General Rules

  • Player plays 3 balls per game, or 5 balls for specific games
  • Extra balls off in private locations, on and playable in public locations (exceptions will be explicitly announced)
  • Have Fun!!!

Most Frequent / Common

  • Any game that has begun without the proper number of players will be voided and restarted, regardless of number of players or balls played.
  • Playing another player's ball results in disqualification of the player that played out of turn.
  • Loss of ball due to major malfunction results in another ball on another game added to player's original game score.


  • 4 strike knockout until next round will result in less than 8 players
  • Players play one match per round versus another player
  • Loser of that match receives a strike
  • Once a player receives 4 strikes, they are out of the tournament
  • A random player will receive a bye for a round with an odd number of players
  • No player may receive a second bye until all remaining players have received a bye
Game Selection and Order
  • Swiss method is used, so players with similar strike counts will be paired together
  • Balanced method is used, to help avoid rematches and players on same game repeatedly
  • Players will flip a coin to determine choice of play order.  Winner chooses to play first or last.

Play-In Game

  • When the field has been reduced to 9+ players, with the next round resulting in fewer than 8 players, a play-in game will occur
  • If the next round will result in exactly 8 players remaining, the play-in game will not occur
  • All remaining players with 3 strikes will participate in the play-in game
  • The number of spots available will be announced to all players
  • If 4 or fewer players remain, they will play one random game
  • If more than 4 players remain, they will play the same random game.  The first group's scores will not be disclosed to the second group of players until their game has completed.
  • Players will be seeded based on when they received their first strike

Brackelope Knockout Example

PAPA Format Example


  • PAPA finals format
  • Each group plays 4 games
  • Points awarded for each game: 1st - 4 pts., 2nd - 2 pts., 3rd - 1 pt., 4th - 0 pts.
  • Total of points for all 4 games comprise a player's score
Round Structure
  • Semi-finals comprises two 4 player groups (see chart if less than 8 players)
  • Top 2 players from each Semi-Final group advance to the Final round
Game Selection
  • Top seed in group has choice of game bank or may defer and choose order in first game
  • Next seed in group has choice of game bank if top seed did not select it, or may defer and choose second order choice in first game
  • 3rd seed and 4th seed have remaining choice of game bank if not chosen
  • Note:  A player may not choose the same game bank in semi-finals and finals
Game Order
  • First game: depends on who chose game bank
  • Remaining games: last place in previous game has first choice of order, followed by 2nd to last, and 3rd to last.  First place in previous game receives last remaining order.
Match Tie-Breaker
  • Top seed of tied players has choice of game or order
  • Winner advances or claims higher finish if in Finals round
  • Note: a game may not be chosen from the same game bank as the tied players played
  • Players will be seeded according to their number of strikes
  • The fewest strikes results in the highest seed, starting at 1
  • Play-In Game players will be seeded last, and in order of their play-in game finish
  • Semi-Final groups use this initial seeding
# Players Group Seeds  
8 Group A: 1, 4, 5, 8 Group B: 2, 3, 6, 7
7 Group A: 1, 4, 7 Group B: 2, 3, 5, 6
6 Group A: 1, 4, 6 Group B: 2, 3, 5
tie-Breakers for Seeding

Ties will be resolved per the following in order:

  1. Round when first strike was received (highest seed goes to player that received first strike later)
  2. Round when second strike was received
  3. Round when third strike was received (if play-in game not needed)
  4. Head-to-Head results
  5. Coin flip or card draw for more than 2 players

Pinabler Tour Format


  • Play at one or more locations each month (your best location score will count)
  • Modified Herb best game format, only your best game on each machine counts
  • Scoring on each game: 1st - 100, 2nd - 94, 3rd - 91, 4th - 90, 5th - 89 ... 94th - 0
  • Bank of 4 games, play any or all as many times as you want
  • Best 3 games count toward total score for a player
  • Each game awards points compared to other player scores
  • Unlimited attempts over the entire month
Game Malfunctions/Removal

If a game breaks or is removed from the location, the scores will either be voided or retained, and another machine may be added depending on when the game is no longer available for play

  • If no longer available before the 20th of the first month, all scores will be voided and another game added to replace it
  • If no longer available between the 21st of the first month and the 10th of the second month, all scores will be retained and another game added to replace it (effectively making the tournament a best 3 of 5 instead of 3 of 4)
  • If no longer available after the 10th of the second month, all scores will be retained and no additional game added
Recording Scores
  • Take a 'selfie' picture including the score display and yourself
  • Submit via the link in the Pinabler Tour page
  • OR - send picture to director from email link in the Pinabler Tour page
Extra Balls
  • Play all extra balls
  • Unfortunately, due to the nature of the selfie tournament, major malfunctions cannot be ruled upon and no additional balls awarded
  • Play another game

