2020 PDC World Darts Championship Betting Preview, Picks
Professional Darts Corporation. Pictured: Michael van Gerwen
You can call me an asshole all you want, but I'm here to tell you that the PDC World Darts Championship is, pound-for-pound, the best gambling event on the sporting calendar. You can keep your Super Bowl, your March Madness and your Conference Championship Saturday — I'll take the hyperbolic, ale-fueled-chaos of the biggest tournament in darts any day of the week — and twice on an NFL Sunday.
The PDC World Championships combine all the best parts of gambling into one ridiculous event. It has brings together the tension of betting on baseball, the atmosphere of big college football games and the one-and-done tournament format of March Madness under one roof.
Like boxing or tennis, it's mono-e-mono; like hockey, your heart won't stop beating. And like the NFL — actually darts are nothing like the NFL and that's why it rocks.
This is an event that doesn't take itself seriously and still hits all the notes a gambler would want. Darts and betting go hand-in-hand and they make no qualms about the audience they are trying to entertain.
Matches move at a brisk pace, the crowd is awesome and the players are all characters. If you give the darts a go, I guarantee it will take no more than two matches for you to understand why this is such a fun betting sport. Why two matches? You'll need the first one to learn the rules and rhythm of the sport, but after that you'll get it.
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How To Watch the PDC World Darts Championship
Not only is DAZN streaming the 2020 World Darts Championship (Dec. 13 to Jan. 3), but the matches take place during work hours, so the day will fly by.
The first match of the tournament will begin at approximately 2 p.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 13 on DAZN. From there, the matches are split into two sessions on most days. The early session begins at 7:30 a.m. ET and the later session at 2 p.m. ET.
It shouldn't need to be said, but for the love of god, please be responsible when betting on the darts (or any sport for that matter). Betting on sports is supposed to be fun, don't make it uncomfortable. When the fun stops, stop.
PDC World Darts Championship Rules, Scoring and Format
The Rules of 501
In a game of 501 the object is for one player or a team to be the first to reach zero from starting total of 501.
In simple terms, after three darts are thrown, the throwing player subtracts the total scored from his current total until he reaches zero.
In order to reach zero each player must finish by throwing a double. To do that, your dart must land on the outer green- or red-colored ring of the dart board. The inner ring is a triple. So if your throw lands on the inner ring of the "18" section, you'd score 54 points (18x3).
If Player A has 36 remaining he or she must hit double 18 to win, while if Player B has 45 remaining he must hit single 5, double 20 to win — or another combination of scores provided the final dart lands on a double.
The wrinkle of needing a double to close out a leg adds an incredible amount of tension to darts. It's the equivalent of needing to sink a 10-foot putt on a big hole or hitting a game-winning free throw. It's far from automatic and players often crumble under the pressure, allowing their opponent to come back to steal a leg. There is a saying in the darts world, "Scoring is for show, doubles are for dough."
If Player A gets to zero first, he or she wins the leg. To win a set, you must be the first player to win three legs (i.e. each set is a best-of-five legs).
At the World Darts Championship, the length of the match increases as the tournament progresses. The format for Rounds 1 and 2 is best-of-five sets. Rounds 3 and 4 are Best-of-7, the quarterfinals is Best-of-9 sets, the semifinals is Best-of-11 and the Final is Best-of-13.
Since the first two rounds feature shorter matches, upsets happen at more frequency in the early rounds. By the time we get to the business portion of the tournament, talent usually wins out over the course of longer matches.
The PDC World Darts Championship is the March Madness of darts. There are 96 players in the field with 32 seeds getting a bye into Round 2 — the Round of 64. Here is the draw for the 2020 PDC World Darts Championship:
This is the most important part of this entire event. The atmosphere at the World Darts Championship, which takes place at The Alexandra Palace aka "The Ally Pally" in London, England, is hard to describe.
Darts is what Brits do best, in the afterglow of empire
– Martin Amis, L̲o̲n̲d̲o̲n̲ ̲F̲i̲e̲l̲d̲s̲
— Christopher Kempf (@ochepedia) December 5, 2019
I could try to sum up the Oktoberfest-meets-college-basketball-game atmosphere as best as I can with words, but let's just let this video do the talking:
That's right, every player has their own nickname and signature walk-on song, like in boxing or MMA. Devon Petersen, aka "The African Warrior" has one of the best:
Michael "MVG" van Gerwen: If you're reading this, you've probably heard of MVG. He's the sport's harbinger, the most recognizable bald athlete this side of LeBron James. MVG is the most famous player in the sport and went viral for this 9-darter (a perfect leg) a few years ago:
Van Gerwen comes into the World Championships as the clear favorite. He's +120 to win the whole thing at PointsBet.
Gerwyn "The Iceman" Price: Like any sport worth its salt, darts has a villain and he is a handsome, former rugby player from Markham, Wales. Price comes into the tournament in flying form, having just defeated MVG at the 2019 Grand Slam of Darts in November. You'll love rooting against Price, but you'll hate betting against him. Price is 5-1 to take the title.
Peter "Snakebite" Wright: Another viral sensation, Wright's colorful get-ups are the stuff of legend. He's at 10-1 to win this tournament, which is probably too short considering his only major title came at the van Gerwen-less 2017 UK Open.
Rob "Voltage" Cross: You want to read a feel-good story? Check out Rob Cross' path to becoming the 2018 World Darts Champion. Cross checks in at 11-1.
The moment has come. Tomorrow I will travel to London to play my final World Championships, I hope to show the world the one more time what I can do. Leg by leg, set by set, match by match. I will fight till the end. pic.twitter.com/hIADnJYsFz
— Raymond v Barneveld (@Raybar180) December 11, 2019
One of the sport's most popular players, Raymond "Barney" van Barneveld will be retiring after this year's World Championships. The Dutchman is beloved by his countrymen — his fans call themselves "The Barney Army" — so get ready for the crowd to be behind van Barneveld during his matches.
If you're the type of bettor who loves a good stroll down Narrative Street — you may be interested in taking a 150-1 punt on Barney (who has five world championships across the BDO and PDC).
It's likely that "Barney" won't make it past the second or third round, but it will be worth tuning in for his matches since nobody says farewell like the Darts:
2020 PDC World Darts Betting Picks
I'm not an expert at betting on darts, but after quite a bit of research, I am making two outright picks to win the tournament because it's fun to throw darts on the darts:
Glenn "Duzza" Durrant: There are actually two Professional Darts Leagues — the PDC and BDO. Durrant used to run things in the BDO but has now switched over to the PDC. He's in good form and I think I'm going to bet him to win at 33-1 (Bet365). Since this is his first season with the PDC, you seem to be getting a discount on Durrant.
Krzysztof Ratajski: This is simply a value play. According to the PDC's Order of Merit (a fancy way of saying world rankings), "The Polish Eagle" is the 16th-best player in the world. His 150-1 (PointsBet) outright odds do not reflect that lofty rating. Ratajski is in good form and wouldn't need to face van Gerwen until the semifinals.