How to Play Gotcha Darts?

how to play gotcha darts

Key Takeaways

  • Gotcha darts are similar to games of 301 and 501, however, players count up from zero
  • Gotcha is a fun game of darts to play with large groups and is beginner-friendly
  • Players set a target score before the game and have to match exactly that amount, or they bust
  • Gotcha dart game is a game of chase to the win
  • Players scores can be wiped out back to zero by other players early in the game

What Is the Game of Gotcha Darts?

The best way to describe gotcha darts is as a game of chase, and a race to the finish. It is much like games of 301 or 501 darts, except players start from zero and count UP, instead of DOWN.

Before starting, players decide what the target number for the game is to be, and the first to score that amount wins the game.

It is very simple and straight forward to play, which is similar to the beginner-friendly game of count up darts.

During the game, each player has three darts per round to get as many points as possible. 

You also don’t need to finish on a double in gotcha darts. 

What is the Objective of Gotcha Darts

The objective of the game is simple:

Score as high as possible with each throw and get to the target score as quicker than everyone else. If players scores are low enough, you can also aim to reset their score back to zero.

What’s the Twist in the Gotcha Game? 

So it wouldn’t be fun without a little twist chucked in.

One of the gotcha darts rules allows players to wipe each other out. 

  • Players don’t leave the game, and are can’t be eliminated, however, their score reverts to zero and they start again
  • To be wiped out, or killed as it’s called in the gotcha, players need to throw the exact score that the player has during one turn

As the game is all about scoring high, and trying to kill another player’s total to zero, gotcha darts game is more suited to a large group of players.

At least I think so, anyway, especially if you like competition and getting competitive.

Of course, you can play it with one other person by all means as the game rules are the same.

How to Play Gotcha Darts?

Gotcha darts is a fun beginner-friendly and very simple game to play.

The rules are simple, and, the counting is even easier than traditional games of 501 or 301 that you may be more used to.

Here’s how to play gotcha darts?

  1. Before the start of the game, select the game’s target number
  2. Decide who goes first (I like to use draw names out of a hat for the order of play when it’s a large group)
  3. With the first 3 darts on the board, that player becomes the front-runner in game
  4. Now the rest of the players are chasing the front-runner
  5. Each player can either choose to score as high as possible, or try to match the opponent’s score – matching will bring the other player’s score back to zero
  6. After each player has thrown their opening round of darts, it is on to the next round
  7. At the end of each round, the total score during your turn is now added to your previous amount going into the round
  8. The first player to reach the predetermined target score exactly wins the game

What are the Rules of Gotcha Darts?

As I mentioned earlier, players cannot go over the intended final target in gotcha darts.

  • The players then take turns and race each other to be the first one to reach the target score to win the game
  • The score has to be matched exactly to win the game
  • If players goes over the predetermined score, it is a bust
  • No score is registered for a round that is bust, and the player’s points return to what it were before the round

The bust rule is normal and part of the rules if you are used to playing the traditional darts. 

Here’s an Example of Busting in a Gotcha Darts

The target score is 555 and player A has a current score of 450.

  • The player needs 105 points to win the game, however they score 145 points
  • Because they scored more than 555 points, it’s a bust and the throw doesn’t count
  • The player’s score returns to 450 points for their next turn

Variation to Busting in Gotcha Darts 

Some players introduce a slight variation to the rules of gotcha darts.

Not only do you go back to your previous score, you also subtract the amount of points you went over by. 

Using the above example:

  • The player bust by 40 points 
  • The score goes back to 450 minus the extra 40 points they bust by
  • They now sit on a score of 410 going into the next round as opposed to 450 points

Sidenote, I happen to like this gotcha variation and play with it all the time.

How to Score Gotcha Darts?

You can score gotcha darts, much like how you would score games of X01, except obviously counting up.

  • You can separate both players by a dividing line
  • Place their names and target score at the top of each column
  • Below write the target score, and with each throw add the points to the player’s total score
how to score gotcha darts

Killing in Gotcha Darts

The real fun part of gotcha darts, is being able to reset a player’s score back to where they started, ZERO.

It is only going to be an option early on in the game because you have to match the total score of the player with three darts.

As the player’s running score gets larger, it will be harder to match and if they have more than 180 on the scoreboard, the option of killing in gotcha darts is gone.

  • You can only “kill” a score back to zero by matching their score during your turn
  • 180 is the maximum score a player can get in darts during one turn
  • Scores above 180 are safe from being “killed”

Gotcha Darts Tips

I have some gotcha darts tips below that should help you in the game.

  1. Don’t just stick to the 20s – Choose high valued odd numbers like for example 19, 17 and even 15. The odd scoring pattern will be harder for the other players to match and send you back to zero
  2. Don’t automatically look to kill the other player’s score – Low scores are not worth trying to match, instead aim for a high score and a big lead
  3. Try to get to 181 or above as quick as possible – This will keep you safe from being wiped back to zero
  4. Wherever possible, only kill scores with two darts – You have a second chance with your third dart if you need it. If you go above your opponent’s score, then you can also use your third dart to score as high as possible
  5. Don’t set the target score too low – Setting the score 180 or below means players can potentially win the game in one round
  6. Depending on the skill levels, you can let the skilled players throw first – This makes the game more competitive and gives the weaker players a chance to wipe “kill” the other players score

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