Select Game to Record Score

Game Scores

Upload Selfie and Enter Score

Overall Standings


  • PAPA finals format
  • Top 2 qualifiers at each location are auto-qualified (unless less than 5 players)
  • Remainder of field filled from remaining top players at each location (see matrix)
  • Each group plays 4 games
  • Points awarded for each game: 1st - 4 pts., 2nd - 2 pts., 3rd - 1 pt., 4th - 0 pts.
  • Total of points for all 4 games comprise a player's score
Round Structure
  • Top 2 players from each group advance to the next round
  • Players with a bye in first round, join in on the second round
  • See Round Structure table for details
  • Players will be seeded according to their final qualifying score compared to all other final scores at all locations
  • Only a player's high qualifying score will be used, other scores at other locations will be ignored
  • If a tie exists for a player with scores at multiple locations, the tie-breaker method will be used to determine which location is used
  • Players that are seeded below the location threshold (see table) will not be eligible for playoffs
  • Ties are broken based on highest individual game scores
    For instance: a player with a 100-point game, 90-point game and a 89-point game will get the bye compared to a player with two 94-point games, and a 91-point game
  • Next tie-breaker uses the 4th game that was not part of the overall score
  • Last tie-breaker is a random coin-toss or pick from a hat if more than two are tied
Awarding Byes
  • The top 4 or 8 players based on seeding receive a bye, if applicable
Game Selection
  • Top seed in group has choice of game bank or may defer and choose order in first game
  • Next seed in group has choice of game bank if top seed did not select it, or may defer and choose second order choice in first game
  • 3rd seed and 4th seed have remaining choice of game bank if not chosen
  • Note:  A player may not choose the same game bank in semi-finals and finals
Game Order
  • First game: depends on who chose game bank
  • Remaining games: last place in previous game has first choice of order, followed by 2nd to last, and 3rd to last.  First place in previous game receives last remaining order.
Extra Balls
  • Play NO extra balls, MUST plunge during finals
Match Tie-Breaker
  • Top seed of tied players has choice of game or order
  • Winner advances or claims higher finish if in Finals round
  • Note: a game may not be chosen from the same game bank as the tied players played
Number of finalists caveat

Number of participants in finals is subject to change based on IFPA constraints.  If less than 24 players are in the tournament, the number of finalists will be adjusted to 50% of the total number of players.  For instance, if only 21 players compete, then the total number of finalists will be 10.  If more than 120 players are in the tournament, the number of finalists will be adjusted to 10% of the total number of players.  For instance, if 129 players compete, then the total number of finalists will be 13.

Finals Field Size

Playoff Field Size based on number of locations

# of Locations Tournament Size Byes
1-2 8
3 12 Top 4
4 16
5+ 24 Top 8
Round Structure

Finals Round Structure based on number of players

# of Players First Round Quarter Finals Semi Finals Finals
8 n/a n/a Two groups Final 4
12 n/a Two groups
Bye - Top 4
Two groups Final 4
16 n/a Four groups Two groups Final 4
24 Four groups
Bye - Top 8
Four groups Two groups Final 4
Location-to-Player Threshold

Max number of finalists based on players at locations

# Players at Location Max # of Finalists from Location
1 to 4 1
5 to 8 2
9 to 12 4
13 to 16 5
17 to 20 7
21+ 8
Prize Structure

Prize Structure based on number of players

# of Players 8 12 16 24
Pintervention Fund $50 $60 $60 $80
1st $60 $90 $100 $160
2nd $30 $60 $80 $120
3rd $20 $30 $50 $80
4th n/a n/a $30 $40
Total $160 $240 $320 $480

Pintervention Championship Circuit Format



The Pintervention Championship Circuit is a series of pinball tournaments promoted by Pinholics Anonymous. This document specifies the official operating rules and regulations of the Circuit. The Circuit coordinator is Kevin Stone.

There are nominal fees required in order to participate in the overall Circuit. Pinholics Anonymous Periodic Meetings fee is $100, other stand-alone tournaments are $50, and selfie tournaments with no entry fees similar to the Pinabler Tour are $20. 

The Circuit Final also has a $20 entry fee for players participating in the finals. These fees comprise the championship tournament prize pool.

Circuit Events

Players who place in the top 20 at any of the Circuit events will be awarded tokens for the Circuit standings. All remaining players will receive 5 attendance tokens.

Points and Rankings

Each Circuit event will produce results indicating its top 20 players.

In the event of a tie, which may occur when an event does not clearly distinguish each of the top 20 positions, the tokens available to the tied players will be averaged, and any fractional point will be rounded up to the next whole token, for each tied player.

Only the best ten results of each player will be credited to his or her total for the Circuit standings.

Note that all Circuit events are worth exactly the same number of tokens. This tokens system is predetermined and not subject to changes during the Circuit season.

Tokens are awarded to each player as follows:

Rank Points
1st 100
2nd 75
3rd 60
4th 50
5th 45
6th 40
7th 35
8th 30
9th 28
10th 26
11th 24
12th 22
13th 20
14th 18
15th 16
16th 14
17th 13
18th 12
19th 11
20th 10
21st+ 5


The Circuit Final will feature a group of pinball machines selected by officials. Machines outside this group may not be selected for play. Officials may make machine substitutions as they deem necessary.

