Ask the Orakel
Darts. Know it All!
High Roller Radio
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Insomnia, luck and chance, and the future of darts in America.
Q&A w/Greg Heim
HRR: As an American, how did you get interested in the game of darts?
The catalyst for my interest in professional darts was serendipitous. In the fall of 2013, I couldn’t go to sleep and started channel-surfing around 2AM. That’s when I stumbled upon this guy with a massive beard and long ponytail and this intense gray-haired guy playing darts on a huge stage in front of a massive and enthusiastic crowd in costumes sitting at tables drinking beer that I am sure wasn’t light, holding up these “180 signs” with some guy dressed in a suit hollering out said 180. The run-on sentence was intentional.
I was glued to the set because of the spectacle, despite having little to no idea what the hell was going on. I kept saying “why aren’t they going for bullseye?” It was a replay of the 2010 PDC World Championship between Simon Whitlock and Phil Taylor. That lure of the spectacle got me to delve into the rules of the sport further. When I realized what an incredible combination of mathematics, quick-thinking, and strategy was involved – I was hooked. The rest is history.
HRR: The future of darts must look very promising in North America? With the likes of Jeff Smith and Danny Baggish on the PDC pro tour, and the prize money ever increasing, seems that's a big motivation for players on this side of the pond?
YES, but with a couple of caveats.
First and foremost, you MUST capture a significant portion of the New York City area market. No major sport, even those with roots in North America can thrive without it. There are 29 MILLION people who live within a 50-mile radius of the geographical center of New York City, or 8.3%. Put another way, one of out every twelve people in the entire USA live within those parameters. No other geographical region is within 10M of that number.
If someone tell you that it’s not about the money – IT’S ABOUT THE MONEY. Not only is this a big-time motivator for the players, it’s also a motivator for the fans to increase viewership and improve the revenue stream of the tour – which begets even bigger prize money.
As far as the players are concerned, the prize money is no doubt a motivator – but it requires the skill necessary to get a piece of that prize money. Under the current conditions (pandemic notwithstanding), that’s a very tough ask in the United States because there are significant liability issues few businesses are willing to risk having steel-tip darts, especially if they serve alcohol.
The solution is to fund and establish a strong network of steel-tip darts clubs where players can travel a short distance to go and hone their skills, a sports academy if you will. I cannot emphasize enough that steel-tip darts is not “a pub sport” in the United States – especially in my neck of the woods where it matters the most.
HRR:You study games of chance. Any correlation between luck and darts?
As far luck is concerned, players make their own luck. Just because an outcome was successful doesn’t necessarily mean that the right choice was made. If a person would receive three times more money calling heads instead of tails on a coin flip, chose tails, and tails was the result – that’s not luck: THAT’S A BIG MISTAKE!
I have a mathematics degree with a specialty in games of chance, elementary game theory, in anything that would be regarding as two or more parties partaking in competition or decision-making. These applications also have societal and personal value, particularly in risk/reward analysis. Put simply, I have the skill set of an actuary or a professional poker player.
All three require an extensive knowledge of APPLYING a combination of numerical and non-numerical skills to achieve an optimal result whilst almost always assuming the least amount of risk. Humanity is atrocious at evaluating and applying the proper levels of risk to pretty much everything. It’s even more frustrating because most people don’t want to admit it and retaliate at those (like me) who’ve devoted their lives to these disciplines. I have an anomalous, wide-ranging, intrinsic ability to retort ignorance, which includes annoying people to no end when I am “displeased.” I also use those skills to defend people, in any part of life are unable to defend themselves.
HRR: Why James Wade?
There are many personal and empathetic components which draw me to being a big fan of “The Machine.” Many of these are addressed in the last two paragraphs of the previous question.
A huge catalyst in becoming a James Wade fan had to do with my now, 40-year-long fandom of the University of Nebraska Football program, and its former coach Tom Osborne (1973-1997).
From 1973-1992, Coach Osborne’s teams displayed mind-blowing consistency. What they lacked was a National Championship, just as James Wades’s career lacks a World Championship – and both had their fair chances in winning their respective achievements. If James Wades never threw another dart in competition, his legacy as one of the game’s greats would not be tarnished, as Tom Osborne’s would not have been tarnished. That does not and did not mean that they could not be enhanced.In his final five years (1993-1997), Coach Osborne’s teams were the best in the history of college football, boasting a record of 60-3, along THREE National Championships in four appearances!
So why not James Wade? He is only 38 years old. His game is better than ever, as he has literally and figuratively fine-tuned his overall approach. This has allowed his game to evolve in a proactive AND a reactive aspect. This includes items outside of competition as well, most notably caring less about pleasing everyone.