How to Play Shanghai Darts [Tips, Tricks, Rules]


If you are looking for an easy dart game that does not have any complicated rules or math involved, you are in the right place—Shanghai darts is one of these games.

The neat thing is that any number of players can play it, and it is extremely fun to play.

This is one of the very few games that nobody is truly out of the game until the game has actually finished.

How to play shanghai darts? To play Shanghai darts players race to get the highest score possible throughout 20 rounds. The number of each round corresponds to the active number, which awards points for hitting it. Alternatively, a game of Shanghai darts can be won at any time by scoring a Shanghai.

Below you will find everything you need to know in order to play Shanghai darts, including the full breakdown of the rules, tips, and strategy principles that can give you a little edge when playing that game.

Dartboard

Rules of Shanghai Darts

Shanghai darts is played for 20 rounds, and each player throws three darts per turn.

The number of the round corresponds to the number on the board, which will award points for hitting it.

For example, during the first round, in order to score points, you need to hit the number one. During the second round, you need to hit the number two, and so on until round 20, where you need to hit the number 20 to score points.

If you hit a different number that is not the same as the round number, no points are awarded.

The numbers are worth the standard points. A single is worth the number hit, a double is worth two times the number hit, and the triple is worth three times the number hit.

The score is kept as a running total. The player that has the most points at the end of all 20 rounds wins the game.

However, this is just one of the two ways you can win in Shanghai darts.

The other way to win is by scoring a Shanghai. To score a Shanghai, you need to hit the single, the double, and the triple of the active number in one of your turns.

The player who scores a Shanghai wins the game immediately no matter what the score is.

This is why this game is one of the very few that will keep you on your toes throughout the whole time you play it. There are no underdogs in Shanghai darts as even with zero points, a player can technically win the game at any round.

A game of Shanghai darts can also be won in the first round if somebody hits the single one, the double one, and the triple one.

This little twist makes this game a one of a kind experience every time you play it.

Who Goes First in a Game of Shanghai Darts?

There are no pre-established rules as to which player is supposed to go first.

This is why the order of the players is decided by having each player throw a single dart at the bullseye. The player whose dart hits closest to the bullseye gets to throw the first, and the player whose dart is the farthest from the bullseye gets to throw the last.

How Long Is a Game of Shanghai Darts?

A game of Shanghai darts can last anywhere from 15 to as much as 60 minutes. The total time depends on how many players are involved and especially if all 20 rounds are played.

However, depending on the skill level and accuracy of the players, the game can be as short as 20 or 30 seconds if Shanghai is scored during the first round.

What Is the Throwing Distance When Playing Shanghai Darts?

A game of Shanghai darts is played by using a dartboard hanged according to the standard throwing measurements, which are as follows:

  • For a steel tip dartboard: 7′ 9 1/4″
  • For a soft tip dartboard: 8′

Can a Game of Shanghai Darts End in a Tie?

It is absolutely possible, although very unlikely, for a game of Shanghai darts to end in a tie. The only way for a game of Shanghai darts to end in a tie is if all the players have scored the same amount of points over all the 20 rounds—which is very unlikely.

In this case, the game can be continued for several rounds more.

How to Keep the Score in a Game of Shanghai Darts?

The name of each player is written across the top of the dartboard.

Then the numbers 1 through 20 are written down the left side of the scoreboard. 

After each round, the score of the players is marked down.

The score is kept as a running total.

What Do You Need to Play Shanghai Darts?

To play Shanghai darts, all you need is to have another player, a dartboard, a set of darts (at least three darts), and a means of keeping the score.

Shanghai darts is a very easy game and does not require any special equipment or accessories to be played.

On What Kind of Dartboard Can You Play Shanghai Darts?

You can play Shanghai darts on any dartboard that has the standard numbers 1 through 20 on it. This includes any of the standards

* for detailed info of the best dartboards in each category, make sure to click on the links above.

Each one of the standard dartboards plays a little differently. The type of dartboard also affects the throwing distance and the type of darts used.

