The game 301 ("three-oh-one") is one of the most commonly played dart games for both casual pub darts and tournament play. It is a countdown game in which all competitors start with 301 points and race to zero. One game consists of three "legs," or three races to zero. A match generally consists of three games. The game may be played in teams or as an individual competition, with two or more teams or players. In team play, each member plays one complete leg to complete a game. As in all traditional pub dart games, each player will throw three darts on each turn. Play rotates until one player goes out.
Starting the Game
For tournament play, each player will be allowed to warm up by throwing a total of nine darts. Each competitor will throw one dart to determine the order of play. The player landing a dart "closest to the bull," or nearest the bull's eye (or nearest the center of the bull's eye, if multiple bulls are thrown) will go first; second closest is second, and so on.
Players will throw three darts per turn, in rotation. Each player must first land one of his darts in the narrow "double" ring around the outer edge of the numbered pie-shaped wedges, or in the red "double bull" before any of his points will be scored. Longer games, like 501, are usually played as "straight in, double out," with no initial double required.
The first score will then be two times the the number (1 through 20) associated with the wedge, or 50 points for a double bull. A "single bull" in the (usually) green circle around the red double bull is scored as 25 points. A dart in any wedge scores the number of points equal to the number assigned to that wedge. Those points are doubled for darts in the outer ring and tripled for darts in the narrow ring midway to the center of the board. Thus, the triple 20 is the highest scoring area on the board at 60 points. The points for all three darts are totaled and subtracted from 301, or from the total remaining at the start of each turn.
Faults and Bad Darts
A dart will not count if the thrower's toe extends over the toe line before the dart is released. Leaning over the line is permitted as long as the thrower is not touching or holding on to any fixture or person for assistance. For steel tip darts and bristle boards, the dart must stick in the board and remain for 5 seconds or it will not be counted, though some house rules may stipulate 3 seconds. Darts that miss the number grid, bounce off the board, fall short of the board or fall out of the board in less than 5 seconds are scored as zero and may not be rethrown in that turn. In electronic dart games using nylon tip darts and automatic scoring by the machine, the machine is always right. If the machine scored the dart, even if the dart fell immediately, the score stands. However, if a dart remains stuck in the grid, but the machine did not tally the score, it is permissible to tap the dart in to activate the scoring mechanism.
Players in 301 must "double in" and "double out." A player must end up with exactly zero points to go out and win the leg. The final dart must be in the outer double ring or the inner double bull. If, in the course of throwing three darts, a player's score becomes negative, he is said to "bust." None of his darts count for that round and his turn ends. Also, if his score is reduced to 1 point in the course of his turn, this is also a bust, as it is not possible to double out with only 1 point remaining. Finally, a player will bust if he reaches exactly zero without scoring a double on his final dart. For instance, if he has 30 points remaining, he will shoot for the double 15, which is near the triple 10. If he hits the triple 10 instead, he has busted and his turn ends without any change in his score for that round.
Nick Slade began writing broadcast news copy in 1985. He published a nonfiction book in 2010. He has been writing web content since 2010, with work appearing on sites such as "Off the Grid News" and "Consumer Health Reports." Slade has a Bachelor of Arts in humanities from St. John's University and he studied journalism at the University of Minnesota.