This type of tourney thing really is out of hand. That's why at the Ann Arbor pinball show, we advertised 200 games (actually had 210), and *none* were set aside for tourney-only use. Yes we had tournaments, but integrated them into the total mix, so there was no exclusion to non-tourney players. This de-emphasis on tournaments worked out really well for us, and for the majority of the show goers (if not *all* the show goers.)
If you look at the percentage of tourney players to regular attendees, it's like 1% tourney people. To dedicate over 15% of the total pinball game population to this 1% just seems ridiculous to us. Also making the tourneys non-WPR helps a lot too. In our situation, "normal" people won our tournaments. That is, there were no "professional" tourney people present (our payouts were low and no WPR points.) This made the tournaments a lot more approachable to regular people.
Another thing we did was really low tech, but it worked out great. High scores were posted on each machine using simple post-it notes. That way, you just walk up to the machine, and see exactly what score needed to be beat. Or heck just walk up to the machine and play it non-tournament style. Again this worked out really well, made the tourney self-running, didn't dedicate machines to just the "one percent".
Lastly we used EM and early SS games for tournaments. Emphasis on simple rules that are easy to understand (but difficult to master) again really helps bring regular people into the tournament. Using the 1990s and newer games, which are often very deep in rules, doesn't bring regular folk into tourney play.
The current show tournament thing, in our minds, is out of control. it is not helping pinball, which you would think would be the goal. Getting 'regulars' to enter into tournaments is a far better thing. having huge payouts does not promote this goal. all it does is attract professional players, which in no way promotes pinball to the masses. Having very casual, low entry fee (our Ann Arbor show tourney tries were 25 cents and no pre-registration) promotes pinball to the masses.
Again we really think shows should de-emphasis tournament play, make it cheaper and more casual. Use PAPA for the big payout tournament stuff, not shows where regular people are largely the attendees. It seems to make more sense this way, and promote pinball to the general public. Setting aside 15% of your machines for 1% of the total show population is just crazy.
I guess it comes down to this... what is the show trying to accomplish? is it the general promotion of pinball? or is the show just a mask, and it's really a high-end tournament? Not that this is bad, but it's just what you're trying to accomplish. Be clear with stated goals, and it causes less issues in the long run. If people come to a show with 150 games, but 25 of the best machines are set aside for that 1% of tourney players, what message does that convey? And are you Ok with that message? Is the show trying to cater to everyone? if that's the case, it's difficult to make everyone happy. This is why divorcing high end tourney play to venues like PAPA makes good sense. Keep the show a show, appealing to the masses, and promoting the message of pinball love wide and far. The one percent tourney people are already in the pinball corner, catering to them deters the other pinball love given to the masses. It makes no sense to cater to the one percent, if the general promotion of pinball is the goal.