Qualified Players

Final Circuit standings will be determined promptly after the last Circuit event. Any player in the top 40 of the rankings will be invited to the Circuit Final. The tiebreaker for the 40th position will be determined by whichever player has the highest finish in a Circuit event in that season. If a tie remains after a single event, the next highest finish will be considered. This process will proceed until the tie is broken, or a coin flip is required.

Qualified players will be notified promptly by Circuit coordinators. If a player cannot attend, their opening will be filled by the next highest seeded available player who has participated in the Circuit. Players who do not attend will not receive any prize from the Circuit Final.

Rounds One and Two

All players will be grouped by seed into ten groups of four players. Each group of four players will compete on four different machines, with the highest seeded player given the choice of choosing the game to be played or determining order of play. At the end of the four-game round, two players will advance out of each group into the second round, which will function similarly to the first.

Both of these rounds will use the PAPA Finals format, with the only differences being the number of four-player groups competing and the use of four games per round in the Circuit Final instead of the typical three used in the PAPA World Championships.


Round 3 consists of a series of four-player games. The first game is played by the four lowest-seeded players. The highest-seeded player has choice of machine or order of play. Choice proceeds through the remaining players in descending order of seeding.

The player who has the lowest score is eliminated from the Final, and receives the appropriate prize. The next lowest-seeded player, who has not yet played, is added to the group for the next game.

In each subsequent match, the highest-seeded player (who will be the player who just joined the group) has choice of machine or order of play. The next choice is given to the winner of the previous game, and choice proceeds in descending order of score on the previous game.

No player may choose the same machine more than once, but any player may choose a machine already played, including the most recent machine played. Officials may remove any machine from consideration at any time.

Players will compete until two players remain. At that point, a best-of-three match between the final two players will take place to determine the champion. The highest seeded player has the choice of machine or order of play for the first game. From that point forward, the loser of the previous game has the choice of machine or order of play.

Operational Details

Each player participating in the Circuit Final must provide a cellular phone number where they can be reached. Exact times for each round are not guaranteed. Any player who is missing when his or her round is set to begin will be allowed no more than 5 minutes to appear. Play will then continue, with balls being plunged for any missing player or players.

Collusion and deals are not acceptable in the Circuit Final.


The Circuit Final features a variable package of monetary prizes based on circuit event fees collected and Circuit Final entry fees of $20 per player.  A location fee of $50 and trophy costs of approximately $50 will be subtracted from the prize pool.

The winner of the Circuit Final will also receive the title “Pinholic of the Year”.

Finish Payout
1st Place 25% and trophy
2nd Place 15%
3rd Place 11%
4th Place 10%
5th Place 9%
6th Place 8%
7th Place 7%
8th Place 6%
9th Place 5%
10th Place 4%

Malfunctions and Rulings

The Nature of Pinball

The unique charm of pinball lies, in large part, in the physical nature of the game. Unfortunately, this means that unusual events and outright malfunctions cannot be prevented, nor can they be perfectly compensated for. Pinholics Anonymous attempts to strike a balance between compensating for malfunctions and accepting the physical nature of the game.

In certain cases, malfunctions will be dealt with more strictly during final rounds than during qualifying rounds, at the discretion of tournament officials.

Minor Malfunctions

A minor malfunction is any incident without external cause which deviates from the normal course of gameplay, without directly causing a player’s loss of turn and without providing any player a significant advantage over others. A minor malfunction is considered part of normal play. Tournament officials shall determine what constitutes a significant advantage; in the event that such an advantage is obtained, refer to “Beneficial Malfunctions”.

A minor malfunction that occurs repeatedly, to the extent that it is markedly affecting play of the machine, may be considered a major malfunction at the sole discretion of tournament officials. If a player receives a tilt warning caused inadvertently by another player’s action, please see the “Player Errors” section for how that situation will be handled.

Major Malfunctions

A major malfunction is a gameplay problem with a machine that results in the premature loss of ball in play in a fashion that is not a normal feature of the machine’s gameplay. These may be unusual one-time events, or they may indicate a recurring problem that will need to be addressed by technicians.

Examples of major malfunctions include:

  • The bonus count begins while the ball is still in play. This can happen if, for example, the machine loses track of how many balls are in the drain trough.
  • A flipper or other major playfield feature ceases to function.

Note that unrepeated physical failures, such as kickbacks or balls jumping off ramps, balls flying over flippers, or balls moonwalking into the outlane following a successful shot do not qualify as major malfunctions. This is the physical nature of pinball.

Any malfunction that results in the loss of one or more balls during multiball play, without losing all balls so as to end the player’s turn, will only be considered a minor malfunction. Loss of any lit feature, running mode, or other gameplay specifics, shall not be considered a major malfunction. Loss of Tilt warnings, without loss of ball, shall not be considered a major malfunction. If the loss of Tilt warnings was caused by another player, please see the “Player Errors” section for how that situation will be handled.

