Cricket is one of the most well known dart games in the USA. It's the 8-ball of the dart-world -- everybody knows the object of the game.

Cricket -- The Game

The object of Cricket is to close out certain numbers on the dartboard. The typical cricket numbers are 20s through 15s and the Bullseye.

A hit on a cricket number is called a mark... but it only counts as a mark if

  1. You haven't closed out that number yet, OR if you have:
  2. All other players haven't closed out that number yet.
Doubles and triples on a cricket number give you double and triple marks. A bullseye is treated as a two mark double bull in the center of the bullseye, and a one mark single bull in the outer ring of the bullseye.

Closing out a number is done by getting three marks in that cricket number. That can be done by a single dart hitting a triple, three singles, or however.

The first player to close out all numbers wins. But wait -- it's more complex. Once a player closes out a number on the dartboard, and the other players have not all closed out that number -- it is possible for a shooter to score points using that number. Any further darts thrown at that number garner the thrower extra points equal to the value of the score for that dart. To win a player must both close out all numbers and have the greatest score.

The above combination demands a certain strategy to win. You can wind up in the unenviable position of having everything closed out, yet far behind on points. Or you can accumulate points to prevent someone who is ahead on marks from winning so you have a chance to keep on throwing and win yourself.

It's a complex game requiring both accuracy and strategy.


Evaluation of players in Cricket is based upon MPR, Marks Per Round. Better Cricket players have higher MPR. It's calculated by marks down divided by the number of darts thrown times 3:

The way to get the highest MPR is to always shoot triples, which will give you a MPR of 9.00 -- the highest possible until the last round of a perfect game where it will drop to 7.86 (vs 8.25 close with two double bulls, 6.99 three bulls) due to the lack of a triple to close the bullseye. Because of this, a player desiring a higher MPR needs to point up to drive the MPR higher. Only problem with that is the more darts your throw, the more you risk missing a triple (or not marking) and driving MPR down.

Cricket also has a number of feats to help distinguish players from each other.


The simplest brute force strategy is to close out the board as quickly as possible, which takes 8 darts: T20 T19 T18, T17 T16 T15, D25 25. Boom done, a perfect cricket game.

What happens when the other players start gaining points on you, which prevents you from winning with that perfect game, is where strategy is required. Basic strategy is that if someone has more points than you, is to

  1. Point up on numbers you already have closed, OR
  2. Close a number that the opponent has not then go to the above, THEN
  3. Go back to closing numbers, highest to lowest. **

** You want to keep your closings ahead of your opponents by going for new closings, forcing him to switch darts between closing & points, which is more likely to create a miss for him.

The reason you shoot from highest to lowest numbers is that you are closing higher numbers first -- which means your opponents have a harder time accumulating points on numbers you haven't closed -- a given dart you throw can out-point them at any time. Then you get back to the work of closing out marks.

That being said -- always Close numbers first that you already have marks in... even if they aren't the next lowest number to close. Why? Because you are most likely to close and point up. If you don't do this and try to close in order, you will give up an opportunity to get ahead and start chasing -- even from the lead! For example, say you had a wild dart to 17, and 18s are the next to close. Go shoot up 17s. If you get T17, you're up 17 points, and the 18s are still there. If you need more points, you are already shooting dead on your mark. Always take an opportunity to close marks and point up simultaneously. -- you make your opponent chase -- that's the whole purpose of cricket strategy!

How many points is enough? It depends on you and your opponent. If you are playing a straight-forward game, you may not need to have a commanding point lead. That being said -- being more than 50 points ahead can be a life saver in endgame. More than 50 because that means your opponent needs 3 bulls to close, and then another three bulls to win -- which might give you the chance to close bulls and win while they are chasing.

If you are playing a point whore -- someone who just points up excessively during the game instead of closing, you need to do something different. You need to point up yourself, but you also need to close out the marks they are pointing up on. If you don't divide your effort, you are leaving too many numbers around for him to point up on.

If you don't do this, you can be so far behind in points that it is no longer possible to win -- even getting 3 in a bed round after round leaves you too far behind!

The situation can seem to be more complex, but really it is what you need to do to stay alive, to prevent the opponents from winning on you. If you have marks closed, or just can't get points in those marks that you do ... you can try a mixed strategy of 2 darts for points, and 1 dart to close out a number (thanks Laps!). Either a new number close to keep ahead, or close up the number they are making lots of points easily on to stop them from getting so far ahead in points that you can't catch up.

Using an example to make this real:

It might seem crazy to go after 19s, but you need to to get points so you opponent doesn't both close out numbers and have more points than you. As long as you are ahead in points, your opponent has to catch up on points to be able to win, and can't be closing out additional marks without creating a giant deficit.

