Do you play your tournaments sober?

I usually do better with a drink or two to take the edge off, but I’ve been thinking about how that’s becoming a crutch (an expensive crutch). I also figure that I’ll never be able to pull off something big like Pinburgh if I have to maintain a perfect buzz for 72 hours. Any tips on keeping keeping your nerves in check?

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Not if I can help it.

I kept a pretty good buzz during day 1 of Pinburgh, then I decided to do day 2 sober. My performance on day two was…


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I’ve played bad pinball sober, and good pinball after a few beers.

I can’t imagine alcohol doesn’t affect my performance. It’s proven to slow down reflexes, so any perceived “taking the edge off” is probably more than eliminated by the reflex slowdown.

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I play too sharp if I’m sober, and a few drinks helps me be more fluid and focused. The challenge is of course how you manage your consumption over a large tournament, and that can be different for every person. For me I’m fine across 12+ hour days and multiple days (I don’t know what that says about me…), but others obviously lose their ability to play well after a few more than a few.

I think the trick is, as some wise man once said, to “know your limitations”.

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Relevant thread.

In Portland the vast majority of machines on location are at bars, so it’s really easy to get into the habit of having a few drinks while playing. Originally I never even thought about it because I wasn’t good enough to where my being sober or not would have any effect on my results. More recently I’ve realized it’s too easy to self-destruct In a tournament trying to recreate the perfect buzz you had that one time you GCed your favorite machine.

I know people who can play amazing three sheets to the wind or otherwise inebriated, and personally I’ve had good placements both drunk and sober. But I know a sober mind is easier to recreate if I’m looking for consistent results. This hobby is fun for me, and sometimes that means having a few drinks, and sometimes that means going try hard and focusing on my mental game and performance.

All that being said, if you’re purely focused on improving your results I would suggest not playing pinball under the influence of anything, even while practicing. You’re just introducing another variable in your performance that’s too hard to account for.


How many of the final 4 of Pinburgh were drinking alcohol? I’m pretty sure the answer is zero. I personally like Monster drinks during pinball to sharpen the reflexes, but even that has it’s downside. About 2-3 hours later I get really sleepy and yawn a lot.


I don’t think that’s a fair comparison. For true context, we should take those 4 people, and have them play head to head with 2 drinking and 2 not. Then we will have real data to work with (and it’ll be fun to watch!).


Just a few points I wanted to throw in were that I am willing to drink before a tournament because I believe that it typically improves my game (to a certain point). I also play Ms. Pac Man and I never drink while playing it because I can feel the slightest amount of alcohol slow down my reaction, but it’s very likely that the slowing down of my reactions are what is helping me with pinball i.e. flipping too early while nervous.

An interesting point I also heard is that alcohol is forbidden in competitive archery due to it being considered a performance enhancing drug. Probably also for safety reasons too tho.

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My observation has been that the top U.S. players generally play sober when they have traveled out of town for an event. When near home for a league, or for smaller events at someone’s house or a local pub, that’s different, and some will, some won’t. But when they’ve got expenses for the trip that matter, it’s the relatively rare exception. [I won’t name anyone.] The Europeans, on the other hand, seem more likely to have a few; their events are more socially-oriented than ours on average, and that mindset seems to travel with them. I remember a higher portion of them having drinks during IFPAPA than the Americans, though I wasn’t paying particular attention to when, so I couldn’t say how sober they were or weren’t while competing.

So, how many drinks would you need to give Keith to make it an even match between him and, say, Lefkoff?

Maybe when you’re buzzed you just don’t realize how poorly you are playing :wink: The only time I remember playing buzzed was at AMOA years ago when Spiderman just came out. They were handing out free beer! I still beat Josh so I cannot verify which is better :wink:


Would one consider marijuana a performance enhancing drug?

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I have never seen a person play better while high.


Come visit us in Seattle


Sometimes I drink and sometimes I don’t, but if I want to win I play sober.

Maybe I should try playing sober, I may go deeper in tournaments.

I would rather play a tournament slightly buzzed than on no sleep.


Jack Danger did amazingly well at Pinburgh. He pointed out in the latest TiltThru podcast that it was his first tournament ever to play completely sober. I’d say that probably had something to do with it.

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It depends on the tournament for me. If I’m playing in a large tournament like a PAPA or Pinburgh, no. If I’m playing in a local league or a tournament just for fun, absolutely. I did win an after hours thing at PAPA after plenty of rum though :wink:

Never been wasted for any tournament, but not sure if I’ve Had fewer than a few beers either.

Actually at the CLE PIN show last year I was probably more hungover than I’ve ever been in my life playing in the finals of that tournament. Haha


thanks :slight_smile:

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