100 point scale what is best for other placements

I have been going back and forth before I submit tourney to IFPA on the best point placement with a 100 point scale for first place after qualifying. Should I go with what we did in past with first place 100 points, second place 90 points and third 85 points then continue with fourth place 84 points and so on

I have seen others with different point placement for other tourneys .

Should I have first place at 100 points then second place at 99 points ?

Should I have 100 points first , second 95 points and third 90 points then continue with 89 points for fourth and so on ?

We will be qualifying on like 14 pinball machines with your best 7 machines counting toward your point total.

Would like some input on which way to go on the point differential for the event, thanks in advance with responses

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My personal preference is 100, 97, 95, 94, 93… That’s what I used for TPF last few years. Worked well.
I feel that 15 points of benefit between 1st and 3rd is too much bonus benefit. Further it creates a lot of volatility in standings whenever someone loses their 1st or 2nd spot. Yet still gives a small bonus to the top 2 scores.

Last, when you have a relatively low % of games in the bank that count (I consider 50% low – not bad, just low), it also lends itself to providing only low bonus or no bonus for top 2 scores, because there’s a good chance that there may not be high overlap of common pins when comparing two players.

My two cents.


Thanks for your response , I do appreciate it .

I have considered this but would like to give some of top players on each machine a little bonus for being on top.

Any tiebreakers can be settled by # of wins. Kinda rare that hapoens with this style scoring but it could. Maybe

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One thing to consider is the expected # of players. I’m in a smaller market and we would never get anywhere close to 87 players. So do I want someone who puts up some extremely low scores to be guaranteed, say, 40 points? I am running a Classics pump-n-dump style tourney soon with an expected 30-40 players so I am using 100, 90, 85, 83, 81 etc. It is 6 games total with the top 5 counting.

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We had 100 last year, but agree on your points but I am leaning towards what Colin said above in that a 15 point difference is a little too big between first and third. The 100 point scale in pinball tourneys has not had a set point total in ifpa rules . With that said I am going to make the gap lower than in past tourneys and will see if there is people wanting to go back to past tourneys or is this difference is good to go.

The thing we’ve hit again and again in our local events is that the best players are already in a league of their own and don’t really need the +5 or +3 points. I personally also don’t want those players chasing #1 at all costs because it takes too dang long in weeklies.

In more casual events narrowing the score gap for excellent vs. pretty good has resulted in more opportunities for less consistent and less dominating players to have a shot at the top spots. What you end up going with should depend on what kind of event you want to run and who the audience is.


100, 95, 92, 90, 89… seems like a good middle ground. Only a 10 point span from 1st to 4th.


I believe there are some older discussions about this topic on tiltforums, but it can’t hurt to remind folks where this system originated from, and how it’s been used and misused since.

Way back in the olden days, PAPA used to do it’s ticket scoring based on the total points scored on a ticket, which seems insane today, but was “state of the art” for tournaments back in the late 90s. After some awesome discussions on rec.games.pinball, Kevin Martin gave his wacky (at the time) idea of ranking-points-based-on-position a try at PAPA 6 in the “Champions Division” (although the main division of PAPA 6 still went with total points). That was in 1998, and Kevin used his new system for the old Pinburghs from 1999 through 2003, and then when PAPA 7 came back in 2004. So it was Kevin Martin’s idea to give a 10 point “bonus” to the highest score and a 5 point “bonus” to the second highest score via 100-90-85-84-83…

The important takeaway here, though, is that these bonus points were designed for a 5 game ticket system. And since only your best ticket counts in the standings, the chances that a #1 or #2 score on a game for the entire tournament occurred on someone’s best ticket was just not that likely (for instance, at PAPA 18, only 4 out of 24 qualifiers in the “A” division had a #1 or #2 score on their qualifying ticket). So it was never a huge deal at PAPA; just a fun oddity that always gave Belsito a chance on his final run :wink:

So really pump-n-dump tournaments should never have kept the bonus point structure in scoring, because unlike ticket based qualifying, every game in a best-game format counts, so there was always going to be a #1 and #2 score influencing the rankings (At PAPA 20’s pump-n-dump qualifying, all the top 12 had at least one #1 or #2, and 16 out of the top 24). But even then it wasn’t too big a deal because at first, pump-n-dump tournaments required you to get a best score on every game in the tournament. It really wasn’t until the PAPA Circuit took off years later that you had tournaments where they needed to have a bank of games much larger than the number of games required to qualify on because of the sheer number of players wanting to play. And again, instead of thinking it through, the 100-90-85-84-83… scoring system just came along for the ride. It was at one of these tournaments (an old Expo, I think) where it was like your best 5 games out of a bank of 12 games, and since there were now going to be 12 games where someone got the 10 and 5 point “bonuses” there was a real chance that someone could have 5 scores in the top 16 (without a first or second), and not come close to qualifying in the top 16! With all of those bonus points polluting the water, you suddenly needed to average a top 8 or 9 score on all 5 games to have a chance at qualifying! Which seems insane for the format, really.

