Years ago, down the Village, Everett native Chuck Puleo found his way into the game of darts by accident.
His brother needed a substitute player for his league team, and Puleo was there and available.
Now years from that day and thousands of miles from the Village, Puleo is preparing himself to compete in the William Hill World Darts Championship tournament – a place where only the best of the best compete.
Puleo, no doubt, is certainly one of the best on this side of the pond, and he’ll test his moxie in old England over the next three weeks.
“It all started here in Everett,” said Puleo, 46. “I was at the Balboa Club down in the Village. My brother needed a sub for his team. That was about 1990. I went down and played and got the bug.”
For years, Puleo said he played darts seriously, and liked to compete in all other sports as well growing up in Everett.
“Whatever season it was, that’s the sport we were playing,” he joked.
However, in 2003, he walked away from competitive darts and moved from Everett to Arizona, which is where he’s been for the last 15 years. But, as he got older, he said, his competitive nature didn’t wear out quite as fast as his knees and ankles. So, in 2011, he picked the darts back up and became a rising star in the professional dart ranks very quickly.
He became the Arizona state champ in 2016 and started being mentored by pro darts player Dave Fatum. From there, he began playing in Los Angeles and became the 2017 grand champion of that city’s tournament. That launched his professional career as he qualified to get his Championship Dart Corporation (CDC) pro card, opening up professional tournaments all across the country for him.
“I do have great vision, but I don’t think the vision has anything to do with my success,” he said this week, while home visiting Everett before leaving for London. “As I got older, I got more patient and darts are a mental game…In darts, you can’t worry about the about the last three throws, you have to worry about the next three throws. You’re never out of it. I’ve been down 4-1 and 5-1 in darts and I’ve come back. I’ve also been up by that margin and lost. Darts is such a personalized, mental game…Being able to be stronger mentally is what helps me now that I’m older as opposed to when I was younger.”
Despite his great successes in the U.S., winning several pro tournaments across the country, it was this past August where his career went international.
London is the cradle of the pro dart world, and most every darts player wants to qualify for the William Hill and be able to play in the pro circuit in London, known as the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC). However, only one U.S. player is allowed a spot each year, and it’s a highly sought after position.
To get there, Puleo had to qualify at the Philadelphia tour stop.
Going into the last stretch, Puleo needed to get a second place finish and get a first place finish. He was down significantly, but came back and got the finishes he needed.
That propelled him to London.
“I eventually ended up being the guy this year who represents the U.S. and I beat out the guy who usually goes for us year after year,” he said. “I’ve been in the CDC two seasons now and won five tour stops. I’ve been in seven finals and won five of them…I’d love to go over there and play the best of the best. Right now, the competition is good, but to get better you have to play someone better than you. To get to that level, I have to play these guys in Europe more consistently. That’s just the facts.”
Puleo was set to arrive in London this week, and the tournament starts on Dec. 13. However, Puleo will play on Tuesday, Dec. 18. He’ll have the third match, which will air around 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Boston area. It will be streamed on BBCAmerica.com or on the DartsBBCA Facebook page.
“I’d like to play well and maybe win a few rounds,” he said. “There’s no room for error against these guys. The only way you affect them is the pressure. Other than that, it’s just myself and the board.”
Everett native Chuck Puleo is heading to London to compete in the William Hill World Darts Championship this week, a tournament that runs into January. Puleo began playing darts in the Village at the former Balboa Club, but after moving to Arizona has excelled in the professional ranks. He will represent the U.S. in the tournament in London.