- The contestant is given one round flat disc-- called a Plinko chip-- and can earn up to four more using small prizes, for a total of five chips. The small prizes are presented one at a time, each bearing a two-digit price with one of the digits incorrect. The contestant must decide which digit is correct to win another Plinko chip as well as the small prize.
- The contestant then takes the chips they have earned up a set of stairs to the top of the Plinko board. The board is made up of a field of pegs, with each row offset from the previous row. At the bottom of the board are nine slots marked symmetrically with the values (from outside to the single center slot) $100, $500, $1,000, $0, $10,000.
- One at a time, the contestant lays each Plinko chip flat against the top of the board and releases it. As the chip falls, it is deflected by pegs, making it virtually impossible to predict where the chips will land. In addition, the sides of the board are in a zigzag pattern which also allows the chips to ricochet back toward the center. The contestant wins whatever money corresponds with the slot the chip lands in, with a running total displayed on a scoreboard next to the Plinko board.
- If a chip becomes stuck on the board, it is knocked free; the drop does not count and the chip is returned to the contestant to drop again. When a chip is stuck above arm's length, the host will usually use a long stick to dislodge the chip. Barker referred to the stick as his "Trusty Plinko Stick," while current host Drew Carey has referred to it as just the "Plinko stick" or "Plinko wand." On Doug Davidson's version, he would whack the stick against the board in a futile effort to get the chip down instead of simply dislodging it.
- Contestants cannot stop and quit with any money after dropping any Plinko chips; contestants must drop each Plinko chip and the total amount accumulates after each drop as stated above.
- Plinko debuted on January 3, 1983 (#4741D). At the time of its debut, Plinko's $25,000 top prize was the largest ever offered on The Price Is Right at the time, as Barker noted on the game's much-promoted debut and the largest allowed under CBS regulations, as the network upped the winnings limit in $25,000 increments, first to $50,000 in 1984, then $75,000 in 1986, then $100,000 in 1990 and finally $125,000 in 1992 (before CBS permanently abolished the limit on game show winnings altogether by the mid-1990s).
- During Plinko's first playing, a spinning disco ball with "$25,000" labeled around it was lowered from the ceiling. On January 11, 1983 (#4752D), the game's second playing, the "Plinko" sign was introduced. The sign was originally placed in the back of the audience (a practice that would be resurrected in the short-lived 1994 syndicated version). On January 5, 1984 (#5145D), the sign was permanently moved to the Turntable, where it remained until December 5, 2002 (#2334K), when it was replaced with a "$50,000" graphic ("$100,000" primetime) on screen; although the Plinko sign was absent from November 11, 1992 (#8573D) to June 18, 1993 (#8875D) and instead also using either a "$25,000" graphic or no graphic at all. On September 22, 2015 (#7212K), the disco ball introduction was revived.
- When the game debuted, the cue music they played to introduce it was the same one that is normally heard in Grand Game. From January 11, 1983 (#4752D, the game's second playing) until April 25, 1995 (#9562D), the first regular music sting combined the harps from Golden Road and Punch-A-Bunch with a famous prize cue titled "The Cats"; two subsequent harp stingers (introduced on May 3, 1995, #9573D, and November 26, 1997, #0543K, respectively) were also used to precede "The Cats." Since January 7, 2003 (#2382K), only the harps have been used to introduce the game.
- For Plinko's first playing only, different "WIN!" cards were used for its small prizes. When a digit in the price of a prize was guessed correctly, the panels on the front of its corresponding podium were flipped over twice, first to reveal the word "WIN!" (which was written diagonally on a white card) along with a Plinko chip, and then again to reveal the actual price. Currently, the panels are flipped over only once, to reveal either a "WIN!" card and the actual price with a Plinko chip for a correct guess, or the actual price on two red cards if the guess is wrong.
- When first introduced, the front of the Plinko board was open, meaning that the chips were occasionally able to bounce off the board and out onto the stage and had to be replayed. To remedy this problem, a Plexiglas cover was placed over the board in Fall 1991. That, too, became a problem when chips got stuck and had to be retrieved. The board's Plexiglas cover, used since 1994, features triangular grid-shaped holes that prevent chips from flying out and still allows stuck chips to be knocked loose through the grid.
