How to cheat playing a pinball machine

Pinball machines have evolved over the years to protect the operator.. so there aren't many pinball cheats anymore. I don't know of any ways how to get free credits. A coin on a string doesn't work anymore for years, especially on electronic pinball machines.

Most tricks and pinball cheats described are to get more points.. earning more points so you can get your name on a high score list or get a free credit so you can play a free game. Most techniques are not allowed while playing in a tournament.. only use them at home or on location to get your name on top of the high score list.

Do you know more pinball cheats and want to share them ? Please contact me.

Pinbal cheat 1: Learn the games rules and hidden modes

Sounds simple, doesn't it ? Look up everything you can about the game rules and strategy. It's not really cheating. But some games have 'hidden features' that can earn extra points.
I.e. on Bram Stokers Dracula when the pinball falls into the asylum, you get 5 million points. Press both flippers and you get 5 million extra.
Other games have secret combinations you have to press before starting a game that will activate a secret (video) mode. While these modes usually do not earn a lot of extra points, they can be useful.
Another example: in the Final Draw Multiball on Bally World Cup Soccer, you shoot the goal to score a jackpot and then must shoot a ramp to relight the jackpot. However, once you can relight jackpot by hitting the Extra Ball button on the front of the cabinet.
Most people don't know about it (it's similar to pressing the Launch button during the video mode of Attack from Mars and Medieval Madness) but if you do know it, you can use it to your advantage.

Another cheat: found on rec.games.pinball (not tested myself):
On Pinbot, during multiball, if a ball goes up the ramp and ends up in the ball shooter lane from the mini upper playfield, send the second ball in play up the ramp. When the ball is at the top of the ramp, lightly plunge the ball in the shooter lane so it's off of the shooter lane switch but not sent back into play. When the ball comes back to rest on the shooter lane switch, the Vortex multiplier will be increased. Repeat until 10x has been reached.

Pinball cheat 2: One ball multiball

This trick is possible on pinball machines that have an automatic plunger an a manual one.
When multiball starts the machine will serve pinballs in the shooter lane and automatically shoot them into play. It is possible by pushing the manual plunger far enough in so the automatic plunger does not have enough reach or power to kick the pinball onto the playfield. The result is that multiball is started but the pinballs are still in the shooter lane. whilst playing you have to keep the plunger pushed in, so either keep it in with the palm of your right hand or push your hip against it.
The advantage is obvious: you can score jackpots while one one ball is on the playfield (so no chaos on the playfield or pinballs kicking each other into the outlanes) and when you loose a pinball in gameplay you still have a spare in the shooter lane that you can plunge manually into play.

Pinball cheat 3: Free multiball

This trick is similar to the 'one ball multiball'. Lock a ball on the playfield. When the game serves the pinball into the shooter lane, push the plunger far enough in so the pinball will not trigger the switch in the shooter lane. The game will think the pinball has disappeared and after a ball search (hope it doesn't release the pinball you just locked on the playfield) it will serve a new pinball. 2 pinballs for the price of one ! Play with one and when you drain you shoot the other one back into play.
Note this technique does not work on every game. It depends on how the ball search and compensation software is written. The trick may work to your advantage or disadvantage, it's possible your ball will end when your first ball drains.

Pinball cheat 4: Opto switches

Some types of opto switches can be tricked using a laser pointer. I.e. a closed switch (something blocks the opto beam) can be tricked into thinking it's open (the obstacle is gone) by shining with a laser pointer into the receiver led.
I've not tested this, not sure if it will work on every brand of machine. Williams has very specific optos and I doubt if a laser pointer will work. On Sega (and maybe Stern) some optos use a visible (red) beam so probably you have more chance on triggering this type.
While some redemption machines are open to this kind of attack, on pinball machines it doesn't have a real use. Optos on a pinball machine that are used above the playfield usually are normally open and used to detect a pinball that passes. A laser pointer can't close it (faking a passing pinball). So unfortunately on pinball machines this trick can't be used a lot. One way this could be used is i.e. to let the game think that locked pinballs are not locked anymore. Depending on the specific type and the gameplay situation you are in, this can result in the game starting a ball search (and releasing the locked ball) or shooting more balls into gameplay. In any case the game will probably be a bit confused, not sure if you can use the situation to your advantage to earn many more points. On Bram Stokers Dracula it's maybe possible to let the game think you have shot the ball off the magnet to start mist multiball..

Pinball cheat 5: Instant multiball

Another one - which doesn't work on all games, but it does on some older ones - is, if you have more credits than you know you'll be able to use, start a game and immediately just go for multiball. Once it's started and all the balls are in play, restart the game and you begin your new game with a free multiball !
A similar setup (which may be easier to trigger) is that when you have finished a game, had locked enough balls but were not able to actually start multiball, is to quickly restart a game, not giving the machine enough time to release the locked balls. On some older games this will result in a new play starting with the balls already locked and ready for multiball.

Pinball cheat 6: Level the game yourself

Nothing stops you from levelling the game yourself if it's leaning to one side. On location, just put something underneath both front legs so the game isn't very steep anymore. Most games will play more slow and become easier.

Pinball cheat 7: Rack up extra credits

Some 70ies games had a design fault, which allowed a player to get free credits. Just pushing the pinball machine hard enough into the wall behind it caused the credit unit to jump to the next position, effectively adding a credit to the game.

Coin on a string

The old coin on a string may or may not work. All depends on how old the game is and what type of coinvalidator is installed in the game. There is also some skill involved.

Coin on a string: It works much better when you solder a thin wire to the edge of the quarter. Don't ask me how I know that...

Found the coin on the string never worked but this always did - used to get a mouthful of water and a straw. Slowly spitting the water down the straw that was down the coin entrance plate. After a few mouthfuls and a kick in the guts of the game the credits would start rolling.
Editor: try this at your own risk !! you're basically using water to create a short between the two contact points of the microswitch. Using water to create a short can cause damage to the electronics of the game - or even to you as on some models high voltage is at the coindoor !