Review of Play Better Darts eBook

Review of “Play Better Darts” – A Guide to the Art of 501

I just got my copy of Bill Spears’ book, “Play Better Darts and Win More Often“.

Brilliant! This is an unusual book that covers the key to winning at darts – more specifically, 01 games. There is nothing in it about how to stand at the oche, how to release the dart or how high to hang a dart board. I have links to that all over, but this book covers a much overlooked discipline in the game of darts – closing the deal.

This is a book about what to shoot and when. The author wisely leaves the “how-to” throw darts stuff to others.

Who this Book is NOT for:

  • Cricket-only players

Cricket is hugely popular in America but the Pros play 501. If you’re not playing ’01 then you’re missing out on the most popular darts game in the world.

  • Beginners

If you’re new to darts, this knowledge won’t matter to you yet. Keep practicing.

  • 01 players who routinely play the double 16-8-4-2-1 roulette

You can read this book now but you have to improve past this stage

  • Players still struggling to hit what they want

If you still consider yourself lucky when you hit 1 out of 3 darts where you were aiming, you need to work on your technique first.

  • Phil Taylor and friends

Pros all know this stuff from 1000’s of games played. This book lets you get inside their heads.

Who Needs this Book Most?

  • 20-grinders who only adjust with around 100 left

Top players start thinking about their outs in the 300s

  • Advanced 01 players who are coming up short in finishes.

If you can think of quite a few games you’ve lost saying “aw, man, I was on double 20”

  • Mathematically-challenged players from the two above

If doing head-math in any way distracts you from your next shot, you need this book.

  • Anyone who plays the game and seriously wants to improve.

The Layout

Rather than normal chapters, the book is broken up into “Winning Tips”. This may seem odd but the Tips have special meaning and it actually makes it easier to refer to ideas later in the book.

When you read Winning Tip #1, you might be tempted to roll your eyes and say “Well, That’s obvious”, but as you read the rest of the tips, you’ll understand why very few players actually do it.

The book is delivered as an ebook and every page lets you jump forward, backwards or

back to the index.

Main points

  • Memorizing Outs is less important than understanding Targets.
  • The number you need to get good at to win 501 – it’s NOT triple 20.
  • Knowing when AND WHY shooting for 180 is wrong – even when starting in the 300 range
  • Know the numbers you should never leave for both 3 and 2 dart finishes.
  • Having an “Outs Chart” on the wall is no substitute for understanding how outs are created and taken out.


With so many examples to work through, this book will help change your thinking as you play. If you keep going through it, your brain will start to automatically warn you when you are in danger of leaving a bad number, “Warning! 99 up ahead. Approach with caution.”

This book is a must have for any serious 01 player. You cannot move up to top levels without making this knowledge a part of you.
I know a few dart friends that will get a copy for Xmas. The only thing that worries me is that I might have to start paying for my Sunday beers.

More information on the Double Outs book.

Correct darts stance, grip and throwing mechanics

I love this post on the mechanics of throwing darts.

While I think he approaches Darts like German auto mechanic, he makes excellent points on the best darts grip, stance and throw.

“Whoa. Hang on Davey…aren’t you always telling us that there’s NO “right” way of doing anything?”

Yes. I say that all the time and I mean it. What this guy shows are the correct principles to throwing better darts.

Understanding the mechanics will help you make the most out of however you throw darts. You should know this stuff…then you can apply it as you see fit.

IF I were taking a brand new player under my wing, so to speak, then these tips are how I would “create” his dart form.

As someone who has played for over 20 years, I’ve moved from a full side stance to a nearly full face-forward stance to something in between enough times to know how my body reacts, but new players should take this stuff to heart.

Play smart,


(fyi: this is a newer version of my earlier post on how to stand and throw darts – the old one is now retired.)

Changing Darts Equipment

Changing dart sets for the more experienced player.

In an earlier article I stressed sticking with one set of darts and not changing things out.

I think I said something like “the darts don’t matter”.  Now I’m going to tell you about how I just changed my entire dart set.

“Liar!”,   “2-faced git”,   “I knew he was full of it”

Wait, hold on.  I still stand by what I said before but I better say it differently this time:

The darts don’t matter until you’ve reached a certain level of ability.

And even that isn’t quite right because a pro will stomp you throwing Bic pens with pigeon feathers stuffed in the end.

Anyway…..I was messing about with a friend’s set a few weeks back and I kind of liked the feel of them. I was getting really tight groups (though off target) and I thought I’d experiment a bit.

My old trusty set was 22g, no name, mid-length shaft and teardrop flight. My new set is a 24g, old style Phil Taylor Purists, same shaft and the standard kite flight.

Whew. That’s a lot of changes. Here’s a few observations:

The Dart

The Purists are a strange sort of dart. They have a longer barrel than most, a long point, a ton of texture which I don’t normally like and, most importantly, the center of gravity is further back than many darts I’ve used. What I noticed first when throwing these is that the darts hit the board at with less of an arc (i.e. they stick almost parallel to the ground) That’s a major win I think because they tend to not block the target the way a downward-pointing dart does.

By the way, how the darts land isn’t a factor of the darts, it’s the result of how I throw. Pay attention new guys!

The flight

If you want to have a weird darts session, put on a radically different flight shape and go play. Moving from teardrops to kites forces me to change more things than I care to mention, but because I’m a very light thrower I am affected more by my flight than the guys who shake the wall when they hit. Took a while to get used to seeing my darts come in on a different flight path – like someone else was throwing them. I’m still thinking about trying the teardrops on these but I seem to be able to throw these a little harder than my old ones, so I don’t mind the extra drag and I want the stability for now.

The Shaft

I started using these with the really long aluminum shafts they came with (did I metion I bought these used?) but I was all over the board with them. Not so much the points but the flights would be anywhere from 30 deg. left to 30 deg. right of the point ,so I’d obviously added a ton of left/right wobble. Going back the the medium shafts made this stop. Again, that’s a feature of my throw. If I’d always used long flights I would have corrected this by now, but seeing as I’m not trying to revamp my throw right now, I didn’t want to add another negative mechanical issue to my game.

The verdict.

Still out. I’m gonna keep the darts because being so narrow they do tend to stack nicer. (I threw a T80 the other day and I could’ve fit another 6 darts in the trip-20 bed – they were that tight.)

Still thinking that I’ll play with a the shaft and fligh variables som more. I don’t think I cna go too short on these – the whole purpose of the slim, long dart is to move the clutter away from the board, but we’ll see. I’m also gonna stick the teardrops on and see what happens.

I’d like to sort this out this week so I can get back to bitching about my technique.

Overcoming the “mini-slump”

There’s plenty written about getting out of the dreaded “slump” – that phase that happens to all of us when we just can’t get our game working for days or weeks on end. What I’m addressing today however is the “mini-slump”.

I’m defining a mini-slump (MS) as lasting from a few hours to a few days. I’m going to talk about why they occur and what I do when I need to play “right now” and can’t wait for it to go away on its own.

I find two main reasons why the MS occurs:

  1. I’ve put too much pressure on myself to perform and am “choking”
  2. I’ve been over-analyzing some aspect of my game and can’t return to “normal” mode

Both of these