PinFest Tournament 2019 - A Stern Pro Circuit Event


Helluva tournament this weekend! A very big thanks goes out to Corey Hulse & Jay Robinson as well as all the volunteers and game donors that help make this event such a success! The game selection was pretty good overall, and I personally would have liked to seen 1 or 2 more DMD’s.

And the Finals had a thrilling ending. What more could you ask for that the winner was decided on the last game (Little Chief), on the last ball, by the last player (Bowen). He need around 13,000 to win but got a bad bounce for a quick ball 3. Congrats to all the winners in all the divisions!


reasonable question. We did not do qualifying recording as 1. We spent most of Friday trying to see if a stream could work, so lots of troubleshooting and 2, I was the lone person responsible for the stream and was participating in the event and used the qualifying time Saturday to attempt to qualify. So, sorry, no qualifying caught on camera. May look to change that next time .


Congrats on your excellent showing, and your very considerate communication with your competition on the game you were playing.


Your final game:


All videos are now live on Twitch:


I will be re-running all of the videos live on the twitch channel today, which will run from now until 6:15PM eastern on and will try to be in the chat to answer any questions


I am curious if there is a breakdown yet about the prize payouts (and the money taken in entries). Also wondering how the organizers felt about their game-cost choice ($0 for first 4 entries, $10 for each of next 16 entries).

It was very cool to see a tournament paying 48 places. And 60+ cows!!

Thanks to all the organizers for hard work and congratulations on a huge, fun event!


Buffalo got run out of town for offering payouts about 4X this tournament.

Looking forward to seeing what the Pinball detective force digs up!

I understand it’s tough running a tournament and there’s a budget. Believe me I understand.

But I keep wondering what the point of a “pro circuit” is when there’s apparently zero standards, zero oversight, and most
Often zero participation or contribution in assistance, budget, or promotion by the circuit body itself. Is the only
Point of the entire circuit to feed funds and attention to the Chicago event?


I was not a tournament director but was part of the admin team this year. I was really happy that we were able to provide 4 free entries to all Pinfest attendees so that they would be able to take part in the tournament without an additional cost above that of the entry fee (which I think was $20 a day?).

Personally I felt $10 was rather high so it would
likely lead player to pay and play less, leaving more availability for new folks to jump in , and shorter queues.

Queues were approximately 50% shorter this year than last, leading to less wait between play, and a growth from 170ish, to 220ish players taking part.

Also, we had roughly 200+ of available volunteer hours to folks able to sign up for tech/scoring/ and setup which provided them 1 entry per hour of volunteer work (this was a attractive option for those that wanted to play more but not pay more). Finally, we added an incentive to help bring in more games to the tournament bank by offering tournament credit or a small sum to folks who provided a game for us. That gave us more than 20 games to work with for the two day event, a nice improvement over previous year.

Though the per play cost increased, it had the desired effect, by allowing more players to play, having more games available, and shortening the queues in a very, time-limited event. So, I would say I am pretty happy with the result. I cannot speak too thoughtfully on the setup of the games as I only ended up helping make sure Deadpool was set up to be difficult, and I heard the game was fast and hard but not unforgivable, which was the desired effect.


It is a fair point in regard to support. When I heard it was announced I sort of assumed Stern would be supplying a game or two for the tournament banks. I didn’t know if that was something they had ever done, but just since it had their name, I presumed they wanted their games to be featured.

I imagine the cost would be nuts to do that, and excuse my ignorance around that concept. I don’t handle the costs associated to Pinfest so I am not aware of their is any potential support
outside of the name/brand recognition and placement of the Stern website/ materials that call out the events in the Pro Circuit that astern provides to events.


Anytime a tournament is tied to a show i think its a bad idea to give “free” tournament entries to “everyone” who attends the show. It creates more work and takes time registering / explaining the process, clogs up queues, doesn’t add to the pot etc.


@ZenTron Allentown Pinfest as a show seems to serve very different audiences than other enthusiast shows like TPF. Pinfest has no talks/panels, and though it has several vendors, the primary focus of the show is a Freeplay area that also serves and a buy/sell marketplace (one of the largest of its kind).

The tournament must work then in conjunction with the show to supply a value to the show , where Pinfest could be selling to more vendors or supplying more freeplay space, the tournament serves as another incentive to get new people or just regular pinball enthusiasts in the door.

However, if you are looking at the tournament as a separate entity, your points are quite true and would likely serve the tournament well. In increasing the pot and improving the flow. That is not, however, the only thing the directors must consider.


I’m sure the SPC likes all those $5 player fees though!


The Stern Pro Circuit Tournament should be treated as a separate entity.


I estimate the total prize payout for Pinfest was over $5,000 cash, and while I don’t know the exact payout at Buffalo 2018, it was nowhere near $20,000. [Update: total prize payout was $6,200.]

