Far from just a much-loved pub game, darts is also a professional sport and that enjoys a healthy degree of interest. Although its roots are firmly located within the United Kingdom, the influence of the sport has begun to spread worldwide. In addition to a peak of 1.25m British viewers for the 2020/21 PDC World Champions, darts’ highlight event also plenty of keen fans from the likes of the Netherlands, Germany, USA, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Belgium, Spain, Italy and Austria.
Although often engrossing enough in its own right, many people like to heighten their enjoyment of watching darts by placing a bet or two on the action. Others simply fancy taking advantage of their knowledge and/or hunches in the pursuit of some profit. Whatever your reason for having a flutter on the arrows though, darts is a sport you will find offered across major bookmakers.
It is easy to see just how much of an influence betting has had on the sport in recent years. In 1998, the PDC World Championships was sponsored by a beer brand (Skol) with a prize fund of £72,500. Skip forward a decade and the now Ladbrokes-sponsored event had a prize purse 10x as large. Another decade on and thanks to the sponsorship of William Hill, the total cash up for grabs has leapt to a whopping £2.5m. Obviously, there is a range of factors involved in this growth but it goes to show it is a sport that many bookies do take seriously now.
Most Popular Darts Bets
When betting on darts it is important to know what the scoring rules are because they can vary from competition to competition. Some tournaments will operate a legs-only format, where it might simply be “best of 11 legs”, which is effectively the first to six.
In others, however, players are required to win a particular number of sets in order to win a contest. To win a set, a player will need to claim a certain number of legs before their opponent manages to do so. The number of legs a player needs to win in order to claim a set is usually three (best of five) but not always.
Ensuring that you are aware of the format of the game – that is, the best out of how many sets/legs the two players are playing – is important when it comes to placing your bets. It also shapes what markets are available for a particular match, as we will now explore.
Match betting is what most punters opt for when placing their bets on darts. It is definitely the most traditional option as you simply need to choose the winner of the contest. There will only ever be the choice of two options, either player X or player Y as there is no possibility of a draw in darts. One thing you will notice when eyeing up match betting odds is that you do not find too many extremely long or short prices. Unless your mate from the pub has somehow arranged an official match with Michael van Gerwen, then you will need to look at sports such as horse racing or golf for a 100/1 shot winner.
In most cases with darts, you will have one player trading at odds of less than even money (1/1) and one player trading at or over even money. One real-life example to immediately appear on our screen was a clash between Luke Humphries (4/6) and Raymond van Barneveld (11/10). It can happen though, although much more rarely, that you will find players so evenly matched that they are available at the exact same price. When this happens, both will be slightly under evens, most probably 5/6, although it will ultimately depend on what margin the bookmaker is working on. Margins are something we will focus on in much more detail towards the end of this guide.
While a straight-up match winner bet remains the public’s preferred option, handicap bets do have a good amount of appeal. With these, the basic premise is the same in that you are aiming to pick the player who wins, only this time the player has a handicap value attached to them. Bookies will often provide a range of handicap values that work either for or against a particular player. A +1.5 leg handicap means that the player receives the advantage while a -1.5 leg handicap means they would effectively start from behind.
Typically, you will see leg handicap values vary from around 1.5 to 3.5. The reason the values are given with .5 rather than as whole numbers is to ensure there remains an outright winner and no chance of a draw. Be aware though that some bookmakers may offer what is known as a three-way handicap, in which the handicap amount is a round number. By doing so the option of a draw does become available and is one usually available at fairly good odds.
How Handicap Betting Works
But anyway, back to the main point, how does handicap betting work in practice? Say you bet on a player with a -1.5 handicap and they win the game 7-4. This would be a winning bet because once the 1.5 leg handicap has been subtracted, they remain ahead 5.5 legs to 4. Had the actual final score finished 7-6 however, your bet would be a loser as the handicap adjusted score would be 5.5-6.
We have mentioned Humphries and Van Barneveld in an earlier example but we are going to borrow them again in this best out of seven game to show you how handicap odds work.
|Handicap Betting||Odds||Handicap Betting||Odds|
|Humphries -1.5||11/8||van Barneveld -1.5||2/1|
|Humphries -2.5||3/1||van Barneveld -2.5||9/2|
|Humphries -3.5||17/2||van Barneveld +1.5||8/15|
|Humphries +1.5||1/3||van Barneveld +2.5||1/5|
|Humphries +2.5||1/8||van Barneveld +3.5||1/25|
Even during a close match-up like this one, through handicap betting you can unlock some much longer (and much shorter) odds. There are two main situations in which people tend to head towards the handicap market. One is when they are confident that the strong favourite will win comfortably.
