IFPA 2018 changes?


As you know me, my stance is never having a system that motivates someone to NOT PLAY, so we will continue to use rankings for official purposes (positive only system), versus the Glicko style system where participating could hurt you.


yes I know that, but that isn’t what I meant - who will be higher seeded in a duel, the one who is ranked or rated higher? it’s just not 100% clear to me and it could be both, especially because duels are only about rating


Ahhhh good question! Throw a post out to the CD’s and we can have a quick chat about it in at IFPA HQ.
We have 8 months to figure it out. :slight_smile:


Sooooo I need to drop a couple of $.01 here in response to the giant Facebook “open discussion” thread where I’m not allowed to participate. I obviously can’t stop Bowen from responding to this, but do respectfully ask that he not respond here to this. I would prefer to just say my peace on some of this and move on.

I have no problem with anyone opposing this direction we are taking with the IFPA. I’ve had tons of emails and chats with people on both sides of the issue, agreed to disagree with some people while also convincing some people that what we’re doing can and will be beneficial for the sport.

I won’t bother addressing some of the misinformation in Bowen’s post along with the 300+ comments, except for the one issue that I just can’t get past . . . and that’s Bowen’s stance of boycotting IFPA over this issue (before it’s even been enacted) while speaking up in support of what PAPA has done with the direction of the PAPA Circuit even if it’s something he didn’t personally agree with.

He was asked this repeatedly on Facebook and copy/pasted his response. I felt it was easiest for me to just ‘respond to it’. First my thoughts on what exactly the Circuit is now doing, with no disrespect to the PAPA crew because we’re doing the same thing. We’re taking a bunch of money from the 99% . . . and paying the top 1% (not really that extreme, but something along these lines).

With all the ‘what would the numbers have been’ analysis that I’ve seen with the SCS, using 2016 data, I felt it was only fair to see ‘what would the numbers have been’ had the 2016-17 PAPA Circuit season been run with the $5 fee in action.

There were 1515 players that participated in one of the 20 PAPA Circuit events last season. The top 40 moved on for a chance at the money. This equates to 97.4% of the players funding the top 2.6% of the players.

Now similar to the SCS analysis, the actual number isn’t that severe because the more Circuit events you play in, the more likely you are to be one of those 40 finalists. There were obviously a ton of casual players that played in their ‘local Circuit event’ or Pinburgh, and that was it for them (more on that later).

If you dive into the actual money that would have been generated by the Circuit last season, there were roughly 2100 ‘total players’ from all the events, generating $10,500 in fees. For example, Bob Matthews played in 10 events, so he would be counted 10 times in that 2100 number. Of those 2100 total players, the top 40 finalists accounted for 195 of those players ($975). This means that 91% of the players funded the top 9% who were the finalists. This ends up being very similar to the SCS payout structure where we had roughly 10,000 players and paid out 752 finalists (92.5% of the players funded the top 7.5%).

Ultimately, IMO, it’s the same strategy at play.

So let’s get to Bowen’s compare/contrast of the SCS vs. Circuit, and I can allow myself to answer his opinions with my opinions.

“I see the Circuit as different from WPPR, due to its size and the event nomination and selection process. The $5/fee for Circuit players is not something I agreed with, but it is balanced by an additional prize (a unique winner’s medal) and with the fact that PAPA had been paying subsidies to Circuit tournament prize pools for several years.”

Point 1:
To claim that a unique winner’s medal somehow rationalizes this being okay for PAPA makes me scratch my head a bit. The winner of the medal is already one of the 1%'ers, so that medal is being funded by the 99%. I could easily argue that we provide 40 State Championship trophies a year, along with the trophies for Nationals and maybe call this a draw?

Point 2:
No doubt that PAPA has been paying subsidies to the Circuit for years. I always joke that my favorite pinball money is winning “Kevin’s Money” because I’ve never understood how someone can be so f*cking generous with this player base. IMO what PAPA did in the past has no bearing on whether them taking from the 91% to fund the top 9% is good for the sport. If PAPA somehow earned brownie points for that generosity, I could easily argue that we’ve been subsidizing the World Pinball Player Rankings for the past 11 years. We’ve never asked anyone for a dime, and I can tell you that on our tax return for 2016 we took in $9700 in sponsorship money, and spent $10,600 in expenses. Fortunately, we had a surplus of funds from the previous year, because unlike Kevin I’m not CRAZY and don’t plan on spending a dime of my own money on this player base (love all you guys . . . really . . . just not THAT MUCH). Ultimately it comes down to the fact that the PAPA Circuit is no longer free, and WPPR’s are also no longer free.

