How To Win At That Stupid Claw Game

The claw crane, also known as a UFO catcher, is presumably a reliable moneymaker for owners of coin-operated machines. The rigs taunt players by making it seem as though they’re tantalizingly close to picking up a prize before letting it slip through their grasps. It takes considerable self control to keep from pouring money into the machine until victory is at hand.

A Slate article says the game is generally winnable, although some machines are rigged to only let the claws provide a firm grip once out of every five or 10 plays. Each machine operates on its own wavelength, so if you want to play to win, you should spend some time casing the device, observing how it reacts to a stream of players.

Once you’ve got a read on the hellbeast, have a friend observe and coach you from another side of the machine in order to make sure your claw is properly lined up. The article suggests aiming for the chest. Failing that, you can always use the claw to push prizes out of the reservoir.

If you really want a prize that’s lodged inside a claw crane, you’re best off just buying it at retail. But we all know the appeal of winning at that obnoxious and cruel contest has little to do with the prize itself.

How Do You Win the Claw Game? [Slate]

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    Okay, seriously? What the hell, guys…

  2. RanChan03 says:

    This only applies to the ones in america. In japan i cleaned up at the UFO catchers there, and those are skill based, and not set up on random number generator :)

  3. Darrone says:

    This is how i got my high school diploma.

  4. JohnDeere says:

    ive seen my wife completely empty one of these at a bar once.

  5. Coffee says:

    I don’t know many eight-year-olds who read this blog. Just saying.

  6. Cat says:

    The claw is our master.
    The claw chooses who will go and who will stay.

  7. ARP says:

    Strange game. The only winning move is not to play

    (sorry, it was on TV this weekend)

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      DAMMIT you beat me to it!!!!!!!!!!

    • dorianh49 says:

      I was thinking the exact same thing.

    • Platypi {Redacted} says:

      I love watching the old computer hacker movies, and marveling in the systems they are using. That the WOPR would likely have much less power than a typical tablet computer today, probably less than a smartphone even. But you can’t take away the awesomeness that is Wargames!

      • Kuri says:

        they would have been blessed if the WOPR could play Super Mario World.

      • SharkD says:

        The computer that guided the Apollo lunar module ran at a blistering 2.048MHz and had a whopping 4096KB of RAM.

        Most $10 calculators are more powerful, these days.

  8. Kate says:

    Um, if they are setting it so the claw won’t close tight enough randomly, it no longer is a skill game and now becomes mostly gambling which is, if I recall right – illegal.

    • teamplur says:

      it’s not at random. it’s a set interval. like they say above. only every 10th play has the proper squeeze strength. some might even be every 20. but it’s a set number/sequence. it’s not a 1/10 chance of it being strong or whatever. Just watch the machine for a while, and count how many plays between winners or strong pinches. then just wait till it’s almost back around and jump in.

  9. Retired Again says:

    The Claw Machine is a BIG money-maker. The tongs apply pressure per a knob inside with 1-9 on it. Some machines are set for a while at stronger grips – people win – then operators reload the bears, etc,(tightly) and turn pressure so low that rare you can win. There is no 1 in 10 or anything like that. Just how much pressure the tongs apply. So when you win – it is because they NEED some winners. When you lose – it is because they don’t want any winners. Just see it as a FUN thing to do – IF you happen to be on the right day – You COULD win.

    • rmorin says:

      Source? That’s not how claw machines (at least in the U.S.) work at all.

      • Blueskylaw says:

        Machine configuration and chances of winning

        The success rate winning a prize is dependent on several factors, including operator settings, player skill, type of machine, and prizes available (size, density, and distribution). A prize may be lost due to player inexperience, player error in manipulating the claw, or the specific crane configuration. Many modern cranes use a computer to determine a payout percentage based on the operators settings, in the manner that the claw would have a strong grasp on objects only on a certain percentage of attempts. All modern claw machines incorporate some means for the owner to adjust at least the strength of the claw’s grip and how closely the claw’s fingers pull together, usually with screws on the mechanism or potentiometers on the PCB. Even on older machines, the grip strength can be adjusted by adding circuit components or additional hardware.[1] Some machines incorporate a feature called two-level claw power, which, when enabled, causes the claw to at first grip at full strength, but then weaken its grip to the normal level after a brief delay. This can cause the crane to initially pick up the prize, but then drop it.[2]

