* My favorite tip I like to give out is to always have quarters AND dollars with you when you go to a machine. This way if you're playing a 50 cent machine, and there's only one gettable prize, you can use quarters in hopes of winning on the first try, and not "waste" your second play when nothing is gettable.
* Another reason to bring quarters is because many times, someone has already put in 1 quarter into a 50 cent machine, and you then only need to put in 1 more quarter to play your first game.
* A third reason to bring quarters is to alway make your first play with quarters. This will tell you if the machine is working properly. I once stuck a $5 into the machine, only to find out that the claw would randomly drop after trying to change direction...If I started heading east, when I tried to go north, it would drop the claw instead. If I had tried 1 play using quarters, I'd only be out 50 cents instead of $5.00
* A fourth reason to bring both quarters and dollars is because sometimes one of them won't work. Many times I've seen the dollar bill acceptor not work, but the quarter slots work just fine. I've also seen where the quarters don't work, but it will take dollar bills. There's nothing more frustrating than having to walk away from a gettable prize just because you don't have bills or coins.
* Check coin return slots! This includes pushing the coin retun button, I've pushed them before and had quarters drop out for me that I didn't put in. Free claw machine plays!!!
* Check prize chutes - Sometimes people leave their prizes because they forget, and sometimes I think the vendors leave stuff in there as a surprise. Also it's a good idea to check before you leave just in case you may have won something that you forgot about (I speak from experience).
* Prizes are won (most of the time) not because you can wrap the entire prize in the claws grasp, but rather because you have open space underneath the prize. Air under the prize is crucial for most weaker claw machines.
* Having open tips is much better than completely surrounding the prize with all three prongs. A great example is Mrs. Potato Head. If you wrap all of the prongs all the way around her, you're not winning it unless that claw has a death grip. Instead, you want to wrap two prongs under her feet, and have the third grab nothing. With space available, the claw will close harder and squeeze the prize between the two prongs. Same thing for bear shaped prizes, if the legs are spread apart, hooking two legs with a third prong below the crotch is a good strategy.
* Look for lots of room under the prize - If a prize has room underneath it for the tips of the claws to clamp, you have a better chance of winning. Remember, it's all about where the tips can get after the claw is dropped. Many times they'll snap (audibly) together if there is lots of space under the prize, and then you're almost guaranteed to win it (although, as you'll find out, nothing is guaranteed with claw machines!)
* For necklaces in the jewelry machine with a heavy pendant, if the chain is too long and you grab just the chain, you might end up with a situation where the pendant ends up on the outside of the prize chute, and the chain part falls in the prize chute. Unless you can reach your hand up the chute, you'll be stuck trying to pick that necklace off the prize chute sidewall, which I've found to be difficult.
* Don't go for the easy to win prizes to the right of the prize chute to start with, unless it's something you REALLY want over anything else...If the machine returns to the chute heading to the left and towards you at the same time, sometimes the prize will fall out when it hits the area right above the dead zone. If you leave the easy to win prize there, it's possible that it may save your prize from falling into the dead zone, or even bounce it into the prize chute.
* Don't keep trying for the same thing in the same spot...Chances are if you didn't get it the first time, you won't get it the second time. Unless it was VERY close...Try small moves in another direction, sometimes that's all it takes.
* If your claw spins the same every time it drops, use that to your advantage. If you know where a prong will be when it gets near the prizes, you can stick a prong in an armpit and get great grabs on prizes!
* The sooner you play after the machine has been refilled, you'll see that many more prizes are available to win. When there are less prizes in the machine, they're obviously harder to win, and quite often packed down so much that the claw can't get around anything.
* Sometimes you have to play for positioning to win the prize on the next play. If you see a cute doggy plush sitting there, and he's not gettable by the head, it might be a better idea to use a play to lift him by the foot to change his position so that you can win him on the next play. Many times this is the case if there's not a lot of open space to really get around the prize.
* If you've ever spotted the hard working guy/gal refilling the machines, be polite to them. Play in front of them, lose sometimes, show them that you're a "player" and are willing to spend money on their machines which ultimately pay his/her income. I've always shyed away from the refill guy, sometimes to the point of creepily peeking through a Cheetos display waiting for him to leave, but recently, I went in and played in front of him. We had a good discussion about claw machines and what do you know, he left some prizes very easy to win. He's done this multiple times now for me, including a $1 size Om Nom!
* If you come up to a machine that has weird numbers on the display, it probably won't work. Don't put your money in just yet. Try unplugging and replugging it in first. The machine will often times reset itself and you're ready to play again.
* Watch Youtube videos, especially those from the Claw Ninja, of course. There are tons out there, and you'll learn a LOT by seeing how other people win certain prizes. You'll often be able to duplicate their wins in your own machines.
* The Plush Mute - If you have to shake a machine to roll something in the chute, but have to shake it a lot, it will make a lot of unwanted noise with the prize door banging against the machine. Put a previously won plush in the prize chute door so it doesn't hit back and forth as you shake it. I call it a "plush mute". It keeps things a lot quieter for your questionable strategies :)
* Jewelry Claw - One great tip I just learned about was to watch the prongs on a jewelry claw. If there's one prong that consistently ends up on top of the other two, that's the one you want to hook the prize over. If you hook it on the lowest prong there's a good possibility it will drop it, because the prongs are angled downward when the claw is closed. If you're hooked over the top prong, it has to slip through all three prongs to drop it. See this video for a great demonstration of this tip: (Loop Fishing at the Jewelry Claw Machine!!! 10 WINS!)