Category: Analysis

Twitter Poll: With 3 darts and 68 left, where do you throw your 1st dart?

I don’t think there are any wrong answers to this poll. Each option leads to a common double, but each also has some risks.

The most important consideration is that you absolutely must leave 60 or less after the first dart to give yourself the best chance of having at least one dart at an outer ring double.

Treble 20
Pros: You’ve been throwing at the T20 the whole game, so it’s a comfortable shot. A T20 leaves 2 darts at D4 for the win. A S20 leaves 48, which easily leads to D16 or D20 for the final dart. Even missing into the T5 works – a S13 leaves Tops.
Cons: Miss on either side of the 20 (S1, T1, S5) and you’re looking at a Single to leave Bull or a Treble to leave an outer ring Double. Even if you hit the T20, S4-S2 leaves D1 for your return to the oche. I’m not sure I’m in that much of a hurry to get to The Madhouse.

Treble 16
Pros: T16 leaves 2 darts at D10. S16 leaves 52 which is a Single away from D16 or D20. Missing high into the 8 is fine (S8 leaves 60, T8 leaves 44). Missing low into the T7 leaves 47 which is also a Single away from D16 or D20.
Cons: Missing low into S7 leaves 61 and will require a Treble with the 2nd dart or a Bull finish.

Treble 12
Pros: T12 leaves 2 darts at D16. S12 leaves 56 (S16-D20 or S20-D18). Missing into the 9 is fine (S9 leaves 59, T9 leaves 41). Missing into the T5 leaves S13 for Tops.
Cons: Missing into S5 leaves 63 and needing a Treble with the 2nd dart or a S13 to leave Bull.

I’ve used all of these over the years, but I’m now going the T12 route. I prefer to have my first chance at a double be D16 or D20 and almost all of the outcomes of aiming at T12 with the first dart lead there.

While it does come down to personal preference where to throw the first dart, keep in mind that that choice is also deciding which Double you’ll have to hit to win the game. The last dart is much more important than the first.

The Bogey Numbers

A bogey number is a score than can not be taken out in the same number of darts that a higher score can be taken out.

Everyone knows the bogey numbers, right? 169, 168, 166, 165, 163, 162, 159

170 is the highest score that can be taken out in three darts while lower scores 169, 168, 166, 165, 163, 162, and 159 can not. We learn these numbers so we can give ourselves the opportunity to land on the higher number that gives us a chance to win the leg in the fewest number of darts rather than the lower number that will require an additional visit to the oche.

If you have one dart in hand and a score of 186, it would be a mistake to throw at treble 20, as a single 20 would leave you on a bogey 166 that you won’t be able to finish on your next round. Better to throw at treble 19 and let the single leave you on 167, which you can take out in style on your next visit.

Tip: If you have 220 left after two darts and the treble 20 is blocked, don’t switch to a different treble – they’ll all leave you on a bogey number. Instead, throw a double bull to leave 170.

Score with 1 dart in handThrow atLeave
18919 (T19)170 (132)
18818 (T18)170 (134)
18619 (T19)167 (129)
18518 (T18)167 (131)
18319 (T19)164 (126)
18218 (T18)164 (128)
17919 (T19)160 (122)

But those seven are not the only bogey numbers. There are actually 77 numbers that can be considered a bogey, depending on how many darts you have in hand.

You probably know not to throw at the treble 20 when you start a round with a score of 119 – a single 20 will leave you on 99, which can’t be taken out with two darts. That makes 99 a two dart bogey number. If we follow our rule that a bogey is any score that can’t be taken out in the same number of darts as a higher score, we see that because 110 can be taken out in two darts, 109, 108, 106, 105, 103, 102, and 99 are all two dart bogey numbers.

Extending this to one dart, since 50 is the highest one dart out, everything below 50 that can’t be taken out in one dart is a bogey: 49, 48, 47, 46, 45, 44, 43, 42, 41, 39, 37, 35, 33, 31, 29, 27, 25, 23, 21, 19, 17, 15, 13, 11, 9, 7, 5, 3.

I’m sure you were already aware of these bogey numbers, even if you didn’t necessarily call them that. But wait, there are more!

If 170 is the highest score that can be taken out in three darts, what’s the highest score that can be taken out in four darts? That would be 230 (170 plus another treble 20). So anything less than 230 that can’t be finished in four darts is also a bogey. These are the four dart bogey numbers: 229, 228, 226, 225, 223, 222, 219. How do you use this information? Just like the example above with a score of 186 and one dart in hand, if you have two darts in hand and a score exactly 20 point higher than any of these bogey number, don’t throw at treble 20, because the single 20 will leave you on a bogey number. Simple, right?

Score with 2 darts in handThrow atLeave
24919 (T19)230 (192)
24818 (T18)230 (194)
24619 (T19)227 (189)
24518 (T18)227 (191)
24319 (T19)224 (186)
24218 (T18)224 (188)
23919 (T19)220 (182)

As you can see, each additional dart available increases the bogey numbers by 60. Since 290 can be finished in five darts and 289 can not, that makes 289 a five dart bogey number. Because you can take out 350 in six darts but not 345, 345 is a six dart bogey number.

