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Incorporated 1975


The ADO Tournament Rules are the official rules under which most major USA steel-point darts tournaments are played. However, the ADO does NOT sanction league play, and local league officials may not adhere strictly to the Tournament Rules listed below. So, while these are the Rules for ADO Sanctioned Tournaments, they may or may not be the exact rules used in your local Darts pub for league play.

NOTE: For more recent updates, go to the current ADO Web site at:  ADODARTS.COM



USA - (Steel-Point Darts)

Reprinted with the permission of the ADO, February 1995.

NOTE: Formatting of text has been changed slightly from the original to accomodate the Internet WWW format. Also, a Hypertext linked Index has been added for your convenience. COPYRIGHTS: The original Rules are copyrighted by the AMERICAN DARTS ORGANIZATION. The HTML formatted text version below is copyrighted by CyberDarts.


  • Who Goes First? - article



    The following terms/meanings shall apply when used in the body of these Tournament Rules.

    ADO: American Darts Organization
    Match: The total number of Legs being competed for between two players/teams
    Leg/Game: That element of a Match recognized as a fixed odd number, i.e., 301/501/1001
    Scorer: Scorekeeper, Marker or Chalker
    Cork: Bullseye or Bull
    Masculine: Masculine gender nouns or pronouns shall include female
    Singular: Singular term shall, where necessary, include the plural


    All darts events played under the exclusive supervision of and/or sanctioned by the ADO, shall be played in accordance with the following rules.


    1. All players/teams shall play by these Tournament Rules and, where necessary, any supplemental Rules stipulated by local Tournament organizers.

    2. Any player/team who, during the course of any event, fails to comply with any of these Tournament Rules, shall be subject to disqualification from that event.

    3. The interpretation of these Tournament Rules, in relation to a specific darts event, shall rest with the local Tournament Organizers, whose decisions shall be final and binding. Protests after the fact shall not be considered.

    4. Good sportsmanship shall be the prevailing attitude throughout the tournament.

    5. Gambling is neither permitted nor sanctioned by the ADO.

    6. The ADO will, in the course of tournament Sanctioning, ensure, to the best of its ability, that the host/sponsor organization for a darts event has the funding and/or sponsorship necessary to support the advertised cash prize structure for same. The manner and matter of tournament prize payments shall be the responsibility of the respective host/sponsor organization and not that of the ADO.

    7. The ADO assumes no responsibility for accident or injury on the premises.

    8. The ADO reserves the right to add to or amend, any, or all, of the ADO Tournament Rules, at any time for any purpose deemed necessary at that time.


    9. Decisions regarding the prize structure and event schedule, the method of player registration, and the choice of the match pairing system, shall be left at the discretion of the local Tournament Organizers.

    10. Nine darts warm-up is the maximum allowance per player.

    11. Tournament boards are reserved for assigned match pairings only. Boards are not to be used for practice, unless so designated by the Tournament Organizers.

    12. Match pairings will be called 3 times only (minimum of 5 minutes between calls). Should a player/team fail to report to the assigned board within the 15 minute allotted time, a Forfeit will be called. NOTE: Should a player/team be called to matches in two concurrent events (e,g, a female playing in both a Ladies' Only and an Open event), that player/team must choose in which event he/they wish to continue play. A Forfeit will be called, unless that player/team can reach their assigned board within the regulation (15 minute) time period described above.

    13. Should a player's playing equipment become damaged, or be lost during the course of a throw, that player shall be allowed up to a maximum of 5 minutes in which to repair/replace the playing equipment.

    14. A maximum time limit of 5 minutes, under exceptional circumstances subject to the permission of a Tournament Official, shall be allowed in the instance of a player requiring to leave the playing area, during the course of match play.

    15. Players and Scorers ONLY are allowed inside the playing area.

    16. Opposing players must stand at least 2 feet behind the player at the Hockey.


    17. All darts must be thrown by, and from, the hand.

    18. A Throw shall consist of three darts, unless a Leg/Match is completed in a lesser amount.

    19. Should a player touch any dart, which is in the dartboard, during a throw, that throw shall be deemed to have been completed.