“I completely understand why events might choose not to be part of Circuit. The equivalent choice for IFPA would be to have tournaments opt in to pay the tournament fee to be part of the State Championship rankings. Considering that tournaments can run for free in Europe, this would be the competitively balancing thing to do. Instead, tournaments in the U.S. or Canada that do not pay the fee will be excluded from WPPR altogether.”

Point 1:
Bowen defends the right for an event to simply not apply for the Circuit if they don’t agree with the fees.

This allows one of two things to happen:

  1. TD is interested in being a Circuit event where they don’t care that the fees are being taken from the bottom 91% to fund the top 9%. This takes all power away from the players who may not agree with this funding strategy. They are forced to make one of two decisions. One is hold your nose and participate regardless. The other is to boycott and not play. A majority of those 1515 players only played in one Circuit event, and it’s no surprise that it was Pinburgh. I can’t imagine someone being put in this situation of being forced to be part of this 91% fund the top 9% in order to participate in Pinburgh, with the only other option being that they are welcome not to play.

  2. A TD can boycott this “91% fund the 9%” and opt out of being part of the PAPA Circuit. What happens when a group of players is interested in being part of that Circuit?? Because of the opinions of solely that TD, they end up speaking for an entire player base.

For us, we don’t believe that a TD should ‘hold all the cards’ if you will, with respect to a community’s involvement in this SCS/WPPR campaign. This is why we’ve pushed TD’s to use the opt-in/out at the player level if they have a community divided.

Ultimately though, it’s the same process. TD’s can decide to submit their tournament for inclusion on the Circuit/endorsement for WPPR/SCS, and then find their best path through the process. For most, it will be the “sneaky” way of doing this, and that’s never letting the players know they are participating in this funding campaign, or at best case not shoving what’s going on in people’s faces. I can tell you at Pin-Masters the players had NO IDEA about this Circuit Fee. When asked how I was handling it, I said we were sponsoring it out of our 2017 IFPA budget. At Pinburgh I would hazard a guess that a majority of the 800 participants have no idea about this Circuit Fee. For the IFPA Pin-Masters next year, the $70 going to the IFPA will be much the same.

Point 2:
Bowen’s biggest point has been the lumping in of WPPR’s with this SCS campaign, and why we’re taking WPPR’s away ‘from the people’ who are so insanely interested, instead of just focusing on SCS as a separate entity.

A few quick comments on this . . .

  1. Just personally, having Bowen refer to WPPR’s as “website points” for the first good 6+ years of their existence (with no intent of disrespect of course) makes me chuckle, as we’re now at the point that Bowen thinks they are so important ‘to the people’ that he’s willing to openly boycott our Circuit-style strategy for WPPR 6.0.

  2. There seems to be the opinion that the IFPA somehow “owes” the player base the right to WPPR’s. It’s our duty to never use the interest in WPPR’s as leverage for something else, and the idea of exploiting the 91% to fund the 9% is unacceptable. We have offered the services of being part of the IFPA system at no charge for a long time. This has come at an incredible amount of expense (both financially and time based). Similar to PAPA subsidizing their Circuit in the past and no longer doing so . . . we’re simply no longer subsidizing the right to WPPR’s. If this 91% fund the 9% strategy isn’t for you, then it’s important to realize THAT’S OKAY. It’s a completely valid opinion to have. With the announcement of the IFPA Challenge Matches yesterday, we’re no doubt switching the focus of SCS/WPPR’s to be more Circuit like, while continuing to offer our Ratings metric as the “for everyone” IFPA activity to be part of.

