How to Hit the Bullseye Betting on Darts
Darts is booming. With Barry Hearn and Matchroom Sport elevating the game to unprecedented levels, never before has such a simple ‘sport’ attracted so much attention – worldwide! Traditionally, darts is a game played in British pubs; it has since materialised into a global phenomenon with countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany and Canada boasting some of the best players on the planet. Played in front of Arena full of 12,000+ fans, tournaments such as the World Championships, World Matchplay, Premier League and Darts Grand Slam have transcended darts into a multi-million pound business with everybody wanting a slice of the action.
The simplicity of darts plays into the hands of us punters, allowing markets to be easily digested and understood. Limited variations of the 501 format are included in the PDC’s season; only the Grand Prix bucks the trend with a ‘double in’ rule to start each leg, where a player needs to start with a double as well as ending with a double. Other than that, tournaments only vary regarding set and leg totals – with this also changing as you get deeper into the tournament.
Match Winner – allows you to bet on who you think will win the match.
Draw No Bet – only available in the Premier League. It allows you to back who you think will win. However, your stake will be refunded in the result of a draw.
Correct Leg Score – this allows you to bet on the exact score of the contest (when the tournament is scored in legs).
Correct Set Score—this allows you to bet on the exact score of the contest (when the tournament is scored in sets).
Most 180s – bet on who you think will hit the most 180s in a match.
Total 180s – this allows you to bet whether you think the total amount of 180s will be under or over a specific number.
Handicaps – back a player to win or lose, after applying a positive or negative handicap to their score.
Highest Checkout – this allows you to back who you think will record the highest checkout in the match.
9-Dart Finish – back whether there will be a 9-dart finish in the match – usually at high odds!
To Win First Leg – this allows you to back who you think will win the opening leg of the match. This will always heavily favour who has the ‘throw’ in the first leg. However, it’s an excellent opportunity to get good odds on a break of throw.
Darts is a sport of fine margins – often allowing the underdog to prevail. In search of value in the betting markets, it’s important to trust the form of a player in the particular tournament, rather than their perceived form as judged by rankings or tournament wins. Players who are ranked in the 60s and 70s can often hit a purple patch of form over a weekend tournament, with the higher ranked and more experienced players using these tournaments to trial new darts, fights, or techniques (Peter Wright is a fine example of this).
Gamblers should also consider the length of the match. For example, many European Tour events occur over the weekend, with a majority of the games being a race to six legs; this short format is a perfect opportunity for underdogs at a great price to get the victory.
Stats don’t lie. It’s crucial to remember this when picking apart the value in the more detailed markets such as 180 hitting. A common misconception is that the best players will find the 60-bed more often than the lower ranked players. This simply isn’t the case. Arguably the greatest player to have picked up a dart – Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor – often opted for the 19s after striking two 60s. With his darts often lying low, finding room for another dart would prove problematic for Taylor, so a score of 177 was often the resolution in a particular throw. When a player is so comfortable in coming down to the 19-bed in a cover shot, 180s can become a rarity – something to consider when placing bets on the number of maximums.
Finding stats can be a little tedious. However, the search will allow you to have a lot more confidence in your betting when looking into the more technical markets.
Combination finishes are a thing of beauty in darts. For example, finishing a 139 out-shot requires a treble 19, a treble 14 and a double 20; a real mix of targets all in different segments of the board. When backing the player to hit the highest checkout, history in making these shots is crucial as many players have proved to be very one-dimensional in their game. The repetition of hitting 180 after 180 can look pleasing to the cameras, but combination finishes are where matches are won and lost – often separating the men from the boys. Players like Raymond van Barneveld and Simon Whitlock have made a career out of their combination finishing and can often turn a leg on its head with such skill.
Much like a serve in tennis, the player who throws first in a leg in darts has a significant advantage – a three-dart advantage, if you will, over the opponent. The knowledge of knowing who is throwing first in a match can have a HUGE impact on the result, especially the shorter format ‘race-to-six’ matches that were mentioned earlier. Therefore, waiting until this information is known is crucial before betting on the match winner market, or the correct leg score market. Two similar players with a similar ranking will often be priced up the same; backing the player who holds the opening throw to get the win will more often than not pay dividends.
One of the most profitable betting strategies for darts comes in the early stages of big tournaments. The most prestigious competitions in the darts calendar are widely considered to be the World Championship, Premier League, Matchplay, Grand Slam, Grand Prix, UK Open, Players Championship and European Championship. In these tournaments, upsets are more of a rarity, and the likelihood of the favourites notching up a massive win in the opening rounds in heightened.
In these instances, backing a range of leg scores to materialise can prove profitable. For example, the early stages of the World Matchplay comprise of matches that are a race-to-ten. Here, we can comfortably back the favourites for the tournament to rack up a couple of annihilations of the lower ranked players. If we were to back the top four seeds to win their opening match in the range of 10-2 to 10-6, we would see significant profit in a majority of Matchplay years.
Another profitable strategy is to target the over/under leg market. Picking a winner can often prove tricky in darts due to the fine margins involved in a typical match, so plumping for the ‘overs’ leg market in a 50/50 event can often prove lucrative.
Assessing the draw is also an essential element when devising your darts betting strategy. If a player who is currently in form has a favourable quarter of the draw, backing him for the tournament win with a mind to ‘cash out’ further along the tournament can often reap the rewards. Daryl Gurney was a prime example in the 2017 season, with a run of form which took him deep into a number of tournaments. Granted, he didn’t turn all of them into wins, but the Northern Irishman would have been a great price pre-tournament, with a profit being made upon cashing out around the quarter-final, semi-final stages.
Using these betting techniques should allow you to squeeze as much value out of the market as possible, however, in a sport that is determined by millimeters, there will always be an element of risk involved.
Making sure that you understand the market that you are betting on is a serious feather in your cap when it comes to a sport like darts; a game where backing a match winner can often be lacking in value and assurance.
As is true in all sports betting – do your homework! The form is crucial in a sport which is so reliant on mental strength and confidence, with players wavering throughout the hectic season. There are always risks attached to betting. However, if you study the markets and the sport to the finest detail, there is no reason why you can’t make a tidy profit while watching the ‘arras’!