What can Texas do to improve tournament quality?

What can Texas do to improve tournament quality? We seem to have a bad reputation with regard to smoothly run events here.

TPF or events in TX in general?

I have no suggestions either way, because I just have second-hand info to re-hash.

Both, mostly TPF

Hey now… there are plenty of Texas events that have run very smoothly.


Darth, which TX events have you been to?

You haven’t lived until you’ve played in the garage gauntlet! Seriously though we were holding a lot of great tournament’s in atx. Now that the new wppr system is in place the previous enthusiasm to run tournaments has diminished due to the number of players that attend our tournaments in Austin. We’ve got plans to hold a circuit event in Austin next year which will be ran by Austin BCPC folks with the papa circuit crew’s help so I would expect that to be a great event with an equally great turn out. Looking forward to that! TPF has a deserved reputation for being a cluster F and has been for years. It has improved greatly over the years. I hope that this most recent fiasco doesn’t discourage them from continuing to improve their tournaments.

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I can understand TPF’s desire to have a lot to do – unfortunately that also means there is a lot to do for the organizers. My top piece of advice would be to make things much simpler. Having one smooth-running tournament is preferable to having six that don’t run smoothly.

I think some of the specific decisions TPF makes are around giving casual players and short-time-commitment players some tournament experience. This is a great thing to be doing, but it’s lost in the formats: someone walking up to the TPF tournaments won’t know what is happening and what they should or shouldn’t be doing to play.

Dave Stewart @dbs runs the tournaments at the Northwest Pinball and Arcade Show, and they use a match-play format where people sign up for a time block, come and play some matches, and they either advance to last-day finals or are eliminated. It’s a clear time frame, and it’s guaranteed play for a fixed entry fee. Feedback has been very positive.

So what I would recommend is this:

  • The main event is a one-per-hour or one-per-two-hours match play tournament. People sign up, they play a number of games against opponents, and if they do well enough, they advance to play in finals on Sunday. You could run these all day Friday and Saturday, and let people sign up in advance or live for a time slot. This will be great for novices and people who don’t want to spend all day waiting in line to play games repeatedly.
  • If not this, just in general: start with match play, not best-game qualifying. There are enough machines in the TPF tournament area that this should be more possible for them than for most other events.
  • Run one, or at most two, of the unlimited-qualifying events, and treat them as side events.
  • If running an event over two days where you’re trying to “split” the two days, really split them completely: qualify 16 on day 1 and 16 on day 2, for example. Very few players understand what is going on with a two-day composite total, and those players are going to qualify anyway.
  • Use off-the-shelf software solutions like those from Karl or Adam. This will make the event easier to run, and both of these solutions include live web updates so players can track their progress. Reducing the number of potential fail points is big, especially when it comes to organizers’ sanity.

I don’t have much experience with other Texas events besides the Pinballz event in Austin, which generally went well though wasn’t the match-play event that was originally proposed.

Lastly, be sure to thank the organizers profusely. It’s freaking hard to run a tournament, and then if it’s not well-received it really sours organizers on wanting to run more events, and gives the impression that tournament players are jerks.


I’ve played mostly TPF and other DFW events, and Houston once. Did play the PAPA event at Pinballz, and that ran well (although that’s not really fair as Bowen was there to help run it so of course it ran well).

Maybe I’m saying Texas when I actually mean DFW, although the one time I went to Houston it was pretty chaotic.

I think the TPF running multiple tournaments on several banks was ok. Similar to having papa and classics running at the same time. Maybe 5 seperate tournaments was over doing it a bit. The part that caused the most confusion was taking the top 5 qualifiers of each day and giving them byes. Some tournaments ending qualifying early evening on saturday didn’t help either. Three banks with finals on sunday and normal qualifying would have worked out imo.

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When I get home from Texas I have some things to provide the TPF directors that will help with some of the little things that can make a big difference.

Biggest thing is when delays occur to let players know when to come back, and not every 15 minutes. I tried to help by putting up status signs that said when to come back, but they got taken down so players could see where they were in the playoffs. That will help in the future along with some other things. I also have a machine settings checklist that will help in getting them ready.

The other big thing is drop the “everyone wait to start next round for the top seed so they have first choice of game.” I think there is enough experience out there that can prove that causes more delays than just waiting for a game to open. When I noticed there were six or more matches ready to go and everyone sitting around, I told Robert to just start them and he agreed, games started and players were visibly relieved. Sitting there watching all machines sitting unplayed is what makes disgruntled players.

I guess I should also mention we TX tournament players are partially responsible for how the TPF ended up, DOH! The tournament organizer asked in a open FB forum what format to run and I’m almost positive my response was something like “The one that gets us the most WPPR points DUH!!!”


Two years ago, at my first TPF, I was woken up by my phone being blown up by people telling me that I had qualified for the B division “wizard” playoffs at 9AM. Apparently, the wizard qualifiers were announced at 3AM because I had wondered around the TPF floor for about 2 hours after the floor closed to the public and had a drink or two enjoying what was the perk of bringing a game to the festival, getting free rein on the games on the floor after it is closed to the public. I went back to the tournament area and saw that people were busy with that. Nothing was posted anywhere. Didn’t think I would need to ask someone if I was qualified for a playoff that I had no idea how I was doing, because there were no standings posted for hours. This is the TPF where a very early WOZ was in the bank and several non-tournament players were willing to pay whatever it was just to play WOZ, so they had a backlog of WOZ entries to enter into the VB spreadsheet thing. I asked Marcus what happened the next morning over by his laptop. He told me that I indeed miss the playoffs, didn’t apologize, and ran off to the EM bank. I asked Ken if he wanted help with software next year. I didn’t hear anything back.

Now, from what I heard this year, things have not gotten better, they have gotten worse. Several new players are afraid to speak up in public with the several longstanding issues that happened this year. Maybe what I heard isn’t true and people are just spreading false rumors, in that case, I don’t want to hear them.

The thing is, DarthXaos, you can run your own tournament if you want, and, if you don’t know how, you can help someone run one. I don’t see how a tournament where one guy runs everything could ever be considered quality.

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Thanks for clarifying. Sorry you haven’t had the chance to join us for any other events than the PAPA Circuit event

In Austin, I’d say all of our events have run smoothly over the last couple years. The first Bat City Open ran a bit long – being our first time running that.

If you get the chance, please make the trip over to Austin for one of our events.
And I’m also very much involved with helping Marcus and TPF continue to improve their tourneys.

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can you get some collectors or vendors to sponsor tourney players? NASCAR it up!

I moved to Texas in September last year. For the most part, the tournaments have been absolutely fine and a pleasure to play in.

TPF is a separate matter entirely. My opinion is that for a tournament of that magnitude and importance, there should be more people involved in the planning. I would like to see Marcus put together a small “committee” (for lack of a better term) of experienced tournament players/directors to consult with. Hindsight is always 20/20, but I’d like to think that a lot of the things that went wrong could have been avoided if someone would have been around to say “no, that is not going to work!!”