Idaho's pinball wizard is heading to a national competition

Posted at 10:36 PM, Feb 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-16 05:56:29-05

A lot of people think of pinball as the game of choice in the dark corner at the back of dive bars. So, it may surprise you that the best pinball player in Idaho is none other than a 15 year old girl. And after winning the state championship over the weekend, Aviana Smith is on her way to the national championship. Most of us who put a quarter in a pinball machine just want to keep that little silver ball rolling and score high. But Smith is the best at that in Idaho.

"I only remember pinball coming into my life about five years ago now," says Smith, "there's pinball in pretty much every room." In fact, she has 11 pinball machines in her house. Which means her parents love it too. And her dad is among her toughest competition. "Pinball, I've been really happy with because he's started to admit I may possibly be better," says Smith. So the question is, what makes her so good?

"The more you can relax and go slowly, the better you do," she says. And it helps to study and know the tendencies and scoring strategies for dozens of machines. Plus, Aviana says you have to know how to use "the nudge" -- a gentle bump of the machine. "It is a key part of the game play and nudging is something you can practice."
Practice is key to avoid a tilt, which means game over. Aviana is the youngest state champion in the country and she'll likely be one of just a handful of females in the national championship in Texas this March.

And if you'd like some tips from our state champ, just follow this link to an Idaho Statesman video.