By backing them with a negative handicap, they can still pick their favoured player while enjoying a significantly better price. The other situation is when they sense a possible upset but still believe the favourite may narrowly triumph. By backing the unfancied option with a positive handicap, they will still have a winning bet even if their selection ends up falling just short of winning.
Set Handicap Betting
Obviously, for set handicaps to be an available betting option the game would need to feature sets rather than just legs. If not, you would only see the leg handicap option as described above.
Should it be available though, you can basically read the above two paragraphs and replace every instance of the word legs for sets. Whatever set handicap you bet on will be applied to the chosen player’s score at the end of the game. If they are still ahead after this, then your bet is a winner.
Professional darts is not for the faint of heart. You need a lot of composure and an incredibly steady hand if you are to make it to the top. For those of you who are similarly as brave when betting on darts, the correct score market is one that is likely to pique your interest. While not easy to get right, pull it off and you will end up well rewarded most of the time. To highlight this, we included the correct score odds of a best of seven legs clash between John O’Shea and Kevin Burness.
Obviously, the more legs in a match the bigger the odds will become as the number of possibilities increases. Even when it is just best of seven though, the worst available price is 7/2 so it is one straightforward way of increasing your returns on a particular game.
A score of 180 is always something that works up a big crowd when boomed out from the microphone. After all, it is the biggest score available and something that most players will not hit more than few times per set or even match. Should you want your 180s to be extra pleasing though, it is possible to make money from them through a small range of related betting markets.
According to a PDC article published in 2018, your typical professional player will successfully make 8% of 180 attempts. At the very elite level though you could expect a top player to enjoy a 20% success rate so there is a decent amount of discrepancy to be found. If you rate one player’s treble twenty prowess far more than their opponent’s, then this is something you can have a flutter on.
As the name of the market indicates, you just need to pick the player who achieves the most 180s during the course of the entire game. The betting options will be Player A, Player B and Tie/Draw as in this market both players could wind up with the same total of maximum scores.
In most cases, you will find that the available odds for most 180s reflect the match betting odds. So, the slight favourite will remain the slight favourite while the minor underdog remains the minor underdog. At least one, if not both of their prices will improve a little though thanks to the addition of the extra outcome (a tie).
Player Total 180s
If you cannot quite decide who you believe will register the most 180s, at some bookmakers you can simply bet on an individual player’s total instead. How this typically works is that there will be a market stating a player and a number of 180s, for example, Gerwyn Price 180s 2.5.
You will then have two betting options, either to bet under 2.5 (2 or fewer) or to bet over 2.5 (3 or more). Additional quantities of 180s bets should be offered but the exact number may differ depending on the length of the match and the players involved.
Just as before but rather than betting on an individual’s total, you are betting on the collective total in the game. One example would be having total 180s 4.5 and then betting over (1/1) or under (3/4). If you were to bet over in this instance, it would not matter if Player A racked up 5+ and Player B failed to make any, or vice versa, as it is only the combined total you care about.
In a best of 11 clash we found between Chris Dobey and Ricky Evans, Coral offered the following prices for a total 180s bets. For the sake of comparison, we have included the individual player odds too.
As you can see, there is a fair amount of variation in the 180 betting with odds ranging from 1/12 to 6/1. It is certainly one of the areas, along with leg handicaps, that gives you the option of playing safe or going risky when watching the darts.
Finally, the last and most minor 180 betting option relates to predicting how many 180s there will be in a particular leg. This is a simple choice of yes or no, will there be at least one 180 scored in, for example, leg 2. Sometimes both options for this will be trading just under even money although the quality of the competitors involved can swing this in either direction.
We have had a section dedicated to 180 betting as aiming for the maximum score is an integral part of the sport. You can not win a game on these big scores alone though, in order to take a leg a player must successfully bring their score down to precisely zero while ending on a double score.
The checkout itself does not refer to the very final dart but the entire final turn played. If a player steps up to the oche with a score of 80 and then hits a treble 20 and a double 10, this two-dart play is considered their checkout (and their checkout would be 80).
Leg Checkout Score
Nothing too complicated about this betting option as you are simply betting on what score the player who wins the leg will checkout from. Rather than the daunting task of picking the correct number, usually what will happen is you will be given an option of either a) 40 or below b) 41 or more. It does not matter which player checks out in this instance, just as though it is above, or below the number you have bet on.
For this market you need to choose the player who you think will obtain the highest checkout. The maximum checkout score is 170 (T20, T20, bull) but do not expect to see this as it is a rare sight!
