Betting Masterclass Volume 11: Dan Fitch shares his darts betting tips

Peter Wright and Michael van Gerwen.
Always bet on Peter Wright to have a more creative hairstyle than Michael van Gerwen.
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Continuing our Betting Masterclass series, Dan Fitch points out the key factors to look out for when having a punt on darts...

"Ultimately darts is a sport where a player’s biggest opponent can be themselves. The fight becomes a psychological one, rather than one against an opponent."

Darts has become one of the most popular sports to bet on and it's not hard to see why.

It's a fast moving sport, in which the balance of power can swing back and forth rapidly. This creates betting opportunities and the numerical nature of the game ensures that there's a wide variety of markets available, beyond the simple issue of which player wins and who loses.

The birth and continued growth of the PDC has resulted in a schedule that is beneficial to both players and bettors. There are lots of small tournaments taking place throughout the year, punctuated by big events such as the Premier League and the various Majors. As well as providing opportunities for players to earn money and develop their game, this schedule gives us punters plenty of data from which we can monitor their form, strengths and weaknesses.

Statistics are key

The rise in statistical analysis in sport and the availability of it, has given sports bettors a helping hand in beating the odds.

Studying statistics in darts is perhaps more important than in any other sport. It is quite literally a numbers game, which makes analysis quite straightforward and reliable.

The modern bible of the sport is the Darts Database website. It is for darts what the IMDB is for movies. Here you will find statistics for every match in every tournament. You can analyse players finishing capabilities and scoring power. Head-to-head records are available and every type of ranking you can think of, from the PDC Order of Merit, to individual statistics.

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Studying the numbers helps you to identify anomalies and find value bets. A good example is Glen Durrant, who is a successful player due to the consistency of his scoring and finishing, but doesn't generally score as many 180s as other top players. Consequently, when he's up against the elite, he'd likely to lose the most 180s battle, even in matches that he's a favourite in. This likelihood is rarely reflected in the available odds, with the bets on individual statistics tending to be based heavily upon the match result prices.

Where's their head at?

In theory darts should be a straightforward sport to predict. It is after all a simple case of players needing to score more heavily than their opponent and finish more accurately.

Yet though there is less scope than in other sports for a player to have an impact on their opposition's performance, there are methods. Slow players can upset the rhythms of those that like to play fast, while some players can be put off by how loud and animated their opponent is.

Head-to-head records will often defy the match odds, revealing that an underdog has a dominant record against their opponent. If a player is in better form and generally more consistent, that can't be ignored, but psychologically it can be tough to defeat someone that has a run of victories against you. Players often crumble against the brilliant Michael van Gerwen and play worse than they might do against a weaker opponent. They are beaten before they even reach the oche.

Ultimately darts is a sport where a player's biggest opponent can be themselves. The fight becomes a psychological one, rather than one against an opponent. Famously, when at the peak of his powers, Eric Bristow developed dartitis. It's a condition that sees players suffering with involuntary twitching and tension, which in Bristow's case saw him struggle to release his darts.

Who can handle the pressure and where

The growth of the sport has seen the ability to handle pressure, become an ever more important commodity for a darts player. They now play in front of huge crowds and not everyone can deal with it.

Fallon Sherrock's run to the third round of the 2020 World Championships, saw her opponents struggle to contend with a partizan crowd that were very much on her side. Playing high level darts is difficult as it is, without an audience that are vocal in their desire for you to miss every target.

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Study the sport and you'll come to learn that some players, though brilliant in smaller events, aren't so strong on the big stage. Colin Lloyd was the perfect example of this, reaching number one in the world with his consistency in non-televised tournaments, but failing to make such an impact at World Championships.

Other players seem to find it hard to motivate themselves for the small tournaments, but thrive on the big occasion. The current World Youth Championship holder Luke Humphries seems to fall into this category. He has made the quarter-finals of the last two World Championships and became the first contender to win a Premier League match, but a lack of consistency on the week-to-week events is keeping his ranking down.

Identifying these sort of traits will help with your darts betting, with certain players being either overpriced or underpriced, based on the type of environment that they perform best in.

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Be sure to check out the other volumes in our Betting Masterclass series, listed below:

Volume 1 - Ed Hawkins on Test Match Cricket
Volume 2 - Ed Hawkins on Twenty20 Cricket
Volume 3 - Ed Hawkins on how to bet on ODI Cricket
Volume 4 - Mark O'Haire on the football stats that don't matter
Volume 5 - Mark O'Haire on benefits of data and beating the closing price
Volume 6 - Mark O'Haire's perfect football punt checklist
Volume 7 - Steve Rawlings on how to make golf tournament bets
Volume 8 - Tony Calvin on how he makes racing profitable
Volume 9 - Kevin Blake on the importance of the skill of race reading
Volume 10 - Mike Carlson on how to make your NFL bets count

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