A Guide to Reaching a Checkout

It’s an undeniable fact that you can’t hit a checkout until you reach a checkout. How you get from 501 down to a number that can be taken out is not just a matter of scoring as many points as possible until you reach a score of 170 or less. There are pitfalls along the way that must be avoided. Land on the wrong number and you will be forced to waste darts to reestablish a clear path to a double.

The highest score you can take out in three darts is 170, which makes 350 the highest score you can take out in six darts (180-170). So that’s your first goal in 501 – leave a score below 351 that can be taken out in six darts.

You’ll see many mentions below to bogey numbers. What I mean by this is that there are scores that require more darts to finish than would be required by a slightly higher score. Here’s an example:

ScoreCommentThrowLeave
439100 leaves a bogey99: T20-S20-S19340

Starting with 439 and scoring 100 leaves 339. How is this a bogey? I addressed this in detail in a previous post (The Bogey Numbers), but to make a long story short, 339 can not be taken out in six darts whereas 340 can. So you’re better off throwing 99 to leave 340 than 100 to leave 339. Makes sense, right?

Just to be clear, if you start with a score of 439 I’m not suggesting you should throw a 99. By all means, throw a 180 or 140. But if you throw a treble 20 with your first dart and hit the single 20 with your second dart, do not throw the third dart at the treble 20 – throw at the treble 19 and if it lands in the single 19 the resulting 99 leaves you on 340.

The suggested throws are provided to give you an idea of what you’ll need to throw to reach your goal, and to help you avoid the bogeys that will force you to throw more darts. If you can score more points than the suggested throw, and avoid a bogey, by all means do so.

Tip: All bogey numbers (above 50) end in the digits 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9 – so, when in doubt, leave a score that ends in 0, 1, 4, or 7.

Let’s look at some starting score ranges to see what you’ll need to throw, and what you’ll need to avoid, to reach a checkout.

501-451

At the start of a leg of 501, you’ll need to hit three big trebles (or two and the bull) to get below 351 and keep your hopes for a 9-darter alive. If you stumble out of the gate with a poor first round, two big trebles are enough to get you back in the race for a 12 dart leg. Unfortunately, there are many minefields for starting scores in this range. Two treble 20’s and a stray outside the 20 – (think: 121, 123, 125, 135) can result in a bogey for many of these starting scores, as can a poorly considered cover shot.

In summary, do your math here and avoid ending the round with a score of 349, 348, 346, 345, 343, 342, or 339, as these scores make it impossible to leave a checkout after the next round.

With most of this range, a score of 140 will get you to your goal, with the exception of a just a few of the scores listed below which will require a bit more finesse to reach a safe number below 351.

ScoreCommentThrowLeave
501Need 3 big trebles
(but not three T18’s)
180, 177, 174, 171321-
330
500-
491
Need 3 big trebles180, 177, 174, 171,
170, 168, 165, 162
490140 will get you to 350140: 7 20’s350
489140 leaves a bogey
S20 1st dart leaves a bogey
142: T19-T20-25
139: S19-T20-T20
347
350
488140 & 139 leave a bogey
S20 or S19 with 1st dart
leaves a bogey
138: S18-T20-T20350
487140 is good
Avoid: 139, 138
140: 7 20’s347
486Good: 142, 139, 136
Avoid: 140, 138, 137
S20 1st dart leaves a bogey
142: T19-T20-25
139: S19-T20-T20
136: S19-T19-T20
344
347
350
485Good: 138, 135
Avoid: 140, 139, 137, 136
S20 or S19 with 1st dart
leaves a bogey
138: S18-T20-T20347
484Good: 140, 137, 134
Avoid: 139, 138, 136, 135
140: 7 20’s
137: T20-S20-T19
134: S20-T19-T19
344
347
350
483Good: 142, 139, 136, 133
Avoid: 140
Avoid: 138, 137, 135, 134
S20 1st dart leaves a bogey
142: T19-T20-25
139: S19-T20-T20
136: S19-T19-T20
133: 7 19’s
341
344
347
350
482Good: 138, 135, 132
Avoid: 140, 139, 137
Avoid: 136, 134, 133
S20 or S19 with 1st dart
leaves a bogey
138: S18-T20-T20344
481Good: 140, 137, 134, 131
Avoid: 139, 138, 136
Avoid: 135, 133, 132
140: 7 20’s
137: T20-S20-T19
134: S20-T19-T19
131: T20-S20-T17
341
344
347
350
480Good: 140, 139, 136, 133, 130
Avoid: 138, 137, 135
Avoid: 134, 132, 131
140: 7 20’s
139: T20-T20-S19
136: T20-T19-S19
133: 7 19’s
340
341
344
347
479Good: 142, 139, 138
Good: 135, 132, 129
Avoid: 140, 137, 136
Avoid: 134, 133, 131, 130
S20 1st dart leaves a bogey
142: T19-T20-25
139: S19-T20-T20
337
340
478-
451
140 is good here, but for each
of these there are several scores
in the 102-139 range that will
leave a bogey. Be careful.
140: 7 20’s338-
311

