How to play Shanghai Darts (Step by step guide)

There are many games in darts that are not only fun to play but also can help improve your darts performance.

Many darts enthusiasts say that games such as 301 or 501 are the pinnacle of darts. But many people like to use other games to refine their skills.

This is where Shanghai darts comes into play, a game that is easy to pick up, but hard to master.

Although sometimes disputed, some claim the origins of its name derives from the card game ‘Rummy Shanghai’.

The term ‘Shanghai’ refers to scoring a single, double, and triple of the same number within the same turn.

The aim is to score more points than your opponent. An easy premise, but scoring those points is where the challenge lies.

Today’s guide will give you everything needed to set up a game of ‘Shanghai’ darts, including equipment, scoring, and tips to give you the edge over your competitors.

SEE ALSO: 27 Fun Dartboard Games to Play

What is ‘Shanghai’ Darts?

Shanghai Darts Game Info image

Shanghai is considered an easy darts game in which participants compete for the highest score. They will go round the board from 1-20, getting points depending on the value of the number that the player scores. The person who scores the most points at the end is the winner.

Number of Players Required: Unlimited, perfect for larger groups.

Who Can Play It: Anyone with an interest in darts

Difficulty: Easy

Main Goal: Be the player with the highest score at the end of the game.

Why we love it: A game that is ideal for people in larger groups, it’s perfect for players of any ability. As it’s a point-based game, it can create real tense finishes.

Playing ‘Shanghai’ Darts: What you’ll need

The Dartboard

Any size dartboard will be ok to use and your local bar will have the exact one that you need.

If you’re looking to play at your own home, this standard size dartboard by Viperkings fits the bill and also comes with some darts to get you started.

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The Darts

The darts that you choose to use are up to personal preference. There are different weights and lengths that darts can be and the best way to find out what works for you is through trial and error.

Darts which are heavier are generally considered to be more accurate. ‘Shanghai’ requires a certain level of accuracy so these could be the ones that you choose.

Many dart enthusiasts consider tungsten steel one of the best dart materials. These from Franklin Sports is a good option. 

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Keeping score is important in ‘Shanghai’ as you will tally the points up at the end.

Make sure that there is something to write with and write on before beginning. A pen and paper will do and most bars will have chalk and a chalkboard that will also work.

How to set up your game

Dartboard Position: The ‘bullseye’ should be 5ft 8’’ from the floor.

Throwing distance: Mark the ‘oche’ 7ft 9in away from the front of the dartboard.

Throwing line: Start throwing from the ‘oche’. Ensure you keep your standing foot is behind this line at all times whilst throwing.

‘Shanghai’ Darts Rules and Gameplay

Starting the game

Decide on who starts by ‘bulling up’. Have all participants throw one dart at the bullseye. Use this to decide on the throwing order, with the person closest going first and the person furthest away going last.

Decide an order and have someone write down the player’s names on the left-hand side of the board/paper.

Create a grid so that you can keep a tally of everyone’s score. This is to avoid scoring confusion at the end.

How to play ‘Shanghai’ Darts

  • Allow each player 3 darts per go and take it in turns throwing at each number from 1-20.
  • Players accumulate points by throwing their three darts at the relevant numbers.
  • The game finishes once the last player completes their throw on number 20.
  • The winner is the person who scores the most at the end of the game.
  • If at any point in the game a player manages to hit a Shanghai the game ends and that player is the winner.
  • A single, a double, and a triple on the same number is a ‘Shanghai’.

Scoring in ‘Shanghai darts’

Each section of the number is worth a certain amount of points, with the player gaining the most points winning the game.

The ‘cream’ or ‘black’ section of the dartboard is a single and is worth 1 point. The top section of the dartboard in ‘green’ or ‘red’ is double and is worth 2 points. The section in the middle of the number also in ‘green’ or ‘red’ is triple and is worth 3 points.

Missing the number means the player scores 0 points for that dart.

Record the total and tally up at the end. The winner is the player with the most points. 

Tied scores at the end? Decide a winner by counting which player scored the most triples. Declare the player with the most as the winner.

If scores are still level, then decide a winner by ‘bulling up’. Or declare them all the winners. This part of the game is up to you, so no matter what you decide to do try to keep it fun.

playing shanghai darts image

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any other variations of ‘Shanghai’ darts?

If you’re planning on playing with larger groups, then consider reducing the number of rounds played to make games quicker.

The best part about ‘Shanghai’ is that you can play with as many rounds as you like. If you wanted a longer game then when you get to 20, start again at 1 for example.

Is there any way to make the game harder for more experienced players?

This game is very versatile, so it is possible to make it harder.

As it’s a game that decides the winners on points, you can assign numbers to be ‘mandatory’.

For example, you can set a ‘triple five’ to be a mandatory hit for players, and failure to do so will lose points for that round.

If you’re looking to improve certain aspects of your game then tailor this game to fit your specific needs.

Alternative games to ‘Shanghai’ Darts

‘Shanghai’ is a great game whether you’re with a couple of friends or in a big group.

But if you were looking for other games to play on the dartboard there are alternatives.

If you’re looking for another game to play in a larger group, consider giving ‘KILLER’ or ‘Around the Clock’ a try.

Or if you’re looking for a competitive game that only requires two players, consider trying a more classic game of 301.

Any game of darts that you choose will help with refining your skills, so it’s recommended to give all them a try and see which one becomes your favorite.

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