Gotcha isn’t the most popular dart game out there but it is quick to learn and easy to remember, which means that just about any time is a good time to enjoy round or two, or three or four, of Gotcha Darts.

Gotcha Darts is kind of like 501 or 301 in reverse and it gives you full control in choosing the level of difficulty and the length of the game based on the number of available players and their respective skill levels.

There are no limits to how many people can join a game of Gotcha Darts (the more the better), and everyone from experienced veterans to a wet-behind-the-ears beginner can compete and have a chance of winning.

Gotcha Darts Rules

To start a game of Gotcha you must first decide on a specific target number. This is the goal that a player has to reach to win the game. The higher the score, the longer the game, but we recommend at least going higher than 180 so that no player can simply win in one round.

The players then take turns throwing their 3 darts at the dartboard until one player reaches the agreed target number. Instead of 501 or 301 where you count down, in Gotcha, you have to count up from zero.

The first player to get to the predetermined target score exactly (without going over) is the winner. If they score too many points, they will bust. None of their shots for that round count and their score will remain unchanged.

Sounds pretty basic, but here is the rule that spices everything up.

Killing In Gotcha

Early on in the game you can “kill” an opponent’s score and knock it back down to zero. To do this, you have to throw another player’s total score during your turn. This is easier said than done because it involves hitting their exact score to wipe them out.

Let’s take a look at an example:

Player one steps up to the oche to throws their three darts. During their turn, the player scores a total of 35 points.

Player 2 then steps up to the oche and scores the same 35 points. Whether intentional or not, by scoring the same score as the previous player, player 2 “kills” player 1’s score and it is reset to zero.

Keep in mind that going for the kill won’t always be the best decision. If a player’s score is extremely low it may be more effective aiming for as many points as you can.

Scoring A Game of Gotcha Darts

Scoring a game of Gotcha Darts will work much the same way as scoring for the more traditional 301 or 501 variants, with one simple exception.

While standard dart games count down, subtracting from the initial score of 301 and 501 when you play a game of Gotcha Darts you must count up. Therefore, when each player takes a turn they add to their score.

Start by writing the player names or initials across the top of the board and some lines straight down to make a column under each.

Every time a player throws their 3 darts, you add the total amount thrown to whatever points they have already scored in the previous rounds (the single bull is worth 25 and the double bulls-eye is worth 50). Essentially you are just keeping a running tally.

If a player’s score is killed, you can just erase it off the scoreboard and they will start from zero again on their next turn.

Gotcha Darts Tips & Strategies

  • Rather than using a random play order, letting the best player be the front runner is a good idea as it will give the remaining players a chance in resetting their score.
  • The first round is the most important. You want to focus on scoring as high as possible to prevent getting wiped out. If playing with good players, you want to get past 180 ASAP
  • Take every opportunity you can to “kill” the score of the other players unless that score is very low. If your opponent has 22 points you are probably better off going for a 180.
  • Aim for some random high doubles and triples rather than just the 20. This can make you a more difficult target. If you throw triple 20, 18, triple 17 you will hit a score of 129 which would make the combinations a lot more challenging for anyone trying to target you.
  • If you are trying to kill a score, do it with 2 darts when possible. If you miss, the 3rd dart may give you another chance. You should try to get out with 2 darts for the same reason.
  • When trying to get out, going for the lower number first is better. For example. If you have 23 left, your want to go 3 then 20, not 20 then 3. This leaves you more wiggle room if you miss your mark, and will lower the chance of you busting.

Gotcha Variations

  • If the skill levels are way different, you can start players with different target scores.
  • It can also be played with teams if the skill levels are off.
  • If you bust, the amount you exceed is subtracted from your score. So for example you have 365, the target is 401. And you score 411, you would now subtract that extra 10 points from your score meaning the next round you would be starting with 355.

Gotcha Darts is an incredibly fun, fast-paced, and aggressive game. It is perfect for larger groups due to its chase-like nature and the fact that you can actively work against your opponents. There is plenty of space for advanced strategy and tactical shooting.