If suddenly you are behind point later and find yourself in a similar situation ... say a bunch of numbers are closed in a tight race and suddenly opp gets points on 15s (instead of 20s) you gotta do it -- close 14 and get points (or go back and get points on stuff that your opponents didn't close out, then close 14s.

Why wouldn't your opponents close out numbers like that? Well, you need to get ahead in points. If you are closing out more numbers than your opponent he'll need to divide his throwing between points and closing. You can close a new number and stay on it for points, which means you aren't switching targets and you are more likely to get the points, due to less target switches.

This can get messy if your opponent has a bunch of stuff closed --

  1. say they have a perfect first round: T20 T19 T18. You should respond in kind: T20 T19 T18 to keep them in check. Say they point up instead: D20 D20 T19 (20) You need to go immediately for points T18 T18 (54) to get ahead, and then T20 to shutdown their point source. That leaves T19 for them.
  2. Next round they should point up T19, (77) then T17 T16.
  3. You respond T15 T15 T19 (84)
  4. ... and so on

Note that being behind isn't horrible -- you only have to switch targets once to stay ahead, while to keep ahead your opponent has to switch targets twice. Sure they can do the same to get extra points, but if they do that they aren't keeping pressure on you to keep ahead in closings.

Multi-Player Cricket

When you are playing Cricket against multiple opponents, you need to adjust your strategy a bit.

The basic thing to take into consideration is that a cricket number isn't closed out until all players have it closed. You should divide your efforts to both close out numbers and gain points. You can gain points on more numbers since the leading opponent isn't making them unavailable for you to score on.

If you don't, you'll be far behind when your opponents start closing out numbers, or there are no numbers left for you to point-out on.

Think of it this way -- it's no longer a heads-up situation, and you need to play a larger field to make sure you get to a heads-up situation. At some point you'll typically be heads-up against the other player who is shooting as well as you are. You need to have a field that both lets you point-up, and close out all marks.

One mistake you can make is to close out numbers that other "trailing players" are making points on. If you do so you make it impossible for them to win. The problem with that is -- if you aren't in a position to go heads-up against the other leader -- you will likely lose because of the advantage they have on you.

If you are playing Cricket Teams, you and your partner are both shooting on the same Cricket score. You both need to be on the same page with this (or your) Cricket strategy.


What is Chasing? The simple answer is that it is bad cricket strategy. The reason there is a whole section about it is that there are so many players who chase.

You should know about chasing so you don't fall prey to it by accident, or so you can ask yourself Am I chasing? If it's your partner, recognize the symptoms so you can tell them something about it, or what to do to shoot to win.

Chasing is trying to keep up with the leader shooter. They get T20, you go for T20, etc. The problem with that chasing is reactive. You are reacting to what they are doing instead of making them react to what you are doing. You need to get in control, so the are forced to divide their efforts between closing and points.

To stop chasing you need to do something to make the opponents divde their efforts. T19 T19 T20 Suddenly you are in the lead... if you miss the T20 you are still in the lead!

Players who shoot darts very well are often chasers because they shoot well. The thing is, if you're shooting second and the other person is just as good as you are -- you are going to lose!

Even if you are in the lead, you need to look out for chasing from the lead. Just because you are two numbers closed ahead doesn't mean you shouldn't point up. There are numbers on the board right now you can point up on. They could go away once you get off the board -- a nice 5-6 mark round by your opponent can can suddenly change the tempo and character of the game. Say they have two marks on a number and get a triple -- boom they pointed up big time, and they still have two darts to throw.

So ... There are numbers on the board that the you can close and get points on. So, get some points up while you have numbers to point up on to save for a great round by your opponent or a crappy round by you.

Say you took two darts to close out a number, get some points while you are here instead of shifting targets. Throw the third dart at the same target and point up! If you are 51 points up the other team needs to get ahead of you by 2 bulls beyond closing the bull to get the win .. which can get you breathing room.

Another way of saying this is to take advantage of every opening that you have created. If you have a slight edge somewhere use it now before that edges is taken down by your opponent.

Nuances of Cricket Strategy

I've already mentioned too many nuances of cricket strategy above in the basic strategy. I should try to seperate them out and move them to a section of beyond basic cricket strategy!

Cricket on Soft-Tip versus Steel-Tip Boards

Your Cricket throwing strategy needs to change when you shoot on different kinds of boards. This is because Steel Tip and Soft Tip boards are actually quite a bit different from a cricketers perspective.

What changes is the size of the Triple and Double rings -- on a traditional (steel-tip) board they are quite a bit smaller than on a soft-tip board. The double/triple area on a soft-tip board is about double the size of a double or a triple on a steel-tip board! However, the total area of the double+outer_single+triple area is roughly the same.

Shooting soft-tip you want to go for triples more often. You are way more likely to get the trip and close a number or point up with every throw.

Shooting steel-tip you are better off going for the outer (fat) single segment. It's a larger target, so you are more likely to hit it. If you're off and on-segment -- you are likely to get a double or a triple. You are also less likely to miss out-segment and not get a mark.