        Modern, higher-end claw machines are fully computerized and are remotely programmable by the owner (via a hand-held device). Settings and features commonly available include:[3]
        Claw strength and aperture
        Motion speed, in any direction (that is, the claw can be made to drop slowly but come up quickly, or move right faster than it moves forward)
        Pick-up strength and retain strength can be specified separately, as well as the delay between pick-up and return.
        Payout percentage: Cranes equipped with this setting have onboard programming which cause the claw’s grip parameters to be continually adjusted to achieve a pre-set payout percentage, usually specified with respect to the value of the prizes inside
        Fail limit: If the machine dispenses too many prizes in a given time period, it stops accepting coins and is out of order
        Free replay can be granted on a certain percentage of plays
        Instant replay: the user can opt to touch a certain button and have the claw automatically move to where it was last dropped, in order to try again for a prize that was just missed on the previous try.

  10. MaytagRepairman says:

    You can find places online that sell supplies for coin-operated games and vending machines. I worked in one office where we were obsessed with this gum ball macine at a restaurant that dispensed rubber balls that looked like the balls from pool. Everybody wanted the 8 ball. I found a place online that sold bags of just the 8 ball, bought one, and gave everybody in the office one.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      Yeah, this is true, most of the chinese suppliers carry these things, I mean where do you think your local FEC is getting the prizes. I guess it was cheaper in your case to buy the whole bag but I kind of find it hilarious what you did and that you were willing to go through so much trouble to get your office mates a trinket. I am sure they were grateful.

    • saltyoak says:

      buzzkill

  11. Anathema777 says:

    The Claaaaaaaaw.

  12. Outrun1986 says:

    Foolproof way, but this requires a busy arcade and a lot of people and presumably you have nothing better to do with your life.

    Watch someone win the claw, make a note of that on paper or smartphone. Watch other people play the claw, and count how many people lose, until someone wins. So lets say 10 people play then the 11th wins. Watch 10 more people play, and then go up as the 11th player and you should win. Read this somewhere a while back.

    Buying a stuffed animal at a yard sale or retail is almost always cheaper though.

    Also all redemption arcade games such as claws or other skill games are set to a payout rate. Its basically the same system casino’s use for their slot machines, so the fact that these machines are kiddie gambling machine is really not far off. There are a few that are actually skill based like Skee ball because you can actually become good at that. I think someone told me a while back Dave and busters sets their machines to a 30% payout rate, which means you will win 30% of the time, theoretically.

    With claw machines the operator can also adjust the tension on the claw, obviously the more tension the more likely you are to win, and I am guessing that every so many plays the claw tightens up a bit so it can pick up a heavier prize more easily.

    As a kid in the 80′s I used to win 3-5 prizes in one hook of the claw, I have no idea how it was happening, but it was. I was totally elated over this as a kid in the 80′s. I had a big bag of stuffed animals from that claw machine alone.

  13. psm321 says:

    How to win? Find one of the non-rigged machines (they do exist some places).

  14. Dallas_shopper says:

    The only winning move is not to play.

  15. MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

    “[Y]ou can always use the claw to push prizes out of the reservoir.”

    O_O

    What the…I don’t even…how…but…

    (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

  16. caradrake says:

    Does the same tactics work for the machines where items are labeled “We believe in fairness, every prize can be grabbed” ?

  17. Cat says:

    Employ a small child to do your bidding.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4u7mWvE1D9g

  18. CubeRat says:

    Or you could be like the little kid last week that crawled INSIDE and started dumping out toys out the slot…..

    http://www.news.com.au/ballarat-toddler-squeezes-inside-vending-machine/story-fn7x8me2-1226263704070

  19. Coffee says:

    I swing the claw back and forth until its momentum causes the machine to fall over sideways, spilling its precious innards onto the floor.

    • noramine says:

      I may regret saying this, but all I see when I read that is “I swing the claw back and forth” and in Willow Smith’s voice.

  20. MichaelRyanSD says:

    I looked at the article and though “Phil” and scrolled up and sure and shit I was right.

    He’s becoming synonymous with Chris Chase from yahoo sports when it comes to stupid articles.

    • Cat says:

      “Becoming”?

    • backbroken says:

      You must be new around here.

