List of Exploits that are Allowed / Disallowed in Tournament Play

Which exploits are legal in tournaments and which aren’t? It’s a question that comes up all the time.

Below is (the start of) a list of exploits which are allowed / disallowed in tournament play according to standard IFPA/PAPA rules. (Be aware that Tournament Directors may have their own house rules, however.)

This post is set as a wiki, to allow everyone to contribute to the list, improve descriptions, etc… If everyone adds a few, we’ll have a good list in no time.

This is related to the Deep cuts of semi-useful pinball knowledge thread, but is intended more to track which moves are tournament-legal and which aren’t.

Sometimes, the line between a deep rule and an exploit isn’t clear. When in doubt, put it on the list.

If it’s unclear whether something is allowed / disallowed, please discuss it in separate posts below until consensus is reached.

Name: Double Center Ramp Super Jackpot
Ruling: Allowed
During multiball, hitting two center ramps in quick succession will fool the game into thinking that the side ramp was hit, thereby scoring a double super jackpot.

Name: Free GREED Letter
Ruling: Not Allowed (with Intent)
Induce a tilt to get a free GREED letter on your next ball.

Name: Dirty Pool
Ruling: Allowed
During any multiball, immediately after destroying a saucer, shoot another ball into the saucer area. If it rattles around without going into the back of the saucer and the barrier raises before the ball comes down, you can play multiball mode with one ball. Hitting the barrier will ricochet the ball into the back of the saucer, automatically destroying the next saucer (but resuming multiple-ball multiball play). If you drain, ball search will release the captured ball.

Name: Link Shakedown
Ruling: Allowed
Shaking the machine aggressively enough can cause the Link captive ball to register, scoring progress or starting Link Multiball without actually hitting the shot.

Name: Mist Shakedown
Ruling: Allowed
When the Mist mode starts and the Mist-ball is moving on the magnet across the playfield, if you’re unable to hit the magnet off the track, it’s possible to give the machine a sharp shake to break the ball free from of the magnet. If the tilt is set loose enough and if the game is set to the normal two dangers, you’ll be able to start Mist multiball.

Name: Ten Billion Snack Bar Bug
Ruling: Disallowed
Start the 20 million snackbar countdown. Then start multiball. Then drain down to one ball in play before the 20 million snackbar would have timed out. Snackbar will restart, but will count down from 10 billion instead! Fixed in tournament rom release.


Name: Mode Select Skip
Ruling: Allowed
Induce a tilt warning while the mode select screen is up. The warning will free the ball but not force you to light an additional house before choosing again.

Name: Unlimited Ball Save in Blackwater
Ruling: Allowed
If physical locks are on, the game will not start the ball save timer (as well as launch any new balls) until all balls have been cleared from the lock. Feed balls up the left ramp to confuse the game into thinking balls are still in the lock. Also a fun way to give an operator error!

Name: Groot Triple Add-A-Ball/Lose-A-Ball
Ruling: Allowed
If physical locks are enabled during multiball, any balls added to the Groot lock between shooting the scoop for Add-A-Ball and awarding the Add-A-Ball on the display will add an extra ball into play. Any balls leaving Groot during this time remove a ball from play.

Name: Phurba Lock
Ruling: Allowed
In multiball, shoot one of the ramps. With perfect timing, you may be able to move the phurba diverter just as the ball is passing it, thereby trapping the ball against the sidewall of the ramp. You can then continue multiball mode in single ball play. Note: this can damage the machine and the TD may choose not to allow it at their specific event.

Name: Stugots Playfield Validation
Ruling: Allowed
Short-plunging the ball will allow the player to gain control and hit the standup target covering the Stugots boat ramp. The drop target is not a playfield-validating switch, so if the ball is lost down the center, it will be returned without starting the ball save. Locking a ball in Stugots will serve another ball to the plunger, allowing the process to be repeated until multiball is started.

Name: Dirty Pool
Ruling: Disallowed
During any multiball, immediately after destroying Sandman, shoot another ball into the saucer. If it rattles around without going into the scoop and the barrier raises before the ball comes down, you can play one-ball multiball.

Name: Eternally Q
Ruling: Allowed
Start Q’s challenge and before it times out, start regular multiball. Q’s challenge never times out and repeated Q shots can be made during multiball.

Name: False Powerball Super Jackpot
Ruling: Allowed
During Powerball multiball, if a ball is in the magnetic mini-playfield, shooting another ball on the main playfield into the Camera will fool the game into thinking that the player shot the ball through the top of the magnetic mini-playfield, thereby scoring a super jackpot.