All legs are taken into consideration so the high score can come earlier on or at the very end of the game. There is no option for betting on a tie within this market so in the very unlikely event this occurs we would imagine dead heat rules will apply but check with your own bookie to be sure.
Highest Checkout Score
Finally, if betting on the highest checkout score (2-way) this relates to the highest score either player obtained. Your job is to simply select if this number is above or below the one stated in the market, for instance 112.5. Should you bet ‘over’, if either player checks out with a score of 113 or greater, across the entire game, your bet will be a winning one.
Other Darts Bets
By this point we have covered everything we would consider to be a major betting market for a darts match. Some bookmakers will stick to offering just a limited number of the ones we have mentioned while others will give their customers access to the vast majority.
There are those that go even further too by throwing in a couple of extra and somewhat ‘obscure’ betting options. These are not ones you will easily find but look around and you can stumble across them.
First Break of Throw
Do not worry, there is nothing violent about one player breaking another in darts. It simply occurs when the player who begins the leg, ends up losing the leg. For betting purposes, you are not after when this will occur but rather who will be the first the break. If you choose player A to break first, this means they will be the first one to successfully win a game while throwing second.
Fairly recent PDC data revealed that professional matches will see an attempted 170 checkout (treble 20, treble 20, bullseye) around one in every fifteen legs. We must stress the word ‘attempted’ here as it is far from an easy finish to execute for those who do attempt it.
Also known as ‘the big fish’ it is a rare and often boisterous way of checking out. Given that it is something that most darts matches go without, big odds are usually available for this even when involving the top players.
Even more rare than a 170 checkout is dart’s most challenging task, a nine-dart finish. This is the minimum number of darts it takes to go from 501 to zero. There are actually 3,944 ways of going about it (we won’t list them all!), but pulling it off is an extremely tough ask.
So much so in fact that there is a Wikipedia page dedicated to listing every instance of a televised nine-dart finish. So, while an extremely long way from what would consider a safe bet you will enjoy a huge payout if you correctly predict a nine-dart finish.
Outright Darts Betting
Outright betting involves betting on the winner of a competition or tournament, rather than one specific match. For particularly large tournaments, for example, the PDC World Championships, bookies may release odds several months before the competition begins. For tournaments/leagues lower in stature, you may only find that the odds appear just before it begins.
Typically, an outright market will stay open throughout the event but obviously, odds will begin to shrink for those left as others drop out. It is worth noting that aside from the World Championships, outright darts bets do not receive much attention. A fraction of bookies do cover other events in advance but ultimately the demand is not there yet to make it a regular fixture across brands.
Darts Betting In-Play
In-play betting has taken the betting industry by storm in recent years. More and more punters are placing bets on live action, often in addition to watching footage live either on TV or through a bookmaker’s website/app. Across sports, wagering a few quid on a contest you are watching can certainly increase the entertainment factor, especially if you stand to win a decent chunk of cash. In-play darts betting is particularly exciting though because of its fast-paced nature and subsequently volatile markets.
In a typical football match, you can easily find that the odds do not really change much at all for five or 10 minutes. Providing nobody scores or gets sent off, there is no major reason for them to do so. With darts though, the odds will regularly be going up and down, often several times a minute. This is because many games are so short that even one bad three dart attempt could tip the balance against a player. Even in the time it took to write that last sentence, Michael Rasztovits went from 12/1 to 6/1 then back up to 10/1 to recover from the losing position he was in.
The match betting outcome, along with several others, are quite volatile so it pays to have a good internet connection and to be using a fast website/app. Do this and you give yourself a much better chance of confirming your bet before any price drops. Not all in-play markets will be quite as topsy turvy though. Betting on the winner of the next leg (rather than the current leg) for instance should stay reasonably stable. Similarly, things like the player to score the most 180s can stay quite constant as you can go a fair period without a player picking up the maximum score.
As for your betting opportunities, you should find that in-play markets are widely available, especially with the larger bookmakers. It is not unusual to find 10+ different markets so you are far from limited to just betting on the match victor. Generally, you will only find markets that we have mentioned earlier in this betting guide through live betting. There may however be one or two extra such as the winner of the next leg.
Multiple Bets & Accumulators
When gambling, there is no right or wrong approach to take. Some of you might prefer to put relatively ‘safe’ bets while others may be more attracted to big prices in search of a bigger payout. To keep all our readers satisfied, we have been sure to highlight instances of both long and short-odds across a variety of darts betting markets. So far though we have focused our attention on ‘single’ bets. Simply put, this is just a bet on a single selection relating to one match.
