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.

Darts Across a Crowded Room

The imperfect world of pub darts. How to deal with the weird and unexpected.

Lights! Camera! Action!

Ceiling Fans!  Drunks!  Disco on the Jukebox!

Yes, this is the life of a Pub dart Player. People are shouting, there’re strange shadows across the board from bad dart lighting, some girl just bumped into you at the oche while “dancing” to some horrible overhead music, your Team Captain seems drunk.

Just another night of darts.

Until you become a Pro however, this is your lot, so either you learn to adapt or you start writing that story of how you “used to play” darts.

Having played in both England and America, you’ll often find the U.K. pubs have a lot more “atmosphere” (i.e. stuff going on) than their American counterparts, possibly because in the States, there’s more room to build and more planning can take place to include a Dart section. In the U.K., pubs are often in 500 year old buildings and there’s little opportunity for renovation.

Things you can or can’t control:

Ceiling Fans/AC vents near the dartboard.

I used to live in South Florida and just about every room in every house or office or public place had a ceiling fan. Now you really can’t live without them unless you want the A/C blasting 24/7, but breezes don’t belong anywhere within 3 feet of the area from the oche to the board. You can often get these turned off if you ask nice but, if you have to play with “unsteady air”, be prepared for your game to suffer.

Here’s a few things I’ve had to deal with playing darts in pubs:

  • 3-light setups that look like their purpose was to provide three time as many shadows
  • spotlights mounted on at head-height on the side wall.
  • a sloping floor at the oche so that in a normal side-stance you feel like you’re on a hillside
  • A light-box so low that 2 out of 3 shots at double 20 hit the box. (but only for someone 6’4″. Like me.)
  • An oche that abutted the wall of the pub, almost preventing left-handed throwers from playing
  • Walls and ceilings settled so badly that the board could never look straight
  • Open windows (for the breeze!) along the flight path.
  • Ceiling fans directly over the board.
  • A drunk at the bar shouting “f*cking American” as I threw (Thanks to Big Gary for sorting that out)

To quote the Great Rosanna: “It’s always something”.

How to Cope:

A couple of things may help you when things aren’t “right” in your environment.

  1. What’s bugging you is bugging them. Bad lights affect everyone. Old boards cause everyone’s darts to bounce. Write some things off to “the way it is” and don’t feel singled out.
  2. Focus. I know it’s easier said than done but staying laser focused on your next dart, your outs and the current game can occupy your mind enough so that you don’t have time to notice the other stuff. One thing I do on my practice setup at home is play loud music and vary the lighting a lot. Sometimes I turn the TV up loud as well. It makes the pubs seem less chaotic.
  3. Control your attitude. Bitching about the situation only makes you tense and prevents you from thinking about your own game. The most important thing to remember is that all these external issues affect everyone playing the game, so they all share the same disadvantages as you. The best thing you can to when playing in a new setting is to get as much practice time as you can on the new board. Fiind the weak spots and make a plan to deal with them. Don’t take it personally.

Let me know if you have any more ideas for dealing with less that perfect dart rooms.

How not to win at darts: the wrong way

From undefeated to uninspired. Why every darts game counts.

“Pride go-eth before the fall”

After 9 weeks into my current league season, I’m one of only 2 undefeated players. Yipee!

I’ve been practicing well, focusing on the right stuff and, in general, making constant progress. All was good.

Now, to be fair, I’m in a somewhat weak league and I often get paired against someone’s grandmother or dog, but I “normally” go in to win as fast as possible and play my best.


Every so often I find myself playing a fish and, because I hate blocking out an entire night to play 7 minutes of darts, sometimes I lay off a bit – taking low percentage shots, throwing the occasion left-handed round, and generally being a complete twat.  (I know better – don’t post and tell me. I know, I know…..)

Anyway, on the night in question, I’m playing the team that has the other undefeated league player and hoping we can play each other – I can take this guy.  Of course I’m drawn against on of the many women’s league* misfits and expect another cake walk.

So, throwing with my eyes closed and a beer in my left hand a somehow manage to lose the first game. (“Shock!”, “Surprise!”) Good, now I have her where I want her. I’m the master of come-from-behind.

Second game I play darts – T40, T40, T, 95 and I’m out in 14 darts with the “fish” on 240-something.

For whatever reason, Mr Ego takes this opportunity to resort to first-game mode. I get behind by 100, catch up and have first shot at out and then throw 15 of the stupidest darts in my life trying to hit a double. And lose.

Game, match and pride.

Lessons learned

  • Anyone can beat you if you don’t play
  • It’s better to stomp Grandma into the ground than have to buy her a post-victory Pimms and lemonade (ugh)
  • If you’re gonna come down from a high, do it for a reason. Get beat in a real match.

The worst part is that this isn’t something I can fix through practice – I just have to suck it up.


*Btw, I have nothing against women players so please don’t start with me. I DO have a problem with women players in my village who all stink. It’s a small town. It’s summer league. I like women. Really, I do.

Dart Practice: breaking a routine

Changing my dart practice routine helped me through a “mental slump”. Some times just banging away at the trip-20 isn’t the best way to practice darts.

Practice can be such a bore.

I know, I know. I keep talking about the value of dart practice and effective ways to practice, but sometimes i feel like if I have to stare down the trip-20 one more time….

I was in one of those moods today. I knew I wanted to (needed to) get some darts practice in, but, man, did I not want to be in fron of the board. I knew I had to mix things up a bit.

Now living in the UK, I never play Cricket any more. This is the land of 501. I’m not sure they even know what Cricket is apart from that strange version of baseball they have where I think you get extra points for not getting dirt on your pants, or exerting yourself as little as possible, but maybe I’m off topic….

Anyhow, I decided to throw Cricket rounds for score. I’m sure there’s loads of ways to do this; mine has always been to simply see how many rounds I need to close all the numbers. Keep it simple – no score keeping,  just get 3 of each working from 20 down to bull. In my early darting days I remember I used to average about 10 rounds – I knew I could do better with my new, improved game.

Long story short, I averaged right about 7 rounds, with one 5-rounder and realized that I need work on my bulls. More importantly, I had fun during practice, I spent about 20 minutes longer than I intended while staying focused, and I noticed a weak number (bull) I can work on next time. Plus, this was the first practice session with the new darts where I wasn’t focused on the weirdness associated with a new set.

[UPDATE: I started counting “overs” – that is anything above 3 hits. The max would be +2 for each number – no point-loading here*. The idea is that now I can tell that a little more about what I’m hitting: a lot of +1’s means I’m hitting single-triple; +2’s mean two singles and a trip, etc. ]

*(What I mean by “point-loading” here is that, as soon as I score 3 of my number, I move to the next. That’s why the max. is +2 and not +6 (3 triples)

The main thing is: rather than skip practice or rush through in an unfocused way, I had a quality session despite my bad mood. Try it next time you find practice isn’t getting you what you want.

When Dart Players had style

Bobby George talking about his career. He’s Davey’s dart hero so listen up.

I just wanted my first video on the new blog to acknowledge one of Darts’ true classics, Bobby George.
There may be better players to study, but Bobby has always been the one to watch.

Here’s  BobbyGeorge’s website if you’d like to know more.

Now you can go back to searching for Phil Taylor vids.