Faking It – How To Look Like A Pro At The UK Pinball Open 2019

With the 2019 UK Pinball Open set to to be hosted at Flipout Pinball club in London in just two short weeks, I invite newcomers and veterans alike to take ten minutes to enjoy my tips on faking it until you make it in the pinball scene. This tongue in cheek post will ensure you don’t look like the newbie at any pinball event. Looking the part with the correct pinball attitude and pinball attire is no easy task. So here at the UK Pinball Club, I have your back. This is how to get that perfect veteran pinballer feel.

Pinball Related Clothing

What screams pro more than a pinball related T-Shirt? I’ll tell you what. Nothing!

No self respecting middle aged, slightly overweight football fan would go to a match without a replica shirt on would they? Of course not. So let’s not beat around the bush here, a pin related clothing item is a no brainer. I will personally be wearing my very own Pinball Lizard t-shirt as imaged below, but don’t let that stop you just there. Stern is now a lifestyle brand, so check out the cool range of Stern clothing that you too could don. Not enough for you? Think that just a pinball as a hobby doesn’t quite define you – check out this amazing t-shirt (as pictured in the gallery). Now you can tell the world you love both pinball and cats. Honestly, it’s all too easy really. Don a pinball related piece of clothing and watch the whoppers roll in.

Headphones and Earpieces

Another thing I am guilty of, but for darn good reasons. I take personal inspiration from Eminem here and simply look to lose myself in the moment of pinball. Want to look really cool, do as I do and go with the classic cabled headphones. Nothing quite says “Yeah I do this all the time” more than getting your wires wrapped up around the shooter rod as you walk away. Smooth.

Eminem's Guide to Pinball Tournament Preparation

The Post Drain Mutter

Just like innocent men in prison, the drain is very rarely actually ever something that a pro has done wrong. This is where having your post drain mutter down is so important to looking the part. In case you need some inspiration, you can borrow some of mine that I have used in the past to make yourself look like a seasoned professional.

  • The bounce didn’t act like it should have
  • The out lane is feeling too greedy
  • I have XYZ game at home and make that shot EVERY TIME – must be set up wrong
  • The game just cannot be level
  • Those flippers feel a little weak
  • Are they the right coils in the game, they feel a little hard
  • That game is setup too shallow
  • A woman in a wheelchair ran into me (a true story courtesy of Neil McRae)
Pinball post drain mutter


No I don’t mean turn up to an event looking Michael from the Bad album, I am talking professional nudge aiding devices. A set of gloved nudging hands shows that you mean business. A deft nudger can make pinball look like art, so why not go all out Neil Buchanan and make that art large scale and a symbol of your pinball prowess. Personally I would prefer weightlifting chalk, such is the intensity of my nudging. Apparently though, (and wrongly in my eyes) taking your own hand chalk and using it on others games is frowned upon in certain circles. Who’d have known. So I would go gloves.

Head Light

That’s right, want to look like a real pinball champ and ensure you don’t take my other more common pinball pro tips, bring along your very own spelunking style head light. Andy Rosa is currently ranked 30th in the world and it worked for him. In fact, he won the below Stern Pro Circuit using one. So why let the fact that you would be faking it bring you down? This is the very pinnacle of cutting edge pinball pro mods and one that will for sure make you stand out as a budding king of the silver ball.

Andy Rosa Headlight in Pinball Competition
Andy Rosa at the Sten Pro Circuit Final – Hosted by Deadflip on Twitch

Straight Up Hungover

Whilst not a look donned by many pro athletes, pinball is one of the very few competitions where you can genuinely compete hungover. It is a look I personally used at Pinfest (don’t forget to get your tickets for 2019’s event) and sure, it may not have looked pretty, but it certainly is one that some of the pro’s have used historically.

Reminiscing Of Pinball Past

Pinball Memories

One way to make yourself look like a pro is to reminisce about the “good old times in pinball” – before the money in the game got as crazy as it is now. Depending on how far you are willing to take it I have prepared this handy guide of looking like a pro when it comes to pinball reminiscing.

The Opener

The opener is the hook to looking like a pinball pro, the key here is to look deep in thought, or like your searching back to a bygone age. If you can’t quite work out the best way to do that, imagine a bug has flown in one of your eyes and your squinting to see a number plate in the distance. Examples of a good opener are:

  • Well, the whole hobby has changed these days you know…
  • Pinball isn’t what it used to be, the money in it is crazy…
  • I heard someone pay £5,500 for a XYZ game, corr I remember when…
  • That’s not a bad price for that, but back in the day…

The key is to know when to emphasise the reminiscing part, that comes with a small amount practice unfortunately

The Game, Price, Reason Trifecta

This is part one of where you can have some fun, your story is going to need three elements to create a good reminiscing story. So to start, the game has to have some sense of cult status or recognisable hook (don’t use hook, no one cares about hook) – a few you can use are below, lead into the story about how you managed to pick up a…

  • Whitewater
  • Addams Family (Gold) – Risky
  • Whirlwind
  • Earthshaker (With Sinking Institute) – Risky
  • Big Bang Bar – Very Risky
  • Twilight Zone

Then you can put in a price – again, any of these will work

  • £20
  • £50
  • £79
  • for free – risky

Then take your pick of a reason too

  • back in the day you couldn’t give them away
  • it was a bit dirty but cleaned up just fine
  • they had a couple of them and just wanted it gone
  • they picked it up in the hopes of playing it but never got round to it

The Wildcard

If you really want to elaborate, add in the wildcard, something you remember about the transaction to make it more believable, the wilder the better. I always remember it becuase

  • The owner had a wooden leg, which made it really hard to load the machine in the car
  • The game had a cash box which was full of £1 coins when I got it home
  • I had to load it into a (insert car that’s too small to be lugging pins in really, Robin Reliant is a fun one) and drive it home for 160 miles
  • They had another 20 games I could have bought, but didn’t have the room at the time

You can make up your own wildcard too, go crazy with this and have fun. This is pinball, you really can go wild with this bit and it will still be believable.

Close it out

Lastly you have to close out the story, it’s like a gymnast landing the routine, and you have to be just like that. Think duck on the water paddling; calm above the water, going crazy below it. A nice line would be something like but that was then, and things change. Boom. You’ve just reminisced like a pro. I have nothing left to teach you now.

So there you have it, my guide to faking it so well you will be acting like a pro at any pinball event. I look forward to seeing you all at the next event, pinball champs.

If you have any other pointers I have missed, please get in touch with me in the comments section and I will update the article with the best ones.


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