Playing Pachinko - A Complete Guide

Published by Ethan on February 23, 2021

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Published by Ethan on February 23, 2021

While it might sound like a cute and fluffy character from Pokémon, Pachinko is really a fun Japanese gambling game. In the real world, Pachinko is only available in Japan, and is played by thousands of Japanese gaming enthusiasts.

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Pachinko Guide

Pachinko games were invented in Japan in the 1920’s as a children’s toy. However, today the game is played by adults and there are dedicated spaces, called Pachinko parlors, all over Japan. Pachinko is regulated by the Japanese government and is significant in a revenue sense. In fact, Pachinko revenue is estimated to be around 200 billion dollars per year. That’s more than thirty times what gamblers spend in Las Vegas or in Macau.


What is Pachinko?


Pachinko is like no other game that you have ever experienced. Think of a combination of a slot machine, a pinball machine and an arcade game and you still won’t come close to what Pachinko really is.


The real world Pachinko machines in Japan resemble the kind of slot machines that you would find if you visited any land-based casino. They are colourful and loud and will most certainly gain your full attention if you are ever in a Pachinko parlor. This is also one of the reasons that slot machine fans find it so easy to switch over to playing Pachinko, many of the controls and gameplay are already familiar to them.


How Do Pachinko Machines Work?



Here’s where it gets even more interesting. Slot machines rely on 3 to 5 reels, containing various symbols to determine winning spins. When you get a certain number of symbols to match up across the reels, you win.


Pachinko does not work like that though. Instead of spinning reels, Pachinko uses hundreds of steel ball bearings to determine winning payouts. In the same way that a small steel ball will roll down a pinball machine, hitting various objects along the way, so too do the balls in Pachinko.


The difference is that, while a pinball machine is mostly horizontal, a Pachinko machine is completely vertical. The balls are shot to the top of the machine via a hand lever, and then fall down to the bottom. The balls trigger various ‘gates’ to open and release more steel ball bearings.


How the Game is Played in Japan


In Pachinko, you buy a number of ball bearings from the parlor, and then feed them into the machine. In return, you stand the chance to win even more ball bearings. The ball bearings are presented in a bucket or container. When more ball bearings are won during the game, they will fall into another bucket below the screen of the game. When you are done, you can swap your ball bearings for a ticket.


In Japan, gambling is mostly illegal. However, because Pachinko is such a big source of revenue for the government, a loophole exists. This loophole allows Pachinko players to get paid out their winnings in a perfectly legal way. Once a player has ‘cashed in’ their Pachinko balls, they receive their ticket. The ticket has the cash value of their winnings written on it. They can then take their winning ticket to another venue, usually across the road or around the corner. There, they can exchange their ticket for actual cash.


Mechanics of a Pachinko Game


Pachinko is a very exciting and dynamic game. If you love playing games with loads of action in the game play, this one is for you. Every Pachinko machine includes a handle. This handle is used to ‘shoot’ the balls up to the top of the machine. You can thus decide how much power you need for a certain objective, all in how you crank the handle.


How Pachinko is Similar to Slot Machines


For slots fans, the good news is that there are quite a few similarities between Pachinko and your average 3 or 5 reel slot machine. While Pachinko uses steel balls to determine winning payouts, there are interesting game elements that slots fans will find familiar and enjoyable.


When you launch Pachinko balls into the game area, if one of them drops into the Start slot or hole, a drum is activated. This drum is very similar to the reels on a slot machine. Like in slot games, the player needs to match at least 3 symbols to win a jackpot. If the player only manages to get two matching symbols, this is known as a ‘reach’. This is most likely because the player almost ‘reached’ the desired result.


If a player is lucky enough to hit all three matching symbols, this is known locally as an ‘oatari’ or jackpot. When this happens, thousands of steel balls tumble down into the collection tray at the bottom of the game. This is very similar to what you would get when playing a slot machine at a casino and hitting a jackpot.


Pachinko games are also similar to slot machines when it comes to exciting and fun themes. You’ll find dozens of cool themes revolving around geishas, samurais, or iconic video game characters like Sonic the Hedgehog.


Playing Pachinko Online


While the real-life Pachinko game is only available in Japan, curios slots fans are in for a treat. You don’t have to travel thousands of miles and spend huge amounts of money on flight tickets. All you need do is find a solid and reliable online casino that offers virtual Pachinko games.


Just like the real world slot machines found in top Las Vegas casinos, software providers have created eye-popping and super-realistic virtual Pachinko games. What is even better is that these games are available in demo (free play) and real money versions.


For those concerned with authenticity, you will be further pleased to learn that the virtual Pachinko machines are designed to accurately mimic the real thing.


Online Pachinko Formats


Online Pachinko games are designed to suit the diverse needs of today’s digital gaming markets. To this end, you will find that Pachinko is available in two distinct formats.


Standard Online Pachinko


Many gamblers still prefer playing slots and casino games on the larger screen format provided by their desktop computers or laptops. If you are one of these players, you will enjoy the standard online Pachinko format. This format contains all of the elements and features designed to give you an excellent desktop gaming experience.


Mobile Pachinko


Mobile casino gaming has most certainly become the new standard for most digital gamblers. Being able to player wherever and whenever you like being the main attraction. Naturally, the mobile Pachinko format has been completely optimised to work on most popular smart phones and tablets. This includes touch screen controls and a different layout, designed to suit the way players interact with their mobile screens.


How to Play Online Pachinko


Whether you choose to play online Pachinko on your mobile device or at home on your desktop, getting started is easy.


The first step that you need to consider is which online casino you will be playing at. It is always vitally important to choose an online casino with a good reputation and a range of solid features:

  • An excellent online reputation
  • Proper licensing via a recognised regulator
  • The latest digital security measures
  • Simple sign up processes
  • 24 hour customer support
  • A good range of reputable and safe games
  • A wide range of user-friendly payment options
  • Secure payment processes
  • A solid welcome bonus package
  • Various promotional incentives to keep things interesting
  • A variety of top Pachinko games available in demo and in real play modes


Once you have signed up with an online casino that features all (and more) of these criteria, it’s time to choose your Pachinko game.


Why is a ‘Demo’ Version Important?


As we mentioned earlier, choosing an online casino that offers Pachinko in both demo and real play modes is crucial. The reason why you should always play your Pachinko games in demo mode first, is so you can see what the quality is like, Playing in demo mode means that you won’t be risking any of your own money when trying the game out. In this way, you will be able to test the game features and how the machine works, at no risk and no stress.


If you are not happy with that particular Pachinko game, simply close it and try another one. However, if you do decide that this is the game for you, switching over to a real money mode is quick and easy. Just be sure to have added some cash into your player account beforehand.


Playing Pachinko for Real Money


When playing for real money, select your starting stake. This means how much you are spending on each ball. Once you have decided how many balls you will be playing in the round, and have assigned a value to each ball, you’re ready to begin. When the game is ready, both the Shoot and Auto Shoot buttons will light up.


This is where your Pachinko skills will come in handy. Just like real Pachinko, success in the game is all about how hard you ‘shoot’ the balls into the play zone. This is also why it is best to practice with some free Pachinko games before moving on to real money Pachinko.

Author: Ethan

Ethan Miller is an online casino expert with a tremendous knowledge of all casino games, games strategy, online casino bonuses and reviews. Ethan is the casino content chief editor at Casinofy

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