    20. Any dart bouncing off, or falling out of the dartboard, shall not be rethrown.


    21. All Matches will be begun by THROWING THE CORK. The player throwing the Cork 1st will be decided by a coin flip, with the winner having the option of throwing lst or 2nd. The player throwing closest to the Cork shall throw first in the lst Leg. The Loser of the lst Leg has the option of throwing the Cork first in the 2nd Leg. If a 3rd Leg is necessary, the Cork will again be thrown, with the loser of the original coin flip having the option of throwing first for the Cork.

    22. The second thrower may acknowledge the first dart as an inner or outer Bull (Cork) and ask for that dart to be removed prior to his throw. Should the first dart be removed without the request of the 2nd thrower, a rethrow will occur; with the 2nd thrower now having the option of throwing first. The dart must remain in the board in order to count. Additional throws may be made when throwing the Cork, until such time as the player's dart remains in the board. Should the 2nd thrower dislodge the dart of the lst, a rethrow will be made with the 2nd thrower now throwing first. Rethrows shall be called if the scorer cannot decide which dart is closest to the Cork, or if both darts are anywhere in the inner bull, or both darts are anywhere in the outer bull. Decision of the scorer is final. Should a rethrow be necessary, the darts will be removed and the person who threw 2nd will now throw lst.

    23. In all events, each Leg shall be played with a Straight Start (no double required), and a double will be required to finish, unless otherwise stated by the local Tournament Organizers.

    24. For the purpose of starting and finishing a Leg/Match, the INNER BULL is considered a double 25.

    25. The 'BUST RULE' shall apply, (if the player scores one less, equal, or more points than needed to reach zero, he has "busted". His score reverts back to the score required prior to the beginning of his throw.)

    26. Fast finishes such as 3 in a bed, 222, 111, shanghai, etc., do not apply.

    27. A Leg/Match is concluded at such time as a player/team hits the 'double' required to reduce their remaining score to zero. Any and all darts thrown subsequently, shall not count for score.


    28. It is permissible for the Doubles/Team player finishing a Leg, to throw the Cork and start the subsequent Leg. It is also permissible for one member of a Doubles or Team to throw the Cork lst, and have his partner or teammate shoot first.

    29. It is permissible for a Doubles or Team to participate with fewer than the required number of players, provided that team forfeits a turn(s) in each rotation, equal to the number of missing players. The missing player(s) may NOT join a Leg in progress, but is allowed to participate in a subsequent Leg(s) of that Match.

    30. No player may participate on more than one Doubles or Team, in any respective darts event. There shall be NO recycling of players (either male or female) under any circumstances.

    31. No substitutes shall be allowed after the first round of Doubles/Team play.


    32. For a dart to score, it must remain in the board 5 seconds after the 3rd or final dart has been thrown by that player. The tip of the dart point must be touching the bristle portion of the board, in order for that dart to be counted as score.

    33. No dart may be touched by the thrower, another player, scorer, or spectator, prior to the decision of the scorer. Should this occur, that throw shall be deemed to have been completed, per provisions set forth in Rule 19.

    34. A dart's score shall be determined from the side of the wire at which the point of the dart enters the board. Should a dart lodge directly between the connecting wires on the dartboard, making it impossible to determine on which side of the wire the dart resides, the score shall always be the higher value of the two segments in question. This includes the outside double ring for the game shot. Determination as to whether the dart is directly between the wires shall be made in accordance with Rule 33.

    35. It is the responsibility of the player to verify his score before removing his darts from the board. The score remains as written if one or more darts has been removed from the board. Errors in arithmetic must stand as written, unless corrected prior to the beginning of that player's next throw. In case of Doubles/Team matches, such errors must be rectified prior to the next turn of any partner/player on that team.

    36. In Doubles/Team events, no player may throw (during a Leg) until each of his teammates has completed his throw. The FIRST player throwing out of turn shall receive a score of ZERO points for that round and his Team shall FORFEIT such turn.

    37. The Scorer shall mark the board so that scores made are listed in the outer columns of the scoreboard, and the totals remaining are listed in the two middle columns.