Here are all 77 bogey numbers:

1 dart bogey numbers: 49, 48, 47, 46, 45, 44, 43, 42, 41, 39, 37, 35, 33, 31,
29, 27, 25, 23, 21, 19, 17, 15, 13, 11, 9, 7, 5, 3
2 dart bogey numbers: 109, 108, 106, 105, 103, 102, 99
3 dart bogey numbers: 169, 168, 166, 165, 163, 162, 159
4 dart bogey numbers (1 dart in hand): 229, 228, 226, 225, 223, 222, 219
5 dart bogey numbers (2 darts in hand): 289, 288, 286, 285, 283, 282, 279
6 dart bogey numbers (3 darts in hand): 349, 348, 346, 345, 343, 342, 339
7 dart bogey numbers (1 dart in hand): 409, 408, 406, 405, 403, 402, 399
8 dart bogey numbers (2 darts in hand): 469, 468, 466, 465, 463, 462, 459

So, am I really saying you shouldn’t throw at treble 20 with one dart in hand and 369 remaining? I am. Throw at treble 19. If you hit treble 20 you return to 309. If you hit treble 19 you return to 312. (I think 312 is a better number anyway, but either way it will take you at least six more darts to finish.) If, however, you hit a single 20 you will return to a score of 349, which can’t be taken out in two visits. Hitting a single 19 with that last dart has you returning to 350 which can be taken out with rounds of 180 and 170. Are you going to hit it? Probably not. But the chance of you taking out 349 with six darts is exactly zero. Leave yourself the possibility of something great happening.

As for the higher bogey numbers, I include them mostly for completeness. I had to work to find a situation where you could land on one. Ready? Your first visit you throw a single 20 and two single ones, leaving 479. (Don’t pretend you’ve never done this.) The first dart of your next turn is a single 20 leaving you on 459, which is an 8 dart bogey. What does that mean? It means you’ve just blown your chance at a 12 darter – you can’t take out 459 with 8 darts. That first dart should have been thrown at 19’s where a single 19 would have left 460, which can be taken out with seven treble 20’s and a double 20.

I know it seems absurd to be worrying about a 12 darter after opening with a 22, but whenever you land on a bogey number, you’re giving your opponent three more darts to beat you. You may think that with 459 and two darts in hand you can just work your way down and ‘fix it later’. You can’t. Once you’re on a bogey number, you can throw big treble after big treble and you’ll still be on a bogey number. Throw five treble 20’s from here and you’ll have 159 with three darts in hand. Bogey number. The 12 darter was gone the moment you hit the single 20.

These higher bogey numbers are pretty much irrelevant if you’re not a world class player. Your scoring average will dictate that you’ll be giving your opponent quite a few more than three extra darts over the course of a leg (and he’ll be probably giving them right back to you), but as you get closer to a checkout (or become a better darter!), landing on a bogey number will cost you a leg that you could have won. So don’t do it. Avoid even the highest bogey numbers and give yourself the chance to win in the fewest darts possible.

The Middle Dart

The first dart is the sledgehammer, pounding the big treble to create the possibility of a big checkout. The final dart gets all the glory, smugly sitting the the bed of the chosen double for the win. Ah, but the middle dart. It’s the middle dart that is the key to victory. It’s the middle dart that transforms possibility into opportunity.

For any big checkout, your first dart is obviously important but it’s your second dart that will determine if you get a shot at a double. Learning, and practicing, the two dart outs will not only make you a better dart player, it will give you the confidence to take out larger checkouts.

With two darts in hand, you can take out 110, 107, 104, 101, 100 and anything less than 99. For 70 or less, the rules are simple. For 71 and up, you’ll need to commit the best routes to memory.

If your score is 60 or less, throw the single that leaves you on a preferred double for your last dart, e.g., if you have 54, throw a single 14 to leave 40.

For 61-70, you should either throw the single that will leave you 50 for the final dart, or the treble of that number to leave an outer ring double. For example, if you have 65 remaining, a treble 15 will leave you with 20, but a single 15 still leaves you a shot at double bull to win. [Practice Routine]

For 71-100 (excluding 99), you will need to hit a treble to leave a double for your final dart. For 101, 104, 107 and 110 your only option is to finish on a double bull and you’ll need to hit a big treble to get that chance. (There are a few situations where double-double is a reasonable option, but that will depend on your skill level and whether your opponent is on an out.)

The graphic below shows you the recommended paths to a double with two darts remaining.

Although there may be other ways to checkout some of these scores, the paths above are the most common and straightforward and constitute key way-points when planning how to checkout larger scores. For instance, once you learn the two dart out for 89 is treble 19, double 16 (57-32), the checkouts for 149 and 109 become obvious – with 149 a treble 20 gets you to 89 and with 109 you can safely throw for a treble 20 knowing a single 20 leaves you with 89.

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Twitter Poll: With 3 darts and 104 left, where do you throw your 1st dart?

