Why You Should Know Doug Polka

Polka is a pinball enthusiast and key organizer of two major international pinball tournaments taking place in the Pittsburgh area.

photo by douglas duerring


About: An IT trainer for Giant Eagle, Polka is a pinball enthusiast and key organizer of two major international pinball tournaments, the PAPA 20 in Scott Township, taking place from April 5-9, and the even bigger Pinburgh Match-Play Championship, set for July at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

  • Polka got hooked playing pinball as a kid in Vandergrift. When his mom went to the Monroeville Mall, he tagged along for the arcade.
  • He owns about 50 machines, which he circulates among different restaurants and shops, including Kickback Pinball Café in Lawrenceville.
  • Polka’s work helping to run a local pinball league led to him being recruited by the Professional and Amateur Pinball Association, or PAPA (papa.org).
  • PAPA holds its April tournament at its headquarters, a 40,000-square-foot warehouse near Chartiers Creek. The building holds more than 500 working machines, from antiques from the ’40s to new games based on “Game of Thrones” and “The Walking Dead.”
  • The World Pinball Championships are the only time the public is allowed into PAPA headquarters. Daily admission of $20 includes unlimited pinball play throughout the day.
  • “This is the first time it’s one price for free play,” Polka says. “Before it was tokens. In 2009, the first PAPA competition I went to, I spent over $200 on the games. There were so many games there, I was like, ‘Oh my God! Oh my God!’”

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