    • failurate says:

      The really amazing part is Chris Chase’s longevity. He has been writing absolute brain dead garbage for at least 4 years now. How does he stay employed? Maybe it’s the Mystery Science Theater affect, where you don’t watch for the movie, but for the snark in the comments?
      Is hating Chris Chase a sell-able product?

  21. yungjerry703 says:

    come on lobster harmonica!

  22. Conformist138 says:

    When I was a kid, I killed at these. Half my stuffed animals were won from those machines. I didn’t have to play over and over, either- usually it’d take me two tries to get one and I could keep playing the same machine and keep winning. I lost interest when I was about 10 and seem to have lost my knack- haven’t won anything from a claw machine for over a decade.

    Hey, wait… do you think it’s just that I’m old enough to remember them not being rigged?

  23. Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

    “This couldn’t be more of a clich√© unless some kids with a dog showed up in a van,” Sam thought to himself as he entered the run down amusement park. The trail had led him here, to the ruins of family fun outside New Orleans. Left abandoned following the hurricane, it now provided La Muerta a perfect place to hide. He always had a penchant for the dramatic and cheesy, and this fit the bill perfectly, like some evil villain from a Batman comic.

    He would have to be careful, as he knew La Muerta had access to claymore mines and other deadly traps that could guard any avenue or hiding place while he was away. The park was dark and silent, with only the distant sounds of trucks on the highway cutting the air. Mold and grime covered the ground, leaving it feeling slimy and gritty at the same time, and the pungent odors of several years of rot and decay induced a slight nausea. Quietly creeping between rows of booths and kiosks, all adorned with the lifeless faces of clowns and other caricatures, Sam could hear something strange. In the distance he could see a faint glow coming from the platform at the base of the skeleton of a long dead roller coaster.

    Carefully checking his surroundings, Sam climbed the steps. On the other side of the platform, next to the operator’s controls, stood a machine that made Sam’s sense of danger go into overdrive. Sitting alone, clean and shiny, was one a claw machine full of prizes. The lights and special effects were blinking and the cheerful and never ending march music played from it. It would look at home in any arcade, but among this graveyard it had all the charm of a coffin. La Muerta knew he would be here, and whether this was a trap or a token remained to be seen. Still on the other side of the platform, he peered through the darkness, and as his eyes adjusted, he saw it. Inside the machine, snuggled amongst the stuff animals and silly trinkets, lay the shiny metallic canister holding the hybrid mustard…

    • pop top says:

      Let’s hope Sam brought someone with him to help him get that mustard!

    • Cat says:

      I was wondering what post would trigger the next chapter.

      Well played, sir.

      • Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

        Not necessarily any specific post… was just too busy yesterday. Although I saw the subject for this one and I had to stop what I was doing and get it done.

        Sorry about all the grammar mistakes

  24. Misha says:

    Not the Craw, the Claw!

  25. BigDragon says:

    I figured out that the game wasn’t about skill years ago. I would always get the claw hooked on something only to watch it open right back up and let whatever was in its claws drop downward. I recall playing one where they had Game Boy Colors inside. I repeatedly picked up the box only to have the claw drop it. After the fifth time all of these games wound up on my never-again list.

    I think claw games should be limited to casinos only. My state doesn’t allow slot machines outside of casinos. The same rule should be applied to claw machines too. There is no skill. It’s just gambling. People claim there’s a 30% payout, but I have yet to actually see that happen. I have never encountered a non-rigged claw machine. You have to be a real sucker to sit down and put money into those machines.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      I was able to hook prizes in the 80′s like mad (though my mom used to do most of the playing for me), so I am guessing the new generation of claws is much harder to win at. Stuffed animals were also more expensive back then, so it made sense to play the claw for 25 cents. They also load the machines with larger prizes, back then the prizes were smaller than beanie baby sized stuffed animals or about the size of a beanie baby.

  26. HogwartsProfessor says:

    “I’m a winner, see my prize! You’re a loser who sits and cries!” — Squidward

  27. Sanspants says:

    I’m assuming the Stacker game is also a gamble? I’m a musician with pretty good rhythm and coordination, so I usually get to the last block in the game (I hit the button as the bouncing noise sounds). But it seems that the last block has a delay every time I play it.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      This one is definitely a gamble with a payout rate. But I have heard of people who do win on them.

