs, commit these to memory 100, 101, 104, 107 and 110. If you are any where in the 120's, throw your first dart at the triple where the single will leave you on one of these two dart outs. And never leave yourself on 99. Here is an example: (126) Many beginners will shoot triple 20 on the first dart because its even, when they miss and hit a single 20 their on 106 with no way to go out on this turn, three more darts for the other guys. The proper first dart is triple 19, if you hit it your on 69, or if you miss your on 107, both can be taken out with two darts. It is not important to remember all 162 outs, just these target numbers and let the single point the way. And do the math before you get to the line.

90 is probably the most important target of all, from here you can get to an out without a triple. I consider myself safe at this point, because I know on my next throw I should be able to have at least one dart to win. An important number in this group is 70, make sure if you are at 90 or less that your first dart brings you to 70 or less, this is crucial in getting to an out without forcing yourself to hit a triple. Example: (88) Many players like triple 16 double 20, but a single 16 will leave you on 72 forcing you to hit a triple with your second dart , or give the other guy three more darts. The best way is triple 20, double 14. If you miss the triple and catch a single 20, this will bring you to 68, where you can finish by throwing triple 18, double 7. That's right T18,D7 this is because if you miss the second dart and catch a single 18 you still have a third dart to win at the double bull. This is the way the pro's use the whole board to squeeze out every possible opportunity. Before I start on individual outs, it is important to look at the area from 61-70 with only two darts in your hand. If you find yourself in this situation this is what you do:

70- T20, D5
69- T19, D6
68- T18, D7
67- T17, D8
66- T16, D9
65- T15, D10
64- T14, D11
63- T13, D12
62- T12, D13
61- T11, D14

On all of these out even if you miss the triple and catch a single, you will guarantee your self a third dart at the double bull to win. Notice the pattern, the triple is always the same as the last number of the out. There is also a pattern for the doubles, as you go down the list the triples decrease by 1 and the doubles increase by 1. Look closely at the relationship between the triple and double for 63 and 62. This relationship will help you to remember these triples and doubles.

