The most electric atmosphere in sports might not be the Super Bowl or a Game 7 playoff matchup. It could actually be the World Darts Championship.
Thousands gather to watch legends play in a high-pressure environment, which makes for appointment viewing.
In this guide, we'll break down the rules of the sport and how you can bet on darts.
How to bet on darts
There's a lot of variance in how darts are played and the format changes on a tournament-to-tournament basis. In this article, we’ll refer to the common game of 501, in which each player takes a turn with three darts, reducing their score from 501 down to zero.
The player who reaches zero first wins what's called a leg. Some matches are set in best-of-11 formats, so the first player to win six legs would win.
In championship tournaments, you must win sets, which are comprised of a certain number of legs. Just be aware of how the tournament is scored prior to placing bets.
This is the simplest way to bet on darts. If you correctly pick the player who wins the match, you win the bet. Think of it as a moneyline bet.
One player will be denoted as the favourite, with a (-) sign next to their odds, and one will be the underdog, with a (+) sign. The odds vary depending on who is playing, but let’s use a match between Joe Cullen and Michael van Gerwen as an example. Here's how it could look:
Joe Cullen (+120) vs. Michael van Gerwen (-150).
A $100 bet on Cullen would win $120. A $150 bet on van Gerwen, however, would be required to profit $100.
The odds tell you how much you would profit depending on the stake you wagered and the implied probability of each player winning.
-250 odds: You would win $100 on a $250 wager (71.43% implied probability).
-110 odds: You would win $100 on a $110 wager (52.38% implied probability).
+175 odds: You would win $175 on a $100 wager (36.36% implied probability).
+300 odds: You would win $300 on a $100 wager (25% implied probability).
How to bet on darts: Handicaps
Think of betting handicaps in darts as spread betting in others sports. Sportsbooks set a projected margin of victory for the favourite, which it must cover to win in handicap markets.
Using the above Cullen vs. MVG example, let's assume they are playing a best-of-11 match (first to six legs wins). Assuming van Gerwen received a handicap of -1.5, he'd have to win the match by at least two legs to cover.
A final score of 6-4, 6-3 or better would cover van Gerwin's handicap.
If you wanted to bet on Cullen at +1.5, you could afford for him to lose the contest as long as he kept the scoring within one leg (6-5 loss). An outright win for Cullen would also cover.
Handicaps can also be alternated if you believe there will be a blowout. The line can be teased to widen the margin of victory, thus lengthening the odds of the favourite.
To post a 180 — the crowd-pleasing, maximum score for a turn — dart players must hit three triple-20s in succession.
Each player receives odds based on how often they strike 180. Both players can finish the match with an equal number of 180s, so a draw is possible, too.
You can also bet on total 180s, which is typically set around 5.5-7.5 for a best-of-11 bout.
How to bet on darts: Props
There are many props to wager on during a dart match. One popular bet is deciding if there will be a nine-darter or not.
A nine-darter entails winning a match or leg off nine shots, which is three full turns. There are 3,944 possible nine-darter combinations and each one will whip the crowd into a frenzy.
An operator would present the odds like this:
Will a nine-dart finish occur: Yes (+3500), No (-20000).
Correct leg score
This is a way for dart enthusiasts to bet on the exact way a match will shake out.
In a best-of-11 hypothetical match between Michael Smith and Gerwyn Price, a close game would be the most likely outcome and have the shortest odds for this market. You might see a 6-5 outcome listed at +500 or +600 odds.
A 6-0 outcome (which the sportsbook would deem incredibly unlikely) would have much longer odds, perhaps something in the +5000 range.
The odds would fall somewhere in the middle of +600 to +5000 if you bet on a finish between 6-1 to 6-4. It's also worth noting that you wouldn't get the same set of odds for each player.
If Price was the favourite, he would have shorter odds for each potential outcome. But predicting the exact score is not easy, which is why the odds would be fairly long no matter which outcome or player you wagered on.
You can also place bets after a dart match has already started. This is known as in-game wagering, which is a market you can read about more in our live betting guide.