Notice for 489, 488, 486, 485, 483, 482, and 479, we’re not throwing the first dart at treble 20. This is because a single 20 will put you on a bogey. For instance, if you score 20 from 489 you’ll be left with 469 from which you can not reach a score with your two remaining darts that can be taken out in the next two rounds. Start on 19’s and if you hit the single, two treble 20’s will take you to 350 for the next round. For 488, 485, and 482, single 19 also puts you on a bogey, so start with 18.

Here are two opportunities to make use of the bull with your third dart:

ScoreCommentThrowLeave
455105 leaves a 6 dart checkout105: T20-S20-25350
452105 leaves a 6 dart checkout105: T20-S20-25347

450-351

Generally speaking, you don’t need to score more than 100 from here to have a chance to leave a checkout after the next round. However, the danger zone mentioned above (349, 348, 346, 345, 343, 342, 339) still must be avoided, as noted in the chart below:

ScoreCommentThrowLeave
450Good: 100
Avoid: 101, 102, 104, 105
Avoid: 107, 108, 111
100: 5 20’s350
449100 leaves a bogey99: T20-S20-S19
99: S20-S19-T20
102: S20-T19-25
350
350
347
448100 leaves a bogey98: T20-S20-S18
98: S20-S18-T20
350
447Good: 100, 97100: 5 20’s
97: S20-S20-T19
347
350
446100 leaves a bogey99: T20-S20-S19
99: S20-S19-T20
102: S20-T19-25
347
347
344
445100 leaves a bogey98: T20-S20-S18
98: S20-S18-T20
347
444Good: 100, 97, 94100: 5 20’s
97: S20-S20-T19
94: S20-S20-T18
344
347
350
443100 leaves a bogey99: T20-S20-S19
99: S20-S19-T20
102: S20-T19-25
344
344
341
442100 leaves a bogey98: T20-S20-S18
98: S20-S18-T20
344
441Good: 100, 97, 94, 91100: 5 20’s
97: S20-S20-T19
94: S20-S20-T18
91: S20-S20-T17
341
344
347
350
440Good: 100, 99, 96100: 5 20’s
99: T20-S20-S19
96: S20-T19-S19
340
341
344
439100 leaves a bogey99: T20-S20-S19
99: S20-S19-T20
102: S20-T19-25
340
340
337
438-
416,
414,
413,
411
100 leaves a 6 dart checkout.
Beware of scores just below
100 that may leave a bogey
100: 5 20’s338-
316,
314,
313,
311
41565 leaves a 6 dart checkout65: S20-S20-25350
41265 leaves a 6 dart checkout65: S20-S20-25347
41060 leaves a 6 dart checkout.60: 3 20’s350
40960 leaves a bogey59: S20-S20-S19350
40860 leaves a bogey58: S20-S20-S18350
40760 leaves a 6 dart checkout.60: 3 20’s347
40660 leaves a bogey59: S20-S20-S19347
40560 leaves a bogey58: S20-S20-S18347
40460 leaves a 6 dart checkout.60: 3 20’s344
40360 leaves a bogey59: S20-S20-S19344
40260 leaves a bogey58: S20-S20-S18344
40160 leaves a 6 dart checkout.60: 3 20’s341
40060 or more will leave you
on a 6 dart checkout.
(Other than 61. Don’t
throw 61.)
60: 3 20’s
100: 5 20’s
140: 7 20’s
180: 9 20’s
340
300
260
220
39960 leaves a bogey59: S20-S20-S19340
398-
351
60 or more will leave you
on a 6 dart checkout.
60: 3 20’s
100: 5 20’s
140: 7 20’s
180: 9 20’s
338-291
298-251
258-211
218-171

As mentioned previously, the advice here isn’t to throw a 58 from 408. The suggestion is that if your first two attempts at treble 20 land in the single 20, throw the third dart at the 18’s.

If you look the last row above, you will see that scores of 60-180 will all leave you on a 6 dart checkout. There are no bogeys in this range, so score as much as you can. The more you can score from here the easier it will be to leave a good checkout after the next round.

350-291

At the top of this range you’ll need three big trebles to reach a score of 170 or less (avoiding the bogey numbers 169, 168, 166, 165, 163, 162, 159). A score of 140 is sufficient at the bottom of the range.