- The only value on the board which has changed since the game was introduced is the center slot. It began at $5,000, with a top prize of $25,000 and remained as such until October 5, 1998 (#0841K). The slot was increased to $10,000 for the first time during the show's 25th Anniversary Special on August 23, 1996 (#0001S) and was subsequently made permanent on October 15, 1998 (#0854K).
- 1994's syndicated The New Price is Right did not use the board layout described above. Most episodes featured a layout (from outside to center): $2,500, $500, $1,000, $0, $5,000. On the first episode that featured Plinko, the game had a layout of $2,500, $1,000, $0, $5,000, $0. The top prize was still $25,000, as on the daytime show. The 1994 syndicated version also used the "higher/lower" format for the small prizes instead of the regular CBS format, since it used three-digit prizes. The highest amount won in this version was $16,500.
- For the The Price Is Right Live! stage show, the layout on either side is $50, $100, $200, $0, $500, making for a top prize of $2,500.
- On May 17, 2002 (#001SP), the center slot has doubled to $20,000 on primetime specials, with a top prize of $100,000 (a practice that would be included on both the Million Dollar Spectaculars and Game Show Marathon).
- On April 4, 2008 (#028SP, aired out of order on March 7) and May 14, 2008 (#032SP, aired out of order on May 7), both Million Dollar Spectaculars since Drew Carey became host, a $1,000,000 bonus was offered if a contestant could get a bonus golden chip in the $20,000 slot. The golden chip was won if a contestant could first get at least $60,000 (three regular chips in the $20,000 slot) during the normal gameplay. Sadly, neither playing featured such a win condition.
- The Plinko board is often used by RTL Group-licensed lottery promotions, CBS affiliates and UbiSoft to promote the show. For the promotions, two fishing lines (one on each side of the board, hanging from the side down towards the center slot) are used to "rig" the game, so the dropped chip would always land in the $10,000 slot. After a promotional advertisement for the video game was taped, the wires were mistakenly left in place for the July 22, 2008 1:00pm taping of The Price is Right. As a contestant was playing the game, three consecutive chips she dropped landed in the $10,000 slot. As the fourth chip was being dropped, co-producer Adam Sandler (not to be confused with the actor) realized that the wires were still in place and stopped the chip as it bounced down the board, informing Carey, the show's new host, of the situation. The wires were removed and the entire segment was re-shot for the show from the point where the contestant began dropping chips. CBS Standards and Practices allowed the contestant to keep the $30,000 won prior to the removal of the wires as well as the money won with the five chips she dropped after the mistake had been corrected. However, the segment that aired (when the show was originally scheduled to air on October 6, 2008 and aired out-of-order on December 5) did not reference the mistake or the amount of money won prior to the removal of the wires.
- Plinko’s first $10,000 slot had a large “10” with three compressed zeroes underneath both numbers. In late 2002, a different $10,000 graphic was introduced with a smaller “10” and three zeroes similar in size to the previous $5,000-slot. The original bigger “10” graphic was brought back on May 13, 2010 (#5164K).
- On April 23-27, 2012 (#592xK, aired out of order on April 9-13), for Price’s "Publisher's Clearing House Week," Plinko was played for $50,000, but with a twist: the final chip would be worth $20,000 instead of the usual $10,000 if it is hit; it would start at $20,000 and roll over each day it is not hit. If no one hit the $20,000 by Friday's show, the winner of Friday's Showcase would win a $25,000 bonus in addition to whatever prizes they won in the Showcase. Summer Johnson, who appeared as a contestant on Monday's show, was the only contestant to win the $20,000 bonus.
- On April 26, 2013 (#6325K) and September 23, 2013 (#6421K, aired out-of-order on October 18, originally rescheduled to air on October 14), for Price’s "Big Money Week," Plinko was played for $500,000, with a $100000 slot replacing the normal $10000 center slot. Both Samantha Hawley and Clora Hicks won four chips total (three for each pricing item they won, plus the one chip they started with). Samantha only won $1,600 (hitting $500, $0, $100 and $1,000, respectively), while Clora won only $2,000 (hitting $0, $500, $1,000 and $500, respectively).