    38. The scoreboard/sheet must be clearly visible in front of the player at the Hockey.

    39. The Scorer may inform the thrower what he has scored and/or what he has left. He MAY NOT inform the thrower what he has left in terms of number combinations. It IS permissible for a partner, teammate, or a spectator to advise the thrower during the course of a Match.



    40. Darts used in tournament play shall not exceed an overall maximum length of 30.5cm (12in.), nor weigh more than 50gm per dart. Each dart shall consist of a recognizable point, barrel, and flight.


    41. The dartboard shall be a standard 18" bristle board, of the type approved by the ADO (Sportcraft/Nodor), and shall be of the standard 1 - 20 clock pattern.




    47. Lights must be affixed in such a way as to brightly illuminate the board, reduce to a minimum the shadows cast by the darts, and not physically impede the flight of dart.


    48. Whenever possible, a raised hockey, at least 1 1/2" high and 2' long, shall be placed in position at the minimum throwing distance, and shall measure from the back of the raised hockey 7' 9 1/4" along the floor to a plumb line at the face of the dartboard.

    49. In the event the hockey is a tape or similar 'flush' marking, the minimum throwing distance shall be measured from the edge (front) of the tape closest to the dartboard.

    50. Should a player have any portion of his feet or shoes over the hockey line during a throw, all darts so thrown shall be counted as part of his throw, but any score made by said darts shall be invalid and not counted. One warning by the official shall be considered sufficient before invoking this rule.

    51. A player wishing to throw a dart, or darts, from a point either side of the hockey line, must keep his feet behind an imaginary straight line extendlng from either side of the hockey line.


    52. A scoreboard must be mounted within 4' laterally from the dartboard and at not more than a 45 degree angle from the dartboard.

    Approved August 21, 1981


    All darts events played under the exclusive supervision of and/or sanctioned by the ADO, shall be played in accordance with established ADO Tournament Rules. In addition, the following rules shall apply for ADO Sanctioned Cricket events, effective January 1, 1984.

    1. The objective shall be to 'own'/'close' certain numbers on the board, and to achieve the highest point score. The player/team to do so first, shall be the winner.

    2. Cricket shall be played using the numbers 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15 and both the inner and outer bull (cork).

    3. Each player/team shall take turns in throwing. (Three darts in succession shall constitute a 'turn'/'Inning'.)

    4. To close an inning, the player/team must score three of a number. This can be accomplished with three singles, a single and a double, or a triple.


    5. Once a player/team scores three of a number, it is 'owned' by that player/team. Once both players/teams have scored three of a number, it is 'closed', and no further scoring can be accomplished on that number by either player/team.

    6. To close the bullseye, the outer bull counts as a single, and the inner bull counts as a double.

    7. Once a player/team closes an inning, he/they may score points on that number until the opponent also closes that inning. All numerical scores shall be added to the previous balance.

    8. Numbers can be 'owned' or 'closed' in any order desired by the individual player/team. Calling your shot is not required.

    9. For the purpose of 'owning' a number, the double and triple ring shall count as 2 or 3, respectively. Three marks will close an inning.

    10. After a number is 'owned' by a team, the double and triple ring shall count as 2 or 3 times the numerical values, respectively.

    11. Winning the game:

    a. The player/team that closes all innings first and has the most points, shall be declared the winner.

    b. If both sides are tied on points, or have no points, the first player/team to close all innings shall be the winner.

    c. If a player/team closes all innings first, and is behind in points, he/they must continue to score on any innings not closed until either the point deficit is made up, or the opponent has closed all innings.

    12. It shall be the responsibility of the player to verify his score before removing his darts from the board. The score remains as written if one or more darts has been removed from the board. In accordance with the inherent "strategy" involved in the Cricket game, no alterations in score shall be allowed, after the fact.


    APPROVED 8/19/83
    REVISED 8/14/86
    REVISED 11/14/87
    REVISED 1/l/89
    REVISED 3/10/91

    Published by The American Darts Organization
    Full Member World Darts Federation
    All Rights Reserved