(Topic ID: 43776)

Texas Pinball Festival tournament disaster and how to prevent it in the future

By concernedplayer

6 years ago

Topic Stats

  • 198 posts
  • 54 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 6 years ago by pinballrebel
  • Topic is favorited by 3 Pinsiders


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    #16 6 years ago

    5:00 AM!! Jeez that's insane.

    #59 6 years ago
    Quoted from ninjadoug:

    Admission fees should support the show cost. Tournament entry fees should not be used to offset the cost of running an event, besides things directly tournament related. Just my opinion, though.

    Yes, I agree that things directly tournament related should be covered by the tournament, but I also believe there is a big double-standard along these lines. For example, are the seminars also tasked with paying for themselves? Many shows foot the hotel bills and pay the appearance fees for speakers, but are you required to pay an extra $5 or whatever for each seminar you want to attend?

    On the flipside, I wish top players would make themselves more of a draw to shows by doing seminars or coaching, however, I don't entirely blame them for not doing so. Herb formats are relentless and you can expect to spend the majority of the show grinding entries. Even top players typically have to grind because your seed is so important in the finals with byes and double byes.

    At PPE this past year, entry was capped at three plays of each machine. The most a player could spend was $40. Several competitors remarked they decided to participate because it wasn't a pump and dump, and several pump and dump veterans remarked it was nice to actually have time to enjoy the show. I didn't expect such a format would go over well with players but there were a lot more compliments than complaints.

    #61 6 years ago
    Quoted from pinballrebel:

    Not all 250 people entered all events. To make matters more interesting all pre paid guest of the show get a tourney ticked in their packet. This was done to ensure people who just wanted to play Woz got to do so...though we still recorded their scores. That is on the list to change for next time. A free play non scored card instead.

    On the surface this sounds like it could be a mess. You'll get a lot of people who come over to play Woz and say they have no interest in the tournament, so you let them play their scratch game. Then they come back an hour later and they've changed their mind and want their score to count. Stupid stuff like that.

    I run the tournament at pin a go go and I intentionally keep it to one day (for other reasons as well) because if there are a-list pins in the tourney lineup, they can be played casually on saturday night after the tourney and all day sunday. But if the show organizers told me that in addition to running the tourney I had to deal with a mob of non-competitors so they could get their turn on some game in the middle of a tourney, I'd tell them they were nuts. That's like letting some guy in his civic do a lap at Daytona while the 500 was in progress. It just creates a bottleneck for the players who actually are there to compete. And you can bet on a new game like woz, they'll want as much practice time on it as possible.

    Others are right though - knowing the code is unfinished on woz it should not have been in the tourney. I actually threw x-men out of my own x-men launch party because at the time the code was too buggy (we were promised the updated code but didn't receive it). We ended up using other games instead and made x-men a side tourney.

    #62 6 years ago
    Quoted from phishrace:

    What percent of the entry fees were paid out at PPE last year?
    I didn't attend specifically because too much was taken off the top in past years. IMO, competition should be celebrated at a pinball show. Not profited from. Competition is the heart of the hobby.

    I don't know. The year before (when I ran it) it was 75%. The 25% actually did not even cover the room rental, we later learned, so no one was profiting, just offsetting some of the costs.

    However, for the record I have no problem with anyone making a profit off a pinball tournament, in fact, I wish they would. People don't run the PGA or World Series of Poker out of the kindness of their hearts and if competitive pinball wants to get to the next level, people will need to get paid.

    Likewise, competitors can easily spend 1k on a flight, hotel and entries for a tournament, and they expect a professional job, and yet these events are wholly run by volunteers (who often get treated like crap, btw). The scale of these events and peoples' expectations are steadily diverging from what's possible given it's all volunteer-run.

    #67 6 years ago
    Quoted from Zaxxis:

    It's a catch-22. If the tournament profits and offers low payouts, then less people play, especially out of towners, which typically dump more into the tournament.
    This is why I don't mind if the tournament organizers and volunteers also play in a tournament. It's completely unfair to expect high or 100% payouts and not let those people play for the time and energy that they put into running it.

    A big part of the money would have to come from sponsorship, but what a lot of people don't realize (and probably one reason why it hasn't happened yet) is that big sponsorship requires a lot of care and feeding, business-savvy and salesmanship, all of which happens behind the scenes and takes a lot of time and energy. Sponsorship is, in a way, a natural product of a successful PR campaign, and that's also a lot of time and effort - before someone sticks a Marlboro logo on your shirt and a paycheck in your pocket, you have to be someone the public wants to see. I don't see someone pursuing all that without being funded or without knowing that they can reap some of the reward down the road.

    #82 6 years ago
    Quoted from goatdan:

    Where are these people who just take and run tournaments? I've been offering to pass the MGC Tournament off to volunteers now for two or three years, and no one has stepped up to take it over.
    If there is a bunch of people waiting in the wings that can run these professionally and free to the venue, I'm sure that I and multiple other show organizers would be ready to take them up on the offer.

    I don't know Dan. I mean, when I ran the tournament at PPE I spent about 100 hours preparing/planning for the event. I also used up three vacation days. The three days of the tournament were about 14 hours each, mostly on my feet.

    I am shocked SHOCKED that no one wants that job. I think you're not looking hard enough. I get dozens of emails every day from hot babes asking if they can volunteer and maybe shower with me. And I say "okay, but no kissing on the lips unless your wppr rank is better than 500."

    #92 6 years ago
    Quoted from phishrace:

    No one wanted the PPE job because they were taking too much of the tournament money. If you gouge the players, you shouldn't expect them to help you for free. Most all shows require the player to purchase a weekend pass. That (and rented booths) is where shows should make the majority of their money. Not off the tournament.
    CAX has a great all volunteer crew every year. If a show takes 10% or less of the tournament (prize) money, guys will step up and run it. For free. Does the MGC take 10% or less? Including things like trophies, copy fees, etc?