As for Europe still getting their WPPR’s for free, there’s actually a strategy there for the IFPA that helps us. There’s a large group of players across Europe and Australia that have complained to us for years about the “World” Pinball Player Rankings being a joke. It’s ultimately the “US” Pinball Player Rankings because of how advanced our competitive pinball scene is here compared to anywhere else . . . leading to the inherent rankings advantages that we have over anyone else. Continuing to subsidize Europe while forcing America to pay for WPPR’s allows this discrepancy between access to endorsed events to shrink, making the world rankings a more true representation of the “world”. Bowen had mentioned for the NEPL that they are forced to pay $700 for the right to capture all 3 seasons of data. That’s over 130 WPPR’s to the winner for the year at the current pace. For them to submit once per year was met with the response “but we only get 1/3 the points”. Wellllll . . . that’s true, and for helping this discrepancy between the US and ‘everywhere else’ that’s not necessarily a bad thing. A local pinball league handing out 45 WPPR’s per year helps that cause for the IFPA globally. Any restructuring of how results are submitted will do a ton to help bridge this divide for us in making IFPA a true global brand, while helping to limit these fees for the TD’s here in the US.

That’s it! I mostly just wanted to address Bowen’s comment of:

“they (IFPA) are making a decision I feel will hurt the community at large for the benefit of elite players. So I am out.” . . . while PAPA makes an extremely similar decision and is met with personal disagreement from Bowen but continued support nonetheless.

Back to everyone’s regularly scheduled programs, while looking forward to some more great IFPA stuff. I dare ask the question how badly can PAPA and IFPA destroy competitive pinball if we actually work TOGETHER on something . . . something tells me we’re going to find out real soon :wink:


Any thought of making it 5$ instead of 1$?


What’s interesting about that particular situation is that Pinburgh has a purse that is way over 100% of entry fees. Last year had a nominal 700 player pool (with 684 actually participating according to their stats)… at $100 each, that’s ~$70,000 in entry fees, and a $100,000 event purse. It’s harder to argue that the Circuit fee or the WPPR fee is financially harmful to the player when the EV of each entry is ~142.8%. (Some players may still philosophically oppose the Circuit fee and wish to skip the event because of that.) It becomes a different situation when the EV of an event drops under 100% of event payments collected because of Circuit/WPPR/BigMac fees.

For me personally, the other notable difference between the Circuit fee and the proposed WPPR fee is the breadth of impact. There are an average of ~2 Circuit events per month. A player who does not wish to pay Circuit fees, for either financial or philosophical reasons, can easily dodge those events and continue to have a busy competitive pinball life with other tournaments, leagues, etc. However, the vast majority of competitive pinball events at all levels are currently WPPR-registered. A player who does not wish to pay WPPR fees, for either financial or philosophical reasons, may be locked out of a large number of events… depending on how many TD’s choose to provide individual opt-in/opt-out, which is TBD.

Wait, what? How did 752 SCS participants get paid? I seem to recall the payouts were for the top 3 finalists… certainly I didn’t get a dime for my crappy SCS performance. Assuming 50 SCS events (states + provinces + poor lonely DC), wouldn’t that be 150 players paid out as part of the SCS? Or are you projecting forward to the 2018-2019 SCS and I’m being confused by your use of past tense?


I don’t think anyone looked at the $100 entry fee as the ‘total cost for Pinburgh’. With everyone needing to pay the Replay FX fee for at least the Thursday/Friday qualifying rounds, that’s $55 worth of passes for those days where your schedule is literally PINBURGH ROUNDS all day. Not to say you don’t have ‘some time’ to enjoy the show, but that gets you to $106,020 in fees collected for the 684 participants walking around those two days. Regardless, if there’s a feeling like this is easier to swallow at certain payback levels, I think that’s a fine opinion to have.

So is that just “fine”? The biggest most fun tournament in the world, and if this is a “principle” thing (which I’ve heard about the WPPR tax more than anything - it’s not about the DOLLAR, it’s the PRINCIPLE), someone must either skip Pinburgh, or rationalize to themselves that there’s still 100%+ payback and suck it up?

Personally I think putting that decision on the player sucks for that player. Why couldn’t that player opt out of paying the $5 Circuit Fee because of their principles, but still enjoy the event? Perhaps they could even forfeit any Circuit points earned at that Circuit event if they ‘opt out’ but finish in the top 40.

