Players put in hours of competitive pinball... Next stop, Vegas

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Saturday was a big day for pinball enthusiasts across the United States who went flipper to flipper in the state championship games.

Sixteen people took competitive pinball to the next level at Sun Ray Lanes in Maplewood as they got behind the machines for a seven game series. It lasted several hours.

John Jundt, 39, ultimately came out on top and took home the trophy.

Jundt told BringMeTheNews he's been playing pinball since he was a kid. In high school, he started making regular trips to the arcade to play.

Now he has several machines of his own and tries to get out to play a couple times a week.

"No two games are the same," he says.

Making it to the state championship game is actually pretty complicated, the 39-year-old explains.

There are competitive pinball games that are held throughout the year. Players get points based on how well they play at each game, then the International Flipper Pinball Association (IFPA) ranks players by their points.

Only the top 16 players get to compete at the state level.

"The sky is the limit," Jundt says. It all comes down to how well you play and how many games you can make it to.

This is the second time Jundt placed in the championships, but it's the first time he's come out on top. Now he'll have a chance to fly out to Las Vegas for Nationals in March.

According to the IFPA, 35 states participated in the third annual State Championship Series.

Making a comeback

Pinball machines have been replaced by video games in a lot of arcades, and Jundt says that has a lot to do with costs.

The machines have a bunch of moving pieces and it's expensive to make repairs and keep the machines working to their full potential.

Unfortunately, the machines don't always bring in enough money to keep up with the repairs, Jundt says, so many arcade owners are opting for video games instead.

Although the game isn't as trendy as it once was, Jundt says it's still alive and making a comeback.

He says the tournaments and competitions are becoming more popular.

To find a competitive game, click here.

It used to be illegal

Pinball used to be illegal in parts of the United States between the 1940s and 1970s, VICE says. Some governing officials claimed it was a form of gambling.

The founder of the IFPA, Roger Sharpe, actually played a roll in legalizing the game.

In 1976, Sharpe faced New York City officials to fight for the legalization of pinball. He argued that it was a game of skill, not a game of luck, the magazine reports.

After demonstrating plays on a pinball machine, Sharpe successfully convinced the officials and arguably saved the game, according to Gizmodo.

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