How to Play Pachinko – Beginner’s Guide to How Pachinko Works

If you’re not from Japan and have never lived in the country, chances are that you’re unfamiliar with Pachinko, one of the nation’s most popular pastimes.

A Pachinko game essentially mixes the elements of slot machines, arcade games, and pinball. We explain how to play Pachinko, how the game works, and how to play online.

Pachinko parlor
Image: Marco Verch/Flickr

What is Pachinko?

Pachinko games were invented in the 1920s and marketed originally as children’s games. The original Pachinko games were modeled after early 20th-century Chicago-based Corinthian Bagatelle pinball games.

Pachinko was an immediate hit in Japan and Pachinko games were originally stationed in candy shops as a way to get children and their parents (and their money) to stick around. Nowadays, Pachinko brings in $200 billion(!!!) a year, which is over 30 times more than what is wagered in Las Vegas and Macau combined.

How Pachinko Works

So how does Pachinko work? Well, it’s both quite simple and difficult to explain at the same time but we will do our best.

Modern Pachinko is a hybrid between pinball, an arcade game, and a slot machine. In the simplest form, players load up these very bright and loud machines with metal ball bearings, which you purchase at the Pachinko parlor.

After the balls enter the machine, players are then in control of the amount of speed the balls will have as they enter the gaming space, just as you would with pinball.

The steel balls are thrust into this vertical gaming space, where they drop down and bounce off hundreds of brass pins before reaching their final destination. While most of the balls will end up harmlessly going to the bottom and into the depths of the machine, some of them will find their way into these special pockets.

Depending on the Pachinko game, these pockets can activate a bonus game or they will trigger a payout. Whereas most games you’re used to will either have a digital or a cash payout, instead a ton of ball bearings will drop from the machine into your basket.

When you are finished playing, you will exchange these ball bearings (usually a crate that can carry a small child) for a cash prize. But it’s not that simple in Japan, as players have to skirt the anti-gambling laws.

Players have to go through a third party window, curiously owned by the same people who own the gaming parlor. Players will exchange their metal balls for a ticket or some equivalent and then have to go next door to a separate location in order to exchange their ticket for cash.

Pachinko Parlor Rules

If you’re heading to Japan and want to play some real-life Pachinko for yourself, you’re going to have to know some pretty basic Pachinko rules.

  • You may not enter a Pachinko parlor if you are under the age of 18.
  • You may not enter a Pachinko parlor with children.
  • It is forbidden to go to a Pachinko parlor and leave your kids in your car.
  • Taking balls out of one parlor or bringing them in from another are both strictly prohibited.
  • You may not drink alcoholic beverages at Pachinko parlors.
  • You are only allowed to play one Pachinko game at a time.
  • You are not allowed to hit the Pachinko game while playing.

Playing Pachinko Online – Game Variations

Crazy Pachinko Live
Image: Crazy Pachinko Live

If we have got your attention and you’re ready to play Pachinko at Japan online casinos, you have a number of options.

It’s worth noting that the online versions of Pachinko are more like a cross between online slots and bingo than they are the real thing, but they’re still fun to play.

Below you’ll find a selection of Pachinko games available to play online.

PachinkoSuper PachinkoSuper Pachinko PlusPachinko 3DCrazy Pachinko Live

Pachinko

A bingo-based game by Neko Games, available to play at Lucky Block.

Super Pachinko

A bingo-based game with four bingo tickets, from Patagonia Entertainment.

Super Pachinko Plus

A bingo-style option by Patagonia Entertainment, with more advanced graphics and bonus features.

Pachinko 3D

Another bingo-based game with cute graphics by Patagonia Entertainment.

Crazy Pachinko Live

A game by Evolution Gaming that combines slots and a live gameshow, available to play at TG.Casino.

How to Play Online Pachinko

Although online Pachinko games are not yet available in their classic form, there are a number of Pachinko-inspired slot and bingo games available to play. We explain how to play online, step-by-step, using Lucky Block as our example casino.

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Go to Lucky Block Casino

    In order to play Pachinko, you first need to visit Lucky Block.
    Go to Lucky Block Casino
  2. Create an account

    The next step is to sign up for an account, adding any required personal details.
    Create an account
  3. Navigate to the casino section

    Find the casino section, either from the homepage or the navigation on the left-hand side.
    Navigate to the casino section
  4. Find your chosen game

    You can search for ‘Pachinko’ or browse through the lobby to find a game to play.
    Find your chosen game
  5. Click 'Play'

    Hit the play button and have fun playing Pachinko online.
    Click 'Play'

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How to Win at Pachinko

Is Pachinko a game of skill or a game of chance? That’s a question that’s up for debate and you’ll likely get a different answer from every player you talk to.

Whether it’s one or the other, the likelihood of being a winner in the long-run is very, very low.

At the end of the day, the key to winning at Pachinko is similar to when playing real money online slots. Although there’s very little you can do to influence your winning chances, we’d recommend the following:

  • Set a strict budget.
  • Manage your balls effectively.
  • Choose machines with high payouts.
  • Choose machines with great odds.

Where to Play Pachinko

If you’re looking to play an online version of the Japanese Pachinko game found in parlors, you won’t be able to find it anywhere on the internet as of yet.

However, there are plenty of Pachinko-inspired slot and bingo games available to play online at casinos such as Lucky Block.

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FAQs

What does Pachinko mean?

Who invented Pachinko?

Is Pachinko legal in Japan?

Is Pachinko a game of skill or luck?

Why is Pachinko so popular in Japan?

Can you play Pachinko online?

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Blaise Bourgeois
Poker and Gambling Expert

Blaise is an Expert Gambling Writer and a professional poker player in Brazil. He has played and traveled throughout Latin America for the last four-and-a-half years and recently won his first WSOP Circuit ring! He received his Master's in Sport Management and Sports Analytics from St. John's University. Blaise also holds a Mathematics and Computer Science degree from SUNY Purchase, where he still holds the school's Men's Soccer record for goals in a season. Blaise has worked for Catena Media, OddsSeeker, WSOP, PokerNews, and Poker.Org in various capacities. He has a passion for extensive research and aims to provide accurate…