How to Hack a Crane Game


The Crane Game: a staple attraction in most boardwalk arcades and carnivals all across the world. But unfortunately for you and your date, the prizes trapped inside can often seem impossible to pick up. Don't worry though, your failure has nothing to do with you. Inside all of these machines is a small yellow box that controls two aspects of the game: it determines how often the game should let someone win a prize, and also how strong the crane's claw should grip the prizes. Luckily, you can still beat the system without breaking the game wide open.

Things You'll Need

  • Pad of paper
  • Pencil or pen
  • Coins

Hacking A Crane Game

  • Position yourself inconspicuously in sight of the claw machine that has the prize you wish to win.

  • Record each person who comes and plays that particular claw machine, making note of how many people it takes until someone wins a prize.

  • Determine when the claw machine is going to pay out next. Each machine is calibrated to pay out after a certain amount of times used, so count the number of plays it takes between each win and you will have determined the machine's pay-out cycle.

  • Play the claw machine the next time it's supposed to allow someone to win. You should have a significantly easier time winning a prize this time around.

Tips & Warnings

  • Machines with more expensive prizes have probably been calibrated to have a much weaker claw strength and a much longer time span between winners. These machines will probably require you to be patient when determining their pay-out cycle, so stay with it.
  • Even if you play a machine when it is scheduled to allow a winner, a prize isn't guaranteed. You still need to concentrate, and should choose a prize that is close to the chute and free from any obstructions that it could get snagged on.


  • Photo Credit D-BASE/Photodisc/Getty Images
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