If you’re talking about the individual payouts to 1st/2nd overall (etc), I don’t think it is fair to malign an event for their choices of who gets how much as a percentage of prizes. There were 60+ cash payouts at Pinfest, and it was clear in advance how those percentages would be allocated.


Hi Everyone,

I know that there has been a lot of chatter about relative costs of the event, so we are disclosing those here so as to be transparent.

Non-Monetary Prizes - $2,111
Event Supplies and Materials - $1,798
IFPA ($1 per person per event) + Circuit Fees ($5 per person in Main) - $1,407
Machine Costs for Borrowed Machines - $600
Venue Costs - $800
Total - $6,715.52

Splitting those out to the two events:
Gauntlet Costs - $821
Gauntlet Income - $1,620
Gauntlet Cash Prize Pool - $799

Main Event Costs - $5,895
Main Event Income - $11,110
Main Event Cash Prize Pool - $5,215

In addition to the cash prize pool, winners of different divisions were provided non-monetary prizes that were paid for by the event (Trophies, T-Shirts, Cows, etc.) and prizes provided by our sponsors (i.e. Gift Certificates, Translites, etc.) ~30% of the costs were invested into non-monetary prizes for the event that were distributed out to winners across the various divisions as prizes.

~20% of the cost of the event goes to fees towards the Circuit and the IFPA.

The rest is broken down into the costs that are needed to run the event. As much as we would love everyone to give everything to us for free (machines, parts for repairs, cost of the venue), we know that there are real-world costs associated with making an event like this take place.

Overall, send us feedback to on what you would like to see improved if we choose to hold this event next year. More money for fewer people? Weight the top finishers more heavily? Less non-monetary prizes? Should we remove any and all cash prizes from the event? Should we donate any proceeds to charity and remove the cash component?


Almost $4000 were spent on materials, shirts and trophies? I’m not sure I can fathom that. I appreciate what you guys do, but I also counted more than $12,000 in entrances, stopping after player 120 or so. How many volunteers got free plays and how many? Some of these costs listed seem hard to understand for me. I think polling the players would be wise. I’ve never heard of an event spending $4000 of the entry fees on shirts, trophies and supplies. Better of using that money to pay PAPA to bring games if anything.


Did you ignore the first 4 entries for each player?


Some that brought games got free entries, and there was about 250-300 hours of volunteer hours available for players to sign up for to help between Thursday/Saturday. On top of that there were volunteers that were given entries for other various support of the event either before/during/after, so hundred of free entries were rewarded to volunteers. A count of used entries won’t be an accurate count of income.

Oops - I was way off . Glad I wasn’t the accountant.


No I only counted entrances after 4 per player. After 120 players it was avg expense of $100 per player beyond the 4. Then I didn’t put effort into 120-220 assuming most were only using free and that those who did pay (I checked many did) would account for score keepers. Since I only about a dozen volunteers maybe 2 dozen I didn’t expect over $900 were free entry? I can count closer but I did check every player 1-120 and saw an avg player used many entries. I’m not even too concerned about money, but if the trophies cost $10 each and shirts $20 each, it doesn’t come close to what’s been listed here and those are higher speculation costs. I care much more about game issues and organization concerns. I’ll post about those later. Hoping the constructive criticism is taken well and utilized. Since the turnout dictates they will stay on the circuit game set up is crucial to improve on. I didn’t think twice about money until I got home and heard the winner of one of the most expensive and popular tourneys got $340. I had no plan to count entrances as money isn’t why I play pinball. We need restructuring and less trophies etc if this how much it costs to run IMO.


I’ve attempted to do a similar quick count, and here’s what I’m seeing:
~ 1250 Entries, if you subtract the four free entries per person
Looking at the actual money in the cash pool ($11,110) as disclosed above, this feels correct given the number of people who we gave credit to that brought games and offered volunteer time in exchange for Tournament credits.
If you happened to be going in order by Player Number, the people who showed up on Friday are more likely to have played more games/played more entries than those on Saturday given the limited time of qualifying.

Neither have I. But I also haven’t heard of an event that was approaching it in the style that we were: lots of non-cash mementos that are a branded representation that people can take home having accomplished something interesting (Top 25% at a Stern Event, winning a sub-division, etc.). Maybe the general populous doesn’t want that going forward? Maybe Stern Pro-Circuit Players are income-seeking so we should be removing any non-cash prizes? Perhaps we remove cash from the equation entirely and run it as a charity event where any proceeds above cost are given to a charity?

I know you’ve been on Facebook as well discussing your thoughts, so get them all wrapped up and drop me an e-mail (

That offer goes to anyone. My understanding is the Pro Circuit conducts a survey, but I am also very interested to hear from people directly who had both a good and bad experience so we know what worked and what didn’t. We’ll decide how we’re going to approach next year if we choose to do this event again.