Pachinko Review

Pachinko Machines in Tokyo
If you visit Japan, you are likely to come across these lively machines. – Image: Flickr

Something interesting about gambling is the fact that it is really just an activity that was born from the human nature to feel the excitement from taking risks. When you have something to lose but risking it can also result in a greater outcome, this causes a kind of arousal in human beings. When people gamble and bet on something, they ask themselves questions such as “did I choose the right team?”, “are these finally my winning numbers?”, and “is all that money that I spent going to finally pay off?” These questions, the anticipation, and the thrill of gambling all activate natural chemicals in our bodies such as adrenaline and endorphins, and they sort of give us a high. For this very reason, people come up with all kinds of new ways to maximize their experience with gambling, and one out of these many ways is through the casino game known as pachinko. As such, this article will be a “pachinko review”, and will comprise of a review of the mechanics of the game, the technical aspects of it, and how prizes and payouts work.

People in Pachinko Parlor
People fully immersed in Pachinko inside of a Pachinko Parlor. – Image: Flickr

Pachinko is a mechanical game, somewhat similar to pinball or slot machines in a sense, but it originated in Japan and is found throughout parlors and casinos in the country. Even though the game started out as an activity to pass time, it quickly became a way to gamble due to the nature of how it is set up. Pachinko machines stand vertically, just like pinball and slot machines, and they typically have about 200 pins (which are referred to as “the forest of pins”) in the enclosed playing zone in which the balls bounce off of and fall through. The player is supposed to load multiple balls into the machine and then fire the balls into the machine by releasing the handle. As a result, the balls are launched down the track and they bounce off of and down the pins. The point of the track is to guide the balls around the edge of the playing field.

A Pachinko Ball
A marked Pachinko ball.

To add on to this pachinko review, it is also important to know that not all pachinko machines work the exact same way, and not all casinos or parlor work the same. In fact, in order to stop cheating and to make sure that players are not using their own balls or balls from different facilities, they will usually mark them with the casino or parlor insignia. Going off from the point about how pachinko machines can differ, sometimes pachinko machines will also have bumpers to bounce the ball away when it is approaching the goal. In most cases, the game is played with small steel or brass balls that are rented to the player by the casino or owner. These balls can be used to redeem prizes when the game finishes. Speaking of which, the player can always rent out more balls, but the number of balls played in each game is usually numbered in the thousands. The pachinko balls are used as a way of keeping score, and they are your winnings. Like mentioned earlier, you can use them to redeem all kinds of prizes.

A Vintage Pachinko Machine
A vintage mechanical Pachinko machine. – Image: Flickr

However, due to the fact that gambling for cash directly is illegal in Japan, you can instead use the balls to redeem prizes such as cigarettes, music CDs, and electronics. Sometimes, even things as expensive as bicycles can be redeemed as prizes. Obviously, most people rather gamble for cash, so there is a simple solution to that. As a (legal) loophole, they can also be redeemed for tokens that can, in turn, be used to trade in for actual cash – usually in a separate place from the casino or parlor. Regarding how bonuses occur, for some of the machines, when the pachinko balls land in certain pockets, a payout of additional balls can occur. However, some of the more antiquated machines do not have these features. The newer machines, on the other hand, are usually played through using a knob rather than a handle to fire the balls, have more payout options, are electronic rather than fully mechanical, and have diverse ways to score a jackpot.

When playing pachinko, there are many things to consider and watch out for. On the newer machines, there is usually a statistic showing how many wins and how many losing spins the machine has had. The statistic is displayed as two numbers. One smaller, and one larger. The smaller number represents how many times the machine has won, and the larger one represents the number of spins it has had. Both of these numbers only display the amount for that given day, not for all time. Obviously, it is best to find the machine within the casino that has the best odds. Because of the way that casinos set up the algorithms for their machines, it is ideal to pick the machine that hasn’t had many wins with a large number of spins. Many people would assume that the machine that has won many times previously would be the smartest choice, or even just lucky, but this is actually the worst option to go with because it is more likely that it would be set to win less often the following day.

Pachinko Machines Displaying Statistics
At the top of these machines you can find the statistics on the display.  – Image: Flickr

In conclusion for this Pachinko review, if you ever visit Japan and you’re the type of person that gets pleasure and thrills from gambling, then Pachinko is the game for you. It is the perfect combination of a game that can be played for fun, but also gambling, and just like slot machines and pinball in the western world – it isn’t too difficult to learn. Winning, on the other hand, is a different matter entirely, but this is a must play for anybody that likes to gamble.

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