'01 Games

'01 -- The Game

'01 Games are so named because each player starts with a "score" that is some multiple of 100 points and 1 extra. Darts thrown in each round add up a round score. The round score is then subtracted from the score. The first player to reach a score of 0 wins.

Common '01 games are 301, 501 & 701. 901 is also popular.

Each round a player throws, the score they accumulate is subtracted from their previous score. The first player to reach a score of zero wins.

There is a catch, though -- if you get a higher round score than your previous score you bust. When you bust all the points you accumulated in the current round are removed and you start the next round at your old score.

Elsewhere I mention that Darts is really Two Games with the Same Name. '01 is one of those areas -- '01 on a steel tip board is played with single/double bull, while '01 on a soft-tip board is played with a uniform 50 bull! Big hulking target in the middle there, that points up a bit.

WIP -- XXX strategy change of doubles/triples do point up more compared to DB hits, and other things, and why there are two kinds of out cards.


Evaluation of players in '01 is based upon PPD, Points Per Dart. Better '01 players have higher PPD. It's calculated by points shot down divided by the number of darts thrown:

It isn't the same as #rounds *3, because you might choose to not throw all 3 darts -- you might be frozen, or you believe you might bust. If you bust, you will be counted as having thrown all 3 darts -- even if you have only thrown 1 dart to bust! A bust is going to kill your PPD ... the bust points aren't accounted for, and you get 3 extra darts to lower your total PPD.

The game of '01 has some feats that distinguish players skills from one another.


Most variants of '01 games involve making it harder to get out, and making it harder to start taking points off the board. The typical way do this is to require players to double in and double out.

To start getting points - you must hit a double; the points made in the double and all subsequent throws count. Up until a double is hit, your darts don't take points off the board.

Doubling out requires that you get out -- goto 0 -- with a double. If you goto 0 with anything else, or get an odd score of 1 which means that you can't double out -- that round is treated as a bust.

For higher level plays they can require triple in/out, or even bull in/out!

Perfect Game

If you are a dart god, you can get out of 501 in 9 darts, and 301 with a 6 dart out. It's based on one or two rounds of 3x T20s. At least for 501, the people who have done it are famous. Want to get there? Start by working toward that perfect 301 out, then just get a second round of 3x T20s!

If you are looking to shoot the perfect 501 game, it's a 9-dart finish: after the two rounds of 3x T20s, 141 points remain, and that's a 3-dart out:

  1. (501) T20 T20 T20
  2. (321) T20 T20 T20
  3. (141) T20 T19 D12
There are a couple of different 3-dart outs from 141. I listed a common one.

There is a Wiki Article on 9-Dart Finishes. It lists the different finishes, and the people who have performed them. In other words, its quite the feat!

There is a Perfect 301 game; it's a 6-dart finish:

  1. (301) T20 T20 T20
  2. (121) T20 D11 D14
If you are playing single out instead of double out a common one is bullsye based with a 51 (T17) to end:
  1. (301) D25 D25 D25
  2. (150) D25 D25 T17


You want to get as many points as quickly as possible, and win with the fewest number of darts thrown in the fewest number of rounds. Sounds easy right? Well, there is a real underlying strategy of where to shoot at to accomplish that goal ...

Conventional Strategy

The conventional strategy playing '01 is to shoot bulls until you can start shooting outs.

Bulls are the in the center of the board and are a bigger target than the 4 higher scoring triples segments (T20, T19, T18, T17). The miss on a bull has an average of 10.5 PPD, instead of the miss on some of those triples segments -- which can be as low as 1 PPD. Ouch.

The thing is, I see people (including me) missing bulls and having wasted darts or entire wasted rounds, where they make no headway in the point battle. If you are hammering bulls they are a great target. If you aren't ... there are better things you can do:

Start & Midgame

Overall strategy for 01 games is based upon shooter precision. In the start and midgame, it's all about getting as many points as quickly as possible.

What's going on with that? It's all based on shooter error. The better the shooter, the smaller the area around their target they will hit.

  1. When things are really bad, aim at the bull and you are likely to get any score up to and including a bull... compared to losing a dart off the board.
  2. When things are going really good, T20 gets you the highest PPD.
  3. What's going on with that T19-Inner16-Bull arc?
    It's all based off of shooter error ... if you miss your target you still get decent points. Unlike the 1 or 5 quagmire surrounding T20. For Example, say you're shooting medium well; go for T7 (T19-T7-T16) If you hit it you get 21. If you hit the Ts to either side you get 48 or 57. If you single you get 7, 19, 16. Your average per-dart score would be 23, or 69 per-round, which (for me at least) is an decent '01 score.
    • ps: If you start hitting T7s a lot, your throwing is too good. Move to T19.
One Important Point to take home is that you still need to aim at a specific target to try and hit it. Don't shoot for the area, or a line on the arc. Shoot for a particular landing point on the dartboard on that arc. Otherwise you'll just be throwing random darts, and the statistical model and science goes out the window.

Wikipedia has a reference to this arc which I have simplified with my textual description:
Dart Aiming Arc
Here are some of the discussion, research & tools for this:

Why isn't the Bullseye a great target?