The results of this poll are very surprising. The top two results, T18 & T20, are actually the two worst options. With 104 left, it’s not about what you’re trying to hit but what happens if you miss. With both T18 and T20, a stray dart into the Single 1 (or Single 5) will leave you with two darts in hand and no chance for a checkout. A path of T18-S18-D16 has the added danger of the second dart joining the first in the Treble 18 for a painful bust.

A better option would be to start with Treble 19, Single 15 to leave Double 16. A miss into Single 7 leaves you with another attempt at Treble 19 to leave Tops. A miss to the right, into a Single 3, is a bit more difficult, requiring a Treble 17 for a Double Bull finish.

The best option is to start with a Treble 16, Single 16 to leave Double 20. An inadvertent Treble 16 with the second dart is no problem at all – just a Double 4 to win. Missing the first dart on either side of the 16 will still leave you with a two dart finish that doesn’t require a Double Bull. Four sixteens, Double Top, safety on both sides…that sounds like the smart way to go, right?

Occasionally, when I point out the dangers of a stray dart, the person I’m talking to will state that they’re not going to miss, which is the right attitude I guess. Unfortunately, even Michael van Gerwin misses the 20 completely with over 5% of his throws at Treble 20. Some top pros miss the 20 over 10% of the time. The average dart player probably misses 20-30% of the time. If there’s a way you can miss and still have a chance to win, isn’t that the smart play?

Questions? Comments?


Twitter Poll: How do you checkout 150?

This site prefers the T19-T19-D18 route, but the poll respondents overwhelming prefer to start with T20. This is fine, but I question staying on T20 with the second dart. Over two-thirds of these players stay on T20 to leave themselves a D15 checkout, which is not considered a favorable out shot.

This chart, from @ochepedia, shows how often PDC players finished on each double in stage matches since December 2016:


Over 14,000 Doubles hit to win a leg and less than 70 of them were on Double 15. Compare that with nearly 900 on Double 18 and it’s pretty clear that the best dart players in the world would rather finish a leg on Double 18 than Double 15. So keep that in mind when you’re building a path to a checkout. By choosing to throw T20 with your first two darts, you’re also choosing to finish on Double 15 over other, arguably better, options.

The better option, in this case, is to finish on Double 18. Since T20-T18 and T19-T19 are both worth the same number of points (114), it’s just a question of whether you’re more comfortable switching from T20 to T18 or throwing both of the first two darts at T19.

Questions? Comments?


The Bullseye Is Your Friend

Bullseye!When working your way down to a checkout, don’t forget the middle of the board. The bullseye offers both the highest Single and the highest Double score on the board.

We know there are quite a few 2 dart checkouts that end with Double Bull, like 110, 107, 104, 101 and, quite often, the 61-70 range, but there are also some interesting three dart checkouts that start with the Bullseye.

Let’s take a look at a few of them (with three darts in hand):


So why throw at the Bullseye instead of a Treble? Well, for starters, the total area of the Bullseye is about 3x the size of a Treble bed. Granted, the area of the Double Bull is only half the size of a Treble, but this still leaves you with a Single Bull that is more than 2.5x the size of a Treble. For every six darts that find part of the Bullseye, five of them will probably end up in the Single Bull.

This works well for 61 & 65 where a Single Bull will leave two darts at a Double.

From 66, a Double Bull will leave two darts at D8 or a Single Bull will leave you at 41, which is a manageable Single 9, Double 16. The danger is in missing the bull completely and possibly not getting below 61. (If you can get down to 60 or less with two darts remaining, you can finish with a Single and a Double.)

For the checkouts in the 80’s, the advantage of throwing at the bull is that a Single Bull will leave you with 60 or less. 82 is the best of these in that the Double Bull gets you 2 darts at Double 16, but a Single Bull still leaves a manageable 57. The disadvantage is that most of these turn a Treble-Double two dart checkout into a three dart checkout.

Throwing a Single Bull with a score of 91-95 leaves you with 66-70, which can be taken out with a Treble-Double or Single-Double Bull. For example, 91 can be taken out SB-T16-D9 or SB-S16-DB. There is a small risk here of having the Double Bull blocked by the first dart in the Single Bull. Hitting the Double Bull with the first dart leaves 41-45, which can be taken out with a Single-Double combination. Unfortunately, all of these turn potential two dart checkouts (Treble, Double) into three dart checkouts. It’s probably best to go the Treble-Double route.

122 and 125 work well with either a Single Bull or Double Bull first dart. Any bull and one Treble gets you to a Double. This seems better than having to hit two Trebles to reach a double.

132 and 135 also work with either a Single Bull or Double Bull first dart, but have a little added risk in possibly needing to finish with a Double Bull with a Single Bull already in the board.

It’s not a checkout, but keep the bullseye in mind when working your way down to 170. Throwing your third dart at bull instead of the 20’s with 195 or 192 is a smart move – a Single Bull will leave you on a checkout where a Single 20 will not.

To become more comfortable using the bull, try the Two Dart Options practice routine on our Practice page.

Questions? Comments?