Claw Games

Good Evening (Or Morning or Afternoon) Everyone!

Last Saturday my family and I were at Great Adventure (Long Boring Trip Report Coming Soon) and we were fascinated by the amount of money people were pouring into the Claw Games.

At $2 a shot these games were taking card swipes faster than an Atlantic City 1-armed-bandit. (No coin slots...only card swipes)

There was one woman who played about 15 times and usually picked up the Nintendo DS (along with some fish tank gravel) only to have it plop back down somewhere else in the tank.

There were larger units designed to lift empty water cooler jugs. (Or should I say drop them.)

Most classic video games (Pacman, Missle Command, Crazy Climber, etc) were designed so the player got better over time. Not here! I didn't see one winner all day.

Do you folks have any strategies, for this type of thing? (Aside from not playing.)

Do you also notice that there are more and more of these and less arcade games? They must make a fortune!

Any thoughts?

Here's To Shorter Lines & Longer Trip Reports!

^The stragedy is to not play the games, because from what I have heard, is that one of the arms doesnt grab, leaving what ever you grab to just drop back into the machine.

Bolliger/Mabillard for President in '08 NOT Dinn/Summers

They covered this game on Brainiac, which is a British science show that occasionally airs on G4. It turns out that many of these machines actually have controllers that allow operators to choose how often the machine delivers a win; for example, a machine could be set so that the claw grasps the prize once every 10 times.
I see the same thing at Fantasy Island in Beach Haven, NJ. They have one crane with sports jerseys. $5 a try and I have never seen anyone win. They probably have about 30 of the machines total and a lot of them aren't even worth the cost of the play. Another machine they have has PS2 and XBox games in it. $1.00 a try and its mostly old sports games. For the machines with the stuffed prizes, they weaken the claw where it won't pick up the prize or drop it right away.

At Great Adventure, the cranes with the good prizes like video game systems and IPods are almost impossible to win at. Some people do win because the Boardwalk arcade had a PS2 as a prize for the water jug crane and it was gone on another visit. I have tried them a few times and never won. For the cranes where you pick up a lock box and inside is a number with the prize you won, they appear to be too heavy to pick up.

It's also like that at Wildwood. Every arcade has the cranes with the amazing prizes. I saw quite a few with Coach bags and other expensive stuff. At $3 a try, they were making a lot of money.

Somewhat related, there used to be a site called where you could play online skill cranes for free (the cranes were located in superclaw's office). It was a lot better than paying to play for a real stuffed animal but almost as fun. I used to always play them for prizes but I don't need the stuffed animals. *** Edited 8/19/2008 2:46:25 AM UTC by YoshiFan***

Mamoosh's avatar
Most people are stupid. End of story.
LostKause's avatar
Whats with everyone on here calling "people" stupid? It's such a poisonous idea taking hold in our society. A lot of people insist that everyone except for them and a select few are "stupid". Why do we have to discredit mankind? It is causing us to move backward instead of forward.

I respectfully understand why some of you believe this, but please give the human race a little credit. What we collectively believe to be true eventually becomes true.

End of stupid

If you replaced "stupid" with "ignorant", I would agree, Moosh. A lot of people are uninformed. These are not games of "skill" as they seem to be, rather they are games of "chance".

I saw somewhere (I forget where, probably online) that the best way to win one of these games is to stand and watch it for how ever long it takes. After you see someone win, count how many times people play before someone else wins, then you know when it's going to "hit" next.

It is very unlikely, but sometimes you can win a prize just by luck. I have seen a prize get stuck on one of the claw fingers before, allowing for an "unscheduled" win.

Without telling another one of my ridiculous stories, I'll just say that I know from experience that it's cheaper to buy a Nintendo DS then it is to try and win one at some dishonest game.


"CoasterBuzz - It feels like home" :)

Lord Gonchar's avatar
Two points:


People, in general, are stupid. That doesn't mean everyone. That doesn't always mean the same people. That doesn't mean all of the time.

It means that in any given situation you can count on a majority of those involved to act, think or behave stupidly.

(And yes, I mean the textbook definition of stupid, not ignorant.)


Couldn't the thrill of the game be worth the money? It's entertainment. Think of it as dropping a few bucks for the fun of it.

I'm not sure you always have to walk away from something with a material object in order for the money spent to be worth it.

(thus ends "Gonch's Philosophical Moment" :) )

Mamoosh's avatar
Thanks always have my back ;)
rollergator's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:I'm not sure you always have to walk away from something with a material object in order for the money spent to be worth it.

Otherwise, Vegas would be a ghost town in the desert... :)

Lord Gonchar's avatar
Exactly, Gator.

Not much difference between an electronic slot machine that pays out a predetermined percentage and a claw game that does essentially the same.

Moosh - there's a joke there just waiting to be made. Fortunately, I'm above it. :)

Mamoosh's avatar
The double-meaning was a bonus, sure. But the intended meaning was genuine.
DawgByte II's avatar
Some of those games are rigged... but I always thought that the games had to make it possible within a certain percentage.

