PinFest Tournament 2018


We are very happy to announce information about the PinFest Pinball Tournament, taking place on May 4 and May 5 in Allentown, PA. We are proud to be part of the Stern Pro Circuit this year and as such have expanded the Main tournament to take place across both days of the event (Friday and Saturday).

Qualifying will take place all-day on Friday and in the morning of Saturday. We are still running a limited-entry best-game event, but the maximum number of entries has been increased to 24 entries a person. First two entries are still free and every entry after that is $5 an attempt.

Finals are also going to be expanded to the Top 48 people to give more people an opportunity to play in Finals. The Top 16 qualifiers will still make A-Division, but we are also including 8-person B, C, D, and E playoff brackets. The Top 48 qualifiers will all receive prizes from the prize pool.

On Friday, we are hosting a one-day Match Play event. The entry is a flat $20 fee and will include multiple rounds of group match play with the Top 24 making Finals. We are endeavoring this to be a fun and less serious side event but still wanted to give people a chance to participate in a tournament if they are only available to attend on Friday.

More information about the tournament format can be found at:

We are also in search of machines to be used in the event. Our goal is to have 20 machines available for Friday and Saturday. So far, we have a handful secured but we are looking for more. Please check out this page for incentives and how to get one of your games into the event:

We have also opened up registration for volunteers! We are looking for help in set-up, tear-down, and during the event. Please check out this page for incentives and to sign-up!

We encourage everyone to check out our website at

Please reach out if you have any questions or comments. We’re happy to answer any questions here or you can drop us a line directly at


Thanks for posting this information! And thank you for not having a separate Women’s bank! I very much appreciate that.

It looks like the Match Play event will be taking the place of the Classics tournament. Any plans to have it mostly on Classics machines to keep that element?


A little concerned about soliciting the general public for machines. QC of games has always been an issue at Allentown tournaments with lots of broken games. It’s a circuit event this year and I think it’s important to make sure the games will hold up.

Getting rid of classics this year and making it one tournament over 2 days is a good move.


I have a number of concerns but am wishing you the best. So getting rid of classics is a great move it was necessary for the success of the event. You want a 2 day circuit event with only 24 entries capping each player at a maximum of $110 per player. My first impression is that’s just going to limit how big the pot is, which hurts the event. People staying at a hotel and traveling where the pot is smaller and only top 16 qualify, I don’t see why it’s nexessary. Often in a circuit main event a lot of us spend $2-300 to play. In turn you see big time payouts. I guess that isn’t that important to everyone but I don’t see why you’d want to limit spending. Then another big time concern is east coast circuits tend to have 30 sometimes more players ranked in the top 100. Top 24 is customary. You doing top 16 with 4 other divisions does that mean any A player who qualifies 17th or worse is going to be submitted as 49th-X?! That’s not fair at all. Assuming these divisions have restrictions of course. Then also I need to read over the rules again but taking 48 finalists where their finishing results are decided by the final rounds means you need 96 players who played at least 50% of the qualifying period. Where you not to hit that this event won’t even be maximized TGP. The work around is to not have those other divisions impact final standings. Overall I was very excited to see Allentown be a circuit. Agree with Levi taking public games is bad just take games from people you know and you can test the game quality. I hope you consider more entries per player and a more common top 24 finals format. 16 is tight and $110 per player isn’t very much.


We’ve had a lot of conversations between the organizers and local players on how to approach this in addition to listening to the feedback that was shared on the other thread. What resonated with me the most were individuals sharing that that they wanted to avoid splitting focus between multiple events. When I spoke with my favorite pinball player (my wife) about the option of having a separate event, she was not in favor of it for many of the reasons cited in the other thread. We expanded conversations with other women players in the local area and found they shared similar opinions.

A big limiting factor for us is time. The Allentown Show in general is already very tight on time, so we thought it would be better to focus efforts this year on delivering an expanded main event, which includes pushing 48 people through to a finals format.

Match Play will be taking the place of Classics this year. To directly answer your question, both Match Play and Main will be a mix of eras of machines.

To share some more insight, last September we were asked to step in fairly last-minute to run the IFPA event at the York Show. We decided that we would run a Match Play event.

