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Pinball isn't a game just for the arcades. It's a game for champions. Meet Iowa's best pinball aficionados and find out how skill, luck and a bit of competitiveness will take one Iowan to the national pinball championships. Brian Powers/The Register

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Pinball isn't just a throwback game in the back of arcade for some Iowans.

For some, it's a battle of skill and luck to be recognized among the nation's best pinball aficionados.

Dan and Erin Cubit of West Des Moines are two of those experts in Iowa.

“Growing up I avoided pinball machines,” Dan Cubit, 30, said.

But now as an adult, he finds the fact that you can never win is a greater challenge than traditional video games.

“I fell in love with the rule set, and the fact that you can never win.”

The Cubits this year helped to organize Iowa’s first state pinball championship. The competition was Feb. 11 at the home of fellow enthusiast Chris Gray in Grimes.

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Tim Rose, 57, of West Des Moines, said he likes that pinball is a tactile game and isn’t just pixels on a screen.

So what makes a great pinball machine?

Rose explains that it needs to be easy enough for someone to walk up and play, but has enough levels to hold the attention of a skilled player.

“I love discovering the levels of a machine,” he said.

Dan Cubit won the state championship and will compete in the U.S. National Pinball Championship March 16 in Dallas.

And while Iowa's state competition this year was pretty low-key, he said competition in other states can be fierce.

“Pinball is 80 percent skill and 20 percent luck,” he said.

Uniquely Iowa

This article is the first in a series of multimedia stories that capture the unique and interesting moments, people and places of Iowa. Have an idea? Email multimedia director Kelli Brown at kkbrown@registermedia.com.

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