You can’t, because PAPA Circuit is designed for the 91% to feed the top 9%. If you allow some portion of the bottom 91% to opt out, this whole thing blows up and there’s nothing to the collect and redistribute to that top 9%.

So forgetting about the principle of these fees (which believe me that situation is NOT different no matter how you want to EV your way out of it . . . trust me on this one) :slight_smile:

Let’s take a 30 player, $5 weekly, who is now forced to pay $1560 in WPPR fees for the year. That’s either 17%-20% of their total payments collected depending on if they add the $1 onto the fees ($6 is the new $5).

What we’re giving are options for that community to work out wherever that EV live of acceptability is for them.

Submitting once per year, and the EV ‘for the year’ based on the $7800 in money collected for that community is at 99.6%.

Community - “But then we’re only getting our WPPR pay off ONE TIME”.

Me - “Yes, this eliminates the fee problem for you, but you don’t get to capitalize on as big of a WPPR pay off. We leave this to the different player bases to decide.”

And off that EV line goes. Submit once per quarter and you’re looking at a 99.7% EV. Submit once per month and you’re looking at a 98.4% EV for the event.

At some point is that EV line acceptable? Or is it the principle? We’re going to find that out.

But what about free events where there’s no financial EV to be computed, or charity events where there’s no prize pool to take from? This is where I see the IFPA Ratings metric finding it’s landing. These events can submit their results to impact the WPPARS metric for all the players, or even use the option of submitting every match in the bracket as an official “IFPA Challenge Match” for the evening. It actually helps push forward the IFPA Ratings metric as a meaningful metric for us having a base of events that do drop out of WPPR’s completely.

For the charity issues some people have with what we’re doing, we plan on leveraging these IFPA Challenges Matches to help raise funds. Imagine the announcement that June 2018 is POP Month at IFPA. We request that players all over the world get out there and play in as many IFPA Challenge Matches as you can. If you’re willing to donate $5 to POP, the POP staff will handle all the logistics of submitting those match results into the IFPA. Can we get 1000 matches played and donate for the month to help raise $5000 for POP? I think we can. Do I want to see Greg Dunlap submit 1000 calendar submissions for the month to IFPA? I think I do :slight_smile: (Shepherd does have the intention to create an easier way to submit these IFPA Challenge Match results through our site and/or creating an app to do so . . . I kind of want to see Greg submit 1000 events into us manually, so I’ll push for the app to go live AFTER POP month). But I digress . . . back to the comments at hand.

You seem to discount what it means for people to play in a Circuit event. For many of those Circuit attendees they have “one chance” per year to play is this high class meaningful thing. You mention easily dodging these events, but what if those players don’t WANT to dodge these events? What if I want to play in the one local Circuit event that is closest to me? What if I want to play in Pinburgh? What if I have BIG PROBLEM with the 91% fund the top 9% issue?

You can extend the same thing for IFPA endorsed events. Sure, TODAY we hit a much wider breadth of events right now while things are still free, but I see the IFPA using the exact same argument you mentioned here because I think it’s valid.

Me: “Sorry Mr/Mrs. Player, but you can easily dodge those IFPA endorsed events and continue to have a busy competitive pinball life with other tournaments, leagues, etc. I hear that the bar that does the weekly $5 tournament now has IFPA Challenge nights that go on at the same time. Just show up and there’s a TD that will pair up matches to be submitted to the IFPA at no charge.”

It’s not our responsibility to offer WPPR’s as the “free prestige” for these players to play in a “Circuit-LIGHT” system. We’re moving to a “Circuit-LIKE” system, and it’s by design. So yes, players for financial or philosophical reasons may be locked out of a large number of IFPA endorsed events in 2018, with the hope that there will be other IFPA ways to play. With IFPA Challenge Matches being ‘on demand’, players can arrange meetings at the local establishment to play “meaningful IFPA pinball” any night they choose with their closest group of friends at no charge.

This whole thing has been PROJECTING FORWARD :slight_smile:

If you want to get technical on the CURRENT SCS system, no State has to pay for the trophy + shipping for their championship, so it’s over 100% payback on that level. It’s also well over 100% payback if you take into account State + Nationals with the addition of a NIB Stern Pro that is added to the prize pool at no expense of the players (only at the expense of my sweat equity).