We roamed the show floor the morning-of and hand-selected about 50 games or so out of the ones present. We did some very quick play-testing for quality and categorized the machine in the software: EM, Solid State, or DMD. Each round was a focus on a different era. We ended up with seven rounds, going EM, SS, SS, DMD, EM, SS, SS.

Some of us who are involved in running tournaments brought five machines that were reserved for Finals. We know that quality control can be an issue with machines on the floor, so if there was a major malfunction the group would come back to our bank and play one of the five machines. Finals were a relatively straight-ahead format that were played on those machines where we could ensure greater integrity.

Overall, we had close to 50 people participate, and the overall feedback was positive and people seemed to have a lot of fun. In our post-event wrap-up we talked about areas of improvement if we were to run it again, and it includes a more rigorous basic testing of machines. For example, we had some Solid States on 5-ball and EMs on 3-ball. These are things we can attempt to suss out to make for a smoother event.

For PinFest, our goal is run a similar format. We are thankful to have access to lots of machines but know that the quality control issues may continue to exist. We’ve purposely decided NOT to attempt to max out TGP because we want this event to be a more casual event while the focus on quality remains on the Main tournament. Someone who cares solely on Main can do that, and meanwhile others who can only attend on Friday or someone who wants something a bit more relaxed can participate in the Match Play event.

I agree with your assessment around the quality control of games in years past. I want to assure you that this public outreach is NOT the only way that we are getting games. We’re working behind the scenes through private discussions to get games dedicated specifically to the event. I’ll publicly thank you and Greg here for your offer a few months back to bring a game (on the assumption that you’ll still be joining us at the event). We’re having these conversations with other owners in the areas too. The public-facing outreach is to cast a wider net for people who may not otherwise be part of our current network of tournament participants in addition to publicly sharing the incentives for bringing the games. There’s a lot of awesome machines that get brought to Allentown, and the hope is that we capture some of those people.

There is of course quality control that we have to take into account. If someone ponies up a fixer-upper game that kinda works maybe half the time, we’ll of course politely decline. I want to ensure the games are up-to-the-challenge of being part of the Pro Circuit.

Appreciate the support on that point.

Greg, I’ll attempt to address your specific comments. If I miss anything please let me know. the main crux of decisions that we have made are based on time restrictions of the event itself. Allentown is only a two-day event, so we’re trying to do the best we can in the limited time that we have available. If we had the luxury of a three or four-day event, our format would end up being more akin to what is happening in the New York City Championships.

Divisions will NOT have any restrictions. It will be the Top 48 straight-up. Your final IFPA Placement will be based on your Finals placement within the Division you qualify for.

Last year only Top 16 qualified. At the York show we did small brackets of 8 people in B and C Divisions, and people really enjoyed having the opportunity to play in a Finals format.

I’m going to need a ruling from @pinwizj because I believe my interpretation of this is different.

We are taking Top 16 in A. In terms of the “path of winning”, the only way you can win is if you’re in the Top 16 in A Division. From the IFPA Site: “A tournament must advance a minimum of 10% but no more than 50% of those players to the Final.” My interpretation is that as long as we take at least 10% of players in A, we can structure the other divisions how we see fit AND have the finishing position of non-A Finals be reflected in the final IFPA standings, especially because we are NOT restricting divisions.

There may be a point where we are forced to take more than 16 people into the A Finals. If we do, the contingency plan will have to be the addition of more players into A-Finals. I’ll take some time to codify exactly what that contingency plan is and make sure it’s reflected in the ruleset.

Our greatest challenge is time. They will literally shut the lights off on us at 8pm if we’re not wrapped up. The only variable I have is reducing the number of games per round. We elected to do Top 16 with 4-Game Rounds (12 Games Total). There is no way we’d be able to do Top 24 with 4-Game Rounds, so an option is Top 24 with 3-Game Rounds.

What would people like to see? 24-person finals with less games per round, or 16-person finals with more games per round and a separate 8-person bracket for 17th-24th? Cash and prizes are being given out to the Top 48 regardless. Open to hearing opinions on the matter.

Again, I think because time is a limiting factor which is influencing our decision to cap it. I want more people to have a shot to play entries. If we don’t cap it, we’re going to have queues that are way overcrowded on Saturday afternoon. Capping it will clear out space for others who would otherwise be boxed out by long queue times. If we had a Sunday Final and two full days of open qualifying, I would consider it lifting the cap. That being said, not for this year unfortunately.

