How far would you travel for $1000 first prize?

So I’m running a sponsored cash tournament on Memorial Day weekend this month – the Titan Pinball 2019 Southwest Regional Pin-Masters.

Anyhow, I am in Garland, Texas and am surprised to see that I have one person pre-registered from California … I also have people from 3 other neighboring states, but I was surprised to see a pre-registration from CA.
Love to have the travel just didn’t expect this distance for $1k first prize.

So I was curious to see what everyone would travel for?
How far would everyone travel for an event/show?
Are the WPPR points more important (2 side events with this one)?

I usually only go to events in my region (and this year for family reasons, I’m not even doing that).

This Pin-Masters circuit event expects 64-96 people.
Sponsorship money and entry fees (but minus ACTUAL expenses incurred) will be paid out and there are cash payouts for both A and B.
First prize for A is $1000 cash and prize value.
At least 12 and up to 20 players paid out depending on number of entrants.

Is this something that would entice you to travel to an event?

First and foremost the event has to be well ran and a fun format for me. If the potential prize was good enough, I might even travel for that, but it usually isn’t my main draw.

But 1,000 really isn’t that much when you factor in the cost to get there/hotels/etc.

So for me, 1,000 bucks would get my attention for a one day event that was within driving distance for me. Say 4 hours or less.

$5k and I might travel cross country assuming the tournament has a good format and a good rep. I probably wouldn’t travel far for an event that was brand new with a TD that was inexperienced. Too many things can go wrong to sour the experience, and like I said before, the travel expenses add up quick.


$1k top prize isn’t that bad of a call, but I have to choose my days off carefully for Stern Circuit events. I only get 2 weeks after burning my flex holidays for Pinburgh (because it’s kinda like a holiday for us) so every day has to count.

I will be taking time off for one non-circuit event (NYCPC) this year, and that’s because of the large prize pool, semi-close proximity, and multiple divisions (classics, main).

If I was already down that way for work (I work 2 hours west of Garland) though, I’d totally find an excuse to come play!

Unfortunately for me, I can’t know if it’s worth it to travel for an event until after the event.

Well-run event with nice machines set up fairly and a pleasant venue? Probably worth it - I’ll enjoy myself.

Well-run event with crap machines with brutally stupid sneeze tilts and outlanes you can park a Bally widebody in? Probably not worth it - if I want to gamble, I go to the casino.

WPPRs and prize pool don’t really enter into it for me. I’m interested in enjoying myself, the other considerations are secondary.


Good info, but to clarify… Experienced TD … Known for usually running good events … Ran several larger events in the past…

Also, backup TD is TX state IFPA rep …

Hope that helps clarify…

This is not a plus for me. Trevino is the ifpa rep because he’s been doing it for a decade, not because he’s known for being a good, fair, or consistent TD.


The tears of my defeated opponents are all the enticement I need!

Unfortunately, I defeat so few I’ve yet to be enticed…


Prize money means nothing to me because I’m not winning 60+ person tournaments. If that changes it might.

Format/reputation has a lot to do with it. I’d play in a less interesting format if it was a large tournament with a good reputation. If I like the format, the field wouldn’t need to be as large or prestigious to entice me.

That said, there are only so many formats, and it’s pretty difficult to run something that isn’t already being done really well by someone else.

Definitely interested in the WPPRs, but what I consider meaningful WPPRs continues to change over time.

I’m in Colorado, where we have lots of tournaments, but if you want to play in another state, you basically have to fly. (It’s a 10 hour drive to the next closest events with nationwide recognition). I might be more picky about distance if I lived in the eastern third of the country.

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I’ll echo other folks here. $1000 isn’t going to move the needle for me to travel to an event. I never expect to place in the money, and money is not at all a motivational factor for me even at the times I’ve gotten close. I think the main factors I run through are:

  • How many of my friends will be there
  • Are the people operating the event folks I trust, or have been vouched for by like minded players.
  • Format. I lean towards the more social events, so group knockouts are my main jam, and what I run.

The farthest I’ve traveled is from DC to Pittsburgh, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon, just because there are so many great events in the DMV from Baltimore all the way down to Richmond.

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All I care about is that it is a good, well run, competitive event on games that are set up well and work well with a good format. Prizes pretty much have 0 influence.

I wouldn’t really factor prize money into the equation unless first place is over 10K.

