Pachinko is a Japanese game, which is a combination of pinball and slots. Pachinko uses many small metal balls which look a lot like ball bearings in a machine. The original Pachinko machines were completely manually operated, and did not require electricity. Over the years, Pachinko machines have improved greatly, though. Additionally, digital versions of Pachinko have popped up.
Pachinko was originally played exclusively in Japanese Pachinko parlors, but over the years, Pachinko has gained popularity. Old-style Pachinko machines had a spring-loaded knob similar to standard pinball machines for releasing balls, but newer machines use an electrical method. The player can still set the power of the ball discharge, but has much less hands-on control than in the older style machines.
Standard Pachinko used to be played using balls much in the way that poker and other table games use poker chips. Players purchase a number of balls at a machine in the parlor, and then load them into the machine. By releasing the balls into an upright area filled with pins and holes, the player can win many more balls which are already in the machine. In Japanese Pachinko parlors, it is illegal to trade these balls for money, but in some casinos, the balls can be exchanged for money. It is interesting to note that in those Japanese Pachinko parlors that break the law and allow players to trade the balls for money, players purchase the balls at a higher price than the price that they can sell them back to the parlor for.
In modern casinos, however, to prevent people from bringing in their own balls, all the balls are "virtual." Players insert coins, and are assigned a certain number of balls. The player shoots the balls into the machine, and the results are recorded by the machine and paid as credits or coins.
The excitement of Pachinko occurs when the balls fall into certain holes. Some holes pay a certain number of balls, but a few holes cause three wheels to spin, just like a slot machine. Just like a slot machine, if the three wheels show the same image, it is a winning spin, and the machine will reward the player with many balls or credits.
It's hard to find an online casino that offers Pachinko, and very few land-based casinos offer Pachinko. In the United States, Pachinko is more often found in small arcades alongside arcade games like skee-ball. In these arcades, players insert their coins in the machine, earn credits, and then can "cash out" the credits as arcade tickets. These arcade tickets can be used to purchase small toys at the arcade.
Of course, in a real casino or even in an online casino, Pachinko is not played for small toys. It is played for money, and can be quite a good moneymaker for players who win the jackpot. As stated before, though, it is all but impossible to judge the house edge or the chance of winning the jackpot.
Online, you might find a fully digital version of Pachinko. Usually, the online casino or Pachinko parlor will allow you to press down on the button for a different length of time to signify how hard you'd like the ball fired into the machine. In these games, the online casino can assess the statistics of winning. If you can gain access to these statistics, it is well worth examining them. They will help you determine how much of your cash you want to put into the online Pachinko machine.