If you're anything like me, you play darts rarely. And when you do, you're drunk. Ignoring the fact that that's a dangerous combination, here's how to try and maximise your chance of winning, ineptitude aside.
The guys over at Data Genetics had a look into how people with varying skill levels should approach a game of darts. Before anyone complains: yes, they studied an English dartboard. But that's OK, because the only real difference between the UK and US 'boards is the position of the treble socre section -- it's not at the outside in the UK -- and the fact that there is an inner and an outer bull's eye in the UK.
Anyway. There are two extreme cases: you are a pro, or you're awful. What should you do if either applies to you? According to Data Genetics:
A very skilful player should aim for the middle of the triple 20; Much of the time he will hit his target, and the times he misses will be few enough that his average score will still be high.
A very poor player should aim close to the bullseye, as just hitting the board will be an achievement (and a scoring one at that!). Aiming for the centre maximises the chances of hitting something.
But what if you're somewhere in between? In truth, it gets pretty complicated, as it depends largely on how much variation there is between your throws. What is evident, though -- and you could probably have guessed this, but it's nice to have it backed up by some maths -- is that aiming towards 19 is your best bet. If you miss, you get a higher score than if you were aiming for 20 and missed.