So it was at that point, that TDs started to temper the bonus points down from 10 and 5 to 5 and 3, or remove them all together. Personally, having a bonus for the top score seems just fine to me, but having a bonus for the #2 score just seems arbitrary and silly. And really, I believe the very best scoring ladder when ranking pinball scores is to use a constant function where Score N+1 is P percentage of score N until it gets down to 0… I posted some samples way back when, but something like:

     [p=.97]    [p=.95]  [p=.93]
     100         100       100                                                               
      97          95          93                                                               
      94          90          86                                                               
      91          86          80                                                               
      89          81          75                                                               
      86          77          70                                                               
      83          74          65                                                               
      81          70          60                                                               
      78          66          56                                                               
      76          63          52                                                               
      74          60          48                                                               
      72          57          45                                                               
      69          54          42                                                               
      67          51          39                                                               
      65          49          36                                                               
      63          46          34                                                               
      61          44          31                                                               
      60          42          29
      58          40          27
      56          38          25
      54          36          23
      53          34          22
      51          32          20
      50          31          19
      48          29          18
      47          28          16
      45          26          15
      44          25          14
      43          24          13
      41          23          12
      40          21          11
      39          20          11
      38          19          10
      37          18           9
      36          17           8
      34          17           8
      33          16           7
      32          15           7
      31          14           6
      30          14           6
      30          13           5
      29          12           5
      28          12           5
      27          11           4
      26          10           4
      25          10           4
      25           9           4
      24           9           3
      23           9           3
      22           8           3
      22           8           3
      21           7           2
      21           7           2
      20           7           2
      19           6           2
      19           6           2
      18           6           2
      18           5           2
      17           5           1
      17           5           1
      16           5           1
      16           4           1
      15           4           1
      15           4           1
      14           4           1
      14           4           1
      13           3           1
      13           3           1
      13           3           1
      12           3           1
      12           3           1
      12           3           1
      11           2           1
      11           2           1
      10           2           0
      10           2           0

The thing I really like about these scales is that I think it correctly reflects the pinball scores themselves in that once you get down to 50th or 75th place… A score of 7,239,480 on say, Cirqus Voltaire is basically equivalent to a score of 7,237,940, even though one is a smidge higher than the other… Both should get the same number of ranking points, IMO. I believe I have seen some European tournaments used this style of ranking points and it always made the most sense to me, but I understand that it could be confusing to someone unfamiliar with all the nuances involved in ranking pinball scores.

The other advantage to using a simple degrade function is that it will work consistently on any starting value (100, 150, 200, etc…) depending on how many competitors you have. And, really, that’s the other half of this issue that is super important - Your scoring scale absolutely needs to be appropriate for your expected number of competitors. 100,90,85,84,83… was becoming silly at PAPA because it went down to 0 too soon. At PAPA 18, CFTBL was played 264 times! and the 88th best score of 113,136,280 was worth exactly the same number of ranking points (zero) as the 264th best score of 2,686,980. By only giving points to essentially the top 30% of scores, PAPA qualifying put a much higher premium on scoring 3 big scores on a ticket, instead of having 5 solid above-average scores… INDISC this past year used 200,190,185,184… so that the top 180 scores or so scored some points and that really put a premium on having a consistent, 5-game ticket instead of hitting 3 home runs with 2 strike outs.

As always, YMMV.


Thanks Adam for the history of the point system great to learn this . Thanks for your point break out too, I am leaning more to how you say have break out close to your participants which will hopefully be around the 100 scale . I will not have a huge gap in 1 through third like in past tourneys but closer. Thanks for the reply

I personally have preferred a decay rate type of approach to scoring on Best Game events for the reasons that have already been shared by others.