Edit - If the tournament charges entry fees, how those fees are used and/or paid out %100 factors into whether I want to attend an event. (If an event covers reasonable costs and pays the rest out, awesome.)


I appreciate everyone’s replies.

This adds a lot of color for me.

As far as trusted tournament directors go, I’ve been running the DFW pinball league in the Dallas area for several years.
I also ran a successful pinmasters event last year with 57 people playing.

Most common suggestion last year was for a better prize pool so that’s what we’ve done this year.

As a director I ask for feedback at every event I run.

The facility is a pinball dedicated Lounge with over 25 pins and in my opinion these games are some of the best maintained in Dallas-Fort Worth.

More constructive comments are still appreciated!

I always want feedback!

I got a lot of good constructive feedback from the Pincinnati tournaments this past year. Just made a quick survey monkey and sent it out to all the players. Got about 60% responses, and lots of good feedback I was able to easily file away for this year to help improve the event.

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Assuming this is Balls of Steel, this is a pretty fair statement!

For a pingolf tourney, think of the skill of your target player. Work the course around:

  • a good amount of objectives you expect them to complete
  • some objectives you think they can complete (50/50 odds)
  • optional, a “hard” objective that is intentionally set up that way for bragging rights when someone clears it.

I like cashing at events, but for me, the prize pool is never even a consideration of whether I will play.

I actually consider the effort and time to earn SCS WPPR points more than anything since I rarely travel out of state. I live in a LONG state and travelling 10-12 hours round trip for a shot at earning a couple points is very inefficient. Easier to set up events locally.

Anyhow, for the $1000 question, the travel costs, time away from work, and show/tourney entry fees quickly add up. I’m not trying to sleep in my car, or room with 15 people at the Cardboard Box motel, eat ramen noodles 3 meals a day, and limit my play at a papa style or herb style event to make sure I break even or come out ahead.

My primary focus is: will I get to play enough tourney games during the event and are the games playable. Paying $10 for 3 games on “Pachinko” machines is not fun.

What I will say about payouts is this: The payout structure should be made crystal clear upfront to the competitors, as should the percent payout versus amount held for administrative fees, trophies, etc. Finding out about mysterious holdbacks on the day of the event is not good management.


AMEN! Glad I wasn’t the only one thinking like this. Sometimes the lower the pot the better I feel as the less likely the top players will show up and then I may stand half a chance. Once the top players come I’m just padding their pockets.


Actually the sponsor on this one, titan pinball, required that we payout B division as well because they didn’t want the money to only go to the “sharks” so $500 total will be paid out for B division.

To the person that said be clear on payouts… Only actual expenses are being taken out… there are no administration fees or BS like that . . . And payout percentages were posted on the webpage for both A and B.

Finally one person agreed that Balls of Steel has some of the best maintained pins in DFW, and yes, that’s the venue.

Again thanks for all of the feedback.

Just to be that guy…

Shouldnt the question be… how far would you travel for having a real fun experience? :slight_smile:


Different divisions needing payouts is bad enough but the real pest is when players with a high IFPA ranking are additionally supposed to pay a bigger entrance fee:

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WOW!! People look at me like im crazy when i say youre more likely to be punished for being good at pinball than rewarded. And ive always joked that one day there would be tournaments that cost more for good players to enter and pay less to the winners than to lower placed finishers and here we are!!! Imagine the backlash if those prices were reversed in favor of higher ranked players. Its laughable that this sort of thing is even allowed!!

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I don’t think it is so absurd. What’s going to entice people to play if they are going to be spending more money with less likelihood they’ll win? If people feel like they are spending money that they’ll be less likely to win again and again, they’ll be more likely to get discouraged, to not return to a tournament, and therefore not do the repetition and work it takes to improve to build competitive- and large-enough events
to provide value to everyone. Might even be a good reason to have stronger and stronger division restrictions. If you win, you move up, pay a little more but have a chance at more. If you don’t, you haven’t spent as much.

Ranking of course isn’t the only measure of whether you are a “good” player or not, but if you consider yourself so and capable to take on the top players, why not be prepared to put your money where your mouth is?

I’m more in support of even pricing for everyone, but I haven’t thought deeply about it. I’m far from 250, and also likely not to go to PATL, but this seems like a creative idea. Maybe it will work. Maybe it won’t, but what definitely won’t is asking newer/less skilled players fo pay more. And if they DO perform strongly, they’ll approach that 250 ranking.