  28. jono_0101 says:

    i play the one at a burger joint near my house whenever we go, i bring about $5 in quarters, and almost every time ill leave with something for the dog, it ends up cheaper than a lot of toys at the pet store, and bonus that it smells like a tasty burger to her

  29. speaky2k says:

    Way back when I was a kid (early to mid 80′s) these weren’t as random (1 in 10 type thing) and more skill based. I could win about 70% of the time on that style. For those who wonder the skill based style only had 2 buttons, no joystick with a button. You would press the one arrow button first and you had to let go at the right time, no second chance. Then press the second arrow button and as soon as you let go the claw would drop. If you had good skill with aiming and button pressing you could win… Off by even a little bit, no win.

  30. dourdan says:

    “only let the claws provide a firm grip once out of every five or 10 plays”

    ok i belive that.
    i am good at fair claw games. my local arcade HAD (since most if not all arcades are dead now) a room of 5 claw machines and i could go away with 3-5 items in a day.

    now at the movie theatres (the last place where arcades live) i always get a claw that only closes half way.

  31. DubbaEwwTeeEff says:

    My trick is to find ones at sports bars and movie theaters – places where it’s more of a side attraction than part of the primary experience. From what I’ve seen, they’re usually less likely to cheat like the article says. Arcades, grocery stores, and anywhere that stocks them with giant stuffed animals are usually no-go’s.

    Also, the technique is about more than just going for the chest. Most people try to get the claw to grab the prize and dig its arms into the toy; what you really want is to aim so that the arms of the claw will slide *underneath* the prize when it closes, so that it cradles the prize upward as it retracts. Try to get one arm on either side of the chest and the third between its legs, for example; or two on one side and the third on the other.

    If you manage this and the arms just slide back as the claw lifts, then either it’s rigged or the prize is too heavy. That’s when you know to stop putting in quarters.

    • Jevia says:

      Agreed. You have to find the right machine. We used to go to a Perkins restaurant that had one and I’d say we’ve spent maybe $10 or so on the machine, but we’ve won 6 stuffed animals from it.

      Part of the trick is also to look for the animal easiest to grab, not necessarily the one you want the most. if our first try clearly failed, we’d stop. If the first try moved the animal significantly, we’d give it another go with better placement and almost always won the second time. I think once we had to go a third time.

  32. Shmoodog says:

    Need to weigh in here. I am a claw game MASTER.

    I win 3/5 claw games I attack. I have had to throw out the prizes due to clutter.

    It is ALL ABOUT picking the right item, and your depth perception. Having a friend eye the other side is also key.

    The best claw game ever? A larger-than-life sized claw game at Dave and Busters. Now that’s fun.

  33. Outrun1986 says:

    Come to think of it I don’t see people play these much anymore. There used to be a line for the claw game in the 80′s. I still see older claw machines around here too, they are still 25 cents a play, but those are rare against the big claw machines loaded with huge prizes that you see in every Walmart. People either don’t want plush, or they know the machine is rigged and simply don’t play, much like people don’t play carnival games anymore because everyone knows they are rigged.

    No one plays carnival games around here, people know they are rigged, so now each fair only has a few games opposed to the many that they used to have. Because no one is playing much anymore, there are less people that run the games that bring them to the fairs.

    Someday I will own one of these claw machines! I would have one now, but I don’t have anywhere to put it!

  34. anime_runs_my_life says:

    They used to have a claw machine at my husband’s work, and once a week, he’d come home with prizes. He managed to collect all but two Care Bears and I think all but three 3G My Little Ponies plushes. It was eventually removed, but I think that was due to a renovation and not his awesome prize winning skills.

  35. Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

    How to scam a claw crane and the availability green milkshakes are salient consumer-related issues, but a news report about the federal government spending $1.6 billion so “poor” folks can have free smart phones doesn’t merit a peep.

    http://news.yahoo.com/washington-footing-cell-phone-bill-millions-low-income-202500656.html

    Consumerist my ass. This blog should have been name the Bizarroist.

    • Coffee says:

      Getting tangential, I know, but per the article you linked: “The Lifeline program provides low-income Americans with free cell phones (basic ones such as those made by Tracfone, not smartphones) and covers up to 250 free minutes each month.”