- On October 4, 2013 (#6435K, aired out-of-order on September 27), The Price is Right aired a very special episode in which Plinko was the only game played all show. In addition to cash prizes up to $50,000, regular prizes were also up for grabs.
- On November 20, 2014 (#6894K, aired out-of-order on November 13), October 12, 2015 (#7241K, aired out-of-order on October 15, originally rescheduled to air on October 13), October 25, 2016 and February 20, 2018 (#8222K) during Price’s "Big Money Week," Plinko was played once again, this time for $1,000,000, with a $200,000 slot replacing the normal $10,000 center slot (this marked only the fourth time in Price history that Plinko was played for $1,000,000; the first time it was played on a non-"Big Money Week" was during a $1,000,000 Spectacular in 2008). Eric Cardenas won three chips total (two for each item he won, plus the one chip he started with), but only won $600 (hitting $0, $500 and $100, respectively), while Mary Eklund won five chips total (four for each item she won, plus the one chip she started with), but only won $2,100 (hitting $1,000, $1,000, $0, $100 and $0, respectively), Vanessa Hunt won four chips total (three for each item she won, plus the one chip she started with), but only won $1,000 (hitting $0, $1,000 and $0) and Shannon McCarthy won three chips total (two for each item she won, plus the one chip she started with), but only won $5,000 (hitting $2,500, $2,500 and $0, respectively).
- On February 19, 2015 (#7014K), during #UDecide week, Plinko replaced the $100 slots with two additional $10,000 slots. On that playing, $13,000 was won in five chips, with one chip landing in the center slot.
- On April 1, 2015, Plinko was featured on Let's Make a Deal as part of an April Fools' joke. The contestant who played earned $1,600.
- On May 24, 2016 (#035SP), as part of the episode's Big Brother theme, Plinko replaced the $100 slot; it became the $500 slot from the $100 slot; the $500 slot became the $1,000 slot and the $1,000 slot became the $2,500 slot. On the February 3, 2017 (#7795K) episode of the daytime show, that same layout was used. It is believed that this will become permanent for the daytime show.
- On October 10, 2016 (#7641K), as part of CBS 30 Years at #1 special, Plinko was played for $150,000, with the $10,000 slot tripled to $30,000 (the $0 slots were left as-is).
- On February 3, 2017 (#7795K), the values first seen on May 24 were used.
- On May 24, 2017 (#7953K, aired out-of-order on May 25), Ryan Belz made a Plinko record of $31,500 (hitting $10,000, $1,000, $10,000, $500 and $10,000, respectively).
- On September 18, 2017 (#8011K), on the Season 46 premiere which was also Drew's 10th Anniversary, a bonus of $10,000 was up for grabs. To win the $10,000 bonus, the contestant had to land at least one chip in the $10,000 slot. Rodgrick Hicknan did that on his last chip and won $21,000 total.
- On October 2, 2017 (#8031K), the center slot was doubled to $20,000 on Breast Cancer Awareness Special, with a top prize of $100,000 and the values the same from February 3, with the $100 slots changed to $500, the $500 slots changed to $1,000 and the $1,000 slots changed to $2,500.
- On January 3, 2018 (#8153K), to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the first playing of Plinko, the center slot was changed to $35,000, making the potential top prize $175,000. Additionally, the $1,000 and $100 slots were changed to $3,500, while the $500 slots were changed to $350 (the $0 slots were left as-is). Ryan Glass won four chips total (three for each item he won, plus the one chip he started with) and won $39,200 (hitting $3,500, $35,000, $350 and $350, respectively).
- Barker Era ($5,000 slot): The most anyone has ever won in Plinko in the Barker Era with the $5,000 slot on the daytime show is $21,000 on November 30, 1990 (#7815D), with the $5,000 slot being hit four times. This also happened to be the closest possible playing to a full win in the game's history (which would be $41,000 with the current slot values or $81,000 in primetime).
- Barker Era ($10,000 slot): The most anyone has ever won in Plinko in the Barker Era with the $10,000 slot is $23,000 on September 17, 2001 (#1861K, aired out-of-order on September 24), with the $10,000 slot being hit twice.
- Barker Era ($20,000 slot, primetime): The most anyone has ever won Plinko on the primetime show in the Barker era is $40,000 on June 14, 2002 (#005SP, aired out-of-order on June 13), The Price is Right Salutes U.S. Army special, with the $20,000 slot being hit twice.
