Yellow Cards, behavior and penalties


i would agree, there is some understanding to people feeling frustrated when loosing. This did not seem abusive or aggressive though i think it may be fairly subjective to the TD, time and place?


Yellow card was for this:


Yeah, saw that. Not all that egregious to me.

Attempted a save. Didn’t hit the machine and said the F word. I’m being told this is more about the comfort level of people and perception of the sport than anything else. I see a leg kick while walking away just as aggressive as that. Let’s not pretend that any kids at the event haven’t heard that word before and (having an 8 and 2 year old) they will more likely see that and a leg kick and mimic the kick over the curse word (as they already know mom and dad don’t accept that).

If we are going to put white gloves on the sport then we need to put white gloves on.

Have I done that before. Yuppers. Do I feel good about it when done, nope. Your in the heat of competition and sometimes emotions get the best of you. This isn’t an “anger” issue not to mention people are raised differently. I was raised southern Baptist so you can imagine that cursing was not allowed at my house, while other houses, it’s not that big of a deal. But that to me is broaching on being overly sensitive.


The red card should have immediately been given after this :slight_smile:


I’m starting to agree. I wouldn’t want this to become golf where we don’t want any emotion in the game at all.

Now think about sports like baseball, widely considered family-friendly, and some of the outbursts players and managers have.


The EPC18 organizers posted a video of a Future Spa game from 2012 Circuit Final as part of the lead-up to their event, and it happened to contain a minor leg kick. Given the side angle of the player cam, you can see it clearly. My personal opinion: it’s not egregious enough for a yellow card, and did no harm to the pin, wasn’t abusive, nor do I think it created any kind of unpleasant environment.

If a TD is particularly sensitive about slight leg kicks, lock down bar slaps, etc, then they could simply address with a private verbal reminder/warning to the player. In the instance linked, for what it’s worth, I wouldn’t even do that, because it wasn’t severe. From how little the PF moved in the BPSO instance, they both seemed comparable.


I have noticed players who I think probably regularly do kick bang backs on location who will do the same motion in tournaments. I don’t know for sure if they are pantomiming (and so the kick is soft), or if they delay so that the bang back is not a rules violation.


I’m putting on my Historical Perspective guise here. Back “then,” you couldn’t give machines really hard shakes, let alone slide saves, without tilting, often ending the game. Now, we have tilt “warnings” that allow players to exert significant force on the machine while letting them continue play. Given how much force I’ve seen applied to games as now-legal moves, I find it most hypocritical to say someone should be penalized for striking a machine in frustration with less force than the player they lost to used during game play (slide saves in particular). Most players have an instinctive restraint mechanism that keeps their hand-slaps to the lock-down bar / cabinet / whatever from being severe, much like movie actors have learned to pull their punches. (Besides, if you hit too hard, you could injure yourself!) I’m inclined to be relatively tolerant of such behavior when it appears to be simple (and brief) venting with not-over-the-top force rather than visceral anger. Yes, there’s a line not to cross, but I’m aligned with the posters here who think people can be too sensitive. Better that people should vent briefly and be over it than do something more severe later. As always, each TD is free to set their own boundaries based on their personal, location or participants’ needs and expectations; I just don’t want them so tight that we expect players to be emotionless robots. Disagree? Fine, but then take away the slide save.


Just take away tilt warnings and you’re good to go :slight_smile:


I don’t think any of the three videos recently posted would deserve any action by a tournament director. If we want to contrast ourselves with major sports, here’s Carlos Gomez (presumably no relation to George) rationally discussing a bad call with a Gatorade cooler. No penalty or ejection was issued for this. Skip 30 seconds to see the actual carnage.


I don’t think the pro sports comparison is a perfect analogy. Pinball players aren’t getting paid millions of dollars performing in front of thousands of people who have paid to watch them for entertainment. It’s usually at an arcade with many people who don’t even know a tournament is happening. They aren’t paying to watch me play. And I’m sure they don’t give a shit that I drained my ball. Poor behavior in public projects a negative image of the pinball community in general and likely pushes away people who might otherwise be interested in it.

Also, look where that baseball player is. He’s in the dugout. He’s not yelling at the umpire, or getting physical or agressive on the field of play. That doesn’t excuse it, but if I go into my car after a bad ball and scream and break my rearview mirror, that’s much different than yelling obscenities and punching shit in a public place and/or right next to my competitors. If he had picked up a base and thrown it, or kicked dirt at an umpire he would have likely been (rightly) ejected.


Remember when pinball was considered a ‘bad boy’ image?

It doesn’t need to be cricket


I can almost guarantee you that people watching someone have a meltdown over a game with cartoons on the backglass aren’t thinking “wow that guy’s a bad boy”. They are likely thinking a number of other things.


I posted the video just to provide a contrast between the ‘bad behavior’ in the three most recently linked and relatively mild pinball videos. Not as an endorsement of smashing things in anger. I would argue that the dugout is a very very public place and that smashing a cooler should be seen as an implicit threat to the umpire. In my opinion this should have been an ejection. Also, perhaps you watched the video without sound, but from the crowd reaction I’m 95% sure he was on the jumbotron when he delivers the uppercut to the Gatorade dispenser.