ScoreCommentThrowLeave
350, 347,
344, 341
180 leaves a checkout180: T20-T20-T20170-
161
349, 348,
346, 345,
343, 342,
339
Bogey numbers.
Can’t reach a checkout
with three darts.
Don’t ask me.
I told you not to
land on these numbers.
340Only 180 or 170 will do180: T20-T20-T20
170: T20-T20-Bull
160
170

338
337
336, 333
335, 332
334
331
330
Need 3 big trebles
180, 177, 174, 171
180, 177, 170
180
180, 177, 174, 171
180, 177, 174, 170
180, 177, 174, 171
180, 177, 174, 170
180: T20-T20-T20
177: T20-T20-T19
174: T20-T20-T18
171: T19-T19-T19
171: T20-T19-T18
170: T20-T20-Bull
329-316140 is not enough –
need 3 big trebles
180, 177, 174, 171
315140 is not enough
145 leaves a checkout
145: T20-T20-25170
314, 313140 is not enough –
need 3 big trebles
180, 177, 174, 171
312140 is not enough
145 leaves a checkout
145: T20-T20-25167
311140 is not enough –
need 3 big trebles
180, 177, 174, 171
310140 leaves a checkout140: 7 20’s170
309139 or 142 leaves a checkout
Throw 1st dart at 19’s
142: T19-T20-25
139: S19-T20-T20
167
170
308138 leaves a checkout
Throw 1st dart at 18
138: S18-T20-T20170
307140 leaves a checkout140: 7 20’s167
306140 is no good
Throw first dart at 19’s
136, 139, 142 leave a checkout
142: T19-T19-25
136: T19-S19-T20
139: S19-T20-T20
164
170
167
305140 is no good
S20 or S19 1st dart is no good
135, 138, 145 leave a checkout
145: 25-T20-T20
138: 18-T20-T20
135: 15-T20-T20
170
167
160
304140 leaves 164
Avoid: 135, 136, 138, 139
140: 7 20’s164
303140 is no good
Throw first dart at 19’s
133, 136, 139 leave a checkout
133: 7 19’s
136: T19-S19-T20
139: S19-T20-T20
170
167
164
302140 is no good
Throw first dart at 18’s
132, 135, 138 leave a checkout
132: T18-S18-T20
135: S18-T19-T20
138: S18-T20-T20
170
167
164
301140 leaves a checkout140: 7 20’s161
300140 leaves a checkout140: 7 20’s160
299140 is no good
Throw first dart at 19’s
129, 135, 139 leave a checkout
129: T19-T18-S18
135: T19-S18-T20
139: S19-T20-T20
170
164
160
298140 leaves a checkout
Avoid: 139, 136, 135
Avoid: 133, 132, 130, 129
140: 7 20’s158
297140 leaves a checkout
Avoid: 138, 135, 134
Avoid: 132, 131, 129, 128
140: 7 20’s157
296140 leaves a checkout
Avoid: 137, 134, 133
Avoid: 131, 130, 128, 127
140: 7 20’s156
295140 leaves a checkout
Avoid: 136, 133, 132
Avoid: 130, 129, 127, 126
140: 7 20’s155
294140 leaves a checkout
Avoid: 135, 132, 131
Avoid: 129, 128, 126, 125
140: 7 20’s154
293140 leaves a checkout
Avoid: 134, 131, 130
Avoid: 128, 127, 125, 124
140: 7 20’s153
292140 leaves a checkout
Avoid: 133, 130, 129
Avoid: 127, 126, 124, 123
140: 7 20’s152
291140 leaves a checkout
Avoid: 132, 129, 128,
Avoid: 126, 125, 123, 122
140: 7 20’s151

Notice for 309, 308, 306, 305, 303, 302, and 299, we’re not throwing the first dart at treble 20. This is because a single 20 will put you on a bogey. For instance, if you score 20 from 309 you’ll be left with 289 from which you can not reach a checkout with your two remaining darts. Start on 19’s and if you hit the single, two treble 20’s will take you to 170 for the next round. For 308, 305, 302 a single 19 is also a bogey, so start with 18.

290-231

A score of 140 is good at the top of this range, scores around 100 will work in the middle and 60 is not quite enough at the bottom of the range. A big score could leave you with a two dart checkout.