Now the outs.
170- The big Daddy of all outs T20, T20, DB, good luck!
167-T20, T19, DB the first two darts can be interchanged.
164-There is actually two ways to take this out T20, T18, DB or T19, T19, DB, I like the second one because it seems easier to stay in a rhythm.
161- T20, T17, DB again these first two darts ca be switched.
160- This is the first three dart out that can get you to a regular double, a good target number T20, T20, D40.
158- T20, T20, D19 not a very pretty out but it's better than T18,T18, DB!
157- This is a classic T20, T19, D20 when ever you can shoot either of the first two darts first I usually will pick the higher of the two.
156- T20, T20, D18 the only way.
155- This one's tough a good one to avoid T20, T19, D19.
154- T20, T18, D20 (Here's a tip you can use in many situations, lets say you hit a single 20 with the first dart, from134 you might as well go back at the triple 20. And lets say you hit a single 20 again, now your on 114 with one dart. Instead of going back to the triple 20 try the double bull it's just as good as a triple 20, but a single bull gets you under 90 for your next shot (89), a much higher percentage out than 94.)
153- T20, T19, D18 This out has you all over the board try to avoid it.
152- Most people love this one T20, T20, D16.
151- T20, T17, D20 or T19, T18, D20 again I like the one that starts with the higher triple.
150- T20, T18, D18 or T19, T19, D18
149- Another cool out T20, T19, D16
148- T20, T20, D14 or T19, T17, D20 there are other options but these two are the best.
147- T20, T17, D18 or T19, T18, D18
146- T20, T18, D16 or T19. T19, D16
145- T20, T19, D14 this one has many other options, but this one uses the largest triples.
144- T20, T20, D612 easy to keep your rhythm this way.
143- T20, T17, D16 or T19, T18, D16
142- T20, T14, D20 or T19, T19, D14 I've actually seen this taken out T20, DB, D16 but it's not advised.
141- T20, T19, D12 on many of these outs there are other options but remember to get yourself to 90 or less.
140- T20, T20, D10 don't be tempted to go at the triple 18 or 16 with the second dart trying to leave yourself on double 16 or double 8,if you stay on the 20's you can leave yourself at 40 for your next shot.
139- T20, T13, D20 this is the common way to take this out, but you might try T20, T19, D11 for the same reason explained in the previous out, if you miss the second triple and hit a single 19 you still have a chance to leave yourself on 40 for your next shot.
138- T20, T18, D12 or T19, T19, D12
137- T20, T19, D10
136- T20, T20, D8
135- T20, T17, D12 remember the exception discussed earlier a first dart single bull still leaves you on a two dart out, only you can tell if two triples and one double are easier than one single bull, one triple and one double bull.
134- T20, T16, D13 this has the safety valve of hitting the T8 on the second dart to leave DB!
133- T20, T19, D8
132- T20, T16, D12
131- The most common out here is T20, T13, D16 but T19, T14, D16 has a slightly higher chance of it being taken out because if you happen to catch a triple 7 while going at the triple 19 you are still on the two dart out 110! Take every opportunity the board gives you.
130- This is a great out T20, T20, D5 if you miss the first triple you still have another chance because 110 is a two dart out, and you go right back at the triple 20. If either of the first two darts hits the triple 20 your on an out!
129- This out and the next one really suck, try to avoid leaving yourself here. This is why: our normal strategy tells us that the proper first dart is triple 19, so that if you only hit a single, you will still be on a two dart out 110, but the triple19 only gets you to 72 (above 70) and you will still have to hit another triple to get to an out. A triple 20 will get you to 69 (below 70) and allow you to get to an out without having to hit another triple, but the single 20 leaves you on 109, which can't be taken out with two darts. So you can go T19, T16, D12 or T20, T19, D6 both have disadvantages.
128- T18, T14 , D16 or T20, T18, D7 refer to the previous out to see the disadvantages of these two options.
127- This is as easy as it gets for a big out T20, T17, D8 a single 20 on the first dart still leaves you on a two dart out 107. Going at the first dart triple 17 may give you a two dart out 110, but the triple 17 won't get you to 70 or less.
126- This is another cool out discussed earlier, T19, T19, D6 I like this one because you throw the first two darts at the triple 19, even if you hit a single with the first dart, you will be on 107, which is T19, DB. If you hit the first triple you'll be on 69 which is T19, D6
125- This is another one to avoid T18,T19, D7 or T20, T15, D10 look at 129 to see why both of these options have disadvantages. Also look at 131 to see why T19,D7 is better for a two dart 71 thanT13,D16.
124- This is another good out T20, T14, D11, if you miss the first dart, you still have T18, DB, if you hit the first but miss the second dart you have the DB.
123- T19, T16, D9 as you can see with all of these 120's the object is to throw the first dart at a triple that will get you to 70 or less and, if you miss it, the single leaves you on a two dart out (100, 101, 104, 107, and 110). Then with the second dart, from 70 or less, you throw at the triple where the single leaves you on double bull, if you miss.
