How to Run a Dart Tournament

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Many people have inquired about how to set up and run a local blind-draw (also known as Luck of the Draw) dart tournament. So I will explain how we do it here in Montgomery, Al for our Saturday night tournaments. I will also include some different variations to the way we do it.

First, have one person take up the names and money of the people that are going to participate. The easiest way to do this is to have a sign-up sheet available with the numbers 1 - ? written down on it. As people sign up, you write down their name next to the next available number. Obviously, you will need an even number of people. If there is an odd number, then you either need to talk someone else into throwing, or see if anyone wants to sit out. If you can't find either, then the last person that signed up will be out (this will encourage people to show up on time if not early).

Now you determine who will be partnered up with who. This is how we do it. I went out and got a cookie tin and some poker chips. I took a permanent marker and wrote down one number on each from 1 - 40 (we never have 40 people). I then take the chips with the numbers that represent each player and dump them into the tin. I use either an 8 team or 16 team bracket and write down where the byes will go. If you do not know how to do this, you can go to my Tournament Brackets page and download the different size brackets. (If you're looking for software to help you, check out the Dart Software page.) For example, if you compare the 14 and 15 team brackets with a 16 team bracket, you can see where the byes would go on the 16 team bracket. Draw a '/' on each line that a team will be placed on. Now that we know where the byes go (if you're not using a bracket that is specific to the number of teams you have), you draw one chip at a time from the tin. Each chip represents a thrower (the number next to the persons name on the sign-up sheet) and as you draw each chip you write down the name of the person from top to bottom to the left of the '/'. When you get to the bottom, you then start back up at the top again and write down the names to the right of the '/'. Once the last chip is drawn, your bracket is now full and you're ready to start.

All you need to do now is ensure that the tournament runs smoothly. To do this, you want the bracket to work out as evenly as possible, keeping all the boards full when there are matches to be played. You don't want teams sitting around any longer than necessary.


It starts with a coin flip, the person winning the flip can choose to cork (diddle) first or second. The winner of the cork will then start of a game of 501. After that game is over, the person that loss the coin toss will have the choice of corking first or second. The winner of the cork will then start off a game of cricket. If one team wins both games, that match is over. If the games are split, then we go to a game three. There is another coin toss, the winner gets to choose to cork first or second. The winner of the cork will then get to choose whether the third game will be 501 or Cricket.

Entry Fees - High/Mystery Outs

We charge $5.00 per person for entry fees. Our pub also matches half the entry fees (so if we have 14 people, the pub will add an extra $35 to the entry fee pot). The team that wins 1st gets 1/2 the total pot. 2nd gets the next half and so on until there's only $10-15 left. When that happens, that team will be the last team to win money.

We also have three other ways you can win money: high out, guaranteed mystery out, carry over mystery out. All of these have to do with the outs people hit in 501. As each out is hit, it is written next to the players name that hit it on the sign-up sheet. Once a number is hit, nobody else can take credit for that number.

  1. High Out - The person hitting the highest out that evening.
  2. Guaranteed Mystery Out - A chip will be dropped in the tin representing each number that is hit. One chip will be drawn and the person that hit that number will win the pot.
  3. Carry Over Mystery Out - We have a tin with one chip representing every possible out that can be hit. One chip will be drawn, if someone hit the number drawn, they win the pot. If not, the pot continues to grow. If someone wins the pot, they get all but $20 of it so there will be something left in it for next week.

To get into each of these events costs $1/event. Throwers do not have to enter all or any of the events, it's up to them. If they do not enter, they can not win. It is customary for partners to split any moneys they may win, but I would clear this with your partner at the beginning of the match to eliminate any problems that may surface later (i.e. 'I hit the out so I get to keep all the money!' or 'I never said I would split it with you!'). You will find that these will, in most cases, be the same people that would expect you to split your winnings with them.

I hope this will help you. If there is anything here you do not understand, do not hesistate to send me an email and I'll answer your question. If it's not clear to you, then I'm sure it's not clear to many other people. I know all this sounds confusing, but after you've done it once or twice it's really easy.

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Other Methods

Here are some more ways that were sent to me by Sketch at Athletic Style

The taverns that do tournaments here (soft-tip) have created a system to try and draw in the NEWER shooter.

They divide the sign-ups into different types. These soft-tippers don't care for single elimination so all the formats include double elimination...I got double-dipped last Saturday...cost me about $40.00! Partner drank too much liquid courage.

ALL the tournaments are "Ladies Luck Draws," this is meant to bring in more women to play. It has pretty much succeeded. Using the sign-up system you have they divide the numbers at 1-20 and 21-40. The women are 1-20 and the men 21-40. At the competition of registration the women are drawn first OR they ladies are asked to come up and draw their own chip, thus they can't complain about the drawing. NO TWO WOMEN ARE TEAMED TOGETHER unless there are more women then men (I've only seen this happen once, kind of like a "Sadie Hawkins Night!," some kind of bachelorette party). The men draw or are drawn second to fill out the brackets.

The bracketer tries to set up and change the bracket to allow the mixed doubles to play most of their matches against a male/female team. The brackets are restructured to have these teams also play their losers bracket matches against similiarly set up teams. This set up appears to draw in both ladies and new players.

Another system of setting up the draw numbers is having the women, men and then masters as separate numbers.

In the South Bend area the vendors and league management have created a Master system ranked on '01 and Cricket records. This includes those of both Pro and AA ranking. The system takes into account a player's averages in league play and their performance in RANKED tournaments.

The draws that use the W/M/MA (Women/Men/MAster) system have the Masters draw or drawn FIRST, this allows the women and men to draw or be drawn to them. This is another draw for many of the newer players as they have the chance of playing with some of the best shots in the area and LEARN MORE about the game and it encourages them to bring MORE people!

There have been some bar tournaments here that have had to use multiple 32 player brackets. And as I said before all the tournaments here add money from 150% to 250% (once a month). Several pay their house players entry fee, people figure "What the heck, doesn't cost me anything."

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