I've seen good soft-tip cricket players follow this same steel-tip strategy shooting soft-tip -- to their benefit. Getting marks is what wins the game, not having 5-9 mark rounds surrounded by wasted rounds.

Shooting soft-tip when the game is on the line, I think you need to follow the steel-tip strategy. I'll totally admit my throwing is aimed for going at cricket triples ... but I do switch it up to just get marks down when I'm not throwing well, or it is critical. Going for a larger target area takes pressure off of you, which can make you throw better.

The other nice thing about the fat segments is that they let you make the same throw again and again to hit -- even with a margin of error a bullseye fits in the fat segment. A triple segment is still a smaller target than the bull, even on a soft-tip board.

Who knows if this advice is any good?

I wrote this thing because I've been looking for a strategy to follow to help me play better darts.

  1. One reason this started is that ... one day I was practicing darts. One of the guys at the bar wanted to play a game, and I was happy to have an opponent. The problem is that he became angry with me because he thought I was a sharking him (we weren't playing for money). Why was he angry? I was shooting well but was "behind" because I wasn't using correct strategy to win. He thought I was sandbagging, which is why he became so angry a couple of times!
  2. This really started because my friends' dart games improved when they shot league and I had to learn how to get better to have a chance of keeping up with them.

I'm not a professional darter, I enjoy darts but I'm not striving to be a tournament level shooter like I try for in pool. Yeah, if my throwing gets better I'd like to shoot in a local tourney! This strategy is stuff I've used to help me keep up and win games versus local league players. It works better compared to what I was doing before. It can make me competitive in league against good players. My weak point is still my throwing! It was developed by research on the web, and a lot of help from the guys getting better shooting darts for league.

Talking to a near-pro darter who does interact with pros, his outlook is quite different on this strategy. Basically he says it is wrong. From meeting and watching pro shooters throw, you need to tie strategy more closely to your opponent. Be strong where you opponent is weak to keep ahead of them, and arrange stuff to give you the most benefit the same way. For example, close and make points on a cricket number that your opponent has problems with -- he'll be less able to shut you down!

Another point he made is that my strategy assumes great throwing, lots of triples for example. Yes, my stuff above uses a lot of continuous high performance shooting to illustrate a dart game. The thing is .. it isn't unrealistic. I see (& know) people who shoot like that, and I "scare" them every once in a while by shooting well enough to keep on their tails. When that happens, an aggressive strategy keeps you going. Once people start missing and the situation broadens in scope, the game slows down a bit... and I think the advice here still works. It also provides a simple illustration of the principles involved, without going into conditional strategy! AKA It's simple.

There was a recent situation that I've been asking about. I was subbing league, we were in a points race with the opposition, who had more closures than we did. We were keeping alive by making points on two darts, and then using the third to close out things we didn't have three marks in. Finally, except for bulls, we had everything closed except their point maker (15), and they had everything closed except our point maker (16). I threw T16 to top in points (3 points over), 15 to shut them down from making points, and #3 (miss) at the bull.

The question I had ... was should I have done that, or T16 T16 then 15? I came back later with a 2x bull, but they still won, they got 4 bulls before we got 3 to win. I was really debating when I was throwing, about whether to do what I'd done or plan B -- should I have put the points difference. >BULL (51 pts) so that they needed 5 bulls to win instead of only 4?

Talking to Matt, the answer isn't solid from high level strategy, but he pointed out to me that points are like a safety net. He recommends to point up when in doubt about what to do with a dart.

The suggestion is that my strategy is too passive, responding and trying to keep up to the opponent. Instead of being more aggressive and getting out ahead of the opponent. I disagree a bit, but I see his point. Part of that is because I am the player who is behind, my shooting isn't as good as the people I shoot against, and this is a way to manage being behind.

Following something like this you are being aggressive. You are taking control by pointing up, forcing the opponent to point up instead of close, and directing the game so you stay alive. If they shoot every dart perfect I'll lose, they'll out dart me. If they make misses and I have good strategy I might stand a chance of winning, but again my throwing is going to control if I have an opportunity to do so or no.

I gotta make a I'm in the lead strategy guide to tell the leader what they need to do to win. This stuff actually works well for that too, but probably pointing up as well as closing is the way to go. Gotta talk with people and try it out ... just gotta find people who are about as good as I am, instead of dart gods to shoot with.

I'll incorporate some of this stuff into the main strategy as comments later; I wanted to mention there is a "pro" strategy and that this isn't it.

Cricket Strategy References

Steel Tip Cricket Strategy

Elsewhere I mention that darts is really two games -- soft tip and steel tip.

I recently started playing with a Steel-Tip player who also shoots soft-tip, and found his strategy to be a bit different than typical soft-tip players. I've mentioned this before in a different context, but seeing it in action was quite a bit different, and this has more details as to Why?

