Quoted from GrandPrix:
I was reading the rules of the PAPA tournament coming up in Aug. When you qualify do you play one game through on each machine to get your score, or are you always taking turns with 3 other players?
You play to qualify first on a bank of machines. Here is the official way "qualifying" works:
"When a player is ready to play a qualifying round entry, he or she approaches the bank of machines designated for the division corresponding to the entry. The player must select the appropriate subset of those machines to be played for the qualifying entry. The exact counts of machines in each bank and machines to be selected per entry may vary from division to division and from tournament to tournament. A typical example might be a bank of nine machines, from which five are selected for each entry.
No machine may be selected more than once on a single entry. These selections must be indicated on the player's scorecard before he or she begins play. The player then provides the scorecard to the scorekeeper for the division. The scorekeeper will indicate which machine is to be played next by the player, or will indicate that the player must wait. At no time may the player begin play on any machine without being instructed to do so by the scorekeeper.
Players may select a different set of machines for each qualifying entry. Players may not change their selections once they have been accepted by the scorekeeper, except in case of malfunction, or with the express permission of tournament officials.
The player will play his or her selected machines at the time and in the order designated by the scorekeeper. At the end of each game, the player will request that the scorekeeper record his or her score before leaving the machine. It is the player's responsibility to ensure that the scorekeeper takes down the score, and to doublecheck the recorded score for correctness.
When all games for the entry have been completed, the player must sign his or her entry for the scorekeeper, who will regularly submit completed entries for scoring. Players may not take their completed entry from the scorekeeper. "
If you qualify, which itself is quite a feat, you move on to the "point based 4 player group type rounds". These are those rounds you may have seen on the PAPA blog page at http://papa.org/blog/
PAPA qualifying can be a very frustrating and isolating experience in a lot of ways. It is just you and the machines. There are so many people having so many individual failures and triumphs, that a lot of times the event turns into more of a "camping with friends in the parking lot" experience. It is a pinball social event where I end up talking about pinball more than playing it most years.
If you want to just start playing pinball in 4 player groups, then the match play Pinburgh tournament may be a better experience for you. In that tournament, you play in 4 player groups for all games unless there is a tiebreaker of some sort.