- Carey Era ($10,000 slot, daytime): The most anyone has ever won in Plinko on the daytime show is $31,500 on May 24, 2017 (#7953K, aired out-of-order on May 25), with three Plinko chips landing in the $10,000 slot.
- Carey Era (middle slot greater than $10,000, daytime:) The most money ever won when the middle slot was more than $10,000 was $39,200 on January 3, 2018, the 35th anniversary of the first playing of Plinko, hence the middle slot changed to $35,000, and other slots changed to either $350 or $3,500. Ryan Glass ended up hitting the $35,000 slot once, one of the $3,500 slots and both of the $350 slots and ended with a total of $39.200.
- Carey Era ($20,000 slot, primetime): The most anyone has ever won in Plinko is $41,000 on the May 14, 2008 (#032SP, aired out-of-order on May 7) Million Dollar Spectacular, with the $20,000 slot being hit twice.
- In the entire history of Plinko, there have been 12 Plinko wipeouts-- March 14, 1995 (#9502D), March 26, 1996 (#9912D, the contestant in this instance won all five chips and all five landed in the $0 slot), December 10, 2003 (#2713K), March 18, 2008 (#4252K), February 15, 2010 (#4995K), June 10, 2011 (#5605K)-- in the latter two instances, the contestants dropped their lone chip in the $0 slot)-- February 1, 2012 (#5823K), April 27, 2012 (#5945K, aired out-of-order on April 13), May 9, 2012 (#5963K), October 22, 2012 (#6081K, aired out-of-order on October 1), October 4, 2013 (#6435K, aired out-of-order on September 27) (as part of the episode's all-Plinko show) and November 22, 2013 (#6505K, aired out-of-order on November 19).
- Plinko remains the only game in Price is Right history to have never been officially won; a "win" technically means winning the highest announced prize. Most fans consider hitting the middle slot once a win, but Bob/Drew won't call it a perfect show if all five other games are won and Plinko is played and the middle slot isn't hit all five times.
1st Look, January 3, 1983 (#4741D)-January 16, 1991 (#7873D)Edit
2nd Look, February 1, 1991 (#7895D)-August 23, 2010 (#5221K, aired out-of-order on August 27)Edit
Current Look (September 24, 2010-present, #5235K)Edit
Big Money WeeksEdit
From #UDecide WeekEdit
- Plinko was played the most number of times on The Price is Right primetime special and had the highest cash prize until September 20, 2010 (#5231K), when Pay the Rent debuted.
- The most number of times this game was played in any season was 39 (not counting primetime specials).
Plinko has become an all-time favorite pricing game on The Price is Right, arguably the most popular of all pricing games portrayed on the show. Many carnival supply and family game companies have manufactured Plinko boards of their own, with some selling for as much as $400.
The Wall is an example of a game show that contains elements from Plinko, like slots that contain certain money values. However, the rules of that show differ greatly from the rules of Plinko and the cash prizes are much higher. In addition, money can also be dropped from the player's total.
United Kingdom, Portugal, NetherlandsEdit
On the UK's Bruce's Price is Right Portugal, and the Netherlands' versions, Plinko is played differently. Instead of playing for cash, they play for a bonus prize (usually a car in the UK, while the Netherlands and Portugal may offer cheaper prizes like trips). On those shows, once all the chips are used, a model replaces the cash amounts with "Win/Lose/Win/Lose/Win/Lose," although contestants on the UK show had the choice of keeping the money and not going for this gamble. If "Win" is hit, the player keeps the cash and wins the prize. If "Lose" is hit, the player doesn't get the prize and loses the money. On the UK show's final season in 2001, there were also two spaces with pound (£) signs. If either one of those were hit, the player didn't win the prize, but they won double the money they had already earned. In the UK, to earn discs, the player had to determine which of two prices was correct for one particular item, similar to Double Prices. He/she could add up to three more in addition to the one disc given at the start. In the early days of Bruce's Price Is Right, the American method of pricing was used. In Portugal, the player has to determine if the price of the given product is true or false and he or she can earn up to four discs. Three different slot sequences were used-- £100 | £0 | £500 | £100 | £250 | £500 | £0 | £250, £0 | £500 | £250 | £100 | £250 | £500 | £100 | £0 and £0 | £500 | £250 | £500 | £250 | £500 | £250 | £0-- for a maximum prize of £2,000 (£4,000 in 2001), though in earlier series, five discs instead of four could be earned, meaning the max was £2,500. Portugal's version has amounts of €100 and €200 (meaning the max is €1,000). It's unknown what Holland's version uses at the moment. Only one UK contestant, Emon, managed to win the max of £2,000 in 1999. He quit with the money instead of playing for a motorcycle; Bruce had him drop the chip anyway and it turned out that he would have lost. The most recent UK version of The Price Is Right had this board: £0 | £50 | £150 | £100 | £50 | £150 | £100 | £0 for a max of £600. Aside from this difference, its rules are the same as those from the first six series of Bruce's Price Is Right. There has also been one case where a chip got stuck-- and it still counted after being dislodged (on this version, there was no Plinko Stick; Joe simply shakes the board). The game had an Asian theme, although no rationale has been determined for this design choice.