Basically, good steel tip cricket strategy is to put all three darts in a round into a single segment. This is because the triple and double segments are smaller (than soft-tip), and you are likely to need all three to close.

Even if you close, you keep throwing at the same segment, because you are more likely to get all three darts in.

Of course, if only 1 mark in the segment matters (you are closing something the opponent opened) -- you'll have to move your aim, or waste the rest of your darts :-)

Even when playing soft-tip, this works well because you don't need to change your aim. You are likely to close and to point up, and more likely to point up big with the extra area in the doubles and triples segments.

Games played like this go differently. Point totals run up into the sky as people compete for both points and marks. It is just an exacting battle as a get out fast strategy ... and usually the winner is the one who gets a Wasted Round at a critical stage that lets the other get out.

More Strategy Notes

After 6 months of playing darts at a higher level, and watching others play good darts, and seeing a lot of matches, I have a few fine-point adjustments and notes on cricket strategy. Instead of combining them with my current Nuances of strategy, I put them here so I can see what changed.

Never Give Up -- Never Surrender!

I think I mention this numerous times in this document, but I want to repeat it all in one place. It's important!

Always play your strategy, even when things are going horribly wrong and you are favored to lose. You have choosen a strategy because it is a long-term winner. Just because the current shooter is way better than you, don't break up that strategy and try chasing. Keep on it, doing the right thing. Even if it doesn't work, and you lose ... you'll have the satisfaction that you played the best game you can play.

Remember to have fun throwing your darts: you'll throw better than worrying about every shot being a game loser for you. Throw like you normally do when things are going well; relaxed, confident, and following good strategy.

This is good for you ... and it will also make your opponent worry -- they can see that you know what you are doing and just keeping on it. It might pressure them into a few wasted darts (from pressure) that might put you back in the game.

Your opponent will also respect you -- they know you know how to play. You an argue that respect is good or bad -- but they will take you seriously -- which adds pressure on them to win! That means they might make a mistake. Sometimes that's all you can hope for when you are being outshot.

What I Do

I mention elsewhere how I shoot -- currently I'm pretty stable at 1.3 MPR in cricket games. My shooting is inconsistent -- going from back to back by purpose 5 mark rounds to 0 mark rounds and 1 mark rounds. I often do better than 1.3 MPR -- but the hunt for bulls at the end drags my MPR into the ground. Ouch.

I follow the conventional strategy of closing out marks in order 20..15..BULL. It works and is what everyone expects. It is good strategy!

One thing I do is to take advantage of my own wild throws. I'll try closing the marks I'm going for. If I get a wild mark somewhere I'll try to close it immediately the next round. The wild throw is something to take advantage of and try to point up on -- it can make your opponent start chasing. Don't hate the wild throws, use them!

How I mix it up is to take advantage of a lack of accuracy in my own shooting. If I'm shooting really badly I'll try going for the triple segment between neighboring cricket segments:

If my throwing really sucks, I'll stand a good chance of hitting cricket numbers, and either closing them out pointing up on them. If I find myself suddenly shooting really well, I only have to move my aim point one trip left/right to pound my mark.

Bulls are currently my nemesis playing cricket. I can often close the numbers on the board in 17 rounds. Then I and spend another 18 round failing to get 3 bulls. It's a big target, but I miss them on a regular basis, even though I practice them a lot -- where I miss them too!

Playing partners, I use a combination of conventional and my unorthodox strategy to help shutdown numbers and point up quickly. Which hopefully means my partner can get the bulls to finish up. If I have some wild throws which mark up bulls -- even better. I have a better chance of hitting a bull on a wild throw to a cricket number than on purpose :-(

Cricket Variants

There are a couple of variants of cricket that are either common, fun to play or both ...

The Credits

There are many people who have helped me with my dart game in general and my cricket game in specific. They are all mentioned in the dart credits.

Many fine points of "my" cricket strategy come from a lot of cricket games with Laps. Played both with and against him. He puts up with a lot of my skill, which is less than 1/2 of his average MPR. My dart shooting has gotten a lot better as a result!

Steve often corrects goofy ideas I get from running the numbers and playing to my own strengths. He points out that sometimes you can't just look at the numbers -- the seemingly riskier strategy is often the safest.

I often try to stay alive, so that I can have a chance to get the win. Trying to go for the win first can be the way to go -- the bull is larger than the trips, and 1/6 of the bull will get you two marks w/ one dart.

If you are playing in a handicapped league, or ranked tournament, my safe strategy also has a pitfall. It drives up your MPR by going for points, giving you a worse handicap, or making you play against opponents that are actually more skilled than you -- they get their high MPR by playing well, not by keeping points going to stay alive.

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Last Modified: Sat Jun 21 14:29:37 CDT 2014
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