Also I think we might be projecting a bit on the general public and perhaps not giving them the benefit of the doubt. If I see a person playing miniature golf, baccarat, jai alai, hopscotch or Jenga swear or kick something after losing or making a bad play, my first thought isn’t “wow, I bet the miniature golf, baccarat, jai alai, hopscotch or Jenga communities are toxic places and my image of those games is now tarnished”. It’s just that some dork lost at a game and is being a bit salty. I doubt very many people have been put off of pinball by single isolated incident of bad behavior and if anything it reflects on the player in question, not the hobby as a whole.

At Northwest Champs I saw a player after draining say “you stupid f*#@” very calmly to himself, at a normal volume. It kind of threw me off my game a bit, but only because I found it amusing. Perhaps even a little adorable.


Have you ever been to someone’s house for the first time that has pins and for whatever reason, you didn’t want to nudge, let alone slide save a game? Maybe they games were all collector quality and all had toppers, maybe the games were too close together, maybe the homeowner seems different somehow, whatever. You just don’t want to nudge. I have. Worse playing experience ever. I can restrain myself, but it’s not fun.

When I first started operating games, I cringed when somone shoved one of my games. Eventually, I got used to it. I would still give league members shit when they did, but it was light hearted. No yellow cards.

I wonder if some of our new TD’s are like new collectors or operators? More concerned than they probably should be when a game gets shoved or smacked.

Much like George Carlin cut the ten commandments down to one, I think I can get pinball behavior rules down to two:

  1. Don’t be a dick (including swearing around young kids)
  2. Don’t hurt anything or anyone

Lastly, can someone please post a link to Trent’s epic chair kick? I looked all over for it and couldn’t find it. I really enjoyed that kick and these other videos are way too tame.




For me, this is absolutely not the case. I’ve only been a TD for about 3-4 years, and I am against some of the behavior that has become commonplace solely because it’s uncalled for, unsportsmanlike, and it makes others uncomfortable and turns new players off to the game. Also it creates bad habits for newer dedicated players too.

I don’t want pinball like golf. But when I hear a loud outburst, I want it to be for someone blowing up the game and the people around them are having a great time and cheering them on for it. I don’t want to hear some adult baby screaming about god knows what and slamming on the game after a drain.

I’ll give the game hell to save a ball, and congratulate someone that pulled off an amazing slide save. It’s not that I think raging tilting and pounding the glass/lockbar with your fist is going to break the game (even though is possible), it’s about being a good sport and helping make the tournament welcoming and fun for everyone.

Until we get to the point where every top player is making millions and millions are paying to watch them play, I don’t think it’s too much to ask to break some of these pointless stupid habits.


of the examples shared recently, i didn’t find any of them very egregious at all. i don’t think anyone’s looking for a blanket ban on swearing, expressing frustration, or touching the game after the ball drains.


Like “I can’t wait to get on the internet and talk about this!!” ??


It’s very difficult to physically damage a machine with bare hands/legs. Short of picking the machine up and throwing it over, or kicking in the coin door, I’m much more likely to hurt myself than I am to hurt the machine. The machine is built to to take a lot of abuse, and a slide save or hard nudge to try and save a ball won’t damage it. Let the tilt bob rule.

The problem isn’t so much any damage I might do to the machine, IMO, but what my behavior might do to the mood of the tournament and the vibe of the event. It’s not nice for other people to watch someone having some obscene outburst, or hitting a machine, or swearing at full volume, or kicking a chair, or otherwise carrying on. Puts a dampener on everything.

I have, on occasion, hit the lock bar after a bad drain. Not really in anger, but more in a “dang, that really went wrong” kind of attitude. It’s surprising how, sometimes, a hit on the lock bar (that definitely will not do any damage) can result in a huge bang. If the force is just enough, and the glass is a little loose in the tracks, the pane of glass jumps up a fraction of an inch from the impact, falls down again, and then acts like a giant speaker membrane, massively amplifying the noise, even though the actual hit was quite light.

My point is that there is no need for a “holier than thou” attitude. People transgress occasionally under stress. Usually, only mildly so. That is normal, and human. If we come down on mild transgressions like a ton of bricks, we’ll turn people off, just as we would by tolerating intolerable behavior. There is a middle ground that most people will intuitively agree with. Moreover, there is only so much change of behavior that can be achieved by forcing people to adhere to some set of rules. Beyond some point of “unreasonableness”, people will walk away from competitive pinball rather than change their behavior.

Pinball isn’t golf. And, even in golf, there is some lenience towards people losing it. Someone who bends or breaks a club doesn’t get disqualified. Instead, they get to play the rest of the round without that club.

I’d issue a warning for things that make me seriously uncomfortable. The odd swear word doesn’t fall into that category for me. A kick to the leg of a machine (because the kick was symbolic and barely registered) doesn’t either. Screaming the f-word at full volume while kicking a chair across the room, or doing a ten-inch coffin drop on a machine is over the line, IMO. That’s a definite warning. But, for an instant red card, someone would have to do something truly egregious; certainly a lot more than just swearing loudly or hitting a lock bar.