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January 19th, 2004


While I’ve always been a sucker for The Card Game on The Price is Right (I’ve always loved oversized cards on game shows), the most famous game from that show is, no doubt, Plinko. At 21-years-old, Plinko is still the one game that every contestant wants to play… not just because of how well-known it is, but because of all the games on TPiR, Plinko has the greatest potential prize (correct me if I’m wrong, Joe or Dave). Interestingly, because you have to get a perfect score on Plinko for it to be considered a “win” (no one ever has), Bob Barker doesn’t consider a show “perfect” if someone Plinko and doesn’t get all $50,000.

Perhaps one of the game show historians can enlighten me on something, though: on the previously linked page, why does the last picture have a caption of “Boo!”?

And for the rest of you: what would your Plinko strategy be? Would you drop your Plinko chips right down the center, or would you take the side-in approach?

Posted in Television, Movies, and Music

FROM: dave
DATE: Monday January 19, 2004 -- 9:40:18 am
I actually remember the debut of this game. If I remember right, Bob had to pull out the "Plinko stick" to jab at one of the chips because it got stuck.

I would drop chips right down the center. Don't start from the chip-sized circle at the top, it never works!

FROM: Paul
DATE: Monday January 19, 2004 -- 10:30:03 am
I think the "Boo!" comes from deep, deep envy.

FROM: Dave Walls [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday January 19, 2004 -- 10:43:53 am
Plinko regularly offers the highest cash prize in the game, but others, like Golden Road, can offer bigger prizes. (Woman in 2002 won a $86,000 Dodge Viper...$100K+ Motor home was offered on one of the million dollar specials last year)..

Still, for pure excitement, you can't beat Plinko. As for strategy, I honestly don't see how releasing the chip from one side or another would make much of a difference. If it were me, I'd release it just left or right of the center, and see where it ends up.

BTW, as for the "boo!" picture, I think he's referring to the fact that the big Plinko board that flipped over the show the logo/$50,000 logo (which you can see the many variations on that page) got replace with a chintzy little computer graphic. A lot of game show folks love the props a lot more than computer graphics..just adds to the ambiance. In this case, it didn't really bother me, but I think you lose a lot of the game show "feel" with most graphics. Family Feud without that big board turning and the tiles flipping over just doesn't feel right, no matter who is hosting.

FROM: Ryan [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday January 19, 2004 -- 10:53:56 am
Ah, I think you're right, Dave. I didn't make the connection with the graphic versus the prop.

I'm a much bigger fan of props over graphics as well... I think that some the most memorable design came from 1970s game shows (particularly Tic Tac Dough, Card Sharks, and Joker's Wild)... no one uses that sparkly foamboard background anymore.

FROM: Chris [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday January 19, 2004 -- 11:09:50 am
Statistically, it shuld not matter where you start as the chips have a 50/50 chance of falling oft or right on each peg.

That said, I've never seen anybody hit the center when the drop on one of the sides. I've seen lots of center hits from the middle. Maybe the layout isn't quite random.

I think Plinko is so popular because its the easiest game to win big bucks at. Golden Road is damn hard. Lucky 7's is hard - although the idiot contestants make it harder by chosing stupid numbers. They should try for the first digit exactly, maybe the second digit if they know something about car prices, and them just guess 5 the rest of the way.

FROM: Dave Walls [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday January 19, 2004 -- 6:36:53 pm
Can't believe I forgot to mention this earlier..

For my seventh birthday, my dad made me a homemade Plinko board. Nothing fancy, but it was a load of fun. A piece of plywood with stragetically placed nails, along with some air hockey pucks and a cheap coating of white and turquoise/cyan paint, and voila! Homemade Plinko. :)

No, I never got a perfect game. Unless I cheated...badly.

FROM: Ryan [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday January 19, 2004 -- 9:10:33 pm
Homemade Plinko? Now I know what I'm doing for the next party I throw.

FROM: Game Show Man Joe Van Ginkel [E-Mail]
DATE: Tuesday January 20, 2004 -- 1:52:55 am
You speak truth, Paul. Physical components are somehow easier for viewers to really get into than graphics. BTW, Card Game is my favorite TPiR pricing game, too.

DATE: Tuesday January 20, 2004 -- 4:04:47 pm
It definitely does matter where you start your chip. If you start in the middle, then you basically need to have the same number of bumps to the right as bumps to the left. But if you start on the far right (for example), then you need to have 4 or 5 more bump lefts than bump rights. So statistically speaking, you have a better shot at hitting $10k if you start in the center.

FROM: Dave Walls [E-Mail]
DATE: Saturday January 24, 2004 -- 9:29:40 am
By the way, if you want to play a really good version of Price is Right games online, try Lycos Gamesville. There's a lot of advertising on the site, but you get around that, and there is a solid game. It takes you from the Contestants Row bidding, then to one of the games (including Plinko!), then the Big Wheel, and perhaps the Showcase Showdown. It's quite a bit of fun.

FROM: Plinko
DATE: Sunday October 24, 2004 -- 9:00:49 pm
Plinko is the most frequenly played game on The Price Is Right AND the only pricing game on that show where (the unlikely event of) a perfect score ISN'T considered a "win"... go figure!

FROM: jonathan [E-Mail]
DATE: Wednesday July 6, 2005 -- 4:25:38 pm
I remember the day that bob had to pull out his plinko stick and get that plinko chip out because it got stuck

FROM: Emily
DATE: Friday December 2, 2005 -- 1:33:45 pm
At a Michigan State football tailgate, a group of kids had constructed a game called "DRINKO", which was Plinko, except the "prize slots" were orders of drinks, such as "down two shots", "chug a beer"...Lots of drunken fun!

FROM: Blondie [E-Mail]
DATE: Wednesday June 14, 2006 -- 11:27:15 am
Thanks for the idea! I'm throwing a carnival event and needed ideas for some games. Plinko looks easy enough!

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