Whether you’re a seasoned sports fan or a new supporter, darts has undoubtedly become bigger and better than ever over the last few years. And if watching the electric drama of seeing Michael van Gerwen and co. at the oche wasn’t enough to get you excited, the growth of betting on the sport certainly should.
While there is steady profit to be made on darts betting, the vast majority of punters fail to unlock that full potential. So, let’s resist the bull and focus on hitting tops with these tips on everything you need to know about betting on one of the fastest growing sports on the planet.
A Quick Look At Darts As A Sport
Darts is a very simple game to understand. It involves two players who take turns to throw three darts at the board. The players start on a score of 501, and the points scored with each throw are subtracted until they ‘checkout’ by reaching 0.
The board itself is separated into 62 scoring sections. The middle red circle is the ‘bull’ and worth 50 points while the green part around it is the ‘outer bull’ and worth 25. Then there are number 1-20 around the board. However, there is an inner ring which counts for treble the points and an outer ring that counts for double. As such, the maximum score thrown with three darts is 180 (triple 20 x3).
To win a game, otherwise known as leg, of darts the winning player must ‘checkout’ by hitting a double or the bullseye. In some tournaments, known as ‘double in’, players must also start on a double. A perfect leg of darts is called a nine-darter, and is when a player wins with the minimum amount (nine) darts.
A darts match lasts longer than just one leg, though, and is scored in one of two ways:
Legs Play: The players simply do battle to reach a set number of legs before their opponent. This could range from first to 6 legs to first to 18 legs. In some tournaments, a match can only be won if there is a margin of at least two legs. Meanwhile, in the Premier League, matches are best of 12 legs, which means there can be a 6-6 draw.
Set Play: Set play still requires players to battle each other for legs. However, they are grouped into mini matches called sets. Sets are commonly a best of 5 legs, although the final set usually has to be won by at least two legs. As with tennis, winning the match requires winning a certain number of sets. This could range from a race to 2 sets to a race to 7 sets.
These two match variants are utilised by both the PDC and the BDO, which are the two main governing bodies.
Up until 1993, all major darts events were operated under the British Darts Organisation. However, spearheaded by Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor, many of the top players split from the company to form the Professional Darts Corporation (formerly the World Darts Council) in 1993. Both companies still run today, with the PDC being far more popular – and lucrative – than the BDO.
However, both corporations still run a number of fantastic events throughout the year while some events even accept players from both organisations. As with many sports, many of the top players use smaller events to play their way into form. As such, knowing the main events is essential information for anyone just starting out, as they are the ones where things should go to plan.
The PDC’s biggest events, otherwise known as ‘ranking titles’, are the ones that everyone wants to win. They are as follows:
PDC World Championship: The biggest event in the sport, played in December & January.
UK Open: The FA Cup of darts as some amateur players are included too.
World Matchplay: Held at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens. Legs format.
World Grand Prix: The biggest ‘double in’ tournament. Sets format.
Grand Slam of Darts: Legs format and includes players from both PDC and BDO corporations.
Players Championship Finals: Held in November, the big one before the World’s.
European Championship: Legs format, with the final being a best of 21 legs.
In addition to the ranking events, there are a number of non-ranking events that attract huge popularity from a betting perspective as well as a sporting one.
The Premier League darts sits at the top of the list, and is a 15-week tour that involves 10 of the world’s biggest stars. Played on Thursday nights, it has grown into the most loved event after the World Championship.
Other big events that are always worth betting on include the Champions League of Darts, The Masters, and the World Series of Darts. There is also a World Cup of Darts, which seems teams of two do battle to win the trophy for their country.
The BDO may not carry the same level of popularity, but there are still four majors that you can bet on. They are:
BDO World Championship: Held just after the PDC one. Has been running since 1978.
World Masters: A sets event, like the World Championship.
BDO World Trophy: Legs format, held in Wales.
Finder Darts Masters: Uses a combo of legs and sets throughout the event, held in the Netherlands.
As you get used to betting on darts, you’ll probably move onto the smaller PDC events that take place virtually every week for 11 months of the year. For most players, though, the main events will be the best place to start, not least when familiarising yourself with the various markets.
Darts Betting Markets Explained
As the sport of darts continues to grow in popularity, the betting companies continue to add new markets. In fact, some bookmakers now even allow punters to create their own darts betting bets on the big PDC World Championship and Premier League matches.
Understanding the markets is a crucial first step en route to building a winning betting method. Let’s take a look at the most common markets.
The most obvious darts betting market is to simply bet on the winner of the match. Whether it’s a match over the legs or sets format, you just need the chosen player to come out victorious. This is very popular for accumulator building too.
Predict the exact sore of the match. While predicting the precise outcome of a race to 18 legs, for example, may be tough, the odds can be huge. Predicting the score in a sets format is a good way to increase your odds compared to the straight match result too.
As mentioned above, the maximum score that a player can get with three darts is 180. This is something that the best players do several times per match. When used well, betting on which player will hit the most can be used to achieve great value.
The checkout is the score that a player started on their final visit before getting to 0. This value can range from 2 (double 1) to 170 (treble 20 x2, bullseye). Some players take out the big scores on a more frequent basis than others, which makes it a great market to target.
Several bookmakers allow you to back a player to win the match, get the most 180s, and score the highest checkout. It’s a riskier bet than any of the individual elements, but can be the best way to back a player to dominant.
Much like a football handicap line, the bookies will give the underdog a hypothetical advantage (for example 1.5 sets). The idea is to bet on the winner once that handicap has been applied. If you think it’ll be close, back the underdog. If you think the favourite will storm it, this boosts the odds.
Several markets are available ranging from how many 180s a player will score to whether they will checkout above a certain score. This way, you are betting on the player’s performance and don’t need to worry about what the other person does.
A range of other markets can be made available depending on the match and tournament. Nonetheless, the ones mentioned above are the primary points of focus.
Now that you understand darts as a sport as well as the various darts betting markets and which tournaments are worth betting on, it’s time to start thinking about the best ways to bash the bookie. All will be revealed in part 2!