How to Win at Heads or Tails

I can teach you a secret to winning at heads or tails – every single time.  You can flip the coin a thousand times and call the heads or tails to your friends before you all look at the coin.  And this is all using a real quarter.

There are a few conditions:

  1. This works best with a bald eagle quarter (the standard quarter between 1965-1998, not counting ’75-’76, which was the bi-centennial quarter).
  2. You must be the coin flipper and catcher.
  3. You must use your bare hands.
  4. You need to practice a few times before taking this one to your family Christmas party.

Here are the steps:

Step 1: Flip the coin as you would normally flip a coin.  It doesn’t matter which side the quarter is on when you start.

Step 2: Catch the quarter in one hand, allowing it to land at the base of your middle and ring fingers, as shown:

Catch the quarter at this spot on your hand.

Step 3: Now very quickly run your thumb over the quarter before you transfer the quarter to the back of your other hand to display the quarter.  This is the part where you feel one side or the other.  The trick lies in the fact that the “Washington” side (heads) of the quarter is very smooth and the “Bald Eagle” side (tails) of the quarter is very rough.  The texture difference is enough for you to be confident as to what side of the quarter you are feeling.

Give a quick rub of the quarter with your thumb as you transfer the quarter to your other hand. The rough side is tails and the smooth side is heads. The difference is quite noticeable and you will figure it out with just a few practice tries. Then you call the opposite of what your thumb feels.

Step 4: Now, since you are transferring the quarter to the back of your other hand, you must call the OPPOSITE of what you feel (assuming you transfer it by slapping it over to your other hand, thus giving it a half-flip to its final resting place).  If you feel heads, then the answer will be tails.  If you feel tails, then the answer will be heads.

Your friends didn’t know you were feeling the quarter face with your thumb as you were transferring it from your catching hand to the other hand. Call the heads or tails, lift your original catching hand off and reveal the astonishing answer! You can’t lose!

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Dr. Jesse Joyner travels nationwide as a speaker and entertainer. His primary role is that of a performing juggler spreading joy and the love of learning to family and kids events. H earned his PhD in Educational Studies at Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL). He enjoys playing the piano, bird watching, and old houses. He lives in Richmond, VA with his wife, Sarah, and their three kids - the perfect number for juggling children.