Interesting (?) discussion I just had with a player who was DQd for playing an extra ball out of turn

Warning: Text wall ahead, especially the stuff that I wrote.

I’m mainly writing this to see if anyone thinks there are other arguments to be made that might have persuaded this player that the rule is fair.

Well I told my girlfriend the “facts of the case” and she objectively came to the same conclusion that the rules are bullshit. Seems you could exploit it by getting an extra ball and walking away and let the next person play it and get DQ’ed.

I know you’re gonna say they need to pay attention, but what about the responsibility of the person actually playing (and earning the free ball) to pay attention? Whatever, I’m over it but I have to wonder how they arrived at that rule.

Let’s imagine another scenario.

For this experiment, there is no DQ for playing an extra ball out of turn.
4 player group.
Player A is friends with Player B.
At the end of everyone’s ball 2, Player A has 100 million, Player B has 1 billion, Player C has 80 million, Player D has 120 million.
Player A gets an extra ball on ball 3.
Player B plays the extra ball “accidentally” and gives a bunch of extra points to Player A, so now player A has 500 million.
Player B finishes first, and helps his friend Player A to a second place that he wouldn’t have otherwise gotten.

Believe me when I say that every exploitable loophole will eventually be taken advantage of. It’s the nature of people being competitive, and feeling OK about what they’re doing as long as they’re sticking to the rules. This is at least one reason this rule is in place. Another is that it’s far easier to have a rule that says that every player is responsible for his own play. It’s obviously really useful when people are on top of their extra balls and this doesn’t happen, but this is how our league handles it when they don’t.

Let me know if you ever see someone actively trying to get someone else to play out of turn. This is of course not allowed and would result in a stern warning. I’m pretty sure it hasn’t happened, but you never know of course.

The solution is that everyone should always be checking that the correct player number is being displayed on the machine before they begin playing, on every ball. I absolutely do this, because I’m sufficiently paranoid about screwing it up. Even if it’s the 4th game of the night and I know I always play after Player X, I still look at the display to confirm that nothing happened with a weird ballsaver or extra ball situation. Because this stuff happens.

Player X:
I agree that some kind of rule needs to be in place to prevent your scenario but I guess I’d just argue for a system where player 1 would be DQ’ed as opposed to player 2 (the accidental extra ball player). I’d like to think this makes more intuitive sense and I’m not just being bitter. If this were the case it would be harder for someone to try to DQ the follow up player by “forgetting” to plunge the extra ball and letting that next person step up.

What if the player who earned an extra ball steps aside to sneeze after he plays? Or just takes a step back briefly intending to plunge the EB, but the next player rushes up and plays it. Under the current rules, it’s an objective decision that will be ruled the exact same way under all circumstances.

I absolutely appreciate that it sucks, but that’s why I spent 5 minutes warning everyone at the beginning of the league that it was going to happen to someone, it was going to suck, and everyone should be making sure they don’t play out of turn all the time.

Player X:
Yeah, I’ve decided I’m not taking league too seriously because I’m not that good compared to many players, so I’m over the whole DQ thing. Really in it for the fun/social aspects opposed to strictly competitive. I just think my rule would be a bit more fair, but hey – I don’t make the rules.

There is not a chance that it’s on the onus of the extra ball earner to plunge the ball, that is ridiculous. As you rightfully pointed out, there is way too much incentive to screw over the earner by quick-plunging the ball for them.

The person that made the mistake committed a player error by not paying attention. Maybe no one paid attention, but he’s the one that broke the rule. When you step up to the game, YOU are in control. You don’t have to plunge someone else’s ball by not paying attention, but you did.

This unfortunate situation happened to Roy Wils in pinburgh when I was in his group. We were on BK, and someone apparently earned an eb, and no one realized. Roy played the ball was was DQd that game as a result.

You have to feel bad for someone that does that, but you just can’t make assumptions like that, either.

TL;DR: The person at the game is always in control of their own destiny.


I always appreciate confirmation that I’m right, and this is no exception. :slight_smile:

Maybe the solution is for me to be more compelling and memorable when I do the short speech about how important this rule is, and how easy it is to screw it up.