Should a player lose a ball due to a flipper not engaging when the flipper button is pressed, or due to a flipper sticking in the held position when the flipper button is pressed, they should immediately notify a tournament official. The tournament official will attempt to recreate the problem by pressing the flipper button for up to 3 minutes. If the tournament official is able to recreate the problem, this will be treated as a Major Malfunction. If the problem is not able to be recreated, this will not be treated as a Major Malfunction and play will continue. If the game is in multiball play and one or more balls are lost as a result of this kind of issue, possibly ending multiball but not ending the ball in play, this will be considered no worse than a minor malfunction.

When a major malfunction occurs, it is the player’s responsibility to notify the scorekeeper, calmly and promptly. The scorekeeper will request advice from a tournament official. If the official(s) agree that the incident is a major malfunction, one of the following steps will be taken, in order of priority:

  • If the machine’s software supports adding balls to a game already in progress, a tournament official will add a ball to the game in progress and the affected player will complete their game. All other players will continue to play their game as normal, without skipping a ball.
  • If the major malfunction cannot be fixed without resetting the machine, the player’s score will be recorded and their game will be terminated and restarted. The affected player will continue their remaining balls on the restarted game and their score from the aborted game will be added to their total. For example, if such a malfunction occurs on Ball 2 of a 3-ball game, the player will be given two new balls on a restarted game.  In multiplayer games, all players will receive the same compensation.
  • If the major malfunction can be fixed without resetting the machine, the player will be provided with one additional ball of play at the beginning of a new game, after the current game has been completed. The player’s total score on the additional ball will be added to his or her previous score, and the new game will be terminated.

Tournament directors may allow the player to play ball 3 or 5 of the new game, if that player has been denied certain features that are freely awarded by the machine. Examples of this include ‘Double Bonus’ balls on many EM machines, as well as pity Mist Multiball on Dracula should the player have not yet played one. The player’s total score on the additional ball of play will be added to his or her previous score, and the new game will be terminated. Tournament directors may attempt to re-establish the state of certain game features at the time of the Major Malfunction if the tournament directors feel this has a material impact on the results of the game/match in play. An example would include reaching Super Bonus on Bally games that carry this forward for future balls.

In the event that two or more major malfunctions take place during the same game, the current scores of the player(s) will be recorded, and the game terminated. Once the machine has been repaired, players will be provided additional ball(s) of play on a new game, as necessary to provide the correct number of balls of play for each player. In the event that a recurring major malfunction cannot suitably be repaired, the failure must be treated as a catastrophic malfunction.

Under certain specific conditions, a major malfunction may be declined by the player. This must be approved by the tournament official, and must not result in a situation which provides an unfair advantage to the player.

Known Malfunctions

Any malfunction or unusual behavior that is determined to be relatively minor but unusual enough to merit comment may, at the discretion of tournament officials, be posted for players to be aware of before playing the affected machine. Players who have played the machine before this notice is provided will not be allowed to replay the machine nor to replace it with play of another machine. The occurrence of any posted malfunction will be treated as a minor malfunction unless it worsens or interacts with another feature to yield a major malfunction.

Catastrophic Malfunctions

A catastrophic malfunction is any event, not caused by a player, which immediately ends play for all players on the machine.

Examples of catastrophic malfunctions include:

  • The game system crashes and/or resets due to a software error or component failure.
  • Power is lost or interrupted.
  • A new game starts.
  • A major malfunction repeatedly recurs in spite of attempts to repair the machine.

Any event caused by a player, intentionally or unintentionally, including Slam Tilts, is covered under “Player Errors” below.

When a catastrophic malfunction occurs, if the scores are able to be recorded, players will be provided the appropriate number of additional ball(s) of play on a new game once the machine has been repaired. If the scores are not retrievable, players will be forced to start their game over. No attempt will be made to estimate scores, or reestablish state, at any time.

If a machine affected by catastrophic malfunction cannot be repaired in order to continue play, it is considered disabled; please see “Disabled Machines”.

Beneficial Malfunctions

Any malfunction which provides at least one player with a significant advantage over any other player competing on that machine is known as a beneficial malfunction. Tournament officials shall determine what constitutes a significant advantage.

Any beneficial malfunction which results in a player being able to continue play of a ball that normally should have ended is normally allowed once per game. Examples of this would include an unexpected software ball save or a ball that comes to rest on an unlit kickback in the outlane (which will lead to a ball search, kicking the ball back into play). Any such behavior shall not be allowed if it repeats, meaning that tournament officials may require players to allow the repeatedly-saved ball to drain, or play on the machine may be terminated in accordance with catastrophic malfunction rules, at which point repairs may be attempted.

For situations where a ball goes through the drain trough area without triggering the trough switch, and is spit out into the plunger lane as the same ‘ball in play’ will be immediately placed in the drain. This mostly occurs in EM machines, and early Williams Solid State machines. For situations where the playfield isn’t yet valid (typically this is a minimum switch count or some sort of scoring having been made), players will be allowed to continue play as normal. Please contact a tournament director immediately should this situation arise.

