Plinko is played for up to $50,000. The contestant is given one free chip and can win up to four more by pricing items worth $10–$99. For each prize, the contestant must choose which digit of the two shown is accurate; a correct guess wins the small prize and an extra chip. After pricing all of the items, the contestant places one chip at a time on a pegboard, where it eventually falls into one of nine spaces at the bottom. Spaces labeled $0, $100, $500 and $1,000 each appear twice and centrally-located space is labeled $10,000. The contestant wins the value marked on the space where the chip eventually lands; the chip is removed and the process is repeated until the supply of chips is exhausted.

If any chips are stuck on the board, the host will generally use a "Plinko stick" to knock them loose; the drops do not count and the chips are returned to the contestant to drop again.