The game begins with each player's or team's score set at 501. Players take turns throwing three darts each. The points scored with each dart are subtracted from the total score. The accumulated score is continuously updated after each turn.
The player or team must strategically aim for the numbered sections on the dartboard to maximize their score. The highest-scoring sections are the triple sections, which are narrow segments around the perimeter of the board. A dart landing in a triple section scores three times the value of that number.
To reach zero, players must finish their score by hitting a double segment. The double segments are the narrow ring closest to the center of the board. When a dart lands in a double section, the value of the corresponding number is doubled. For example, a double 20 is worth 40 points, while a double 10 is worth 20 points.
Once a player's or team's score reaches a total of 1 or lower, they must aim for a double segment that would bring the score to exactly zero. If the final dart falls into a non-double segment or results in a score exceeding zero, the player's or team's turn is considered a bust, and their score remains unchanged. They continue throwing darts in subsequent turns until they successfully reach zero.
The game of 501 is a popular format in professional darts tournaments as well as casual play. It requires both skill in scoring high points and strategy in calculating and finishing the game efficiently. The three-dart format allows for exciting turnarounds, as players can quickly catch up or take the lead with well-placed throws.
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