122- T18, T18,D7 this double 7 may look strange but this the only way a pro would go on this one.
121- T20, T11, D14 or T17, T20, D5 both of these outs will get you to 70 or less and leave you on a two dart out if you miss the first dart, but I prefer the one that starts with the higher triple.
120- T20, S20, D20 another good one for rhythm, all you need is a triple and a single 20 with the first two darts in either order.
119- T19, T12, D13
118- T20, S18, D20 There is a temptation here to go at the triple 18 with the first dart, to leave yourself on 100 if you miss, but taking out a 58 with two darts is much easier than 62.
117- This one has some interesting options: first T20, S17,D20 if you miss the first dart you still have 97 T19, D20. There is also T19, S20, D20 the advantage here is the 7 is right next to the 19 and if you miss the first dart left, your still on a 110 two dart out, a 5 or a 1 will kill your chances of taking it out on this turn. The disadvantage is the single 19 on the first dart leaves a difficult 98, and leaving your self on 60 with two darts means you take the risk of busting trying to only hit a single 20.(I've seen it happen many times) Also stay away from the T17 on the first dart, the single 17 leaves a nice 100 two dart out, but taking out a 66 with two darts is much tougher than either a 57 or 60.
116-T19, S19, D20 this one is much like the 126 out, all you need is at least one triple 19 with your first two darts and your on an out. A single 19 on the first dart leaves 97 T19, D20. Here is an added plus to this out, both triples on either side of the triple 19 will also put you on a two dart out! T20, S16, D20 is also not bad, but I like being able to throw two darts at the same number if I can.
115- T19,S18, D20 or T20, S15, D20 the advantage to the first out is if you hit a single with the first dart, 96 (T20, D18)seems to be easier than 95 (T19, D19) for most people. The advantage to the second out is, if you miss to the left with the first dart the 5 or triple 5 will also put you on a two dart out.
114- T20, S14, D20 or T19, S17, D20 the second choice here has the advantage of still having a two dart out if you happen to catch a single 7 with the first dart.
113- T19, S16, D20 the 3 and the triple 3 can save you here.
112- T20, T12, D8 a single 12 with the second dart puts you on double 20. Don't be tempted to go at the S20, D16 when faced with a two dart 52, the triple 20 will pop up when you least expect it.
111- T20, S11, D20 or T19, S14, D20 with this first option there is a temptation to go at the single 19 with the second dart to leave 32, but the triple 19 will bust. There is a huge difference between taking a number out with three darts as opposed to two darts. Many times it calls for a completely different strategy. From this point on I will show you both. 110- 3 DART-OUT- T20, T10, D10 if you hit a single 10 with the second dart your left with double 20. As with the last two outs the single 18, Double 16 can be dangerous. (Note: Only use the double bull out if it's your last dart!) Another good out is T19, S13, D20 it has a safety valve on the triple19, the S3 or T3. 2 DART-OUT- T20, DB
109- T20, S9, D20 both the triple 9 and single 9 puts you on an out from 49, the triple 17 will bust. The advantage here is the safety valve of a missed single 5 on the first dart to give you the two dart 104. Another option is T19, T12, D8 (Hint: look at the 112 out for explanation on the two dart 52)
108- T20, S16, D16 this is a pretty good out the only thing that can hurt you is the triple 16 second dart. When throwing at the single 16 remember that the D16, D8, S8, and T8 all put you on an out from the two dart 48. Many people use the trick of aiming for the wire between the single 8 and single 16.
107- 3 DART-OUT- T19, T10, D10 this out has the advantage of the missed dart 7 and 3 on the first dart to still give you two dart outs. 2 DART-OUT- T19, DB
106- T20, T10, D8 this one is good because it has a safety missed 5 on the first dart. And on the second dart, no matter what you hit in the 10 or 6 sections, your on an out.
105- T20, S13, D16 this has two safety valves on the first dart.
104- 3 DART-OUT- T19, S15, D16 this is the only shot where a miss won't kill you. Both T20 and T18 have numbers next to them that can leave you without a two dart out. 2 DART-OUT-T18, DB
103- Triple 19 is the first dart here bringing you to 46, from there you can go to the easy 6 - 10 area of the board to guarantee a third dart out. T19, S10, D18 or T19, S6, D20.
102- T20, S10, D16 nuff said.
101- 3 DART-OUT- Never throw triple 17 with the first dart on a 3 dart 101, the single 2 will kill you, that is only a two dart throw. T20, S9, D16 or T19, T12, D4.
100- T20, D20 Warning: stay away from the single 1 on the first dart, it's a game blower.
99- T19, S10, D16
98- T20, D19 the only way
97- T19, D20
96- T20, D18
95- T19, D19 or SB, T20, D5 a single20 second dart leaves double bull. This second option is tough but you don't have to hit a triple, also it turns this out from a two dart out into a three dart out.
94- T18, D20 or SB, T19, D6
93- T19, D18 or SB, T18, D7
