So I've been to about 9 IFPA tournaments now. My last one was a very instructive trip, and has motivated me to write up a bit about it, at least how I'm going to do it from now on.
Pinball Tournament tips
- Bring a waterbottle. Many places don't have drinking fountains or offer bottled water. Most places have bathrooms with sinks . It will get hot.
- Eat right. Most venues have "burger, fries and beer/Coca-Cola." If you're trying to eat healthy, don't expect them to encourage it. BTW - some of the best up-and-coming players eat healthy. I had lunch with a player who has gotten first at a few tournaments and we both did a salad at Subway. I've found I play better after eating a salad or soup at Whole Foods. Your call, of course.
- Bring cash. Most places want cash.
- Over 4hrs drive? Try to find a place to stay. You'll be happier, but your pocketbook won't be.
- Locations will often be warm, jam-packed with machines, surrounded by sweaty stinky nerdy socially-stunted financially-rich men with few places to walk. It's not pretty. Dress appropriately and be kind to others. Keith Elwin wore shorts to Pinball Expo in cold Chicago in October, and he's from sunny California. Do what you need to do.
- You being there means you probably *are* a sweaty stinky nerdy socially-stunted financially-rich man, and that's okay (Note: the above description *does* describe me ). But try to rise above it: cut or use product in your hair, shave or trim, smell nice, wear clean clothes. Everyone will like it, including yourself. Women will give you hugs (true story - happened to a guy when I was at Pinball Expo - sadly not me ).
- Most pinball tournaments are organized by unpaid volunteers, regardless of venue. Treat the volunteers kindly - they like pinball as much as you do. It goes a long way.
- Because tournaments are volunteer-run, don't expect everything to go swimmingly and have appropriate breaks for food etc. Be prepared for the unexpected and the mismanaged. I don't mean this as a slam on the people running the tournament; it's not intentional, just the nature of how things go. Props to Hilton Jones, who has bucked this trend and was highly organized.
- Noise? Listen to music from headphones or wear earplugs.
- Really follow the Pinball Etiquette section from Pinball 101. As silly and old-timey as it is, many people fit the stereotypes. I've met Jazz-Hands Jeff and Annoying Al. They also tend to appear when you least want them to, like during finals.
- When someone is playing, don't touch their machine. At all. Did it once, and pretty sure it ruined my reputation with that player, especially when later I showed up at his own tournament and he was a complete Annoying Al to me. I messed up. Corrolary: apologies and forgiveness make the world go round.
- Do get drunk if the tourney is at a location with beer. That way I will beat you. Seriously though, don't get drunk. It heavily impairs your ability to play well. I started playing just 8 months ago, and have beaten many drunk players who are far superior to me when sober.