Chicago Pinball Expo Tournaments 2019

Welcome to the 35th Annual Pinball Expo show held in Wheeling, IL this year from October 16th – 20th. As always, there will be plenty to see, experience, and play at this year’s event. Along with that, there are lots of tournaments going on throughout the weekend. Here’s information about what’s going on and when they’re happening.

We are committed to bringing the most fun and enjoyment to all this year’s divisions. We’ve made some fine-tuned adjustments to make this the best year ever for Flip Out! Starting with the Stern Pro Circuit FLIP OUT TOURNAMENT and the largest bracket competition in the world. This event will feature over $10,000 in cash and prizes, including a Stern pinball machine to the winner! Seeding will take place ONLY on Thursday from 10:00 am until 1:00 am and you MUST be registered before midnight in order to compete in this event. queuing will be used for this event. We will be using 18 machines for seeding this year, so seeding will go quickly!

Cost for the Main Event is $125.00 and INCLUDES your pass for the Pinball Expo Vendor and Game Halls. If you have your pass already, entry is $95.00. Seeding is limited entry with 12 attempts on any machine, with your 6 highest scores on 6 different titles, going towards your total. After all seeding entries are completed, the top 50% will be put in the A Division bracket and the lower 50% will be placed in the B Division bracket. Note: Top 250 players as ranked in the IFPA as of 10/17/19 must qualify in A Division .

BOTH A and B Division brackets will begin at 10:00 am on Friday morning. This is a change to A Division from prior years, so be ready to play. The format will be best of 3 games (race to 2 wins) and double elimination. This will run all day and continue at 10:00 am on Saturday. The Finals in A Division will be streamed Saturday at approximately 6:00 pm. Both A and B Divisions will be completed by Saturday Night!

The CLASSICS EVENT will be “Herb-Style” with unlimited entry. Cost is $10 for 3 entries. We will be taking scores from every machine for your total. Open qualifying is Thursday from 10:00 am – 1:00 am, Friday from 10:00 am – 1:00 am, and Saturday from 10:00 am – 11:00 pm. The top 32 qualifiers will be placed in a head to head bracket. Finals will then be played on Sunday beginning at 10:00 am. Best of 3 games (race to 2 wins) format with double elimination.

This year’s WOMEN’S EVENT will be hosted by the Belles and Chimes of Chicago and sponsored by Stern Pinball, Marco Specialties and TEL Management Solutions. This “Herb-Style” event will take 4 scores on 4 machines. You receive your first 6 chances for $20 and additional entries are 3 games for $10. Qualifying will take place on Thursday from 4:00 pm – midnight and on Friday from 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Finals will begin at 8:30 pm on Friday night and will be streamed. This will be a best of 3 games (race to 2 wins) and double elimination head to head bracket.

On Saturday, there will be a KID’S EVENT with qualifying from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. Anyone 14 years old or younger are invited to play. This will be a “Herb-Style” qualifying, with scores from 4 of 4 games included. ALL ENTRIES ARE FREE. Top 8 players will be placed in a head to head, 3 game (race to 2 wins), double elimination bracket beginning at 4:15 pm. Prizes have been donated by Tilt Amusements and Belles and Chimes Chicago.

This year at Pinball Expo there will also be Horror House Fest Pinball Tournament of Death on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, a Galloping Ghost sponsored tournament, a Stern High Score release competition, and the Pinball Life party. To find more information on these events as well as other Show details, please visit .


Sounds awesome Fred! Do we need to sign up in person or can we do so online ahead of time for the circuit event?

Looking forward to the “I didn’t actually play in this event that’s on my profile. Can you please remove me before 10/17/19”.

Followed by this on 10/20/19 . . . “Turns out I DID actually play in that event. Can you add me back into those results?” :slight_smile:


Nitpicky money issue that I’m not sure there’s a solution for:

I’ve brought a game (or two, or three) to Expo for the last umpteen years. Game bringers always get a free weekend pass ($150 value), which is a good deal. But if I bring a game and play in the tourney (which also includes a weekend pass), now I’m effectively getting paid $30 to bring a game. Which is not so great a deal.

Granted, this affects almost no one, because most local tourney players with collections openly laugh at the idea of hauling one of their own precious games to the show. They just want to hang out in the hallway and take the money. Before tourney fees were raised to include a weekend pass, many of them didn’t even buy admission. So that change was definitely a step in the right direction, perhaps at the small cost of disincentivizing one (?) tourney player from bringing a game.