Under our new plan 752 different players will be getting paid, and I find the idea of that GREAT. Wherever you want to call the “elite” line surely it’s not at rank 752nd in the world. Plus if you take US only players, the 752nd best US player is ranked 1323rd in the world. For most players making the top 40 Circuit finals is a dream that will never be attainable. However, we feel will be a TON of players where making that SCS cutoff “somewhere” is a goal that is easily within their grasp. My dad has been in the chase for Illinois just about every year, and has been on the right side of the cut line 3 out of 4 years. That’s exciting to me for him to see that level of success, and it’s more exciting for me to be able to hand him a check on State Championship day instead of asking him for $20, because he will be one of the top 9% that day, funded by those bottom 91%.


So I’m kind of already excited about this, and not just from a Greg data entry standpoint.

I’ll go ahead and pledge now that Zach and I will commit to an official IFPA Challenge Match whatever month this ends up being, we’ll donate $50 to POP for the match, and we’ll stream it.

I’m excited about all the potential #imwithpop social media tags of the pictures of IFPA Challenge Matches going on all month long.

I’ll also arrange for an official battle of the Pinball Godfathers and sponsor a 7 game match between my dad and Steve Epstein at $50 … Mostly because I really want to see that happen from an entertainment perspective … But also for POP :slight_smile:


The changes sound awesome to me Josh. I’ve never heard so much belly aching about a competitive pinball ranking system promoting competitive pinball ranking and paying hundreds of people money for their winning efforts. If people want to get together and just “have fun playing” then do it #whocars. Why should you be ranked for that kind of play? Not handing out participation trophies FFS if people want a free rec league ranking system then go build one.


For those people that are focused on the money that this SCS change will be “taking away” from charities . . . I just wanted to bring up an additional data point in the similarities between the PAPA Circuit and what we’re doing.

Two weekends ago Pinball at the Zoo held a PAPA Circuit event up in Michigan. For years the Harmon’s have run this entire tournament weekend as a charity fundraising event. This is clearly defined on the Zoo website:

"All tournaments will use the same tickets and be the same cost: $1 per ticket, 100% of ticket sales minus trophy/prize cost will be donated to Project Pinball - They place Pinball Machines in Children Hospital.

Winners will receive trophies and possibly prizes. There will be no cash payouts."

So 133 players participated in the Main tournament, and with that came a ton of money raised for Project Pinball.

The elephant in the room on this is the $5 PAPA Circuit fee that the Zoo needs to be pay, resulting in $665 taken out of the pockets of Project Pinball and sent over to feed that top 9% of Circuit finalists.

I didn’t see anyone questioning whether funding the top 9% out of the money collected wasn’t appropriate. Perhaps people didn’t know this was happening? Is it right for those funds to be directed out of Project Pinball and into the hands of these 9%?

My answer is of course YES. Project Pinball still gained from this weekend, and themselves along with the Pinball at the Zoo staff chose to play within the rules of the PAPA Circuit.


I will commit to a streamed, $50-to-POP match between me and The Boy. World Champion is one thing, but what counts around here is “Barn Champion”!


Pretty please open up calendar (and results) submissions via your API :slight_smile:

Not that people should be running challenge matches on MatchPlay, but there are still other tournaments out there and it would be lovely if TDs could submit to calendar and results directly from MatchPlay without having to do all the double typing they have to do now :slight_smile:


You know you’re asking the wrong guy right? :slight_smile:


I yell at whatever IFPA representative I’m standing in front of :slight_smile:


Was going to read this thread and rant (TAXATION IS THEFT!) Saw how many posts there are…f it, I’ll pay a dollar.



Personally, I’d certainly be in favor of allowing players to opt out of the Circuit fee at Circuit events if they didn’t wish to participate in the Circuit. I don’t believe doing this would cause the whole thing to blow up; the final event pot would just be a bit smaller.

Similarly, I’d personally feel much better about the proposed WPPR fee if part of the rules for event directors is that they must allow players to opt-out of WPPR if they request. If most players really don’t care about the $1, then this won’t hurt anything.