Well, it actually is. If you can throw decent bulls I think it's one of the fastest way of getting points on the board. The Bull is 2x as large as a triple, so it's easier to hit than a trip.

If you are looking to maximize PPD, there are only 4 triples that score more per dart T20, T19, T18, T17. So from that perspective, it's a better target than any other triples -- and it's larger too!

However ... its downside on a miss is worse than the downside on missing a triple in the same segment (the most likely trip miss). The average value of a miss is 10, compared to the average miss of a triple, which is about 50% higher! It's also a higher target on the dartboard, which is less likely to be hit as accurately as lower targets.

If you are throwing well a bull is twice as large as a triple to hit -- and 5/6 of the value of a T20. 3 Bulls is 150 PPR. The downside of Bulls is the "risk" -- the average miss is 10, a 5:1 risk, almost the same as T20. It's a risk because it both reduces your PPD and your round score from missing on a triple to a single.

When Does the Endgame Start?

If you are a great player the endgame starts when you get down to 180 and can get out with T20 T20 T20.

The thing is, if you aren't a great player you don't want to switch to the endgame that soon. Why? You can get out from almost anything 180 and less.

Here's the deal. If you aren't a great shooter you are unlikely to exactly score all three darts of an out. If you don't get out, the likely misses of the outs from the high scoring target is a low scoring segment, resuling in a low round score. Oops.

Instead of trying to get out from the limits of the out table .... Keep on your high-score mid-game technique until you get in a range that you stand a good chance of getting out. For me, that is currently "good" cricket triple, from 60 down to 36 (T20 .. T12). What is a "good" triple? Those trips that are surrounded by lower points, so you are unlikely to bust if you miss.


In the endgame it's all about getting down to zero & winning with your remaining darts. There are out tables which tell you what to throw to get out as fast as possible in the endgame. They are well worth studying and using. It's important to choose your out strategy before stepping up to the board so you can just throw instead of messing up your throwing rhythm with calculations.

One important thing about the outs is that you should plan your out on starting with a triple .. and not just any triple! Your out should start on a triple that if you miss that triple for a single -- that you still have outs with your remaining darts. Why? Because the most likely miss on a triple is the same single, and it gets you a chance to get out if your shot screws up. In other words, give yourself an out on your outs.

The other thing about an out is that it should end on on a double. The reason for that is that doubles are on the outside of the board -- either you double out, or you miss for a single and don't bust. If you end up playing double in/out in the future, you are already setup for that too. Personally, at my level of shooting, I'd rather have an out that ends in a single -- it's a big target for me, and I have the best chance of hitting it well. The only problem with that is -- hit a little low and I bust and waste a round. Oops.

There are other factors to consider:

Whew! What an intellectual and physical sport. Who'da thunk that?

Trivial example: two darts left with a count of 60. Shoot for T20 -- it is a natural out. If you miss for S20, you still have a D20 out next. Don't go for T19 + 3. If you miss the T19 for S19 the result is 60-19==41, and it is impossible to close this round. If you aren't hitting 20's, T18 + 6 is an out, and if you miss T18 for S18, you have 2nd out of T14 to shoot for.

OK, So how about a example matching all the criteria? Let's try 110: T20 + 14 + D18 or T20 + 18 + D16. If you miss the T20 for 20 new out is 90: T20 + D15. An even better out is: T18 + D18 So you don't need to shift aim between segments?

That's why the out tables seem somewhat arbitrary in their choice of outs ... they are trying to set you up on a backup out. The tables leave that "out" for you to "figure out", but it gets down to more than simple math instead it's optimal strategy.

A few other factors to consider on outs:

Out Table Ranges

There are a couple of ways of looking at ranges on out charts.

One way to think about it is that an out chart is divided by how many triples you need to get out:

That's how many triples you must throw in that range to get out. You can always throw more!

There are also two dart out tables. These are great to check or know if you miss your first in your 3 dart out, or get a lucky hit on your first which gets you in closing range.

Getting Out! -- '01 References

Here are some good references & techniques on getting out from '01 games. In particular a few of them tell you how to think about getting out, and what to do if you screw up.

The SEWA-Darts Out Chart for Novice players (near the end) explains a lot about thinking about getting out, and what to look for.

The hardest thing in the world

It can be the hardest thing in the world to walk up to the dartboard and hit player change instead of going for the win. It really takes an iron will to do it the first couple of times; get used to it and it will be easier.

It's just like playing a safety in pool -- deliberately giving up control of the table to put the opponent in a bind. Letting go when you can do something is tremendously trying.

As I say in cricket -- follow your good strategy; it will be a win in the long run.

And Sometimes you might decide you have to go for it. For example, your opponent is setup on an easy 1 dart out, and you throw 2 to get it down to 1 dart out for yourself. If you think they will get out in the next round, in 1 dart, maybe the thing is to go for it... If it is a complex out that takes three good hits ... play safe and congratulate them if they get it.