If you will be playing at a local darts league, it is recommended to use and practice on a similar dartboard.

An Example of How a Game of Shanghai Darts Can Unfold

This is an example of Shanghai darts played by three players (P1, P2, and P3).

Round 1:

  • P1 throws T1 (3), S1 (1), and S20 (0). Their score is 4.
  • P2 throws T1 (3), S1 (1), and S1 (1). Their score is 5.
  • P3 throws S20 (0), S1 (1), S18 (0). Their score is 1.

Round 2:

  • P1 throws T2 (6), S2 (2), and a miss (0). Their score is 8+4=12.
  • P2 throws S2 (2), T2 (6), and D15 (0). Their score now is 8+5=13.
  • P3 throws T15 (0), S17 (0), and T2 (6). Their score is 6+1=7.

Round 3:

  • P1 throws T3 (9), T3 (9), and S19 (0). Their score is 18+12=30.
  • P2 throws T3 (9), D3 (6), and S3 (3). P2 has just scored a Shanghai and won the game.

Strategy Principles of Shanghai Darts

Playing 20 full rounds is a lot, especially considering that you can win the game by scoring a Shanghai. This is why you want to focus on scoring a Shanghai as soon as possible.

Try to aim for the triple with your first dart. If you hit the triple, then you can go for the single or double with your next two darts.

If you miss the triple, and you land a single, you are still in the game. You can try to hit the triple again with your second dart. And if you manage to do it, then you can either (1) go for the triple again if you want to rack up on some points or (2) go for the double if you are willing to try and score a Shanghai.

The double is a little riskier, and some players may not feel comfortable risking it hitting the outside the double area. 

Thus why the double is usually not one of the first choices to go for.

The longer the game progresses, the more critical the points will become. Missing a triple one in the first round is not going to be as fatal as missing, say, a triple 20 in the last round. And during that last round is where a lot of turnarounds can happen.

If we take another look at that hypothetical Shanghai game and how it unfolded, we can see that players 1 and 2 were clearly following that strategy.

Although player 1 made a mistake by going after two triple threes in the third round. When player 2 was clearly going for a Shanghai from the beginning of the game.

For What Dart Players Is Shanghai Darts Best For?

Shanghai darts is a great—and fun—dart game that is suitable for players of all skill levels.

What makes it great for beginners is the fact that the whole dartboard is played—in most cases, that is. 

The fact that you can win the game at any point by scoring a Shanghai also encourages playing the triples and the doubles.

That extra underlying incentive is important as you will be practicing hitting those high-value areas.

Conversely, this game can be quite frustrating if beginner players play against significantly more experienced players—so I would suggest players of equal skill levels should play together.

What Are Some Variations of Shanghai Darts?

Shanghai darts is one of these dart games which can be played in many different ways. Let’s take a look at a few different ways you can add new twists to it.

  • One of the things you can do is to change the rules for scoring a Shanghai. For example, for a Shanghai to be scored, the areas should be hit in a particular order: the double first, the single next, and the triple last.
  • Another way to change things a bit is to introduce specific numbers as a must-hits. For example, you can have each odd or even number be a must-hit. For example, if every odd number is mandatory and a player fails to hit it with all three darts, they can lose points or even have their score halved.
  • You can make certain areas of each number mandatory, like the triple or the double. If a player fails to hit it, they can be penalized in some way.
  • You can also introduce the bullseye as around 21. 
  • You can change the rules for scoring a Shanghai. For example, hitting the double, the triple and the double bull. That way, if someone decides to go for a Shanghai and a relatively quick win, they will have to risk not scoring any points with one of their darts.
  • And lastly, if you are playing with a lot of people or if you do not have enough time, you can always decide on playing fewer rounds. Instead of 20, you can play for ten rounds going up to the number 10.

Mike Stephenson

Hello, darts enthusiasts! My name is Mike, and I am the person behind dartsguide.net. I enjoy playing darts with my mates and generally having a good time. Here I share everything that I learn about darts.

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