Darts has to start with two words: Phil Taylor. ‘The Power’ has dominated the world of ‘arrers’ for more than a decade and his presence throws the betting into turmoil. Even as a prohibitive odds-on favourite he is hard to get away from. On a championship spread index, Taylor will be such a strong favourite that only winning a tournament will yield a profit. Realistically, backing any of his competitors is a place bet. You hope they will do well and make a profit—you don’t expect them to win the whole competition.
Match bets are a different matter. Like many one-on-one individual sports, darts has a 10–3 scoring system for match bets, where 10 points are awarded for winning a match and 3 points for each clear set. So in a best of nine set match, a player who wins five sets to one (i.e., by four clear sets) picks up 22 points—10 for the match and 12 for the sets. As always with sports where the form for the general public is limited, new and up-and-coming players are the wild cards. The breeding ground for all the players is in local pubs and clubs from which they graduate into county leagues and serious competitive darts.
So although many players compete at the highest level year in, year out, new players regularly break on to the scene and cause upsets. The comments about the standard of play made about snooker, above, also apply to darts.