I dug up an old e-mail from 2016 that I sent to my co-director for an upcoming selfie league, so I’ll copy and past some of that content here:

One of the things that I find challenging as a mid-tier player is the incentive to try to go for #1 or #2 if those scores are completely out of reach. There’s a big reward if I can hit that mark, but no additional “bonus” to jump from say 6th to 5th or 8th to 4th aside from the single point per place.

I was looking on Tiltforums and one of the older topics was around scoring schemes (PAPA scoring schemes), and Bowen suggested a “decay rate” which would end up using fractions. I played in Excel and thought about a modified “decay rate” which would award bonus points all the way to 10th place, but still retain integers. After 10th place, you still get a point per place.

Current -> 100,90,85,84,83,82,81,80,79,78,…
Proposed -> 100,90,81,73,66,60,55,51,48,46,…

In my mind this provides more incentive to people who have a game in the 4th to 10th range. If I’m currently 10th on a game, I get an additional bonus point to every place I pass from 10th on up to 1st.

Inline image 1

We ran that scoring scheme for our selfie leagues and PinFest in 2017. The problem with the 90% Decay Rate for PinFest is that the curve ended up being too steep for the number of people.

For PinFest 2018, I noted that the NYC Pinball Championships were doing it based on 200 points, so I fiddled with the numbers until I got to a ~97.5% Modified Decay Rate which is what we used in the event and what we plan on using for this year’s PinFest again. It provides a increasing bonus for the top 12 (which worked out for being in the Top 10%-15% based on the number of plays on the machine).

Position 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 169 170 171
Points 200 195 190 185 181 177 173 170 167 164 162 160 158 157 156 155 154 153 152 151 2 1 0

If you’re using NeverDrains, you can define the chain for how the points decrement. If you’re using MatchPlay, then Andreas was kind enough to add two different Best Game Decay Rates for me (90% and 95%) based on a 100-point scale.


I like the 95% modified decay rate. Will check with other volunteers of tourney to see if they like this.


Interesting concept, with a lot of merit to it. But to me, it’s weird that the two above close scores in the 7M range get an identical ranking score, but two scores of 70,239,480 and 70,237,940 (if 1st and 2nd) have a differential of 9 ranking points. I think I prefer lower level scores still differentiating by at least one ranking point.

In an unlimited entry Best game qualifying, you’re essentially trying to get your best game all the time, so I’m still a proponent of only offering very minor top two score bonuses. But in card based entry — and to a lesser extent, limited entry best-game format — I can see the reasoning for offering more ranking point bonus for upper echelon of scoring… mainly because I’m both of those formats, players are having to take into consideration more about whether to take the risks needed achieve one of the best scores vs getting a decent score.

Great discussion! Thanks to those of you sharing your data and analysis!


Yep. Fair enough. We could use floating point numbers instead of integers, lol, to really confuse people. But I agree that every spot should produce a unique ranking value.


I recall one year we ran California Extreme with the 90% decay method, and rounded off the value at each position. It was not well received – it put far too much emphasis on high games.

I like the idea of a percentage drop that ends with a minimum 1 point drop per position.

In general I have way too much useless knowledge of the evolution of this format. There is, of course, no right answer, just priorities.


If anyone has their own point distribution scale they’d like to use, please get in touch. I can add new options fairly quickly (a rarity for me these days!)


Thank you for the history. Had no idea

At Vancouver Flip-out, we use a 200-point scale that is a logarithmic decline.

More details can be found in the VFO rules: http://vfo.wapinball.net/main.html

I like this scale. I find that it more reflects typical game scoring in pinball machines where scores often grow more exponentionally than linearly. So the curve fits that type of scoring better, but as with the 100-point scale still normalizes for all machines.

The one thing I do highly recommend, is have enough different levels so that few people, if any, get 0 points. Getting a bunch of zeros is demoralizing to novice players who might be trying to out the tournament for the first time. If you have a field of 150 players, you don’t want only 88 scoring levels (as you get with the 100-90-85-84-…), as a player with an average score gets basically zero points. If you expect that many players, then move to a 200-point scale with at least 150 scoring points.

If you are doing a card format, then it isn’t how many players will be on each machine, but rather how many games get played on it, so you likely need twice as many scoring levels.

On the other hand, if you have 150 players who only need to play 4 of 10 machines, in Best Game format, you might really only get 100 plays per machine, not 150. But does it matter if last place gets 25 points rather than 0 points? I think in the end it ends up being the same ranking, but 25 points looks better for those novices. So I encourage siding on having too many gradation points rather than not enough.