Why Is the Dartboard Numbered the Way It Is?

Why Is the Dartboard Numbered the Way It Is

Key Takeaways

  • The sequence of numbers on a dartboard are designed to eliminate luck and chance.
  • Low numbers are placed alongside high numbers, so players won’t benefit from a bad throw.
  • The sequence promotes precision, aim accuracy and skill.
  • The order of numbers on a modern, standard dartboard, from the top position going clockwise, is: 20, 1, 18, 4, 13, 6, 10, 15, 2, 17, 3, 19, 7, 16, 8, 11, 14, 9, 12, 5.
  • The numbering of the dartboard has a rich history dating back to medieval times. 
  • Brian Gamlin is credited with developing the current method of arranging the numbers around the circumference of the dartboard; however, no one person can be attributed as the sole “inventor” of the dartboard.


The origins of Dartboard numbering may seem mysterious, but there’s a history behind it. The Dartboard is numbered in a very specific way. This pattern has been in use since the early 20th century and has proven to be very effective.

Before I get into why a dartboard is numbered as it is today, let me give you a little background to the history behind it.

The Origins of The Dartboard Numbering System

The origins of the dartboard’s numbering system can be traced back to medieval times.

  • The circular board was divided into sections with different point values, but the numbering system wasn’t always consistent.
  • It wasn’t until the 20th century that a standardized numbering system was established.

The dartboard’s of the day were mostly made of wood. However, they were highly sensitive to their environment and had a relatively short lifespan. 

In order to improve their longevity, wooden dartboards had to be soaked in water overnight. Thankfully, bristled dartboards changed all that and there was no longer a need to soak the board.

When talking about the numbering sequence, you have to mention Brian Gamlin, who many believe to be the mastermind behind how we play the game today.

Brian Gamlin’s Contribution to Dartboard Numbering 

There are a few people are credited with contributing to the development of modern darts, but Brian Gamlin stands out as a game-changer who reshaped the sport entirely.

He helped revolutionize the numbering arrangement, emphasizing fairness and eliminating player advantages.

The numbers on his board were strategically arranged to

  1. Reward skillfulness
  2. Penalize poor shots
  3. Remove the possibility of chance and luck

Interestingly, contrary to popular belief that Gamlin might have based his pattern on mathematical principles or geometry, there is no evidence to support this claim.

The numbering system he developed remains today, and so do the reasons.

The Numbered Sequence Is Still in Place Today

The game of darts is more than just throwing a few darts.

It requires high levels of accuracy and precision to hit the target, which is exactly why it is numbered the way it is. Large numbers beside low numbers right around the board.

For example, 1 and 5 either side of the 20 and players who lack skill, are likely to hit a 1 or a 5. It’s the reason you see so many scores of 26 in the amateur game, when players are trying to hit treble 20.

Another example is the bullseye, which is located at the center of the board, and it is worth the most with a single dart, 50 points, because it is the most challenging to hit.

However, throwing for the bull, and you could easily end up landing in the 3. 

FAQs about Why Is The Dartboard Numbered The Way It Is?

Why Are Dartboard Numbers Arranged in a Specific Order?

The numbers on a dartboard are ordered in a way to increase the need for skill and remove chance from the game. Higher numbers are placed beside lower numbers on the board, so the penalty for missing a dart is higher.

Brian Gamlin, a carpenter by trade, is said to be responsible for developing the current method of arranging the numbers around the circumference of the dartboard.

What Was the Historical Origin of Dartboard Numbering?

The origins of the game of darts date back to the early 14th century, when bored archers and infantrymen began by “shooting” repurposed arrowheads at the discarded lids of wine casks.

Soon enough, the pastime gained traction amongst the military rank and file, as well as in many a royal court across a large swathe of Europe. With this newfound popularity came significant periods of iteration and innovation, which eventually led us to the state of the game as we know it today.

What Was Brian Gamlin’s Contribution to Dartboard Numbering?

Brian Gamlin, a carpenter and darts fanatic in the second half of the 19th century, was the person said to be responsible for developing the current method of arranging the numbers around the circumference of the dartboard.

The logic behind Gamlin’s purported contribution is something to behold. The particular numerical sequence chosen by him achieves two things: flattening the distribution of numbers across the board, and increasing the need for skill and removing chance from the game.

What Is the Significance of Dartboard Number Positions?

The significance of dartboard number positions lies in the need to have a structured arrangement that reduces the element of chance in the game.

How Did Mathematics Impact the Design of Dartboard Numbering?

The design of the dartboard numbers was also influenced by mathematics, as the arrangement of the numbers needed to have a “flattened” distribution, which evens out the probability of any one number being singled out. The “flatness” of the distribution of a sequence of numbers can be determined by calculating the sum of the squares of a set of consecutive integers. In that sense, Brian Gamlin’s sequence has a distribution curve with a value of 20,478.

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