# Falling off a cliff

I had the strangest set of games last night at the local league.

First 3 games I played (AFM, TWD & FT) I got the high score crushing all of the other peoples scores.
The next 3 games (LotR, TAF & MB) I finished 2nd bottom on all 3.
I’ve never experienced a drop off like it. I didn’t feel under any pressure while playing the games I just couldn’t hit a proverbial barn door.
I thought maybe the beers were catching up on me, but as I was the last person to play MB in the comp, I had another go and got more than 5 times the previous best score on the night.

Firstly, anyone had this happen to them? If so, how did you snap out of it?

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That is an example of regression to the mean. You played far better than normal for a few games, then worse than normal for a few. In many data sets you’ll find streaks of higher or lower than average results. It’s perfectly normal. Keep playing and practicing and your results should show a general upward trend.

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[math nerd raises hand]

“Regression to the mean” says that no matter what, your next result is more likely to be closer to the mean than the previous one. For example, if Wayne GC’s a game on his first try, his next game is more likely to be less than a GC than to be even higher.

It does not say that if you’re having a run of above average play, later games must be below average: you could play worse while still being above average, and you could even outperform your previous play.

The reason regression to the mean occurs is that there is more real estate to pick from on whatever side the mean is, including but not requiring the other side of the mean. (Picture a bell curve.)

There might be an explanation buried in the phrase “maybe the beers were catching up on me”

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This has happened to me multiple times in the Cincy League. I’ll get a few firsts, then the final three games struggle to get 3rds. I think I get too relaxed and take my foot off the gas. Plus this is a more social league so if I see I’ve locked in a guaranteed good score for the day, I will not pay attention as much, thus my degrading play.

This has kept me from making A the past couple seasons, so I made a point this season to go through a reset routine before each ball. Basically talk to myself on where I was at in the game, what my plan was for this particular ball, what I needed to do scorewise to overtake the other players, etc. That has helped immensely.

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Yeah, if you play in league regularly, you’ll have nights like this.

That said, what you didn’t mention is if you had warmed up before your first game. And if you had, how long you warmed up. That can make a difference. Don’t play too many warm up games. You’ll need those crisp flips later.

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But what if the GC achieved on that TWD (which was my first ever game on that machine) is lower than the average I score on my TWD?

The games I played which were top on the night were only what I would consider average games for me anyway.

That’s what I thought, but I then went on to get great scores straight after, having consumed more “refreshing beverages”

On ball 3 I was basically at the same stage as if I had just walked up to the machine on ball 1.

I know that when I play, whether it be in tournaments or at home, I tend to play the same way. Go for GC and the wizard mode regardless of whether I need such a big score or not. I step up to every game aiming for, and expecting, to get GC. It’s a mentality I know I need to break out of, but that’s easier said than done.
It works well in some competition formats, basically any format which allows unlimited attempts, unfortunately there aren’t many comps like that in the UK.

I’ve just never had such an extreme example of playing well, to playing as if I’d never even seen a pinball machine before.

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wait i thought this format was terrible and should never be done by anyone

But yes, your decision to play this way leads to high variance and a lot of feast-or-famine games, as you’re describing.

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Where were the other players at? Did you have a long way to go to take first or a short path? Assuming you were in 4th place on ball three, look at the next player above you and just get to their score first. Then look at the next player and make that your next step.

Definitely need to break that habit of going for wizard modes and GC. Most of the time in group matchplay that is completely unnecessary. It’s either about seeing where you need to go or where you want to be to put the pressure on your opponent. It’s much different to step up to a game and know you need 1 billion more points on GOT to win, then stepping up as player 1 ball one knowing nothing. Or at least for me it is.

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I don’t like these formats and don’t think that they necessarily reward the best players on the day(but that topic has been gone over until everyone is sick and tired of it - but I can only enter whatever comp is in front of me, unless I’m the organiser.[quote=“chuckwurt, post:8, topic:2571”]
Assuming you were in 4th place on ball three,
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It was a league format this time. In head to head play, I do tend to play differently dependant on the other player/s scores.

Six games is much too small of a sample size to reach any conclusions. You started out by rolling a 6 three times in a row. Then rolled three 1’s in a row…and are wondering what changed about the die.

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