Any beneficial malfunction which provides one or more players with a significant scoring or strategic advantage in a way that is not part of normal gameplay will void the score of the affected player(s), unless all immediately-affected players and tournament officials can agree on a suitable adjustment of the score or other elimination of the advantage. If the beneficial malfunction has been specifically avoided by the player, it is unlikely that a penalty is necessary. If any player score(s) are voided, the affected player(s) may then replay the game after the other players have finished, and the new score(s) are used for the affected player(s).

Examples of beneficial malfunctions would include a jackpot switch that registers when a different target is hit, a valuable switch that scores repeatedly without the ball contacting it, a failed Tilt sensor, or a ball stuck during multiball. See also “Stuck Balls”, below.

Any situation which indicates the presence of a beneficial malfunction should be brought to the attention of the scorekeeper promptly, who will alert tournament officials. Any player who intentionally takes advantage of a significant beneficial malfunction may be given a warning and/or have his or her affected entry interrupted and disqualified by tournament officials.

Stuck Balls

During the course of play, it is possible for one or more balls to become stuck on a playfield feature, usually after becoming airborne. If this happens during single ball play, the player must wait for four automatic ball searches to occur. At the discretion of the tournament director, the forcing of a ball search to be triggered can be waived. This is for situations where inducing a ball search has adverse effects on the current game state. The expiration of any timed feature during this period is not considered a malfunction.

If the stuck ball has not been freed after four such searches, or if the machine is not performing searches for some reason, the player must alert the scorekeeper, and a tournament official will be brought to the machine. The player must remain alert and at the machine, as he or she is responsible for the ball if it becomes freed at any point. Where possible, machines will be configured with “chase” features disabled, so that additional balls will not be released into play as a result of ball searches. However, in the event this occurs, the player is responsible for continuing play, and a suitable malfunction will only be ruled if the machine is unable to function normally from this point forward.

A tournament official may initially choose to try to free the stuck ball through judicious nudging, tapping, etc. The player must remain ready to resume play at the machine during this attempt. If actions by the official result in a Tilt, this will be treated as a major malfunction (not the fault of the player). If the official frees the ball but the player does not successfully continue play, this is normal play (the fault of the player). Loss of Tilt warnings due to tournament official nudging is considered normal play.

If the tournament official is unable to free the stuck ball, the machine will be opened, and the stuck ball freed and placed either in the plunger lane, or on the upraised flipper of the tournament directors choosing, with the flipper button held by the player. In the event this is not possible, the official may select another location or feature where the ball can be placed safely while the machine is being closed in order to resume normal play.

If more than one ball is stuck, all freed balls will be placed on the flipper(s) of the tournament director’s choice before play resumes, or in the plunger lane if the flippers are inactive while the machine is open.

If the ball is inadvertently freed while the machine is open and drains without the player regaining complete control (stopped on a flipper), this will be treated as a major malfunction. If the machine cannot be opened successfully, or if opening or closing the machine terminates the game(s) in progress for any reason, this will be treated as a catastrophic malfunction. If the ball is freed and the machine closed without the player’s loss of ball, play continues as normal. If the game is in multiball play and one or more balls are lost as a result of freeing stuck balls, possibly ending multiball but not ending the ball in play, this will be considered no worse than a minor malfunction. If any feature or mode that is lit or active times out while one or more balls are stuck, this will not be considered a malfunction.

Any player who chooses to shake or bump the machine in order to free a stuck ball does so at his or her own risk. No allowance will be made for a player who tilts while attempting to free a stuck ball, whether or not tournament officials are present.

If a ball becomes stuck during a multiball mode, the player should attempt to trap the other ball(s) in play and request assistance. A stuck ball during multiball often represents a significant beneficial malfunction, and intentionally taking advantage may result in a penalty. Please note specifically that a ball ending up in the plunger lane during multiball on a machine where there is no autoplunger (or where the autoplunger for some reason refuses to fire) counts as a stuck ball, and the ball must be plunged by the player. See “Beneficial Malfunctions” for further details.

Any player who misuses a game feature in order to intentionally trap a ball during a multiball mode, such as holding in the plunger on Tommy in order to defeat the autoplunger, may be given a warning and/or have his or her affected game disqualified by tournament officials. Please note that intentionally causing ball searches is also prohibited (see “Delay” under “Player Conduct”).

In situations where a ball is trapped in a way that it can be released through player action other than shaking or bumping – for example, a ball at rest underneath a flipper which the player controls – this is not deemed to be a stuck ball. Balls trapped in this fashion during multiball modes are not generally considered to be a rules violation, although the ruling will depend on the exact machine and situation.

Any ball that comes to rest in an outlane, where any portion of the ball is below the outlane post, is not deemed a stuck ball. In these instances, players will have the option of attempting to free the ball themselves or to ask a tournament official to place the ball in the drain for them without triggering any additional switches.

