How To: Beat The Claw Game

The title of this post is misleading, because the real reason we are posting this is because the video does a good job of demonstrating why you shouldn’t even play these stupid games… Some of them are rigged. That being said, we do know someone who always wins something, so who knows? Maybe we’re just bitter. Enjoy. —MEGHANN MARCO

How To: Dominate the Arcade Claw Game [Gizmodo]


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  1. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I win an insane percentage of the time on these things (btw, I can’t view the video at the moment)…it is all about finding the right machines, with the right prizes. I get a lot of practice living at the Jersey Shore. Don’t play a machine because it has something you want. Play because it has something you can get.

    Kinda like my philosophy on dating…

  2. Freakin’ banner ads! ARGH!
    I ought to stop watching TV on principle.

    Anyway, I don’t like games based on luck as opposed to skill. You can’t really get better at being lucky.

  3. fishfucerk says:

    crane games based more in skill than luck. there is skill in knowing

    1) how to find a machine that you can actually win something from (see what altered beast said above)
    2) positioning the crane in the correct position to get your prize.

    Since the things affecting your odds to win a prize are mostly known at the point when you decide to play (except for knowing how well the claw will grip, which you can find out for .50c). Since you directly influence your odds of winning (unlike say, roulette, where you’re just mitigating your risk), I’d say it’s primarily a game of skill.

  4. nweaver says:

    Seems like a bad design: One in N should really be a RANDOM number.

  5. fishfucerk says:

    guess i should’ve read the post first. obviously, if the claw tension is randomly altered, that’s going to make things play a little bit more into the luck camp.

  6. woodenturkey says:

    But in the US, this would almost be like a slot machine, or a lottery device. The claw machines here do not work like this ( i used to manage an arcade in collage )it would be considered either gambling, or illegal because its not a true game of skill.

  7. MeOhMy says:

    I would be surprised if randomly fudging the tension on the claw doesn’t cross the boundaries of “game of chance” type laws in some states and in those states the tension on the claw is constant.

    There used to be one I played that contained costume jewelry in open clamshell boxes. It was so easy I almost got tired of it.

    I used to be able to consistently win on the one at the nearby supermarket. One day I noticed that the claw got a lot floppier and figured they just dialed down the tension because too many people were winning.

  8. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Well, as fishfucerk said, you need to try out the tension of the claw. If you see a prize you can get a clean grip on, and the claw either doesn’t grip enough to pick it up…or drops it from the jolt of the claw rising to the top of the machine…then you leave the machine alone.

    So you gamble on the first try, in terms of the claw tension, but beyond that, there is skill involved.

    Yes, low tension on heavy items can be viewed as a scam, but this is an understood practice. I’ve never seen anyone ever complain to an arcade “The claws aren’t tight enough to pick anything up!”

    Perhaps they should…but the point is, once you find this out, you move on.

  9. OnoSideboard says:

    I have an eerie talent for claw machines, too, and I second what altered beast said about spotting the easy grabs.

    I’m not sure I buy that the machines are set to win and lose at a certain rate–I’ve won five or six times in a row from the same machine.

    I’ll give you guys a much better tip than standing around a machine all day counting…. Always pick a machine standing alone or at the end of the row. Get a friend to stand on the side and watch the positioning of the claw from that angle (or do it yourself, but be quick!). Do this, and you will always make contact with your prize. As long as the claw isn’t rigged too loosely, you can get that sucker out in one or two tries, every time.

  10. Skeptic says:

    “Seems like a bad design: One in N should really be a RANDOM number.”

    This assumes that “Brainiac got it right. The number might actually be an average desired win target. The video doesn’t explain how the desired number of wins is achieved by the box–one would assume that it does this by adjusting the minimum clamping force but even that wouldn’t grantee the exact number of wins since some user skill takes place.

