• Tales & Traditions

Shared by Alison Marr, Professor of Mathematics at Southwestern University

Plinko is one of the most popular games from The Price is Right. If you aren’t familiar with the game, a quick Google search will lead you to dozens of videos of former contestant playing the game. The main idea is that you have a board with pegs and some slots at the bottom. The contestant lays a chip down at the top of the board and it falls along the pegs and lands in one of the slots at the bottom.

There are all kinds of questions related to strategy in this game: Where should I put my chip to maximize my winnings? What am I expected to win (on average) in this game? Before we can answer these questions, we need to understand the math behind the board.

So, here’s a challenge for you to try at home: How many ways are there to spell GOPIRATES in the figure below assuming that whatever letter you’re currently on, you can only move to a letter immediately to the left or right of that letter (if such a letter exists)? I’ll be outside the Alma Thomas Theater starting at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, the night of our own campus edition of “The Price is Arrr!” if you would like to trade in your solution for a small prize and see how your solution can be applied to creating a strategy for Plinko. You never know if you might be the next contestant on “The Price is Arrr!”


         O  O
      P   P   P    
   I     I     I     I
R   R   R   R   R
    A   A   A   A
       T   T   T
          E  E


Seating for the “The Price is Arrr!” will open on Saturday, Oct. 27, at 7:30 p.m. The game show will begin at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are available at Registration and Check-in for only $5.