A ball which has come to rest on top of a center post, an inlane-outlane post/guide or a lamp insert/playfield divot directly above an outlane will not be considered a stuck ball. Players may choose to free balls resting in these positions through nudging of the machine, or request that an official end the ball in play by manually placing it in the drain for center post incidents, and the outlane for inlane-outlane incidents. If an automatically-triggered kickback exists that will send the ball back into play upon draining it in the appropriate outlane, that feature will be manually triggered, and the ball will be treated as a stuck ball from that point and placed on a flipper or other suitable location. Player-controlled kickback features, such as mini-flippers, posts, or manually-controlled kickbacks that send the ball back into play, do not count toward establishing stuck ball status in this case, and the player will not be permitted to utilize these features or touch the game until the ball has reached the ball trough.

If, during multiball, a ball comes to rest in an outlane or on top of a center post, inlane-outlane post/guide, or directly above an outlane, in no way will a player be allowed to take advantage of this situation by continuing to play any other balls currently available. This situation must be dealt with immediately by either the player or a tournament official. The player must attempt to free a ball resting in these positions, or request that an official place the ball in the drain or outlane.

One highly debatable stuck ball situation has to do with setting up Dirty Pool on Attack From Mars. Players will often avoid hitting the ball stuck behind the visor and sacrifice the ability to advance a saucer through Dirty Pool, and instead continue to play multiball. For this situation on Attack From Mars, this is not considered a stuck ball and players will continue to play on.

Disabled Machines

Any tournament machine that breaks down during play will be attended to by technicians as promptly as possible. In the event that a breakdown is severe and cannot be repaired promptly, the machine may be taken out of service temporarily or permanently. A permanently disabled machine may be replaced with a substitute by tournament officials. If the failed machine is eventually repaired, it will be put back into play.

In the event that any players completed their game before the machine became disabled, and their finishing position on that game has been determined, that finishing position will stand and that player will not participate on the substitute machine. The remaining players will then play off on the substitute machine to determine the remaining finishing positions that were not able to be determined on the original machine.

Scores will be kept on a disabled machine if the tournament is >50% through the qualifying process. If the tournament is <50% through the qualifying process, all scores will be considered void. Players will be compensated with one game on a replacement machine, unless the tournament software allows the ability to track how many times that player had played the disabled machine. Note:  Pinabler tour has a special caveat in the rules section for disabled machines.

Player Errors

A player error is any player action, purposeful or accidental, which affects the normal play or outcome of a game in progress.

Any player who tilts his or her ball in play will not receive any penalty other than the normal loss of ball. Note that some older machines may penalize the player with loss of game; this is equivalent to tilting all remaining balls in order. Abuse of machines is covered under “Player Conduct”. Any player who tilts the ball of another player will receive a score of zero for that game, unless tournament officials grant an exception based on the behavior of the machine in question.

Any player who tilts their own ball, which then results in a tilt warning given to the following player will not have any consequences for the first offense. The player with the warning will be allowed to continue play as normal, or choose to have the ball played on a fresh game. A second offense by the same player anytime throughout the tournament, and it will be treated as a tilt of another player’s ball, with the rules from the previous paragraph being enforced.

Any player who slam tilts a machine, thereby ending play for all players, will receive a score of zero for that game. The slam tilt is treated as a catastrophic malfunction for any other player(s) who have not completed their game(s) in progress. If a tournament official rules that the slam tilt sensor is not functioning properly, the slam tilt will be treated as a catastrophic malfunction for all players.

Any player who deliberately tilts or slam tilts a machine in order to derive some benefit to his or her own play, or the play of others, under these rules, will receive a score of zero. Repeated offenses may result in ejection from the tournament.

Any player who moves a game to the point it slides off of a rubber foot beneath the game’s leg will be given a score of zero for the game. This is determined based on any portion of the leg leveler being in physical contact with the ground. A tournament director will then attempt to put the game back onto the rubber foot. If successful, the game will continue. If a tilt-through occurs, the appropriate tilt-through procedure will be followed. Should this happen to the last player on the last ball of the game, the same rules will be enforced, with a score of zero being given to that player.

Any player who deliberately interferes with the play of another player, through distraction, touching the machine or player, or disrupting tournament procedures, will receive a score of zero for the game. Any repeated offense under this rule will result in ejection of the player from the tournament. Any non-player, or tournament participant not playing in the game in progress, who deliberately interferes with the play of any tournament game, will be ejected from the facility.

Accidental interference is regrettable but can happen. Any player or non-player who accidentally interferes with the play of any tournament game will be warned. If the interference was sufficient to cause the loss of ball, this will be treated as a major malfunction. If the interference terminated play for all players (for example, tripping over a power cord and pulling it from the wall), this will be treated as a catastrophic malfunction.

In any multiplayer match on any machine, it is the equal responsibility of ALL players involved in the match to ensure that the correct number of players are started. If a game is started with the incorrect number of players, anything that occurs within that game is considered void, with no penalty to any player. At no time may players be added to the game once player 1 has plunged their ball into play. At no time may player 1 finish their game as a single-player. The game must be restarted from scratch, with the correct number of players started. Players may always ask a scorekeeper or tournament official to instead start the game in any final round. If the scorekeeper or official makes a mistake, the game will be terminated and restarted, with no penalty to any player. There will be no compensation or adjustment of scores or game state at any time.