    • FrugalFreak says:

      The Lifeline program provides low-income Americans with free cell phones (basic ones such as those made by Tracfone, not smartphones) and covers up to 250 free minutes each month. As many as 5.5 million residents in Pennsylvania alone could qualify for the program, which is funded primarily by the Universal Service Fund fee added to the bills of land-line and wireless customers.

      • Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

        Oh, so the fact that I pay for someone else’s phone via a bullshit fee is somehow better than paying for it via a bulllshit tax. Oy vey.

    • drjayphd says:

      From the article:

      “The Lifeline program provides low-income Americans with free cell phones (basic ones such as those made by Tracfone, not smartphones) and covers up to 250 free minutes each month.”

      GTFO or GTFO.

      • Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

        … and people who actually pay for their phones pay for these “free” phones. But of course the fact that they’re not smart phones makes that okay. Riiiight.

        GF yourself.

        • drjayphd says:

          You just don’t want anyone to have anything, do you? Perhaps you were missed school the day they taught how to be a fucking human. Have you tried to get a job with no phone of any kind? Maybe you could apply using, say, a library computer, but that’s also why they’re phasing out the Universal Service Fund and using the money to go towards, in part, greater broadband access. (Which, it should be noted, is funded by a fee on PROVIDERS. They’re under no governmental obligation to charge customers. The providers just do it because fuck you they want money.)

          And perhaps you also missed the point of the story you posted, which was that they’re actively rooting out waste in that program. They’re finding abuse and doing something about it. I’m pretty sure that’s how it’s supposed to work. (As an aside, if you want to hang this on the Obama administration, like so many of the mouthbreathers that commented on Yahoo have done, keep in mind the fund’s been around since 1996. Bush was in office for half the USF’s existence and they didn’t even have a database, in spite of the technological advances from 2000 to 2008.)

          Take your ill-informed shit to Yahoo, where you’ll be a king among single-celled organisms.

          • Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

            Wow. If I don’t want to pay for someone else’s cell phone then that means I’m an inhuman bastard who doesn’t want anyone to have anything! Who knew? Man you sure got me with your superior internet arguing skills there! And who says advanced degrees are a waste of time? LOLZ!

            Yeah, I was at school the day they taught human, and it included an emphasis on self-reliance and personal responsibility. Evidently, that part has since been dropped from the curriculum.

            BTW, I’m guessing your PhD isn’t in economics, because if you honestly believe those fees levied on providers aren’t passed on to consumers then you are seriously deluded. And I don’t give a rat’s ass who started this BS program or how much it costs. It’s just another example of government largesse via a de facto tax on consumers.

            I’ll make you a deal, professor doctor. I’ll take my “shit” to Yahoo if you take your passive-aggressive moonbatian screed to the Kos where it belongs.

        • drjayphd says:

          Which reminds me… I just checked my last bill, and the pass-through Universal Service Fee was $1.62. If you can’t spare $19.44 a year to contribute to the greater good, you’ve probably got bigger problems, be they financial or compassion-related. Either way, I believe the best remedy is G’ing TFO.

  36. gargunkle says:

    I can’t believe you ran this “article.” Seriously.

  37. Bob Lu says:

    In my home country, for the law machine to be qualified as a vending machine (instead of a gambling machine, which will be illegal), it must guarantee a win for every certain number of plays, and it have to be displayed on a counter on the panel of the machine.

  38. Debbie says:

    My mother used to win enough animals to supply 24 kindergarteners every Christmas (I was the teacher). In her local store the spring was strong for a few days after the machine was filled, then it would get too weak to pick anything up.

  39. duncanblackthorne says:

    In a previous lifetime I repaired coin-operated games, including so-called “skill cranes”. Here are some things you should know about them:

    • The claw strength can be set by the operator. Generally they’ll set it so low that it’s virtually impossible to get any “prize” out of the machine, with the typical result being dragging it to the drop area, only to lose it trying to get it over the edge.
    • These so-called “skill cranes” are not legal in some places because the operators can change the claw strength daily if they want, which introduces a random element into it, which technically makes it a gambling device, and therefore illegal in many places.
    • The “prizes” in these machines? They’re extremely cheap junk made in Asia, bought by the 3′ by 3′ box for about $20-30 per box. What you’re spending $5 in quarters trying to “win” actually costs the operator typically less than a dollar.
    • So-called “merchandizer” games? With a rotating table and and button you press that operates an arm to sweep a “prize” into your slot? Pretty much the same deal. The “prizes” (which usually look like jewelry, complete with price tags claiming their double-digit value) is likewise cheap plastic crap made in Asia, and it typically worth only a couple dollars at best — and you may pay $10 in quarters or more trying in vain to “win” them.

