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Card Houses – From Childhood

Which one of us didn’t collect houses of cards when we were kids? These fragile structures kept us chained to the table for hours in search of perfect balance. And how nice it was then an easy movement to destroy the built tower … It was this game has aroused interest in many card games, which there are a lot: bridge, poker, preference, even online blackjack. Where does the tradition of building houses of cards come from?


You will be surprised, but the history of their existence has several centuries. Now it is difficult to    say who first came up with the idea of creating the towers of playing cards, but in 1605, Jean Heroir wrote in his notes that the young king of France loves to play with cards, creating them bizarre castles. By the way, the king was Louis XIII, the same at whose court was the famous Cardinal Richelieu.

And a hundred years later, the houses of cards were already a traditional pastime for children, they were happy to compete in the one whose tower will be the highest. Since then, the tradition of building such structures has been firmly established, and languages have even developed strong expressions like “fragile, like the house of cards”. Such comparisons are still used today to describe something vulnerable, something that can be broken in one awkward movement. In 2013, Netflix launched the series “The House of cards”. It is about politics, and the name perfectly demonstrates the fragility of political relations.

How to build a house of cards

Build a house of cards – this is not to play online blackjack, it will take not only concentration, but also a little practice. But if you master this art, you can brag to friends with their high towers, and maybe set a new record. By the way, in the Guinness Book of Records there are actually people who got there for building card houses. But about that a little bit later.

Card house in dark light

So, there are two main ways to make a house of cards. Way number one is triangles. First, you need to make a base consisting of several paired cards. Fold them upside down with an inverted “V” so they’re on top. It seems simple, but we advise you to practice a bit first, because the height of your tower will depend on the strength of the base. Making a couple of pyramids of two maps, you’ll find the ideal distance at which they hold best.

Now you can start with the next step. Make a row of pyramids, and the distance between the tops should be slightly less than the length of the map, and their number depends on how high your tower will be. After that, carefully place the roof of the cards on tops so that they overlap slightly. After that you can start collecting the next floor from the pyramids on the roof. Of course, it is unlikely to be possible to assemble a tall tower the first time, but it is not for nothing that card houses are considered the standard of fragility. But you will get better and better at every new construction, because it is only a matter of experience.

Way number two is cages. If you master it, you can build much more stable structures. First, make a rectangle of four maps so that the walls look like slightly displaced letters “T”. Then lean the next pair of cards in the middle of one of the standing cards, where the cards are perpendicular to each other. Then the next one. When the base becomes large enough, it will need to be covered with a “roof” and the construction of the next floor will begin. Don’t forget that if you want to make a really impressive construction, you can’t do with one deck of cards.

The map skyscrapers are the Guinness Book of World Records.

Wooden house in the forest

American architect Brian Berg has always loved maps, like many of us. But he found ordinary blackjack too fresh. And that’s when he started building houses of cards. His achievements are impressive: in October 2007, Brian built a copy of Dallas Skyline building 7.86 meters high. It took 1,060 card decks to build it. This paper skyscraper was the tallest map building ever built.

Brian Berg and his houses of cards made it into the Guinness Book of Records. However, a Harvard graduate did not stop there and continues to break his own records. For example, in 2010 he broke his own record, building a copy of the hotel and casino Venetian Macao in just 44 days. The hobby has become a profession, so now Brian Berg is building outstanding structures, which are hard to call just houses of cards.

If Berg’s laurels give you peace of mind, here are a few tips to help with the construction of card houses:

  • Do not take new cards, their surface is always smoother and slippery, which will affect the strength of the structure.
  • Also do not choose a smooth surface for the base, the ideal option is a slightly rough table or even the floor.
  • Make sure that air currents or drafts do not negate your work.