A player who plays out of turn in a multiplayer game will receive a score of zero. The affected player may choose to take over the ball in play, if possible, or he or she may choose to have the incident treated as a major malfunction. In the event the player takes over, he or she shall be deemed “in control” after declaring his or her intent, taking his or her position at the table, and making contact with the ball via the flippers. The affected player may not change his or her mind once he or she is “in control”. Any player who plays out of turn deliberately in order to employ this rule will be disqualified.

If a player does get disqualified from a game, their position in the game is considered open. Any interference caused by player error (for example, tilt throughs or accidentally playing out of turn) in that position will have no additional consequences to the offending player. Any activity played in that open position will be considered void.

For certain tournament machines, only players 1 and 3 will be used to help prevent tilt throughs. It is the equal responsibility of ALL players involved in the match to ensure that players do not accidentally play in the player 2 and 4 positions. If a player accidentally does play in position 2 or 4, anything that occurs within that ball is considered void, with no penalty to any player. Players must play their proper ball in the correct player slot.

In qualifying rounds, any player who starts a multiplayer game will only be allowed to complete the “player one” game, regardless of when he or she noticed the error. Any player who restarts a qualifying game, rather than completing it and allowing it be recorded, will have that entire entry disqualified. Repeated offenses will lead to ejection from the tournament.

Because the tournament divisions consist solely of singles play, coaching of any player during a game, in any round, is not allowed. If a player specifically requests advice on a game feature during play, his or her question may be addressed only by a tournament official, and answered only in terms of whether or not the machine is functioning correctly. Players are not to seek assistance from other players or spectators. Informing player 1 too many or too few games have been entered into the machine will not be penalized as coaching.

No player may use a camera or visual aid of any kind, other than the instructions provided by the machine, while standing at the machine. A player may review electronic or written notes in between turns of a multiplayer game or between games, but not during their own turn or between balls of a single-player game. While not actively playing, players are of course free to discuss features and strategies as much as they like, including between balls during a game, but no spectator or other player is compelled to answer, nor are they responsible for incorrect advice or answers to questions.

In mini-tournament events which feature team play, players on a team may freely discuss game features and strategy without penalty.

Tournament officials will be the sole determiners of what constitutes interference and whether or not it is accidental or deliberate. Scorekeepers are strongly encouraged to watch for and, if possible, prevent incidents of interference.


Rulings shall be made by tournament officials, which includes event coordinators and any person(s) designated as officials by the coordinators. Designated officials may have restrictions on the breadth of rulings, and may be overridden by tournament officials. Any designated official or event coordinator is excluded from ruling on any play situation that directly affects his or her actual or potential standing as a player. Such persons may also be recused where their decision affects a close friend or family member, at the discretion of other tournament officials. Final authority for any ruling, including rulings that contradict or vacate anything written in this document or in other ruling materials, rests with the Pinholics Anonymous director, Kevin Stone.

Pinholics Anonymous accepts all feedback and constructive criticism, including player complaints, without reservations. However, please recognize that Pinholics Anonymous strives to be fair even in the most difficult situations. Complaints will be taken seriously, ruled upon, and considered resolved. There is to be no whining.

Player Conduct


The Pinholics Anonymous House of Stone facility is private property and must be treated with respect. Pinholics Anonymous reserves the right to refuse play to anyone at any time, as well as to remove anyone from the property at any time. Any person(s) may be banned from the property, indefinitely, at the discretion of tournament officials. Banned persons will be prosecuted for trespass if necessary.

The tournament facility and playing areas must be kept clean. Food and drink are not allowed in the playing areas. In the tournament area, drinks are allowed only for actively qualifying players. Please keep the cap on your bottled drinks when not in use. Spills of any kind should be reported to officials immediately. There is a cafe area adjacent to the tournament where food and drink should be consumed. Trash should be deposited in the provided receptacles. Please do not remove chairs from any area where they have been placed.

All areas inside the building are strictly non-smoking. Smoking is restricted to designated areas outside the building.

Weapons and illegal drugs are prohibited on the property. Naturally, any and all types of illegal activity are prohibited as well.

Violation of any of these rules may lead to ejection from the property.

Personal Conduct

All players are expected to conduct themselves in a polite and sensitive manner. Outbursts, especially those including indecent language, are unacceptable. A wide variety of players and observers will be present, including media, and these types of outbursts do nothing to promote pinball as a sport.

Any player who behaves rudely toward any scorekeeper or tournament official may be warned, disqualified, and/or ejected from the facility. Any player who argues a ruling once it has been made will receive a warning. Any player who continues arguing once receiving a warning will receive a score of zero for the game in question, a voided entry, ejection from the tournament, or ejection from the building, as determined at the sole discretion of the tournament director involved. These penalties will be given out in this order unless the circumstances are extreme enough to warrant otherwise.

Any express or implied threats or actions of violence are grounds for immediate ejection from the facility, and authorities will be contacted. Other possible grounds for ejection include but are not limited to fraud, theft, illegal activity, harrassment, inappropriate behavior, public drunkenness, etc.