The game offered no cash and was instead played for three prizes. The contestant was given one chip and could earn up to three more by winning small prizes. The board had seven slots, numbered 3-2-0-1-0-2-3. Hitting a 3 with a chip meant the contestant won the least expensive prize, 2 meant he won the middle-priced prize and 1 meant he won the most expensive prize. Landing in 0, of course, won nothing with that chip. Still, other countries' versions of the show, including Mexico's Atínale al Precio, Italy's OK, il Prezzo è Giusto!, France's Le Juste Prix and Vietnam's Hãy chọn giá đúng, have done their best to emulate the American format of Plinko, with differences in the cash prizes offered being the only significant changes.
Originally, Mexico started with the American 1983-1998 board, for a top prize of MX$25,000. When the show was revived in 2010, it had this board, with a maximum of MX$100,000-- MX$1,000 | MX$3,000 | MX$5,000 | MX$0 | MX$20,000 | MX$0 | MX$10,000 | MX$4,000 | MX$2,000
Italy started with this board, a top prize of ₤10,000,000 (€5165)-- ₤100,000 (€51) | ₤200,000 (€102) | ₤500,000 (€255) | ₤0 | ₤2,000,000 (€1033) | ₤0 | ₤500,000 | ₤200,000 | ₤100,000-- before decreasing by half to ₤5,000,000 (€2583)-- ₤100,000 | ₤200,000 | ₤300,000 (153) | ₤0 | ₤1,000,000 (€517) | ₤0 | ₤300,000 | ₤200,000 | ₤100,000. Towards the end of the run, the ₤0 & ₤1M spaces were swapped, producing this board-- ₤100,000 | ₤200,000 | ₤300,000 | ₤1,000,000 | ₤0 | ₤1,000,000 | ₤300,000 | ₤200,000 | ₤100,000-- and in addition, a chance to win a car. If the player earned ₤2M, they could surrender the money to open the ₤1M space, revealing either the word "AUTO" or a space that loses all earned.
France's original version (Le Fakir) had this board-- 500₣ (€77) | 1,000₣ (€154) | 2,000₣ (€308) | 0₣ | 20,000₣ (€3,053) | 0₣ | 2,000₣ | 1,000₣ | 500₣ for a top prize of 100,000₣ (€15,265). When France revived their version in 2009, they used the current US board layout, but with a €2,000 space, for a top prize of €10,000. Eventually, the game was renamed Le Flipper as it is now played similarly to pinball.
5,000 diem (5,000,000₫) is the max in Vietnam's ZicZac and perhaps most notably, the lowest value on Vietnam's Plinko board was 100 diem (100,000₫, only about US$6), making it impossible to walk away from the game empty-handed. By 2011, however, the value layout resembled that of America's original value layout.
Plinko Premiere Part 1, Part 2
A Plinko playing from the 30th Season Premiere
Plinko Daytime's Biggest Winner
Bob Barker's and Drew Carey's Biggest Primetime Plinko Winner
Plinko Total Wipeout
Another Plinko Total Wipeout
$500,000 Plinko from Season 41
All Plinko Day in Honor of its 30th Anniversary
$500,000 Plinko from Season 42
A Monster win from Season 42