    PPE definitely had a rep when I took the job, but it doesn't change what Dan said: very few people who have the background/experience needed are willing to do the massive amount of work to pull off a good tournament. If you do a good job, you get paid in 'thanks'. If things go off the rails, you get this thread.

    #94 6 years ago
    Quoted from alveolus:

    I would love more information about any available tournament software. Or from anyone else for that matter. Thanks

    There is another thread with some tournament software. I haven't tested it live yet. I might use it for a small event I have planned in April.


    For single or double elim up to 32 players, I use this:


    Works great but make sure to save occasionally.

    If you have an iPad you can try brackelope. http://brackelope.com/ The upshot with it is players can check their standings live on their phones/pads.

    Adam Lefkoff has some slick software that I have used many times and is perfect for Herb format qualifiers. The configuration is a little more complicated and I'm not sure if he intends it for public distro. Bowen probably knows more about its current dev status.

    If you do a standard PAPA final format (3 games with 4-2-1-0 scoring) there is no software that I know of. We always do it pen and paper, which works out fine because it's not a lot of work.

    #125 6 years ago
    Quoted from Troz:

    My software will be ready for public consumption too in the coming months. I generally don't toot my own horn, but I thought it went very well at INDISC (http://www.iepinball.com/neverdrains/2013standings/) and received a number of thanks and compliments from various people for it. Web-based system with mobile scorekeeping (iPod/iPad/Android/WHATEVER). Zero paper, instant score postings, less frustrations, etc. More hardware/software requirements than anything else though so setup is trickier.

    Thanks - I'll have to check this out!

    #126 6 years ago
    Quoted from pinballrebel:

    I gave up my vacation days to run this event for folks. I do it because I love the hobby. I had zero complaints from tourney players in side tourneys that did not award wppr points. Those tourneys are just for fun and the players were excited at getting to compete. I must balance the needs of non professional players with those of people in it for the points. That is why I created three divisions two years ago to keep professional players from stomping all over the locals who just wanted to have fun.


    It's a shame there were so many problems, but it takes a lot of guts to run an event of this size and I'm personally aware of the sacrifices that are involved so I still tip my hat to you for your effort. And as you said, this was a blip in an otherwise solid track record.

    #131 6 years ago
    Quoted from pinballrebel:

    I do have experience running tourneys 2013 isn't my first rodeo. However, never ever have I been hit with all the issues that hit at the same time on this one. How many have you ran? Have they all been perfect? How many hours would you like to volunteer to help so it runs smoother next time?

    In this case, you're both right so I wouldn't argue over it. It's just a sucky situation.

    I did a tournament at PPM and *everything* went wrong. It was like a malfunction every 10 minutes, it seemed. A guy named Chris fixed everything as it happened, including a couple MacGyver fixes to just keep the games limping through qualifiers since we didn't have the parts. Every game had a major malfunction except one, and all were relatively maintenance-free before the event. It was just bad luck.

    I was so grateful for Chris' help I gave him one of the prizes - a translite. Then someone stole a translite so I was one short. He didn't end up getting it till this past weekend, and the tournament in question was six months ago.

    #173 6 years ago

    Poker chips or even score sheets can be used as a queuing system. You write the players' names on each chip and they use it to queue up for their next game.

    The simplest way to do it is to get a large sheet of butcher paper and draw a line and then a circle, like this:


    The person running the queue places the player's poker chip on the line starting from right to left. The player currently playing is placed in the circle. This way, all players can get a feel for how long the wait is for each game and choose accordingly, as opposed to constantly asking (and distracting) the score keeper.

    #179 6 years ago
    Quoted from Wolfmarsh:

    Love it.
    Realistically, any tournament software should manage the queue. There is no reason why there isnt a big LCD showing the current queue for each machine, and giving estimated wait times.
    Pretty easy to calculate if you are entering scores as people stop playing.

    I tried to find some cheap/free queue software, but no dice.

    #189 6 years ago
    Quoted from Sc1f1:

    Arguing with Bowen about tournaments really???

    Just looks like a discussion to me. And anyway, Hal Erickson told me that Bowen "certainly doesn't walk on water like everyone thinks."

    On this particular point I more agree with Bowen, though. The aurcade system would work better with games with fairly linear scoring, where you have to work for every point. Avatar is sort of like that (though I admit I don't know the end game rules at all). Games like Fish Tales or Dracula wouldn't work, although, I'm not a big fan of those games for tournaments anyway. I guess my point is you would need to be extra particular about which games are used.

    I don't like that first and second are given bonus points under the papa system but I don't hate it, and have used it before. A runaway first place score will lock in the number 1 spot, and I guess I feel that's a windfall of points and a big advantage right there. On the other hand, bonus points keep top players gunning for the top spots even when they're more or less guaranteed to qualify, so in that sense it's good for the prize pool. It just feels like a little too much when combined with a double-byes finals format.

    Another issue with that system is I feel you need a lot of players (PAPA obviously doesn't have this problem). The fewer the players the more unbalanced it is. At my very first tournament I ran, the variation I used was to give every place 1 point, so if there are 20 players, 1st gets 20, 2nd 19, etc. (You could argue that last should get zero, so you could start at 19). However, 1st place got 10% bonus points and 2nd got 5%. So with 20 players, first place got 2 bonus points and 2nd got 1 bonus point. So the bonus was always sized by the field.

    #192 6 years ago
    Quoted from phishrace:

    Well at least Hal doesn't talk about other people on internet bulletin boards.

    Yeah, helluva guy.

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