Any person ejected from the facility is banned and may not return to the property. Banned persons will be prosecuted for trespass if necessary.

Abuse of Machines

Tilt sensors are employed to determine what constitutes unduly rough handling of each machine, within the parameters of normal play. Abusive handling such as punching, kicking, lifting, tipping, or rocking a machine, or hitting the glass in any way, is grounds for a warning and possible disqualification of game or ejection from the tournament, at the discretion of tournament officials.

Interference, Collusion, and Cheating

Any player who intentionally interferes with tournament play or otherwise disrupts the tournament setting will be warned and/or ejected from the tournament, at the discretion of tournament officials.

Any form of cheating, including game restarts, tampering with games, tampering with recorded results, scorekeeper intimidation or collusion, or anything else not covered here, will be addressed by tournament officials as appropriate, including disqualification and/or ejection from the tournament.

Any collaborative effort between players in an attempt to unfairly affect the outcome of the competition, or to “lock out” a third player, or to otherwise refrain from making the best possible competitive effort on each and every game played, will be looked upon very poorly by tournament officials, and may result in disciplinary action, including disqualification and/or ejection from the tournament.

Intentional Delays

No player may delay their game for more than 30 seconds, except to await a ruling or resolution of an environmental inconvenience. Environmental inconvenience is defined as any condition which can reasonably be expected to be resolved quickly, such as unusual noise, lighting problems other than sunlight, or repairs to an immediately adjacent machine.

Intentional delay is defined as time when the player is intentionally making no progress towards in-game objectives, including but not limited to time during which the ball is left in the plunger lane, held on a flipper, or passed from one flipper to another. Stuck balls do not count as intentional delays. Holding one or more ball(s) while one or more ball(s) remain in play does not count as intentional delay.

Intentional delay will result in a warning for the player. If the delay continues or is repeated, tournament coordinators may instruct the player to stop playing, and a score of zero will be recorded for that player.

A player may not intentionally cause a ball search in order to activate any feature of the game. A player is permitted to wait a reasonable amount of time, as determined by the tournament director, for a tilt mechanism to settle.


Any player who is absent when he or she has a ball to play, whether in qualifying or final rounds, will be given a maximum of three minutes to return. After that time, a tournament official will plunge the player’s remaining ball(s) in play, until such time as the player returns. Any player who has an emergency should notify a tournament official, so that accommodations may be made. Should a player have to permanently leave the tournament for any reason prior to its conclusion, he or she will not be permitted to pre-play any games, and all scores for any remaining games will be recorded as zero points.

Note that an absence at the beginning of final rounds results in the player not being part of the final rounds at all.

Death Saves, Bangbacks, etc

Techniques known as “Death Saves” and “Bangbacks” are sometimes employed by certain advanced players. Because the effectiveness of these techniques varies from machine to machine, and because of the risk of injury to either player or machine, these techniques are banned from tournament play. In the event that a drained ball bounces back into play without deliberate player action, such as in the case of a “lazarus”, this is considered the mechanical nature of pinball and the ball may be played. If this situation occurs repeatedly, and there is question as to whether the lazarus ball was naturally occurring or induced by the player, tournament directors may end the game in progress and award a score of zero.


Special Score Handling

a. Any player who reaches the maximum possible score on a machine that has such, will receive that score as their total. For example, Guns n Roses stops scoring at 9,999,999,990 points.

b. Any player whose machine “rolls over” to a zero score is responsible for immediately advising the scorekeeper, both when this is imminent, as well as when it happens. The score keeper will then make a note to record the appropriately increased score. If the player fails to notify the scorekeeper, he or she may not receive the increased score.

c. On the game NBA Fastbreak using basketball-style scoring, each championship ring collected by the player shall cause their recorded score to be increased by 100 points.

d. When playing an electromechanical machine, players must understand that some score reel skipping or inaccuracies are inevitable over the course of a tournament due to the mechanical nature of the mechanism. If a score reel is not operating properly, players must notify officials immediately. No ruling will be made unless the score reel in question is the highest, or next-to-highest value reel. Tournament directors reserve the right to adjust scores on electromechanical machines if an obvious error has been made and the integrity of the match in question can be maintained. If the error in question was not witnessed by a tournament director, or it did not occur in a way such that an obvious correction can be made, no adjustment will be made and the score shown will stand. In the case of a continuously malfunctioning score reel, tournament directors reserve the right to declare a game invalid for the affected player, or for all players involved in the match.


If a player verbally concedes for any reason, the concession will only be considered valid if it is witnessed by a scorekeeper, tournament director, or all members of a group. If a player attempts to use an invalid verbal concession to interfere with an opponent, the issue and resolution will be treated on a case-by-case basis, and the offending player risks receiving a score of zero for the game in question.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License These PAPA Tournament Rules by are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

The intent is that the rules can be adapted and reused, with attribution, with the license preserved.

Some rules have been changed or eliminated by Pinholics Anonymous, but the core have been provided by under the Creative Commons License.  This includes the malfunctions and rulings, the PAPA finals format, and the Pintervention Championship Circuit Event format.