BTW, for my part, this isn’t some anti-WPPR or anti-Circuit aggression, it’s just my standard opinion on how event funds should be used. I’ve had this text on league.papa.org since it launched:

FREE! (as in beer) We think your league’s cash should be used for awesome awards and events for your players, not for administrative tools. We will never charge for any features.


Certainly the pot just being a bit smaller is the great unknown right? If you explicitly asked the 800 players at Pinburgh if they wanted to pay an extra $5 to be included in the Circuit, how much of that $4000 to the prize pool would you lose? Ultimately Doug/Mark/Elizabeth would have to chime in on whether this opt out was ever on the table for Circuit, and the reasons why they chose to not go that path.

I can speak to the IFPA/WPPR side of things, and the best data point I have in terms of ‘interest’ is the number of players that have registered accounts versus the number of players that haven’t bothered to register their account (at no charge currently). The opt IN rate is 8% (roughly 4000 out of 50,000 profiles we have in the database). If I really want the $4000 from Pinburgh to feed the pot for the top 9%, do I want to risk only pulling in $320 for the Circuit Final pot? That’s a tad higher than “just be a bit smaller” IMO.

As for forcing event directors that they must allow players to opt-out goes against our nature of trying to be as FLEXIBLE as we can for everyone. These TD’s are putting in a ton of time and effort, and for those TD’s that don’t want to bother keeping two sets of standings, or keeping track of who paid in and who didn’t, I don’t want their only other option to be that they don’t run the event.

Personally I’m with you though as a TD myself. I don’t want to force any players to be included that don’t want to be, so I have no problem having an opt-out option for any events I personally run.

I didn’t take it that way at all, and my thoughts on the issue were more about linking what seems to be from ‘some people’ anti-WPPR aggression mixed with pro-Circuit acceptance. I personally can’t see any other path than being for or against BOTH of these campaigns based on how they are being managed. Anything less than that is simply hypocritcal IMO.


The difference between the circuit and the IFPA proposal comes down to two things for me:

  1. The location of the SCS is not determined before fees are paid. If, for example, I lived in San Francisco, and payed my entry fees, and watched myself get into the top 16, and then suddenly it was announced that the state championship was in San Diego, I’d be upset. There’s no process to say where an SCS should be held, it’s up to you, basically, to bless a location and TD a few months out. The circuit finals are at a set location and date when the circuit is announced.

  2. The financial risk to the TDs that do voulenteer to run the SCS, and accept a large check from the IFPA for prize money may be making a big mistake tax-wise and legally. The responses to TDs in Wisconsin with concerns of accepting and distributing money were hand-waved away with “you’re doing it already”. With the PAPA circuit, they handle all the distribution of prize money.

If you’re going to go this route, maybe do some legwork and find out what the laws concerning accepting / distributing money for pinball tournaments are in each state.


I think you’ll fine some more similarities here with the Circuit than you may have guessed.

When and Where is the Circuit Final being held for the 2017-18 season? Right now we’re 6 events in, with people spending a ton of money on travel to attend these events without any idea where and when that Circuit Final is going to be held. If you know something I don’t, please have PAPA update their website and fill everyone in.

As for SCS locations, most states by now have a rotation in place (the bigger states especially) that give players a decent idea at where the State Championship will be held. Some of the State Reps base the ultimate location on where the finalists are coming from. For example if the 16 finalists for Ohio are all from Cleveland, holding the finals in Cincinnati doesn’t make much sense.

Any players that are concerned before they start ‘investing’ their time and money trying to qualify are welcome to contact me. I can put those players in touch with the proper State Rep to try and dial in those details sooner versus later.

Any TD that isn’t comfortable accepting a large check from the IFPA for prize money doesn’t have to. We are more than willing to send out the checks from our corporate banking account directly to the winners of that given state. Likewise, any concerns of accepting and distributing money will be addressed between that TD and the IFPA. We understand that this can be an issue and we will collect those funds via a true “administrative fee”. We’ll put this towards our operating expenses (which was a loss in 2016). Our hope would be to find sponsorship to fund the SCS for that State at the level the state WOULD have earned through our normal process, but this would NOT be guaranteed. We would make this crystal clear on which states are at risk.