I was DQ’d on a game the other day due to a combination of rushing and lack of game knowledge. Cosmic Gunfight, game 1 in the first round of tournament playoffs. I was P1 and had a pretty large lead at the end of my third ball. I knew I had a cosmic ball ready to go with over 60 seconds of time built up. As soon as I drained ball 3, I plunged what I thought to be my cosmic ball, but it was actually P2’s ball 3. I saw his score blinking as soon as the ball went into play and I immediately picked the next game and moved on.

After a weekend of single player qualifying on CG, I didn’t even consider the fact that cosmic balls would be played after both players completed their games. The funny part was that he had no idea why I plunged his ball because he didn’t even know about the cosmic ball feature. Lesson learned for both of us!

In response to your friend’s situation, sometimes you just have to accept responsibility and chalk it up to inexperience or just not paying attention. It sucks, but once it happens you’re less likely to make the same mistake again.

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So I’m not familiar with the rules in this situation. So Player A gets an EB and Player B plays it. Player B is DQed, but what about the score for Player A? What if no one realizes what’s happening until Player B had already scored a bunch of jackpots, does Player A just get those points? Are players C and D just SOL?

Generally player A just gets those points. C and D are SOL in the sense that A might’ve gotten some “free” points, but that’s offset by the advantage they get of a guaranteed victory against B, who now has a machine score of zero.

Certainly in a match play situation, all players should pay attention to the match in progress, and if you see something wrong, immediately point it out to your opponents as well as a tournament/league official.


Interesting. I’m imagining a scenario in which a 4 player group is in the final game of a PAPA style round of scoring. Let’s say whoever wins the game will win the tournament, except Player B who is mathematically eliminated already. Player B is friends with Player A and is much better on this particular machine, so when Player A gets an EB Player B “accidently” plays it, getting a great score for Player A and DQing himself in the process. Player B was eliminated anyway so a DQ isn’t a punishment, and it’s completely unfair to players C and D.

To me it seems like both players A and B should be eliminated in this situation. Player A is just as much at fault for allowing someone else to play on their turn as Player B is for playing on their turn. Both are equally responsible for only playing their own balls and not letting others play theirs. What is the ruling if a stranger walks up while you’re waiting for the tilt bob to settle and plays your ball for a huge score while you’re in the bathroom? I’m guessing you don’t just get those points.

Again, players C and D are active participants in this game. If they see that another player is playing out of turn, they need to immediately notify the player(s) involved as well as a league or tournament official to make a ruling. This includes paying attention at the end of each player’s ball to ensure that the game moves to the next player.

I’m guessing they do. They should have asked one of their groupmates, or an event official, to guard the machine before leaving for the bathroom.

The flip side - the more likely case, really - would be the same situation, but the stranger does lousy. The player gets those points too, but (at least in FSPA league rules) gets no compensation for a non-league player playing their ball:

Having a non-league customer play your ball is considered a distraction and not interference; control of the ball should be regained as quickly and politely as possible. Close attention should be paid by league players to their game in progress to guard against this situation.

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So under those rules, if I have a friend who is really good at pinball but not technically part of the league play my ball while I’m out having a smoke, that’s just a distraction and I get all those points? I’m sorry, I’m not trying to be pedantic I’m just curious.

I get that the onus is on the other players to watch out for this sort of thing. But the offending player isn’t penalized once the error is recognized? It just makes sense to me that you should be responsible for making sure that no one else plays your turns, and that if someone else plays your ball you get DQed for that particular game.

Even though this situation and ruling are so cut-and-dried, it’s the most common ruling that leads to an argument – or at least some sort of “maybe just this once” plea. Yes, I feel bad. No, the ruling will always stand :wink:

This is C and D’s fault, who should be paying attention to what turn it is and who is playing. These players can and should stop B from continuing to play.

Same for the case of a stranger playing the ball, though local rules vary.


In league play, one way you can mostly avoid situations like this is by allowing the player earning the EB to plunge and take one flip on the EB. That’s how BAPA handles them. All the lane changes you want, but one touch of the flipper to ball. This encourages the player earning the EB to play out the EB, even if it’s just one flip.

