Player Changing Language on WPT To Spanish During Finals

Here’s an interesting question about an incident that occurred during our Point Monsters Championship tournament last weekend.

The game chosen was World Poker Tour. Player one, “as a joke,” he said, changed the language to Spanish before ball one by holding down a flipper button when starting a game. Normally as tournament director, I start all games and put on the four players for all finals matches. In this case I was attending to another group, and by the time I saw what was happening players were on their second ball.

After the game one of the players complained, saying that he felt he was at a disadvantage since he couldn’t translate the on-screen progress for Ace In The Hole multiball. His complaint was simply in passing, and wasn’t pushed. My take is/was that he should have mentioned something before he plunged, or trapped up and called me over if the language change was a real issue.

And as to the player who changed the language? I admonished him that what he did wasn’t really very funny, and it might under different circumstances have resulted in a yellow card.

I think you handled it exactly right. The only other way to go would be to have a posted house rule that says that any Spanish WPT games are void and will be restarted, or to disable the language select option when possible.

See also:
Selecting Blinder mode on Tommy :unamused:
Selecting Super Game on Judge Dredd :unamused:
Selecting Lyman’s Lament on Monster Bash :unamused:

I’m sure there are others. :unamused:


One event that I was at did have an card saying play Super Game.

Doghouse did the right thing here. All of this was the players at fault. But it brings up a bigger point.

Game settings should never be chosen by the player. In other words, you can’t unilaterally decide to play Isla Nublar in Jurassic Park just to run up your score or force other players into a game variant they’re not comfortable with. The penalty should be an instant yellow card, and the entire game voided for all players.

Although it should go without saying, pinball is a worldwide sport, and different players have facility in different languages. A universal language for all games should be decided upon before the tournament begins. IFPA rules state that an interpreter may be used to explain rulings (III. Section 9) but that accommodation cannot and should not extend to game play, as this would be coaching.

The player who chose Spanish was beyond wrong and should have been yellow carded. Only one other player in the group was fluent in Spanish. That gave that player a distinct advantage over non Spanish speakers. The player who failed to speak up violated the basic rule of competitive pinball: if you see something unusual, raise your hand and ask.


and what if an game can have language per player?

If a ruling must be made, and the tournament director cannot interpret the language on the screen in order to make the appropriate call, that puts the TD at a disadvantage. That’s why a universal language for all games should be determined at the beginning.

Game settings should never be chosen by the player.
Yes but pick an song (per player) is not an game setting and that needs to be written in an way so that some can’t just say on AC/DC YOU MUST PLAY TNT.

Pool Sharks says “hello.”


Hi Joe. That is not really what I’m saying. Game settings determine what type of game is being played. Is it Isla Nublar? Is it AIQ’s wizard mode? Etc.

When the standard game is started (as determined by the TD), then what the player does within the game is fair game. But they don’t get to customize basic settings.

Song modes, what targets you hit, etc, are part of standard gameplay. Choosing to play in a foreign language that maybe only you understand or choosing to play Isla Nublar when everyone else is playing the standard game creates an uneven playing field.

This sort of thing happened multiple times at Pinburgh, including the specifics of language selection (on a Stern POTC).

Since the game was not started properly it is void. No penalty, but start over, the same way you would if the wrong number of players had been set.

In event prep we tried to eliminate all such choices, but it’s not always possible to do so.


As promised, here’s a video (highlight) on Twitch I just broadcast.

I watched your video and I agree on the first two rulings, but the third is BS. That was a legitimate save. Comparing it to a deathsave is crazy. One move to the left, one move to the right, whatever. The reason a deathsave is illegal is because it brings the ball back up from a certain drain. This was just a shove to save the ball from an outlane. Also, stating that the legs would certainly have come off of any rubber feet? How? How would you know? The answer is you don’t.
I don’t mean for this to sound harsh. I just would be really pissed if I got a yellow card for a legitimate(and successful) attempt to save a ball.


Except Pool Sharks. It’s built into the programming after the start button. Choose your player order wisely!
As TD, you could also post/specify which pool game should be chosen by P1 for all games.

I should have read all the posts before making mine. lol

@normaj : First, thank you for all the work you did to provide a quality and engaging comp stream of Point Monsters! You did a marathon of excellent commentary and production. Really cool info-graphics you produced that you inserted at relevant times based on which game was being played and which players were playing it.

Second, I agree with @LOTR_breath: making or attempting a slide save to alter a ball’s trajectory is completely legal, and governed by the tilt bob, or by the rubber feet if you have rubber feet installed. It’s in the Player Conduct section of IFPA rules:
“Tilt sensors are employed to determine what constitutes unduly rough handling of each machine, within the parameters of normal play. Abusive handling such as punching, kicking, lifting, tipping, or rocking a machine, or hitting the glass in any way, is grounds for a warning and possible disqualification of game or ejection from the tournament, at the discretion of Tournament Officials.”

Third: comments on yellow cards. They are, of course, at the discretion of the TD’s, though Stone’s indecent language outbursts during finals seemed more than worthy of one. Also, in part of your commentary during Final Four group, you mentioned you would only give a verbal warning, explaining that you would have approached Eric and said something to the effect of: “Because we know you… you’re only getting a verbal warning for this.” I think this is a slippery slope: as TD’s we need to adjudicate consistently across players regardless of their relationship with TD’s, other players, the venue, or their ranking, etc. This can be difficult to do, but we must.


Love this type of discussion, especially with accompanying video clips and TD commentary. I think it’s super helpful to put rulings like this out in the open for everyone to learn from, so thank you for putting in the effort.

That said, I completely echo the sentiments from @LOTR_breath and @Snailman with regards to the warning on that slide save. That move is completely within reason and if the TD doesn’t want to see something that aggressive the tilts need to be tighter or have the debounce time reduced. Citing the rubber foot rule without actually having any in place is absolutely bananas. If I got a warning for that I would voluntarily withdraw myself from the tournament and avoid the TD’s future events unless they made it clear their policy was revised. Hopefully you take the responses here as constructive criticism and rethink your reasoning behind that particular decision.


It doesn’t seem like those games have rubber feet on them either. Always best to use those imo. Whoops you already said that sorry.

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The Avengers save looks totally legitimate to me. The ball didn’t even make it to the outlane yet and even if it had looks totally legal. I was under the impression that a deathsave was after the ball rolls down the outlane switch and is rolling on the apron you lift the flipper and shove the game one side then the next. This just looks like an outlane save. Hoping it didn’t have a major effect on the outcome of the tournament :frowning:


The Avengers save is totally legitimate…if you don’t want someone moving the machine to make a save put it on rubber feet or tighten the tilt, not cool to punish the players for playing within the parameters of the machine.


A death save is a way to get the ball back into play after it has gone down an outlane. That move was not a death save, and totally legit within the confines of the tilt bob and (lack of) rubber feet.

Agreed on your other rulings.