How to Bet on Darts
The popularity of darts has exploded in recent years with coverage of television tournaments now a regular feature on Sky Sports. With a plethora of betting opportunities both before the matches as well as in-play, FREEbets.org.uk details the must know information when betting on darts.
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Most Popular Darts Markets
The most popular market in world darts is the outright market for the PDC World Championship. Previously dominated by Phil Taylor with 14 PDC and 2 BDO titles, the game now sees Michael van Gerwen the man to beat.
Within each tournament match betting also generates a great deal of turnover. This market is a two-way as there is always a winner and a loser in a darts match. Bookmakers compete in terms of margins. In some cases players cannot be split so are assigned the same odds, usually 5/6 the pair but sometimes 10/11. Often though, there is an overwhelming favourite to win the match.
It is also possible to bet on the correct score in terms of sets. Darts matches are split into legs and sets. Generally a set is the best of five legs and matches can be played over anything from seven to 15 sets. In some cases a player must establish a lead of two sets to win the match.
Best Darts Betting Markets
PDC Outright Winner
For two decades betting on Phil Taylor as the outright winner in PDC tournaments would have seen you correctly predict the winner. The Power won 14 of the first 20 PDC World Championships but in his latter years and the emergence of Michael van Gerwen, things have not been so clear cut. MVG has dominated the sport since 2014 and it's now the Dutchman who enters virtually every tournament as the favourite.
Bookmakers have less edge in any two way market which means betting on the outcome of a match is one of the better darts markets for the punters. These markets have the smallest theoretical margins as they are the most competitive betting market in the sport.
Every bookmaker that provides odds on darts will compile prices for each match. There are slight variations in price but rarely will there be disagreement as to which player should be the favourite. On some rare occasions match betting on darts provides an arbitrage situation, though the window of opportunity is small as the market will soon readjust.
In any leg the player that throws first has a huge advantage. as long as they score well. To win a leg against the throw is similar to breaking serve in tennis. Many sets are decided on the loss of one leg when throwing first.
The player with the darts first in any leg is most likely to reach a point at which they can win a leg with three darts. That means this player will be aiming for the leg winning double before his opponent.
If both players achieve similar scores over the first four sets of throws the player who started the leg will be in a better position to throw the winning double. Conversely, when the player that throws first begins with a low score the initiative then goes to the other player. Even so about 75% of legs are won by the player who throws first.
Worst Darts Betting Markets
It is possible to bet on the colour of the finishing double. The odds are set so that over time the bookmakers cannot lose. In the same way that a roulette wheel will win for the house betting in the finishing double market will generally be unprofitable for the bettor over a sustained period of time.
This market usually has five options: double 20, double 16, double 8, double four and any other double. Double 20 is the favourite as this is the easiest double to hit and the most common way of winning a leg. Double 16 is the next most popular. If missed double 8 then often becomes the target and then double 4, hence those numbers’ positions in the betting.
Correct Score Set Betting
Betting on how many sets each player will win in a match is subject to several variables. Momentum is a key element in any darts match. Players can find a rhythm and hit the doubles consistently and then have a slight dip when the doubles become harder to hit.
The vagaries of set betting were illustrated in the final of the 2013 PDC World Championship. Michael van Gerwen led Phil Taylor by four sets to two and looked on course to win the match. Taylor then won five sets in succession to win the match 7-4. In Taylor’s last five winning finals the correct score for sets was different on each occasion.
Darts is very much a confidence game and players on a run of solid form will generally continue to reproduce the form. In practice players are generally at a similar level but respective results are determined by how well a player can take his form in practice into competition.
Confidence and momentum are key to how well a player performs and bookmakers asses these factors when compiling prices for tournaments and matches. Some players are better at translating their form from matches away from the cameras to the main televised stage.
When pricing up the outright winner for a tournament compilers consider the draw. For many years the key factor in analysing a player’s chances of winning the tournament was whether he was or was not in the same half of the draw as Michael van Gerwen. A favourable draw influences the prices on offer and can be a significant factor in determining the tournament winner.
Main Darts Events to bet on
The PDC claim to be the leading innovator in the sport in terms of the staging and promoting of its important events. The Chairman of the Board of Directors is Barry Hearn, the person mainly responsible for the massive growth of snooker during the 1980s and 1990s.
The PDC organises multiple major ranking tournaments each year, most staged live on Sky Sports and broadcasted to a global audience of 300 million viewers. The jewel in the crown is the World Championships, staged either side of Christmas and the New Year. Other major competitions include:
- UK Open
- World Matchplay
- World Grand Prix
- Grand Slam of Darts
The BDO World Championship takes place immediately after the PDC version in the first week of January. This and the Winmau World Masters are the only BDO event that get live TV coverage and as such are the only ones that generate significant betting interest. Recent years has seen them struggling with prize money falling dramatically.
The BDO has a much more extensive schedule but compared to the PDC televised tournaments most events attract little interest from a betting and spectating point of view.
The events are split into four classifications, namely Invitational, Inter County, Grand Prix and Masters. Most events take place in Great Britain but there are international tournaments in Holland, Spain and Canada amongst others. Some of the other standout occasions in the BDO calendar are:
- World Masters
- World Trophy
In-Play Darts Betting
The key to betting in running is speed of decision and bet placement. Trading can also be done during the advertisement breaks when play is halted. A leg or match can swing very quickly, after three missed darts at a double, a maximum or a big checkout.
There is no point in a darts match when a player can relax and cruise to victory. Every leg is the same and ends with one player successful hitting a double. In this respect the first leg of a match is fundamentally the same as the last leg of a match.
The better players have reached their status because they can find the doubles at key stages in a match. Whatever the match situation a player must still hit a double to win. A winning double can prove difficult for some players.
Some players feel the pressure as the winning leg approaches and can display signs of physical and mental discomfort. Other players are slow starters but improve as they find a rhythm when aiming for triple 20 or a leg wining double. It is better to back a slow starter in-running than before the match begins.
The key statistic in any darts match is the three dart average. This number represents the average number of points scored from each turn of throwing the darts.
The best players average about 100 which means in each set of throws they generally hit the treble 20 at least once. The maximum average is just less than 180. However, this is a theoretical number as for it to be achieved a player must complete each leg with nine darts and record the maximum checkout possible.
In analysing the respective form of two players in a match the three dart average is the best form guideline. Player’s averages can be remarkably consistent throughout a tournament.
The player with the best average does not necessarily win each tournament but it can be a good guide. In the 2013 PDC World Championships Raymond van Barneveld had the highest average but lost at the semi-final stage. Phil Taylor had the fourth best average but won the title.
In betting on the finishing double and finishing number statistics can be useful. Some players prefer to take the double 20 route while others feel more comfortable faced with needing to hit double 16 to win a leg. These statistics can be found on the web and should be looked at when betting on the number and colour of the leg winning dart.
Head to head records are also useful in deciding which player to back in a match. As in tennis players seem to have a physiological edge when they meet a particular opponent. The websites of the two organisations that govern darts have detailed records of results between member players.