Example: At the bowling alley where I do part-time, we have two claw-games. One is 50 cents, the other is 75 cents (obviously the cheaper one has cheaper prizes). The cheaper one I've seen people plunk down fifty cents after fifty cents, and I would say your chances of winning are sometimes 1 in 2... It's all a matter of how well you get that claw down there.

The lady that stocks the claw-machine DOES have some pre-set options to make your chances harder, and I often wonder why they don't make it maybe a 1 in 5... but the prizes were from the dollar-store anyway.

The more expensive one, however, is handled by an outside vendor and the chances of that winning seem to be closer to a 1 in 10. Its no wonder why they flock to the cheaper machine... chances of winning are better.

The point is that the claw-machines are regulated to maybe a 1-in-10 chance of winning, so as long as you grab it right, but you probably can alter it to less or more with the dip-switch settings.

matt.'s avatar

rollergator said:
Otherwise, Vegas would be a ghost town in the desert... :)

Living close to the two biggies in Southern CT, I'm amazed by the folks who brag about hitting a $2500 win on a slot machine or something like that.

Of course, they never mention how much money they lose the other 3 days a week they drive down there. I mean, I get the thrill of going down there and dumping $20 and hoping you hit the big one, but these people are way, way, way into the long run, and have been for years. It seems like once you get to that point the idea of it being any sort of "game" would be long gone.

You'd be surprised, Matt.

The statement you just made would be comparable to people saying, "they spend so much money and time travelling to amusement parks that I'd imagine its not as much fun anymore".

- Jeff *** Edited 8/19/2008 2:49:21 PM UTC by Uncle Coaster***

I was convinced that these games were impossible.

Then, my lucky-as-sin daughter walked right up to one, and pulled out yet another stuffed animal on her first try.

I was stunned, to put it mildly.

IMO, the really "crooked" ones claw games are the ones (as described above) that offer some stupendous prize (PS3, DS, Giant Stuffed Animal, etc). Do you really think the operator is going to let one (or more) of these high dollar items go before they make a huge profit? Ummm, no. I'd be surprised to see more than a winner a week at these.

The win-able claw games are the ones that offer small stuffed toys. And only then if the toys have already been "broken loose". If you come to a crane game and all the toys are "tightly packed", keep on walking.

And that doesn't even factor in if the operator has tweaked the win ratio, claw strength settings, etc...

I've seen one of these claw cranes getting loaded late one night (2 a.m.) at a truck stop when I travled with my dad. He was a over the road driver.

The guy pretty much jambed the pile into the display and then proceeded to tamp the pile, leaning in with his forearms.

It never stopped my dad from throwing $20 in at a time for a crappy stuffed animal though.

I miss the old style ones that you turned the crank for an old zippo or a pocket knife. Those used to show up at my local carnival every year until they switched to those STUPID coin pushing bulldozers.

Thanks for another great season, VF!

LostKause's avatar
Gonch, I'll give you definition # 3 from your link, "marked by or resulting from unreasoned thinking or acting". That's how you perceive the way other people except for you act in a lot of situations, I'll deal with it.

But if you are saying that people (other than yourself, of course) lack intelligence, I have no idea where you are coming from. Lack intelligence compared to who? You? ...And if that's what you are saying, then is everyone lacking intelligence except for the person who notices that everyone is lacking intelligence? It just sound so arrogant, and you know that arrogance kills me.

About games...

I LOVE the coin pushing bulldozer style games. They are "fun". I get a lot of enjoyment from them. There's always a huge stack of quarters ready to be pushed off but $20 in quarters wont budge it.

One thing that I have noticed about the quarter pushing games is that the edge where the quarters fall off is tilted upward. It takes more force to push them off. This is covered up by all those stacked quarters though.

I have always been fascinated by how games are designed in order to manipulate the perception of the chance of winning.


"CoasterBuzz - It feels like home" :)

matt.'s avatar

Uncle Coaster said:
The statement you just made would be comparable to people saying, "they spend so much money and time travelling to amusement parks that I'd imagine its not as much fun anymore".

Eh, not really. My point was more to do with once you get into the long run with slot machines, then the returns pretty much are what they are. There aren't really "odds" when it comes to going to parks so I don't really see the connection unless I'm missing something. I mean I can see where going to too many parks would lead to burn out but it's not really comparable to the point I was making.

rollergator's avatar
^I think where U.C. was going is that some of us pour an inordinate amount of money (in relation to income) into the park thing. The "return" is debatable - personally, I fel like the travel, going to new places, meeting new people, eating new food, finding people who think differently than I do, etc. yields a higher ROI than the actual park visits themselves.

Then again, sometimes I'm pretty stupid... :)

P.S. It's not necessarily a lack of intelligence (the IQ tests are too subjective and culturally corrupted) - but I don't always act in my own best interests...."stupid is as stupid does".

Heck, just on last night's faux news, I heard this (paraphrased) quote coming from some of *our nation's best and brightest* in regards to the Russian-Georgian conflict - "In the 21st Century, nations don't just invade other nations". I know the whole short-attention-span thing gets alot of play, but seriously...

*** Edited 8/19/2008 7:37:35 PM UTC by rollergator***

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