It is, however, possible to add numerous selections to a physical or virtual betslip and combine them into one single bet. Rather than placing three separate bets on three individual darts matches, you can place one bet which will include the entire trio. Doing this is an easy, and very popular way of creating a long-odds bet. Even by combining just a few selections, the odds end up multiplying at quite a rate as we will now highlight for you.
PDC Super Series Fixtures Example
Let us say you wanted to bet on a few upcoming PDC Super Series fixtures. You have your eye on John Michael (13/10) to beat James Wilson (4/7), Ron Meulenkamp (2/5) to beat Lisa Ashton (9/5), Daryl Gurney (4/9) to beat Jason Heaver (17/10) and Bradley Brooks (10/11) to beat Robert Thornton (4/5). Now, let us say you wanted to wager £10 in total across these clashes. If betting standard singles, this would mean wagering £2.50 per match.
|Selection||Bet Type||Stake||Odds of selection||Potential Returns|
|Michael to beat Wilson||Single||£2.50||13/10||£5.75|
|Meulenkamp to beat Ashton||Single||£2.50||2/5||£3.50|
|Gurney to beat Heaver||Single||£2.50||4/9||£3.61|
|Brooks to beat Thornton||Single||£2.50||4/5||£4.50|
|Total:||£10||£17.36 (£7.36 profit)|
As you can see, even though you have successfully made four correct calls, you have fallen short of doubling your initial stake. What happens though if we instead make a four-fold (also known as an accumulator) bet in which we place one bet that covers each of the four selections?
|Selection||Bet Type||Stake||Odds of selection||Potential Returns|
|Michael, Meulenkamp, Gurney and Brooks to Win||Accumulator||£10||7.3/1||£83.72 (£73.72 profit)|
The difference, we are sure you will agree, is huge and it is the reason why accumulator bets are so attractive. In this example, you have four perfectly realistic outcomes yet you can turn that £10 into potentially a lot more. There is one major drawback though, this being that every single selection must win otherwise you will say goodbye to your stake and all your potential winnings.
If Gurney slips up for instance and loses his match, you win absolutely nothing. If betting singles instead, you would still be in profit because the remaining three games would provide you with a return. Not only will bookmakers allow you to combine virtually any number of matches into one bet, but you are not limited to sticking with the same market.
If, for example, you wanted to pick Meulenkamp to win, Gurney total 180s over 3.5 and Brooks to with a -1.5 handicap this is perfectly fine. The only thing you cannot do is combine markets that feature within the same match. Combining two selections is known as a double bet, three a triple and then four or more is referred to as an accumulator (or it will be simply called four-fold, five-fold, and so on).
Who Provides the Best Darts Odds?
We would love to provide you with a definitive answer to this question as the better the odds you receive, the better your chances of scoring a profit in the long run become. Unfortunately though, there is no one bookie that leads the way when it comes to darts betting and you will find this is a common picture across most other sports. Some bookies may offer the top odds for one player in a particular match, but they will not offer the top price for the next match.
Additionally, it is virtually impossible for a bookmaker to offer a top price for both players because they would end up losing money. To highlight this point, we chose a random clash involving two recognisable players (Evans and Dobey) and then selected five bookmakers at random to show the available prices. In the final column, we have included the bookmaker margin, which highlights what is effectively the house edge.
Example of Two Equally Matched Players
To explain what we mean, think of an example where two equally matched players have a 50% chance of success. If the bookmakers offered odds of evens (1/1) on each player, their margin would be 0% because of the implied probability of both bets, based on the odds of 100% (50% + 50%). If they offered a much more likely 5/6 for each though, then the implied probability totals 109.11% so there is a 9.11% margin in it for them.
For this one particular contest, Unibet offered the smallest margin (so the combined best value odds) but was not offering the top price for either player. So, while you would have received good odds on both players, you would not have received great odds. The thing about these margins too is that they are not fixed, far from it.
Margins Vary Significantly
You will find that margins vary significantly between matches at the same bookmaker. Going through a run of daily darts fixtures at Coral, for instance, and the margins went from 8.43% to 6.50% to 7.75% to 6.29%. You will undoubtedly find such fluctuations at every other bookmaker and across other sports too.
Just Stick with Your Favourite Bookie
Obviously, nothing is stopping you from checking the best price available for a particular bet you are eyeing up and placing it at that bookmaker. It can be a fair amount of additional effort though for potentially not much extra money. If you are someone who makes infrequent, but large bets, then it is worth your time doing so. But for everyone else, you may as well just stick with the bookie you like the most.