Questioning tournament payouts


Hmmm… Isn’t that a little naive? I mean, yes, transparency is good. And if someone chooses to be transparent, I’m all for it. But, as a matter of fact, most large sports tournaments are anything but transparent. They are run by professional organisations for their own ends, and being as profitable as possible is often one of those ends.

Why would some golf tournament, or tennis tournament, or whatever allow anyone who asks to stick their nose into their financials?

If someone wants to run a pinball tournament for profit (good luck to them!), I don’t have a problem with that. If players feel the tournament is well run, worth their while, etc, they’ll attend. If they feel that the fees are too high, or the prize money too low, they’ll stay away. If someone makes a ton of money by running tournaments, it won’t be long before word gets around and other people will join in to try and make money too. And that increased competition then ends up levelling the playing field again. Market forces in action…

So, I don’t think there is any moral obligation on a tournament organiser to disclose anything. Kudos to those who do (and, obviously, it’s essential that they do for things such as charity events). But, on the face of it, why shouldn’t someone make a profit after putting a ton of effort into organising a venue, getting machines together, promoting the event, running it, and so on? I would think that they deserve to get some money for all their hard work.


I run the tournaments at River City in Harrisburg, so I thought I would chime in. Our turnouts are small and normally only have 8 - 14 people for our monthly tournaments (We need to team up with you PinCrossing guys to cross pollinate or something since we don’t overlap).

We pay out 100% of the registration fees and typically pay 1:4 players, which is normally 3 places, at 60%/30%/10%. The only thing we keep is the kitty from free games and matches. That money pays for email / website hosting, software purchases (, photo paper for machine placards, etc.

Our league and tournaments are 100% transparent and anyone is more than welcome to take a look at our books if they so desire.

With that said, I wouldn’t have an issue playing in a tournament where someone pockets some of the fee in compensation for their time. I can’t imagine what it would be like to run an event with tons of people. They should get something for all their work.

I don’t think it’s the right thing to do when the tournament is the size of ours, but as long as it’s communicated to me upfront, I don’t have a problem with a rake.


literally, the first line of the passage you quoted was: “I don’t think the question is whether or not someone should be allowed to profit on a tournament” and then you call me naive and go on about how they should be allowed to profit.

How would the even know if it is too high or too low? The tournament that started this discussion doesn’t even disclose the payouts. Like I said, [quote=“poopdotcom, post:60, topic:2687”]
Maybe because 70% of the players are naive to the issue because they are under the impression that the payouts are done fairly and have never placed high enough to realize that they are being used to make money for the show organizers?

I think that most players are unaware that this is the case. Unless the have placed in the tournament, they have no idea what the tournament is even paying (or if they will even pay the same amount the next time). Most of them probably have a naive assumption that the payout is fair. We can assume that @jdelz is one of the players that was paid out and discovered that the tournament was paying much less than one would assume.

No one is saying that there is some moral obligation for TDs to release this information. Some in this thread go to great lengths to disclose dollar amounts for all of their expenses. I commend them for that, but I do not think it is necessary.

What it comes down to is this:
I think that most pinball players take it on good faith that the payouts are fair (though some will have differing opinions on what is “fair”) and would be surprised at the %s that are actually paid out. TDs are under no obligation to disclose their financials. They’re not even obligated to disclose payout %. However, if more players knew that there are tournaments taking >50% rake, there might be more of a demand for, at minimum, a disclosure of % (unless there are guaranteed payouts). Therefore, it would behoove TDs to at least disclose the minimum amount and let players know what they are committing to.


Full disclosure for the Western Canadian Pinball Championships and DHPL Classics Tournament for the 2017 Edmonton Pinball and Arcade Expo. All prices in CDN $$$

Classics: $1360
WCPC: $4080
VIP Tournament Ticket Sales: $2040 (valued at $20)
Total: $7480

WCPC: Restored Pinball Machine: $3500 (market value)
WCPC Cash: $2650
Classics Cash: $2100
Trophies: $882.85
Total: $9132.85

122% Payout, next year guaranteed payout pool will be increase to over $10,000 in 2018. We make up the loss in our tournaments with corporate sponsorship, Expo ticket sales, beer garden, silent auction and merchandise sales. The Die Hard Pinball League is a non-profit society all proceeds gained from the event are reinvested back into our event next year.


I have to say that you guys run a tight ship up there in Edmonton. You have a group of really dedicated people that are committed to doing things the “right” way, and it shows in the quality and caliber of the tournaments (and show). Love that you are fully transparent and not-for-profit too.

I think that if more people made the trip and got to experience what you are doing there your future spot on the PAPA Circuit would be assured. Tough to beat Vancouver this year with such a large nearby player-base to pull from at voting time.

Keep up the good work! Already looking forward to next year… :smiley:


Thanks for the kudos, we try to improve it the show every year, felt we made some great improvements to the show and to the tournament this year. It is unfortunate we took a step back by not having the resources to do the streaming, we had the all the equipment just ran out of time and manpower to get it done, something that will be rectified for next year. Not concerned about PAPA circuit would have been nice to have another recognized tournament in Canada, but all in all our tournament provides as much prizing and is just as successful as the major PAPA circuit tournaments. As long as we are spreading the word on competition pinball and people attend our event that is all that counts.


something i find so odd is that many people will go to a tournament not knowing any payout structure or guarantees at all and just keep pumping in money on entries. some of the circuit events payout less than my tournies and i get about 32 players max at my events. i take zero from the pot, not even for trophies or expenses or prizes we buy. what goes in is paid out. any “expenses” i pull from coin drop. i also pull high score per machine bounties at ROLLAPALOOZA event from coin drop, so those monies dont come from entries either. they come from our machines. Not sure if people are to apprehensive to attend in larger numbers because my venues technically have FLINT addresses, even though not in FLint …or what? machines play great, problems are fixed at once and all 100% payouts plus superb prizes on top of the cash. shoot, if we were a circuit event and had 80 players the payouts would be huge. i guaranteed 1k for first place at pinwars open and 600 classics and like under 30 players showed up…lol. also paid out other spots pretty heavy guarantees. it was guarantees plus percentage of the pot. so first paid out 1300 ish from what i recall in main and classics around 1k in the end just for 1st. to bad.




What’s the buy in for these 30 player events with 1,000 payouts? $60-70 bucks?