Best pinball players in Milwaukee for Midwest championship

MILWAUKEE — Some of the best pinball players in the world are in Milwaukee this weekend competing for the Midwest Pinball Championship.

Tom Graf and his teenage son, Neil, are ranked 21st and 10th in the world, respectively. They both hail from the Appleton region. They will be putting it all on the line for the crown. The winner of the Midwest Pinball Championship will walk away with $740. It’s not the biggest prize purse, but it’s more so about the love of the game than the money.

That’s why Graf has traveled the country playing the game he loves.

“There are a lot of local tournaments, but I’ll also travel across the nation. I’ve gone to Floridam, California, New York. You name it, I’ve been there to play in tournaments.”

The tournament is hosted inside the Wisconsin Center during the Midwest Gaming Classic.

“It’s different than anything else. It’s not like a video game where everything is linear. The game is the same, but its never the same when you play it,” Graf said.

The classic is expected to draw 30,000 to 40,000 visitors this year and could bring $2 million to Milwaukee’s economy.

Matt Isbill is the host of the classic this weekend, and he said he hopes the event will help bring more conventions to the city.

“This city is great and we need more things like this here,” Isbill said.

This year’s event features more than 150,000 square-feet of retro and modern home video game consoles, pinball machines, arcade video games, tabletop RPGs, computers, tabletop board games, crane games, and collectible card games, air hockey, and more.

The event kicks off Friday at 6 p.m. and will be open until midnight. You can also attend Saturday from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

While Tom is focused on this weekends Midwest Pinball Championship, his eyes are set for the world championships in Florida.

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