    Do yourselves a favor: Play a video game or pinball machine if you’re intent on spending the change in your pocket, instead of wasting your time on these quarter-robbing monstrosities. At least you’ll get more entertainment value out of them than you will anxiety because you can’t “win”.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      If you have a local arcade auction or can find one and have room for the machine, I have heard these claws run as cheap as $50… for the amount of quarters you put into them, you could probably buy the machine for yourself, haha. I know its not the same, but still.

      A few problems with the claw, we know the junk inside is cheap, plush are not in demand, as kids want other things these days. Maybe a 3 year old would like a stuffed animal, but anyone over 5 probably has little interest, especially if they have an iPhone from their parents placed into their hands at about this age. The price of entry is high, no one is going to pay $1 or more for a chance to win something, especially when its cheap junk. As I mentioned earlier I hardly ever see people play the claw here.

      Everyone has a smartphone or some other mobile device to keep them entertained when away from home. People simply aren’t interested in doing anything else but using their mobile device. Even kids have mobile devices too, making them less likely to notice the claw or beg for money to put into it.

      Moreover those large plush you see at the carnival are the ones you find most often at yard sales, for about $1-2 each. Less than the cost of one carnival game here. Once the fun of winning it is over, you are left with something you probably really don’t want or that you don’t have room for. This is what has always kept me from trying for the big prize. I also see many claw machine prizes at yard sales, so I just get them there if I see something I like, but I can always tell when it come from a claw or a place like Dave and busters or a carnival. I got some cool mario and sonic toys that I know someone just spent a bundle to win at a theme park, and the sellers told me they won it at a theme park when I asked where they got it.

  40. Krusty783 says:
  41. some.nerd says:

    But I have to get that lobster harmonica!

  42. ned4spd8874 says:

    They had one of these at the grocery store I worked at way back when. It seems I came home with a new toy every single day. I think I ended up donating them because I really didn’t have a need for them. I just liked the challenge.

    Kinda like the Dave & Buster’s one today. I still play and win most of the time. But I don’t keep it. It’s fun to make a little kids day by walking up to them and giving them a huge stuffed animal. :o)

  43. FrugalFreak says:

    I win at it all the time. An old friend taught me and one night we left wal-mart with 2 bags full.

  44. trencherman says:

    I know a guy who supplies these in San Antonio and the surrounding burbs (I knew his wife prior to their marriage). He is very, very, very wealthy. I wonder how someone gets into the whole “I supply claw games to restaurants and bars” line of work?

    • Outrun1986 says:

      Probably someone who has been in business for years, claw machines here aren’t that popular, I never see anyone playing them. Most parents know they are rigged and won’t give their kids money to play them. Most of the vendors here used to supply arcade games, but now they make no money since people have smartphones and handheld devices, but they survive on things like different types of food vending machines now. However back in the 80′s supplying arcade games was a very lucrative venture, you could buy a new game for $3-4k and you could make back your money in a couple days.

  45. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    The claw? I AM THE CLAW!!!

  46. Cactus Wren says:

    Just as with casino gambling, the only way to *consistently* come out ahead with these machines — and just as with casino gambling, even this is not guaranteed — is to own the damn thing and let other people drop their money into it.

  47. Quatre707 says:
  48. seishino says:

    I used to be pretty good at claw games. My rate by the time I moved on was about 1 in 2.

    1. Pick a target that is on top, unobscured, with limbs or other appendages splayed out.
    2. Aim such that the claw goes into armpits, crotch, neck folds, or other places where the geometry is adding to the grip. It must go around a large center mass, and into nooks or crannies. Balls or boxes are just a lost cause.
    3. Once you’ve lined up left / right, move around to the side of the glass to line up forwards / backwards.
    4. If the claw has a button-retract, press it the moment it is in position. Do not let the claw splay out all of its slack, as it will probably move out of position.
    5. Don’t get emotional. Don’t pick the prize you want, pick the prize you can get. If a prize you had drops into a bad position, it’s a lost cause.