Beginners Guide to Playing the Game of Pachinko

Pachinko. Image Credit: Shutterstock

While pachinko machines might appear intimidating at first glance, this game is highly engaging and fun once you get the hang of it.

The first impression people usually have of pachinko is that of an over-the-top jukebox with an overkill of blinking lights and reverberating sounds.  While this might not be too far from the truth, the game itself is not as intimidating as it comes across to be.  In fact, pachinko can be loads of fun and keep you captivated for hours once you master the gameplay.

What is Pachinko?

Pachinko is a popular game in Japan, where it has a following of over 30 million people.  A pachinko machine features vertical playing fields that are surrounded by a glass enclosure. A playing field usually has 200 brass pins and uses multiple tiny balls that sometimes number in their thousands.

During gameplay, a player shoots individual balls into the playfield using a flipper. The balls then slide down, bouncing along the pins scattered across the playfield. If the balls land in designated pockets, the player gets awarded additional balls. Players rent the balls that they use at the start of play from a parlour. After the play ends, the player can redeem the remaining balls for prizes.

How to Play Pachinko?

Here are the four easy steps to mastering the game of pachinko:

1. Choose a Machine

Start the game by renting out some balls from the play parlour. Once purchased, you will receive a holder containing the balls, which usually number 250.  After getting your balls tray, choose a machine you will play on. After that, load the balls into the machine tray. Depending on the type of machine, you will use a flipper to release the balls onto the playfield. The objective is to drop the balls into the pockets that will trigger winnings or jackpots.

2. The Gameplay

The speed of the balls dropping into the playfield depends on the number of times a player twists the flipper. By turning the flipper, you change the ball’s path as it bounces down the pins. The idea is to find the perfect angle from where the balls can bounce off directly into the winning hole at the lower end of the playfield.

You win ten extra balls with each ball that lands in the winning hole and a free spin on the display screen of the pachinko machine. You ultimately win when you get three identical symbols on the virtual slot machine.

3. The Reach

reach is when the machine matches two symbols on the display screen, and you await the third symbol to be revealed. Here, the machine goes into reach mode with a cartoon figure of a man representing the third symbol.  The reach is frequently on the fourth spin, meaning that you will likely lose since the third symbol won’t match the other two.

However, you will know when you win because of all the fanfare that explodes on your screen. The blue bus will turn red, and all the lights on the machine will begin to spin, while the virtual lady on the screen will hastily change her attire to gold.

4. The Win

Once the symbols match, the flap at the bottom of the playfield opens. This allows all the balls on the playfield to roll into the winning hole, each earning the player ten extra balls.  With each game won, the reward balls will be released onto the tray. At this stage, the player may continue playing by relaunching all the balls back onto the playfield or redeeming them for a prize.

The machines award more balls than are initially put in, so it’s common to accumulate several trays of steel balls during the game.  Once they finish playing, players can call a parlour attendant to assist with tallying the winnings. Game assistants are usually clad in bright jackets, so they are easy to spot. The assistant will help the player to the counter where all the winnings are tallied.