Pressure can make you excel, so don't worry about it -- sometimes you can pull off an elusive hat trick when you need it. I also know my shooting and my circle-of-error. I always shoot to try and win ... it just might not be this dart -- cause I don't think it'll be worse.

If you are playing team, it can be doubly hard -- play what you think will get the win and do it with no regret. One thing though -- ask your team -- they might have a better idea if you should go for it or take it than you do! They know and trust you too.

Multi-Player '01

There is no change to '01 strategy when you are shooting against multiple opponents. Get out fast.

The challenge comes when you are playing teams or partners, which is typical during league play. There is a so-called freeze rule which affects wins:

You must pay attention to your partner's score before going out, or shooting a round that you could go out in by accident.

When you are partnering with a player who is getting in the range of closing out it is your job to get enough points so that your partner can get the win.

You can also do one better and play defense: freeze the other team so that they can't get the win! You do that by trying to keep pace and basically stay below the score of the low scorer (higher in points) on the other team. If you partner is shooting good darts, step it up to make sure they aren't blocked from the win.

Say that the high scorers on the two teams are neck and neck for that 6-dart out in 301. The game will be decided in two rounds. The winner won't be the first one there -- the winner will be the one with the partner that gets enough points so they aren't frozen when they get there. It is a team sport after all!

Be sure to checkout my Things Not To Do in '01 Games to see how NOT to play some things in single or multi-player '01.

What I Do

As it says someplace else in my dart pages, I'm not a superb player. I don't do 20 PPD in '01 -- my average is around 13. Which means, statistically speaking, that I should lose a lot of games. I do ... but I also win games on occasion.

As I told a better player -- you are shooting better than I do, you win the games through skill. Every once in a while I'll win games against a better player because of luck. Luck is a factor in the game. A wasted round or wasted dart by the better player can put me back in the running, and give me a chance to win.

Taking Points Down

Do I use these strategies? Yes, I do and it helps my game. I'll also use the conventional strategy when I'm on, because it isn't bad when you are. If I'm getting a bull or two a round I'll stay on bulls, because it is the fastest out on the board. I know it is -- because I watch the good players shoot 6DO in 301; I watch other players open with a hat trick -- which gives them an incredible lead in the game, even if they suffer a wasted round later.

The thing is, if I'm not hitting bulls I need to play smart.

I used to use the aim error arc strategy I mentioned above. I slightly modified it to shoot at T7 -- misses are likely to go T19 or T16, with 7, 16, & 19 singles surrounding it. I modified my aim because it seemed to put me on a hot spot on the board with my shooting.

What I use now as a backup strategy are the left-side center board triples -- T14, T11, T8 as my fallback strategy. I did this change because the numbers are better. If I'm dead on T11 I can put down 99 points a round -- close to the numbers that a double-bull shooter can get. If I miss high or low I have two high value trips to miss into. If I miss in a bigger circle I still get an average of 11 PPD from shooting in that area. The kicker though, is the guaranteed. As long as I keep the dart on the board I'm guaranteed to get at least 8 PPD shooting there.

I'm actually shooting for T11, or the inside 11 bed. If I'm dead on I'll nail it. If I'm off a little I get a lot of good things. The reason for the inside single is that if my throw is bad or under pressure -- I'm more likely to keep the dart on the board -- and if it's really that bad I could luck out and get a bull by accident!

I switched to the "trip strip" because my shooting got better and I started hitting targets more. If I can't hit mid-board, I still can fall back to the error arc. If I'm really bad I'll just shoot for the bull in hopes of keeping darts on the board, and taking pressure off so that I can sharpen up and get back in the game. Sometimes it is just a matter of getting your confidence (or your alignment) back.

Missing bulls I could get all 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 -- about 33% chance of getting a abysmally low score -- a wasted dart on a throw. By shooting at the left triples I can alsmost guarantee a minimum score of 11 PPD -- better than the average of missing a bull.

This strategy is especially important when you are playing team '01. The people on the team that are behind must take points off the board so that their leader can get out. By playing smart I'm putting pressure on the opponent's partners, and will keep my leader in closing range.

It's still a good strategy playing singles. By always taking marks off the board I'm putting continuous pressure on my opponent. That can generate a wasted round and give me a chance to stay in the game and win it. If they are better they will win, that's how it goes. They'll hit their marks and be out.

Getting Out

As far as getting out is concerned, I've stopped looking at the high-end of the out table. I switched my out game to cricket triples, and a setup that gets me to one of those when I'm close or have one dart to throw in the current round. Fewer darts to throw exactly means I'm more likely to get out.


In other words KISS -- Keep It Simple Stupid!

I use a strategy that complements my skill level and accuracy in throwing.


Other people criticize me for all of this, sometimes quite a vehemently. The thing is, I don't get hat tricks on a regular basis ... but this stuff lets me keep the pressure on those guys when they miss their hat tricks and get a 6 point round instead.

As I say somewhere else, it isn't for the great players, but it works for me, and I see how it would work for other players who aren't yet great players.

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Last Modified: Mon May 26 21:38:45 CDT 2014
Bolo (Josef Burger) <bolo@cs.wisc.edu>