What is Bust in Darts? Explained With Pictures

  • By: Sue
  • Date: November 16, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

One of the most important concepts, especially for beginners, is bust. What is bust in darts? How do you avoid it? And what are the consequences of going bust?

What is Bust in Darts?

A “bust” in darts is when you throw a dart that hits a score greater than the remaining score you have left to check out and win.

To understand this, let’s go over how the scores are calculated in a game of darts.

How Does Bust Affect Scoring in Darts?

When playing darts in traditional games like 501 or 301 the objective is to be the first player to get to zero.

Each darts player will start with a score of 501 points, also known as “the rules of 501” or “501 up.” All of the ’01’ games in darts are played in the same way. You start with that number and then players will take turns throwing three darts per round.

With each throw, the score for the throw is calculated and deducted from the player’s total score. For example, playing 501, if a player hits a bullseye, a 20 and a triple 20, they will score 50 +20+60=130, and their score will reduce to 371.

When closing out an ’01’ game, players must hit a double. If they accidentally get more points than are left or they hit the exact points but without a double, they bust, and that round of 3 darts is not counted.

3 Ways to Achieve a Bust

A bust happens while playing darts in 3 instances:

  • You’ve scored too many points.
  • You scored the exact points to finish, but you didn’t finish on a double.
  • Your score is left with 1 (which can’t be a double). The minimum number you can be left with is 2.

You’ve hit a higher score than you need to win. This is because a winning throw in darts is determined by whether it brings your total score down to exactly 0.

Examples of Bust

Lets look at different instances of bust with examples and pictures:

1. Leaving Just 1 Point

example of bust with 1 point remaining
Busting with 1 point left

You have 32 points to check out and win. For the first throw, you hit a 16, and for the second, 15. At this point, you’ll have “busted” the game. Why? Because your total score will have been reduced to 1 – see diagram above.

So, instead of playing your third throw, your previous scores will not count, your turn will be over, and your score will be returned to what you had at the start of the turn (32 points per the example).

2. Too Many Points

too many points = bust
Bust by hitting too many points.

In this example, you have 32 points remaining, and in going for a double 16, you hit 16. Then as you have 16 remaining, you go for a double 8 but miss and hit a double 11. This makes your score 38 and you bust.

3. Exact Points But No Double

no double bust
Example of no double bust.

In the above example, the player hit the exact points to checkout but did not use a double. As it brings their score to exactly zero, they bust.

4. Example of Winning Without Busting

suceess without busting
Winning without busting.

Alternatively, if the player scores 16, then hits a double 8 on the second throw, then their score will be reduced to exactly 0, and they will have won the game. This also means that you could win without having to throw all three darts during your turn.

In this example, there is no need for a 3rd throw as you have won just using 2.

Also, note that whether you start with 501 or 301, they are played exactly the same way.

Is Bust a Good Thing in Darts?

A bust is not a good thing in darts because it delays your closing out and gives your opponent a chance to win if they are in a position to do so.

What Happens if You Bust in 501?

When you get a bust during your dart throws, three things can happen:

  • Your round ends there, even if you’ve only thrown one or two darts instead of the maximum of three darts per round
  • Your score is reset to the original score you had before the bust. So, if you had 12 points at the start of your round and you get a bust, you’ll start with 12 points in your next round
  • The third is tied to the second, where you lose the points for any throws you make before a bust for that round.

When Would You Want to Go Bust in Darts?

Intentionally going for a bust in darts is uncommon as there are no benefits to doing it intentionally.

Can You Throw All 3 Darts at the Same Time to Avoid Going Bust?

No, you cannot throw all three darts at the same time.

According to Darts Regulation Authority (DRA) Rules 5.2.2: “All darts must be deliberately thrown in an overarm fashion, one at a time, by and from the Player’s hand.”

How to Avoid a Bust in Darts

Avoiding a bust in darts requires constant practice. You’ll need to know which doubles you need so you check out at exactly 0, with a maximum of 3 dart throws per round. Darts checkout charts are a good way for beginners to learn the checkouts.

how not to bust
Aim high

To avoid busting, when aiming to checkout, it’s a good idea to aim high (or aim for the top half of the area of the double). If you miss, your dart will hit outside the points-scoring area and not count.

In summary, the best strategies for avoiding busts are:

  • Learn your checkouts
  • Practice hitting doubles
  • Aim high

What is the Highest Checkout Possible in Darts?

170 is the highest checkout possible number you can checkout on. It requires the triple 20, the triple 20, and the bullseye. The inner bullseye is counted as double in dart.

Can you think of more combinations that will guarantee a win?

Practice Makes Perfect

The more you practice darts, the more checking out without busting will be second nature…though remember it happens even to the very best players in the game. Darts is a game of extreme precision, and even the World champions occasionally bust.



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