    If claw machines in the US have a similar feature they could be illegal in most states. In California, for example, slot machines and other types of gambling machines are illegal but “games of skill” are not. If the ability to win at a claw machine is based on a hidden variable not subject to skill it may well be a gambling machine.

  11. Smoking Pope says:

    I once witnessed a claw game scene in a grocery store. An angry mother was confronting the store manager with her sobbing 10 year old daughter by her side.

    Seems the lady gave her daughter $5.00 and sent her to the store to get a gallon of milk. The daughter saw the claw game, got some change, and blew the whole five bucks.

    The lady’s (surprisingly cogent) argument was that the machine was a gambling device because there are too many variables involved for skill to be a significant factor. During her breathless rant, she singled out how tightly the toys are packed and the shapes of the toys (although not spring tension).

    To his credit, the manager apologized and immediately gave her $5.00. He also promised to reassess whether or not they should have a game like this in a grocery store in the first place.

  12. 50 cents for some fake jewelry laced with lead or a stuffed animal that is probably loaded with toxic glue and chemicals?…

    No thanks.

    I’ll just play ski ball and cash in my tickets for the aforementioned junk.

  13. acambras says:

    LOL, Smoking Pope — guess she had to send her kid to the store because she was too busy working on her dissertation on gambling devices.

    Lately I’ve seen several stories on toddlers managing to wiggle through the chute and ending up sitting inside the box looking out at horrified passersby. I think they’ve had to take machines apart to rescue the kids. The kids usually end up getting some consolation prize — perhaps a stuffed animal they drooled on while waiting for their plexiglas prison to be dismantled.

    So there you go — wanna beat the game? Find the smallest child you know, and up the chute they go!

  14. RexRhino says:

    It is a good lesson for kids to get screwed by the claw machine. It teaches them at an early age, and in a relatively non-harmful manner, not to be a sucker. Better kids learn that way the fundamental lesson of gambling (the house always wins), than with their paycheck when they are an adult with a mortgage payment.

  15. MeOhMy says:

    AngrySicilian: You don’t know where those skeeballs have been!

  16. infinitysnake says:

    I agree- and that’s exactly what we did. My kids are all a little less trusting of ‘them’ after losing their allowances…

  17. Chongo says:

    I always have alot of luck with the crane game when I go for an object with a tag. For instance a teddy bear or something with a little loop tag sticking out of it. Go for the tag and try to get one of the claws inside the loop… then it dosn’t matter about the tension.

  18. You haven’t seen crane games till you’ve been to Japan. The strangest one I saw actually dispensed a whole lobster, live. It was 500 yen a shot though.

    I had a friend there who was a fiend at them, he could win at least half the time. Oddly, the standard design in Japan has only two claws, not three.

  19. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    That was an interesting video. I never knew that the claw machines contained a tension and “payout” controller. I always thought that claw machines relied on the fact that most of the stuff is purposely packed in tightly, and therefore, no matter how good of a grip you get on it, you’ll never get anything.

    That certainly would be more of a “gambling device” than a “game of skill.” Maybe the laws regulating such machines are different in the UK than in the US. I would be more inclined that the “little yellow box” is only found in UK machines…which is not to say the US ones aren’t similarly rigged. Maybe we’ll just never know.

    I don’t think I’ve ever won anything on one of those machines. At least they have a better payout than lottery scratch tickets.

  20. Homerun101 says:

    I’m from australia and there’s a machine i was wondering about (if its rigged or not). There are 3 blocks that slide side to side and you have to stack them on top of each other.If you miss the stack the excess blocks drop down and you’re left with 2 blocks if you started with 3 blocks or even 1 block left over.
    As you go up the blocks get faster and as you go up there are levels where the blocks shrink to 2 blocks and then 1 block.When you get to the top you can select your prize. You can win a phone,i-pod,camera and some other random prize.
    When i played i got to the last level then when i was about to claim my i-pod i hit it then i just got 1 block to the left! i think i got screwed and the machine just made it go 1 to the left…