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I know my dart playing habits are a little odd... I usually hit my local bar alone, on an off night, grab a pint and head straight back to the dartboard in the back corner where I'm least likely to be disturbed.

Throwing darts tends to be something of a meditative thing for me. I zone out and aim for the bullseye exclusively and I've gotten pretty good at it over the years.

Unfortunately on occasion this draws unwanted attention. Drunk attention.

When approached I usually tell people that I'm "just practicing" which puts most people off, and they leave me be.

The thing is that I really enjoy playing a game of cricket on occasion, but most people really aren't serious players. Even worse, the average bar patron is usually a little too confident in their ability... They talk a good game, but then they throw like they're pitching baseballs.

What's a good/polite way to separate real players from enthusiastic drunks when approached at the dartboard?

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  • 5
    This is not an answer, and is UK not US specific. Do they have their own set of weighted darts. It's a give away.
    – r m
    Aug 8, 2017 at 7:29
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    @r m you rarely see people with their own set, outside of league play, in the US.
    – apaul
    Aug 8, 2017 at 7:33
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    Why is this downvoted? Seems like a perfectly alright question to me. Aug 8, 2017 at 15:08
  • 1
    I see people with their own darts. I bring mine.
    – paparazzo
    Aug 8, 2017 at 16:27
  • 2
    @heather some people just impulsively down-vote anything involving alcohol.
    – JMK
    Sep 19, 2017 at 13:03

5 Answers 5

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I will answer your question the same way I would answer a girl asking "What is a good/polite way to separate nice guys who want to seriously date me from enthusiastic drunks hitting on me when I go to the bar by myself?" My answer is: "If you want to find a nice guy who wants to seriously date you, then don't go to a bar by yourself."

When people go to bars, they are looking to have fun and socialize. They are not expecting to find a guy who is meditatively throwing darts by himself and is only interested in being approached by serious dart players. Of course there is always a small possibility that someone similar to you will happen to be at the same bar and be interested in a game of darts that is up to your standards, but that is unlikely, and I think it would be pretty exhausting to put every person who approaches you through some kind of test and then politely reject 99% of them.

I would say that if you feel like having a drink and throwing some darts by yourself, then by all means go to the bar, but you should probably assume that anyone who approaches you is a drunk person looking to have a little fun, and you can efficiently turn them away with your "I'm just practicing" line. If, on the other hand, you really want to play a game with someone who is up to your standards, you would be better off finding that person in advance (wherever serious dart players hang out- maybe somewhere online) and arranging to meet them at the bar.

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    "If, on the other hand, you really want to play a game with someone who is up to your standards, you would be better off finding that person in advance (wherever serious dart players hang out- maybe somewhere online) and arranging to meet them at the bar." Do you actually know anything about darts?
    – user288
    Aug 8, 2017 at 16:48
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    And you are asking me why? I don't have to know about darts to know that you can find people who enjoy particular hobbies, either through online interest groups or specific venues. I just Googled it along with my geographic location and I found both meet-up nights at particular bars and a Facebook group for dart players in my area. If those don't exist in your geographic area, then it means there isn't enough interest in it, which is a different problem.
    – Slow loris
    Aug 9, 2017 at 16:40
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    Answers should be based on experience. For example, someone with experience in the dart community might know that playing darts in a bar is somewhat common.
    – user288
    Aug 9, 2017 at 16:45
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    Yeah dude, I know that. I go to bars all the time and I see drunk people playing darts...
    – Slow loris
    Aug 15, 2017 at 22:35
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    Would buying your own set of darts/dart board be a better option? You can then play at home without anyone to disturb you. The cost of the drinks adds up, your own equipment would be cheaper in the long run.
    – KC Wong
    Oct 20, 2017 at 3:27
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In a bar, when you're on your own, you might sometimes attract lonely people who want to socialize, and spend time having fun one way or another. They may spot you as one of them. You actually found an efficient and easy way out: "I'm just practicing".

If you really want to take a chance and find someone to play with, at roughly the same skill level, you'll need to give the man an opportunity. Having that stated:

DISCLAIMER: I know nothing about darts, this is based upon my experience playing pool.

How to separate real players from enthusiastic drunks?

As you can't tell at first sight, then, run a test on their abilities/skills.

Once you've determined the guy coming to you may not be drunk (look at the way he walks, then talks, then his eyes/face), you measure, you weight, you decide. The idea is : you're up the scale, we play, you're not, no big deal. I would say something like:

I was about to stop playing and going back to my seat / thoughts / reading (you name it), so please, your turn... [ back up / smile ]

Just watch the first 3 throws. If the guy meets your expectations, you can then challenge him, and ask if he wants to share a game with you:

Man! you're playing great! I just wanted to rest, but now, I would not run away from a tough opponent. Would you invite me and we share one game?

Or just wish him a good training, and go back to your seat...

Keep in mind that you don't own the dartboard, and that you are the one silently seeking for a player, so give both of you a chance, and let the man play :)

If the man's skills aren't what you expect, and he still challenges you, then I'd just say:

Thanks, but I'm kind of tired / bored, no more willing to play at this time. Hope you don't mind ?

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  • @JarkoDubbeldam : agreed. It's not a bread and butter issue, though, and sometimes, you get only the bread :)
    – OldPadawan
    Sep 18, 2017 at 12:24
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To identify experienced dart players, inform anyone who wants to play that you're in the middle of a game of 301. Ask them if they'd mind keeping score until you finish. You can instantly rule out anyone who doesn't know what you're talking about and anyone who doesn't know how the game is scored. You might be able to make distinctions among those who offer to keep score by noting their competence and speed.

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  • Cricket is more to my taste, but I suppose the same method could be used there.
    – apaul
    Oct 21, 2017 at 15:56
  • This won't work if they are 'players' and see you consistently aiming for the bullseye. ;-)
    – mcalex
    Oct 24, 2017 at 4:49
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Is drunkeness really the issue? As with one of the other answers, my main experience is with pool (with an occasional game of darts). In my experience, pool and darts go hand in hand with a few drinks, with some even saying it makes them play better. If it is more about skill level (and your first tactic hasn't worked), perhaps hand over the darts and let them have a go on their own. You'll quickly be able to judge their ability, and hopefully, if they aren't great, they'll quickly get bored and leave.

I guess the main issue is the location; you will always find odd/interesting/drunk characters in bars.

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This may not be a generalizable answer, and it's potentially anti-social, but it will work, at least if you're a serious player yourself.

Play them. Don't pull back. You will find out in one game if they're at your level. So will they. If it's a massive mismatch, they can either leave, or you can "just practise" with them throwing 3 darts between each of your practises. Or they can continue to annoy you with socializing (and poor play) and you leave to find either a game at your level or a 20 minute break before there's another board open to continue practising. Or you will find someone who is at your level attempts to cut in for the good game they're looking for.

I play bridge, not darts, and the standard line for online pickup bridge is "if you can't figure out the skill of the others at the table in 4 hands, you're not good enough for that table" - the equivalent of "if you can't figure out who the fish is at the poker table, it's you."

It's a different answer, of course, if you are just practising and don't even want a game at your level. Of course, that is where "board at home" comes into play as a solution.

Unfortunately, as other answers have said, the default expectation is that people are at a bar to socialize, and a loner at the bar will be socialized with. Even the bar may not be happy you're there, even if you're having the same pint-an-hour and burger everyone else is, because you're affecting the atmosphere. This is coming from a person who was known to drop in to the local to have a pint reading my book on the way home from work, so I'm not denigrating your desire.

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