I actually had someone on Pinside say that $110 was too much to be paying for an event, and cited Texas Pinball Festival and Pinburgh as less expensive options. I’m going to copy/paste some of my response to that here to share my overall thinking.

I have observed two types of best-game qualifying events: Unlimited (like PAPA and the New York City Championships) and Limited (Texas and PinFest).

For Unlimited, there is no cap to the number of times (and the amount of money one can spend in an attempt to qualify). PAPA A-Division and the NYC Championships are both $5 an entry (or 3 for $12 if you buy in bulk at PAPA). Your limiting factor is time, but you can easily shell out a lot more than $110 in an effort to qualify.

For Limited, there’s a few different pricing models. Texas is $70 and you buy all 20 entries at once (unless I have misinterpreted their model). They also cap the number of participants.

I am not of the belief that the majority of players are going to max out their entries. At a minimum, you need to spend $10 to qualify (2 Free and 2 Paid) to get your four games in. Will some max out their games? Yes, of course. Yes, you could spend all day Friday and Saturday playing and pony up $110, but my guess is that most people will end up falling somewhere in the middle. Our model attempts to offer flexibility based on their own limitations whether it be time (i.e. I can only show up on Saturday) or their own self-imposed limits on how much they are comfortable with spending.

In past years, what I have observed is that people are going to buy in at the minimum and then watch the scoreboard. If they need to do better, they’ll hop over to registration and throw another $5 or $10 in just like in an Unlimited Qualifying scenario, but eventually you’ll hit you max number of games. We put a cap in place because we know that there’s there’s a premium on time because of the limited amount of time at the show. In past years, we ran 4 hours of qualifying for a one-day event and capped the max number of games at 8. This year we’ve tripled the amount of qualifying time and think that 24 is a comfortable cap.

What I also think is that just because you as an individual are capped doesn’t mean that someone else is prevented from playing (and paying $5 into the pot). My assumption is that we’re going to have a fairly constant queue the whole time. The only way we “lose” contribution to the prize pool is when a machine sits there and goes unplayed. I would also argue that a lot of these top players who are willing to drop lots of cash are going to play much longer games than the average player, which means the “dollar contribution per minute played” of a experienced player like yourself is going to be much less valuable than the average player off-the-street.

My assumptions are that we’re going to have constant lines right up until the close of qualifying, meaning that we won’t lose out on much contribution to the prize pool. If I’m wrong and we have large swaths of time that the machines sit there unplayed and 100+ players sitting around because they’ve all done their 24 entries, then we’ll take the lessons learned and change it up for next year.

I also want to share some of our goals of getting new players into competitive pinball. We’ve picked up a large number of new players in our local leagues during the years because they just happened to have stumbled upon the PinFest show and joined the tournament. It’s a low barrier of entry to meet the minimum requirements of qualifying ($10 and 4 games), and what we get are a number of local players who discover competitive pinball for the first time and start showing up at local leagues and tournaments.

Happy to address any other questions that people have; please expect a delay in reply for the next 24 hours as I deal with some work things in addition to a leaking hot water heater.


You have this 100% correct Corey. Our focus is only based on players that can “win the tournament”.


Thanks for the thorough response. Look forward to the event.Even though I hope to make A knowing anyone can win B makes it seem a lot more fair. You’re also right it helps make it take less time. If everyone does spend $110 it’s good payout - but that is unlikely. Will payout structures by division be posted in advance?


I know @coreyhulse covered this, but I want to add my perspective as a participant. IIRC, the winner of last year’s Main tournament took home $750 and that was with a limit of 10 (or 8?) entries. Personally I’m happy for the limit because it was hard enough to get all entries played due to the line length.

How many machines are planned for the bank this year?

Not directly related to this event, but this is a portion of the rules I don’t fully grasp. What constitutes the qualifying requirement for the pump-and-dump format? If it’s best 4 scores, does that mean 4 scores is the qualifying requirement and therefore to be included in the results submission a participant must record at least two (or qualify for playoffs)?

This is an interesting choice. Are you not concerned about sandbagging? If all 48 finalists will get a prize of some sort, will the difference between what’s awarded between the divisions be sufficient enough to discourage someone from performing poorly (or maybe just not putting in as much effort) in order to face off against weaker competition?