92- T20, D16 or SB, T17, D8
91- T17, D20 or SB, T16, D9
90- - 3 DART-OUT- T20, D15 a single 20 on the first dart gets you to 70, (T20, D5) a single 20 on the second dart gives you double bull. 2 DART-OUT- T18, D18
89- T19, D16
88- T20, D14 Never go triple 16 with the first dart here the single 16 won't get you to 70 or less.
87- T17, D18
86- T18, D16
85- T19, D14 or T15, D20
84- T20, D12
83- T17, D16
82- T14, D20 is the best way to go if you have only two darts in your hand, but if you have all three darts you may want to try DB, D16 if you can at least catch a single bull, it brings you to 57, an easy S17, D20!
81- T19, D12 or T15, D18
80- T20, D10 at this point you are an easy two single 20's away from the double 20. Don't be tempted to go at the T16, D16 a single 16 on the first dart means you have to hit a triple or finish with a double bull.
79- The common out here is T13, D20 The higher percentage shot is T19, D11 the single 19 gets you to 60 which is far easier to take out than a 66.
78- T18, D12 any time.
77- T19, D10 going at a number like T15 won't get you to 60 or less if you only hit a single.
76- I used to always go T20, D8 on this one until one day in a tournament I missed and hit a single 5 with the first dart leaving 71 forcing me to hit a triple with the second dart or give my opponent three more darts. It seemed ridiculous that from 76 I was not able to get it to 70 or less after the first dart. T16,D14 was the answer. No matter what you hit around that triple you are guaranteed to get to 70 or less.
75- T17, D12
74- T16,D13 for the 3 dart-out this is good because all the numbers around the T16 are big enough to get you below 70. And for the two dart-out its good because the triple 8 also puts you on an out, DB.
73- T19, D8
72- T16, D12 or T20, D6
71- 3 DART-OUT- T13, D16 2 DART-OUT- T19, D7 this is because if you catch a triple 7 it still gets you to DB!
70- 3 DART-OUT- T18, D8 2 DART-OUT- T20, D5
69- T19, D6 any time.
68- 3 DART-OUT- T16, D10 this is to make sure your below 60 for the second dart. 2 DART-OUT- T18, D7
67- T17, D8 is the only way to go with two darts, but if you have all three you may want to try T9, D20 like the triple 16 it has all large numbers around it guaranteeing you to get below 60, a lot better than catching a 2 or a 3 going at the triple 17.
66- 3 DART-OUT-T10, D18 the T10 has big numbers around it. Or T18,D15 the single 18 leaves 48! 2 DART-OUT-T16, D9 65- 3 DART-OUT- this one has many options T19, D4 or T15, D10 but probably the best one is T11, D16. The triple 11 has numbers around it that will make sure you get below 60 for the second dart. 2 DART-OUT- T15, D10
64- 3 DART-OUT- T16, D8 this out has every possible advantage, even the triple 8 will put you on a D20. 2 DART-OUT- T14, D11
63- 3 DART-OUT- T17, D6 2 DART-OUT- T13, D12
62- 3 DART-OUT- T10, D16 2 DART-OUT- T12, D13
61- 3 DART-OUT- T15, D8 2 DART-OUT- T11, D14
60- S20, D20
59- S19, D20
58- S18, D20
57- S17, D20
56- T16, D4
55- S15, D20
54- T14, D20
53- S13, D20 or S17, D18 this second choice is good if you only have two darts, because a miss single 3 leaves DB! From this point on you may want to throw your first dart at a number that will put you on D16, but if you only have two darts make sure you take the route that has a safety valve.
52- T12, D8 stay away from the S20, D16 it's too easy to bust.
51- S11, D20 or S15, D18 again thee S19, D16 is too easy to bust.
50- Only go at the double bull if it's your last dart. Otherwise S10, D20. Don't let the triple 18 bust you.
49- S9, D20 large triples like the 17 can end your shot.
48- This is the only time I advise shooting near a triple that could bust you, because the safety valve is so big S16, D16 I usually aim for the wire between the 8 and 16 at the fattest part.
47- S15, D16 or S7, D20 this has the safety valve of S19, D14 especially good for a two dart out.
46- 6 - 10 split here S6, D20 or S10, D18
45- S13, D16 or S19, D13 this has the safety valve of S7, D19
44- S12, D16 or S4, D20 this has the safety valve of S18, D13 or the 8 - 16 split S8, D18 or S16, D14
43- S11, D16 or S3, D20 use this with only two darts, its got a safety on each side S19, D12 or S17, D13
42- 6 - 10 split here S10, D16 or S6, D18
41- S9, D16
40- D20
39- S7, D16 or S19, D10 or S3, D18 you can't miss with these 3 outs right next to each other. Only the triple 19 will stop you.
38- D19
37- S5, D16 or any where at the bottom of the board. Remember there are 4 odd numbers in a row 7, 19, 3, 17
36- D18
35- S3, D16
34- D17
33- S1, D16 or S17, D8 here there is a safety S3, D15
32- D16 duh!
31- S15, D8 or the 7 through 3 area.
30- D15
29- S13, D8 or bottom of the board
28- D14
27- S19, D4 or S7, D10 this area of the board has a much better chance than S11, D8
26- D13
25- S17, D4 or S9, D8
24- D12
23- S7, D8
22- D11
21- S5, D8 or S17, D2
20- D10
19- S11, D4 or S3, D8 watch out for this one the S 19 will bust.
18- D9
17- S9, D4 stay away from the S1, D8 both the 20 and the 18 will bust you.
16- D8
15- S7, D4

For the rest of the odd outs just throw at the single that puts you on D4, and then from 7 down set yourself up to take out a D2.

Note: This page has been posted WITH written permission from the author.

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