Related question: does all $95 go to the prize pool?


I’m interpreting this as “we’re taking your best score on every single machine in the bank, so play them all”. Is that correct? How many machines are there in the Classics bank?

In years past there have been 4 games and all 4 count toward your total. With Classics being the only unlimited part of the tournament for multiple days of play, the scores tend to be exceptionally high.

Ah…thanks. I imagined a much larger bank. This makes total sense.

Erik, we are not having an advance sign up. A few reasons; there is no player cap. We don’t want to accept money in advance, so with no cap, it’s effectively not really doing anything other than saying you intend to come. We hope you will respond on Facebook letting us know that information. Regardless, you MUST show up physically on Thursday in order to register and play in the Main Event.

I do like the idea and will discuss with Trent about possibly adding it in the future. Heck, it took 3 years to fully integrate the neverdrains software (queuing portion) into this event!


So the deal we have with Expo has evolved over the years. You’re absolutely correct with the hallway scenario. We didn’t want to have to police whether people had wristbands or not. That is why last year the entry included the show pass. You’re also right that’s it’s not a great deal to those people bringing games.

As far as the $95 goes, I believe yes minus any expenses. I don’t handle the final cash payouts, but I will ask Trent and follow-up. I know in the past he has raised the payouts based on increased play over projection.

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John is correct. We shooting for a total of 6 games, but we don’t have them confirmed. So we’re going with “ALL” games.

All I needed to hear. Thanks!

Seconded in spades. Most classics events are either single day qualifying or Fri-Sat with qualifying ending around 5p-6p Saturday for finals that evening. Typical number of hours of qualifying is under 10 for single day, about 20 for two-day. Expo Classics has 44 hours of qualifying! Expo classics is probably the third-strongest Classics field after EPC and INDISC. And since it’s 4 out of 4, you can’t work around your weakest game in the bank. So be prepared to either blow the games up early, spend a lot, or not make finals. At least with 32 for finals this year instead of 16, more people will be able to get in.

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The $150 I spent on Faces qualifying a few years back is a testament to this :slight_smile:


Confirmed with Trent, YES 100% payout to prize pools after expenses. Nobody is paid for this event, so it’s just prize expense. Any other questions, I’m sure Trent would be happy to answer :wink:


We are also paying out ALL 32 Finalists. Increased field size and increased payouts!


Looking forward to it.

Question - Does this mean top 250 players are put in A no matter what, or that a top 250 player must seed in the top 50%, or else they don’t qualify at all?
(in the past iirc top 250 players would be in the bottom of A, if for example they registered but didn’t participate in seeding).

@pnmastr: you or Trent will want to update the Flip Out website to match what you’ve written here. Still says best 6 of 9 pins for seeding. And the schedule on the right still says that “A” Finals will begin after “B” Finals conclude. And I feel your pain… having duplicate places online with event details is such a pain to manage.

And website Prizes section shows fixed $$ amounts. Given the Unlimited # of players and/or entries, and the stipulation that entry fees (net expenses) go back to prizes, and total entry fee receipts is unknown, I’d suggest changing your Prizes to % values (except for the new Stern pin).

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Cayle, you are correct. That is how it’s been in the past. However, this year has changed. You must play/seed/qualify in the top 50% to be in the A Division or you will be OUT.

There’s a few reasons for this. We are starting both division brackets at 10:00 am on Friday. In the past we waited for the B Division winner (because they received a spot in the A bracket) to finish. We are not waiting and we are finishing on Saturday, also different from the past. Trent does not want to put a top player in the B Division because they don’t want to seed themselves. We have also bumped the A Division to 50% of all players up from 40% in previous years. He feels if you are a top 250 player, and you can’t qualify in the top 50% of the field, then you don’t deserve to continue playing. gulp


There certainly are a lot of moving pieces with this event as I’m sure you understand. We have some website cleanup to do. However, the 6 of 9 is correct. I wrote it as “6 of your highest scores on 6 different titles”. There will be 9 different titles to choose from, we just happen to have 2 copies of each of those 9 titles. We will get the “A Finals begin after…” corrected.

The prize money fixed amounts are the guarantee. Addition earnings will be added to those amounts if/when they go over. He said in the past he wrote a disclaimer about additional percentage being added, but he didn’t mention that to me when I wrote this. We will make sure to add that. Good call, thank you.

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