Strategies To Win At Arcade Claw Machines

If you're ever around kids or friends you know how appealing claw games to win stuffed animals or other prizes can be. As in most games that involve trading money for a chance to win a prize, the odds are firmly stacked in the favour of the house but there are ways you can maximise your chances to win.

British Television show Brainiac revealed in the above video clip how most claw machines have a control box that regulates how often the user should win the item and also how hard the claw should grip the toy.

You can game the system by staking out a machine and seeing how many tries it takes someone to win an item and then playing yourself after that number of tries has been reached again. For example, if the machine is set to let the seventh person win, after someone wins I'd ideally wait out six more tries before giving it a go myself.

Also keep in mind the second setting for the claw's grip strength. Even if you're due to win if you try for a prize that is partially covered by other prizes or tightly packed the strength of the claw may not guarantee a win. Also keep in mind that a toy perched on top of other toys may be a trap as sometimes the machine's owner may intentionally tuck a stuffed animal's leg under another toy making it difficult to lift.

Brainiac — Claw Game [YouTube via Reddit]


    "sometimes the machine’s owner may intentionally tuck a stuffed animal’s leg under another toy making it difficult to lift"

    Really... I don't think they go to that much effort to prevent 6 year olds from getting a stuffed bear.

      this happened to me, two toys were stuck together but were quite small so they didnt exceed the claws strength I guess. needless to say I was I a very happy chappy when I walked away with 2 for the price of one.
      Also I should mention I was not six , It was my 21st birthday and it was awesome

      Man, the bastards do, I was sitting having a coffee at the local shopping centre recently and watched a workman restocking the machine outside K-mart across from me, he was packing them in tight and spent a couple of minutes manipulating the toys till he was satisfied the kiddies would be crying over their lost dollars. By the way, go to Japan, I was just in Tokyo and the arcades there set them up so you can definitely win in 1 or 2 tries, there was an employee going around all the machines continually setting up toys on the edge so you can get them. Of course Japanese politeness dictates that you only take one and move on, I took two and got a few glares before I realised what was up.

    How often do you see 6 year olds playing on these machines? It's usually full grown adults.

      My 6 year old cousin absolutely demolishes at this game. Every time
      I take him out, I give him $2 and he comes home with a prize!!! Me
      on the other hand has never won this game

      My 6 year old is addicted. I googled "6 year old addicted to skill testers" and wound up here

    If you think they win't spend a few seconds optimizing the placement of toys, you've never watched them fill one (i have watched a few times) or you are naive about them maximizing profit.

    I tend to stay away from the claw machines at Sydney cinemas. I swear those ones aren't set to give any wins, and the claws are usually so loose they don't even pick up anything, even toys that aren't stuck under other toys.

    When I was a kid there was a claw machine at a local supermarket that I played quite often. The prizes were stacked very high, and some were half hanging over the "drop area".

    One day I stuck my arm in the machine and was able to grab one of the arms or legs of one of the prizes, when I pulled on it about 10 of the toys fell down the drop area. It was quite insane, I did this quite often. The machine was stuck in a corner where no one could really see.

    As I got older I felt a bit bad about doing this, but now knowing that these machines are rigged I don't feel so bad.

    In fact, it seems a bit wrong for these machines to behave this way. I wouldn't mind it if the machines were just difficult to win at, but for the odds of winning to be determined by the order you happen to arrive at the machine is wrong. A lot of these machines tout themselves as being "games of skill", which I'm sure is true to a degree, but for your chances of winning to be basically at random isn't fair.

    I heard a whisper the tension on the claws is a variable (set by the operator) which changes over the number of attempts.

    One thing I know is, my 12 y/o is addicted to these stupid things.

    And that will teach me for posting a comment before completely reading the story. Well done LH.

    I played one once where I managed to claw the prize, with the big toy coming up with the claw. It felt fantastic to have finally gotten one!Then when the claw finished retracting at the top of the machine, it stopped, waited a second, then suddenly expanded its claws halfway, dropping the toy as I watched it fall in a devastating slow-motion sort of way. The claw then moved over the drop chute, and expanded the now empty claws fully. I felt cheated, and haven't played one since.

    Surely these fall into the same category as any gambling machine. They aren't testing any kind of skill if the win rate settings are manipulated by the operator. How are kids even allowed to play on them?

    Knew those things are rigged for a long time. Doesn't matter which one. I have seen a program on it a while back where an ex- carnie at a festival exposed a machine. They are set to a counter, usually 20 or 30 goes so there is no force behind the claw. On the 30th go, it puts actual grabbing power onto the claw, and then repeats the cycle. In the meantime 29 misses x 1 or sometimes 2 dolars = PROFIT!

    Best strategy is to stand at a machine, count the nr between successful grabs, then shove
    ppl out of the way when you know a successful grab is coming up.

    This technique also makes you look like a stalker ;)

    If you have a kid constantly hassling you to try these machines, let them try a couple of times, then buy your other child a $6 toy from a nearby store. The one who walks away empty handed will be constantly reminded of his poor planning ;)

    isn't what they're doing illegal. i.e. if a machine is only set to release a prize after a given number of tries then users don't stand an equal chance of winning each time. Someone should bring a class suit against these guys. On the surface of it it seems illegal what they're doing.

      Unfortunately it is still a game of chance, and probably somehow legal for establishments.
      Even when the actual claw applies pressure to be able to lift a toy, you'd still have to aim right in order to get it. If you miss, it's your own fault. Also, it is possible to somehow hook a toy on one of the fingers.
      You can still win even if it is rigged. The question is.. Do you want to spend loads of dollars to find out?

    I've (well, my boyfriend has) been freakishly lucky with these things - I've (he has) walked away with two mobile phones, a bag of chocolates, a Buzz Lightyear, a little plush cow, and one of those giant (I mean, two-foot-long, two-foot-high) plushy/wooly sheep. According to this article, we've just always been in the right place at the absurdly right time. Go figure.

    Does anyone else see these as a gateway drug to pokie machines?

    Claw machine near me has full size footballs, almost a guaranteed win everytime! I have 6 footies at home and have given twice that away - Robin Hood of claw machines baby...

    I know it might not be legal, but me and my mates couldn't stand seeing one of my mate's daughter crying. So we stacked the deck in our favour.

    What we did was tilt the machine (about 15degrees) so the claw was longer on the cable this made it grip a little firmer which enabled us to get the crying little girl 10 stuffed toys for $6 (4 plays for $2). Not sure if this will still work (they may have installed tilt sensors), but it surely worked for us.

    Check out this recent Reddit thread . Everything you could ever want to know about arcades (and yes, they are very rigged)

    I have won on the Claw machine many times.
    "Barber Cut" however, screw that game! :P

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