Playing darts really does seem to impart a sort of loyalty/obsession once it grabs a hold of you. You want to get better and do well yourself, but also want the game to grow and do well as a whole, to have both the attention it garnered in the 1980's, coupled with the high levels of performance and overall professionalism/respectability of the modern darts game, that is our hobby/passion/sport/profession/divine calling.
We try to promote darts wherever we can, and as far as I can tell, the bulk of that effort is focused on getting new people into and excited about the game. Not a horrible tactic, right? Heck, they got you and me,right?
If the ultimate objective, however, is to make darts a fully commercially viable, possibly nearing mainstream sport on both sides of the Atlantic, then what darts needs is what every other great sport has in droves.
That is, people who avidly watch/follow the sport, but may or may not actually play it.
That's right, darts needs an audience! One that also includes people who do not actively play the game.
Now a lot of appeal can come from buzz created by the players themselves, whether it is top notch play from PDC pros like Taylor, MVG, or someone like a Peter Wright who has drastically elevated their game over the last several years, or even a little 'home town pride' such as was created here in Canada by Jeff Smith reaching the BDO finals.
These things are all great, I'd say even critical, but there is one more ingredient, which, whether we want to admit it or not is a key part of any and all widely popular sports, and that is the practice of sports betting.
Now some people may say that this takes away from the pure enjoyment of the sport, and to a degree they have a point, but really it is just another layer or facet of the overall sporting experience, and another level of engagement between the sport and it's fans/potential fans.
This is also, it should be noted, a symbiotic relationship as the bigger, reputable online betting sites put back into the game, perhaps most famously William Hill who are the title sponsors of the PDC World Darts Championships.
If you want to know how important these sponsorship are for darts, you need not do anything more than read up on the history of darts.
Of course by now you might even be curious about exactly how this whole darts betting thing works.
Well, to be honest, me too!
So I went to check out the William Hill darts page. A little bit busy, but nicely laid out and fairly intuitive to use. You can see how much you could expect to win before you submit your bet, and there are plenty of help documents and support available if you are unclear on anything with the process or the rules.
They also accept a wide range of payment options, which is nice if you are leery of using your credit or debit card online.
You also don't have to (and really shouldn't) go over board with this. I mean just have a couple of less beers a week or maybe skip your daily candy bar and there you go you can take part in the fun.
So let's say we have ourselves $5.00 to bet on the Gary Anderson vs Robert Thornton match the Premiere League darts? Do we go with the favoured 'Flying Scotsman' or the talented but more of a long shot Thornton?
Well with a bet of $5.00 a win for Anderson is expected to net a $6.42 payout at 2 to 7 odds, whereas a Thornton is listed at 11/2 odds and give a payout of $32.50.
Is Thornton likely to pull it off? Well, maybe, because he is a talented player, but Anderson is at the top of the game right now, so most likely you'd be saying goodbye to your $5.00, but even then your chances are a lot better than most lotteries. Upsets do happen in sports, and that is maybe a part of the fun of all of this.
If you are lucky you will make a nice bit of cash, and if not well if you are smart about it and play within your limit you'll maybe just lose that 'one extra beer that you really didn't need anyway'.
Darts betting wont be for everyone, and may even turn a few people off, but understand it does help with the growth of the game, as it does as a part of any major sport, and for many it adds another layer of fun that keeps them interested and engaged as a fan, and if you want to go with a site that you know is going to invest in darts, then I'd say William Hill is a sure bet!
Thanks as always for reading! Best of luck to all of you who give betting on the darts a go. Just remember to keep it fun and play within your limit!
See you all next time!!
Dave 'The Abominable Throw Man' Sproull