Wheel of Fortune
Name: Free Spin Multiball
Ruling: Not Allowed
When you have two free spins lit on the same side, it’s possible when a ball drains to roll over both Free Spin switches which awards one ball for each switch. You will now find yourself in a “single ball play” state with multiple balls in play, which is not allowed. You will have to let one of these balls drain out.


This is awesome and a great way to learn about stuff like this. My inclination is to only list the things that aren’t allowed…seems like it would be a much shorter list and we avoid discussions about what counts as an exploit and what doesn’t.

First thing that comes to mind is stacking WHC or Wall MB with BWMB in GOT. Is that a bug, an exploit, or a feature? I’ve not heard of those being disallowed, but future code could make those stacks impossible.

1 Like

I would say go ahead and put it on the list. A few reasons…

  • If it seems “too good to be true” and you play it, but someone complains, at least you can point to Tilt Forums and say it was discussed here.
  • Listing it will allow more people to learn, therefore spreading the knowledge (note that this post is filed under Wiki Rulesheets). You don’t have to feel bad about using an exploit that is public knowledge.
  • If newer code removes an exploit, then it just won’t work anymore. We can always add a note “works on code vX.XX or earlier”.

Cue @cayle. Exploits? What exploits? It’s a skill set. :rofl:

1 Like

Yeah, he’ll have a bunch! He probably wants to keep a few in reserve, but it would be great if he shared a couple he has already played in public.

I’m pretty sure that the Phurba Trap on the Shadow isn’t banned by IFPA/PAPA rules:

In situations where a ball is trapped in a way that it can be released through player action other than shaking or bumping – for example, a ball at rest underneath a flipper or any other mechanism which the player controls – this is not deemed to be a stuck ball. Balls trapped in this fashion during multiball modes are not generally considered to be a rules violation, although the ruling will depend on the exact machine and situation.


If the bug gets fixed, I assumed they would just allow the ball save to actually count down even if balls are draining. Not get rid of the ability to stack them. That would suck.

1 Like

Well walker “nudge”


What about the Ghostbusters soft into hard plunge? Is that legal on your side of the pond?

Interesting, iirc this was allowed per ifpa rules as the player can explicitly control the ball that is being held.

More for the list:

Assumed allowed:

I500 - unlimited supers.

WD? - perma-down state of up/down gate (though, maybe game is banned now?)

TAF - 256 mansion room melt down

Totan - Harem genie battle stack and/or 3x LL

Ripleys - Invalid Multiball

Assumed not allowed, or will quickly get smack-downed:

BSD - 9X scoring

Dirty Harry - Invalid pf magna-force unlimited 10M collects.

Iron Man - That secret game breaking thing

Plus… Secret stuff.


TD: “we have reason to believe you restarted your game mid-game.”

Player: “I’m offended that you would accuse me of such things.”

TD: walks away confused …

“You can’t tell me how to use my practice time!” or “Why you no longer get a full warm-up game if someone played that machine in the Epstein cup.”

1 Like

It’s perfectly legal in our local league and tournaments. The same type of plunge also works on Aerosmith.

On certain WH20 codes, starting Whirlpool MB serves one ball to the plunger. Player can plunge, collect a river letter on the inlane, then drain. Playfield never validates. Can be repeated indefinitely for free River Class VI (6x bonus) and puny points.
Tournament Ruling?

Ruling: Throw that trash rom in the garbage.


I’d say this is pseudo-allowed; if I recall it’s banned in the case where it starts multiball in a recent rules revision.

Anything that can be obtained by tilt warning is allowed as well, although tilts with intent are not:

Name: Mode Select Skip
Ruling: Allowed
Induce a tilt warning while the mode select screen is up. The warning will free the ball but not force you to light an additional house before choosing again.

Name: Free GREED Letter
Ruling: Not Allowed (with Intent)
Induce a tilt to get a free GREED letter on your next ball.

Nudging during a fight on Champion Pub to trigger switch hits on the boxer. Allowed or Disallowed? Disallowed by the league I play in.

should be dissallowed like free genie nudges on TotAN.

Medieval Madness:
dissallowed - trap a ball between drawbridge and the castle gate during multiball

secret stuff is always allowed until someone exploits it on a big tournament under camera and the pinball community can judge, if this exploit should be legal or not.

The Creature 10B bug is setup for the next ball in play. In a multi-player game, who is the perpetrator then?

Calls for some interesting discussion.

Games where holding the ball is not postponding the ball search? Jokerz?

This is a stuck ball. No player control over device.

Always. That’s a statement. There is some gray area stuff, secret or not, where I say, the TD decides. Yeah, on deep and subtle stuff that might differ from one tournament to the next. So be it.