Bogey numbers to avoid: 169, 168, 166, 165, 163, 162, 159

ScoreCommentThrowLeave
290-276Need two big trebles.
140 is good.
Beware of bogeys for
scores of 107-131
140: 7 20’s150-
136
275100 is not enough
105 leaves a checkout
105: 4 20’s + 25170
274100 is not enough
104 leaves a checkout
104: T20-S19-25170
273100 is not enough
103 leaves a checkout
103: T20-S18-25170
272100 is not enough
105 leaves a checkout
105: 4 20’s + 25167
271100 is not enough
101 or 104 leaves a checkout
101: T19-S19-25
104: S19-T20-25
170
167
270100 leaves a checkout100: 5 20’s170
269100 is no good
99 or 102 leaves a checkout
102: T19-S20-25
99: S19-T20-20
167
170
268100 is no good
98 leaves a checkout
98: T18-S19-25
98: S18-T20-S20
170
267100 leaves a checkout100: 5 20’s167
266100 is no good
96 or 99 leaves a checkout
96: T19-S19-S20
99: S19-T20-S20
170
167
265100 is no good
95 or 98 leaves a checkout
95: 5 19’s
98: S19-S19-T20
170
167
264100 leaves a checkout100: 5 20’s164
263100 is no good
96 or 99 leaves a checkout
99: T20-S20-S19
96: S20-T19-S19
164
167
262100 is no good
95 or 98 leaves a checkout
95: 5 19’s
98: S19-S19-T20
167
164
261100 leaves a checkout100: 5 20’s161
260100 leaves a checkout100: 5 20’s160
259100 is no good
95 or 99 leaves a checkout
95: 5 19’s
99: S19-T20-S20
164
160
258-236100 leaves a checkout
Beware of scores below 100
that may leave a bogey
100: 5 20’s158-
136
23560 is not enough
65 will leave a checkout
65: S20-S20-25170
23460 is not enough
64 will leave a checkout
64: S20-S19-25170
23360 is not enough
63 will leave a checkout
63: S19-S19-25170
23260 is not enough
65 will leave a checkout
65: S20-S20-25167
23160 is not enough
61 will leave a checkout
61: S18-S18-25170

230-171

At this point you don’t need more than three big singles to leave you on a checkout for the next round, but one and two dart checkouts can be reached with a big score.

Bogey numbers to avoid: 169, 168, 166, 165, 163, 162, 159

ScoreCommentThrowLeave
23060 leaves a checkout.
Don’t throw a cover shot
after two 20’s
60: 3 20’s170
22960 leaves a bogey so move to
19’s after two single 20’s
59: S20-S20-S19170
22860 leaves a bogey so move to
18’s after two single 20’s
58: S20-S20-S18170
22760 leaves a checkout60: 3 20’s
57: S20-S20-S17
57: 3 19’s
167
170
170
22660 leaves a bogey so move to
19’s after two single 20’s
59: S20-S20-S19167
22560 leaves a bogey so move to
15, 18 or bull after two 20’s
65: S20-S20-25
58: S20-S20-S18
55: S20-S20-S15
160
167
170
22460 leaves a checkout60: 3 20’s
57: S20-S20-S17
57: 3 19’s
164
167
167
22360 leaves a bogey so move to
19’s after two single 20’s
59: S20-S20-S19164
22260 leaves a bogey so move to
15, 18 or bull after two 20’s
65: S20-S20-25
58: S20-S20-S18
55: S20-S20-S15
157
164
167
22160 leaves a checkout60: 3 20’s
57: S20-S20-S17
57: 3 19’s
161
164
164
22060 leaves a checkout60: 3 20’s
59: S20-S20-S19
160
161
21960 leaves a bogey so move to
19’s after two single 20’s
59: S20-S20-S19160
218-
171
60 leaves a checkout60: 3 20’s158-
111

170-159

If you’ve been paying attention, you’re on a checkout – so take it out!
If not, you’re not. Do your best to clean up the mess and take it out next round. If you get a next round.

ScoreCommentThrowLeave
170
167
164
161
Take it out!

(With 161, S20-S20-25 gets
you below 100)
T20-T20-Bull
T20-T19-Bull
T19-T19-Bull
T20-T17-Bull
169If you’d thrown one less point
somewhere along the way, you’d
be on a checkout now.
137: T20-T20-S1732
168If you’d thrown one more point
somewhere along the way, you’d
be on a checkout now.
136: T20-T20-S1632
166This is an awful number to leave.
You can’t even do something cute
with the bull to fix it.
What were you thinking?
134: T20-T20-S1432
165Hello? This isn’t a checkout.
2 20’s and a single bull leaves 100
133: 7 19’s
65: S20-S20-25
32
100
1632 20’s and a single bull leaves 98131: T20-T19-S14
65: S20-S20-25
32
98
1622 20’s and a single bull leaves 97130: T20-T20-S10
65: S20-S20-25
32
97
160Take it out if you can, but don’t throw
a cover shot after two single 20’s –
60 leaves a 2 dart checkout.
T20-T20-D20
159A) You shouldn’t be here
B) Don’t leave 99
127: T20-T19-S10
59: S20-S20-S19
32
100

Tip: Calculate your score remaining after every dart thrown. You’ll make fewer mistakes if you know your exact score before you throw your next dart.

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