Of course it also introduces the possibility of a player taking more than one flip, but that’s less troublesome than an EB played out of turn.

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I wanna see some tackling.

Irrelevant. Whether the ball in play is an extra ball or not makes no difference. If you play an opponent’s ball, you are DQ’d. End of story. It is the responsibility of every player, every time to make sure they are playing their ball and not someone else’s.

If you do that on purpose, as in “Hey friend, I’m going to duck outside for a sec, it would be really super if you could “accidentally” play my ball for a bit and rack up some points, thanks” I wouldn’t just DQ you, I would bar you from the competition/league for cheating.

Yes, you should be watchful that no one else plays your ball, but if you’re going to DQ the person whose ball is being played, I could just walk up and play your ball on purpose and get you DQ’d to screw you over. That doesn’t sound right either. It doesn’t even have to be an extra ball here, I could know that you’re up next and if you’re not right there, I can swoop in with my best Nelson “HA HA” and plunge away.

Sorry, I believe this rule always has been, and always will be bullshit. To have a DQ associated with a situation where it is clearly not ANY ONE person’s wrong doing is asinine. This is exactly the same as the old rule to DQ player 1 for not starting the correct number of players at the start of a game even though all the players in the match should have equal responsibility. We got that rule thrown out and came up with a MUCH BETTER solution that is actually fair to all the players involved and no one has to be disqualified! (w00t!). Same deal here. If the player who *leaves his “ready” position at the game with his earned extra ball in the trough could not possibly be DQ’ed as argued here, then there is absolutely NO MORE culpability to the poor schlub who steps up next and unknowingly plays that ball. How can that person be DQ’ed and not the player who abandoned his extra turn ?? It’s Insane. The correct answer is that NEITHER of the players should be DQ’ed for what is essentially the same deal as the starting-the-correct-number-of-player game… ALL players involved in the match are equally responsible. It seems simple enough to justify this DQ by coming up with all of these horrible, collusive ways a non-DQ ruling could be exploited by all those CHEATERS out there in the pinball world, but those are the silliest arguments of them all, because in a VAST MAJORITY of the cases, the person who plays out of turn (and the person who unknowingly left an extra ball behind) DIDN’T know about it. No really. I promise you, there isn’t some vast conspiracy among all the cacophony of unethical pinball pros staying up late at night figuring out the best way to exploit all these scenarios. But what you REALLY do have all the time is a ton of players who play 12+ hours of pinball over multiple days on dozens, if not hundreds of different machines, and I promise you that every one of them will make these types of player errors at some point. And again, >99% of them won’t be doing it to gain an advantage. So going back to the initial question of the OP, “are there other arguments to be made that might have persuaded this player that the rule is fair”. The answer is clearly “NO”, because the ruling isn’t fair. At All.

All right, well, then we DQ BOTH players. Everything’s solved. Problem is it still leaves room for exploitation in that it could be advantageous for a player to on-purpose plunge an EB to DQ the other guy.

Ultimately it’s your responsibility to make sure where your position is and that the game is on that position. It really is that easy.


So just to be clear, Adam… your proposal is that anyone can play anyone else’s ball at any time without penalty?

I always feel bad when this happens but I think it is a pretty straight forward situation, no one can make you play another player’s ball. As for player A, many tournements have a delay of game rule that would cover walking away indefinitely.

I remember feeling awful in one of the first tournaments I was in. 5-8 finals, I am top seed and put up 500 on my first ball on joker poker, super happy I walk away from the machine. Next player has a really short ball and player 3 starts playing and then we notice I had an extra ball. I accidentally got 2 players DQed. I felt bad and that may have contributed to me not taking another point in the finals.

I think what sucks more are things like the multiball drain-lock-plung-DQ on fireball. People always need to be aware when they go to plung.

I find some DE and Sega’s hard because they have a skill shot screen with no player indication. Maybe left (or is it right) flip shows the scores like it does on Williams like DH.

[quote=“joe, post:18, topic:900”]
Adam… your proposal is that anyone can play anyone else’s ball at any time without penalty?
[/quote] It’s either that, or that the entire game gets restarted like the “starting the right amount of players” situation? Either way, I don’t want to be around to make the ruling when someone does exploit it.