It’s great to see that you’re giving the organization of the tournament so much thought and I appreciate that you’re being so open about the process. Looking forward to attending!


I agree; I can appreciate what other events do in terms of restricting who can qualify for B Division, but for this event I wanted to make qualifying fairly straight ahead. What I also hope to have organized ahead of the event is promotion for all sorts of other local events, and I would include the NYC events on that list. “Did you enjoy this event? Well, here’s a listing of 20 other tournaments and leagues coming up in the next few months so you can PLAY MORE PINBALL!”

We intend to publish the prize percentages ahead of the event, and at least a month out. I’ve been doing research into how other events have structured prizes, in addition to looking at things like poker tournaments and e-sport events.

I’ve got a few different spreadsheets going in terms of the percentages that I have been modeling out. Megan, I share your concern about potential sandbagging. My goal is to make, as you said, “difference between what’s awarded between the divisions be sufficient enough” so as to discourage bad behavior. The lion’s share of the prize money will go to upper divisions.

Aiming for 12 machines. Could be more. Could be less. Could be a bank of 12 Stern Stars machines.

I believe that that this correct. When you have either a limited or unlimited Best Game Format, participants need to either play 50% of games -or- score high enough to qualify for finals. In our case, in order to be included in the Final IFPA submission, you need to play at least two games. Last year the rules were different (with gradated percentage requirements based on the number of participants), but this year they’ve been simplified.


I’m in for 12 Stars machines.


Yup, found the relevant section in the WPPR Rules for others who may be wondering as well (highlight added by me):

Change log for 2017 (v5.3)

  • For any IFPA-endorsed tournament or league with a qualifying portion, players can only be included in IFPA final results if they have met at least 50% of all qualifying requirements. Any players that don’t meet this minimum participation requirement should be removed from the results by the tournament director (TD) prior to submitting those results to the IFPA. For example, a Best Game qualifying format where 10 machines are available with the best 7 scores counting towards the player’s qualifying position, any player that plays fewer than 4 machines will be removed from the standings submitted to the IFPA. For leagues, this means that players must participate in at least 50% of the sessions of the regular season to be included in the final standings submitted to the IFPA. For Direct Play events with no “finals” the entire tournament will be considered part of the qualifying requirements. For events with more than 50 players, this percentage will be based on the number of participants. For example, a tournament with 75 players will only be allowed to submit results where a player participated in at least 75% of the qualifying requirements. Any tournament with 100 players or more can only include players that have participated in 100% of the qualifying requirements. Players that advance to the final round despite not meeting this percentage may also be included in the final standings submitted to the IFPA.


Back when I was involved pre-2013 or so the machines that held up were the ones I brought from my basement and the organizer (Brian’s) machines. The ones we got from people that should know better always arrived about 5 minutes before the show opened, didn’t work, and we had to fix them right away just to make them playable.

The best year was the one Brian rented a box truck and we brought over 13 of my games.


This is what we do at pintastic. We bring all of our games from the sanctum so we know everything is vetted and reliable when we get there with them. First year we rented a 27’ box truck. Fits exactly 27 machines. It’s a bunch of work renting a truck and bringing them to the next state north but it saves so many headaches later.


I can agree with the sentiments here. Some of the machines will be coming from mine and Jay’s personal collections, in addition to the collections of some our local players in and around the scene here.

Not sure what you had available in years past, but we’re able to access the show floor practically all day Thursday and in the three hours before the show opens on Friday and the intention is to have as much as possible set up and ready to go when they kick us out on Thursday night.

This is a cool approach. Do you shut the Sanctum down for the weekend? Going to try to make it to Pintastic for my first time this year.


The Sanctum isn’t open on weekends. We are open mondays so we shut down usually the monday before and the Monday after for break down and setup days. We are a facility with 47 machines so if we are bringing a dozen games it also wouldn’t kill us if they weren’t back up and running immediately. Whatever I have at home rotating out from there is fair game too as it’s all up to same caliber.


I also helped Ivan haul his stuff over and help vendors/free play registrants with their setup. So pretty much the whole day Wednesday as well, although I don’t know if he still does that. Sometimes I really miss living 3 miles from the show…