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Plinko 101: A look into the classic mechanical game


Today, the most popular game Plinko is a common sight in many online casinos. Many online casinos have their own Plinko versions in their game libraries, and some may consider an online casino incomplete if it doesn’t have its own Plinko game.

Most people associate Plinko’s origins with the US TV game show The Price is Right. Although the game show did give birth to the Plinko game that we’re familiar with, it wasn’t the only starting point of the game’s history. Before debuting on the show, many games with nearly identical gameplay inspired the creation of Plinko.

What is the history of Plinko, and how do people play the game?

The long road to modern Plinko

Plinko’s history can be traced back to Bagatelle, an indoor table game inspired by billiards. In Bagatelle, the player must hit several small balls to roll them down on a sloping board. The sloping board has numbered holes guarded with wooden pegs, where each hole number signifies the score. Players will suffer a penalty if they knock down the pegs.

Bagatelle was then spread to other countries, including Japan. There, Bagatelle was marketed by the now-defunct Kobayashi Noukou Co., Ltd. in the early 20th century as a kids’ toy kit named Corinthian Game (???????).

The Corinthian game was said to have given rise to the famous Japanese pachinko machine slots in 1930. Unlike Bagatelle, the Pachinko’s pegs (known as pins) are etched into the board, thus preventing them from knockdowns.

Eventually, Frank Wayne, the former executive producer of The Price is Right, invented the modern version of Plinko in 1983. While it’s hard to say that Pachinko directly inspired the creation of Plinko, we may assume that, in some ways, Wayne did get some inspiration from Pachinko games in developing Plinko.

Regardless, the similarities between Plinko and preceding games like Bagatelle and Pachinko can’t be ignored. All of them involve small balls that must hit specific points in the game board to make wins.

Playing the classic game

To play Plinko, a player receives one round flat disc named a Plinko disc. As the game progresses, the player can have four more chips using small prizes. In total, the player will have five chips.

The game host will present the small prizes one at a time for the game’s duration. Each prize consists of two digits, with one of them being incorrect. For the player to have another Plinko chip, the player must find the right one.

After that, the player collects the chips to put them at the top of the Plinko board. The board consists of several rows of pegs, with each row counteracting the previous row. With these pegs, it’s up to the player’s luck to see if the chip lands in the right spot.

The game host places the prizes’ values at the bottom of the board. From the outside to the center part, the rewards are $100, $500, $1,000, $0, and $10,000 consecutively.

Although the chips most of the time land in the bottom, there are moments where they get stuck on the board. At this moment, the game host will knock the chips off the board. But, the stuck chips are considered null at this point and thus must be returned to the top.

To determine the final prize, the player must expend all the chips. It means that quitting halfway is not an option. After dropping all the Plinko chips, the final prize is the accumulation of value in which the chip landed.


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