How to Play Prisoner Darts?

How To play Prisoner Darts

Key Takeaways

  • To play prisoner darts, players move around the dartboard clockwise from 1 to 20
  • A game of darts that is more fun in large groups instead of one on ones
  • It is easy to score a game of prisoner darts as no counting or quick math is required
  • Darts that land in the bullseye, or inner single ring, remain in prison until captured and freed
  • Captured darts can be used by the player that freed it
  • Great game for beginners and as a party game to entertain guests with

What is the Prisoner Darts Game?

Prisoner darts is a variation to the popular cricket darts and Mickey Mouse darts, where players race to the finish.

During cricket, players move clockwise through the numbers 15 – 20 followed by the bull, whereas in prisoner, players also move clockwise, around the dartboard from 1 through to 20.

  • Not only that, but players can also lose darts if they end up in prison, and they are not recaptured. 
  • Any player is able to capture and free an imprisoned dart, which can used during their own throw.

It’s not unusual for a player to win the game, while having double the amount of darts they started with.

How Many Players Can Play Prisoner Darts?

Prisoner darts can be played with any number of people.

It is a game that is ideally played with large groups of players, just because it is more fun that way.

A big reason for this, is the potential to take quite a few of your opponent’s darts.

Obviously, if you are playing with a good few of your buddies, there are plenty of bragging rights at stake.

With that being said, the game can also be played with as little as two people

How To Play Prisoner Darts?

Before you do anything, you will have to decide who goes first. 

  • The easiest way to decide is by throwing closest to the bull, and whoever gets closest, goes first
  • If there are lots playing, you could also pick names out of a hat to decide the playing order 

When the order of play has been decided, you can start playing the game.

To play prison darts, you have the option to either

  • Capture the imprisoned darts during the game, or
  • Continue around the board until the end 

To capture a dart, a player needs to land one of their own throws, into the playable segment of the same number where the dart is stuck.

The benefit of freeing a dart: The player can now use the captured dart as their own.

What is the Objective of the Prisoner Darts Game?

The aim of the game, when playing prisoner darts, is to be the first player around the board, from 1 through to 20, having hit every number in clockwise order. 

The Prison 

As the name would suggest, the prison forms a big part of the game and there are three prison segments: 

  1. The inner bullseye
  2. The outer bullseye
  3. The inner single ring of each number between the bullseye and the triple

Darts stay stuck in the board, within the prison, until a player decides to capture it. 

What Are the Prisoner Darts Rules?

The rules of prison darts are as follows:

  1. Each player starts the game with three darts per round
  2. Every number must be hit, in clockwise order around the dartboard from 1 to 20 
  3. Only the double, treble and the single segment between the numbers are playable areas on the board
  4. The bullseye (red circle), the outer ring bull (green ring) and the inner single are the prisons
  5. Darts, that land in prison, remain there until they are freed
  6. The darts in prison can be captured by any player and whoever frees the dart can use the dart
  7. If a player loses any darts to their opponents, they must continue the game with fewer darts, unless they capture some themselves
  8. If a player misses a number during a turn, they remain on that number for their next turn
  9. Any darts that bounce out of the board, cannot not be retaken
  10. The first player around the board, hitting every single number in order, wins prisoner darts 

How To Score Prisoner Darts?

Scoring is one of the best parts to prisoner darts, especially if you are only new to the game.

Most beginners, frown at the idea of scoring games. 

It takes practice and repetition to get faster at counting, but you don’t have to think about that while playing prisoner. 

There is no scoring in the traditional sense, however you will have to keep track of where each player is in the game.

Playing in larger groups, things can get confusing.

  • A simple scoreboard with the names of each player across the top in rows, and the number of each round down the left side, will make it easier to keep track during the game
  • As each dart lands in the target segment, mark off that round for the player
How To Score Prisoner Darts game

If you are playing in a smaller group, tracking can be done easier without the need of a scoreboard.

Just make sure players remember where they are in the game.

Strategy to Play Prisoner Darts

In most dart games that involve players losing lives, or in this case, darts, there is going to be lots of strategy at play. 

The main strategy during prisoner darts to think about, is when to either:

  1. Free a dart from prison or,
  2. Leave the dart in prison and move forward in the game

Generally speaking, whenever the opportunity arises, you should aim to capture any imprisoned darts you can, especially early on in the game.

There is the potential to be playing most of the game with 4, 5, 6 or even more darts per turn, and if you are an accurate thrower, you will move quick through the game on your way to win.

The exception to the rule:

When it is late in the game and another player is getting close to the end of the game.

  • Obviously the potential of losing darts, late in the game, when another player is winning, is not the best strategic approach
  • Also, if you miss the target, then you have wasted a dart, while the prisoner dart remains out of action

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