You're gonna put somebody's eye out with that deuce.
January 15, 2010 11:26 PM   Subscribe

Card Throwing. Can ordinary playing cards be used as deadly weapons? Well, no, that myth was already busted in 2004 (but it inspired some self-confessed nerds to build their own card-throwing machines and stage a contest). Even though it's not lethal, card throwing (also known as card shooting and card scaling) is still an interesting and multifaceted skill. Check out some YouTube videos of card throwing champs Ricky Jay and Rick Smith Jr., as well as other efforts.
posted by amyms (17 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Is there anyone on the planet I'd rather have dinner with than Ricky Jay? I submit to you that no, there is not.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:54 PM on January 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

Is there anyone on the planet I'd rather have dinner with than Ricky Jay? I submit to you that no, there is not.


Also, he's an awesome actor (always portraying himself, but still!)
posted by lattiboy at 12:12 AM on January 16, 2010

Also, he's an awesome actor...

Wow, I didn't realize he was so prolific.
posted by amyms at 12:17 AM on January 16, 2010

And, speaking of Ricky Jay, here are two previous posts devoted to him.
posted by amyms at 12:22 AM on January 16, 2010

I hope the comments don't highjack this totally great post by focusing only on Ricky Jay, but he's so fucking magnificent I can barely stand it. Thanks for the post, card throwing is fascinating!
posted by churl at 12:29 AM on January 16, 2010

Took too long to compose my comment; prophecy pre-fulfilled!
posted by churl at 12:31 AM on January 16, 2010

Ricky Jay! Ricky Jay! Ricky Jay!

I got into a bit of a Ricky Jay obsession about a year back and I was speaking to a friend's father, who, on seeing a picture of Ricky Jay scratched his chin and said. "Oh yes, I remember him, he taught me karate when I was in university." He went out with a beer or two with the man. Said he was a nice guy.
posted by festivemanb at 12:42 AM on January 16, 2010

Can ordinary playing cards be used as deadly weapons?

William Kogut thinks so.
posted by SciencePunk at 1:57 AM on January 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Awesome post is awesome.
posted by Jofus at 3:40 AM on January 16, 2010

So. A couple of friends and I were playing cards the other night, and for some reason the conversation turned to Ricky Jay and card-throwing. Both my one friend and I had seen clips of Ricky Jay doing his tricks - cutting into the rind of a watermelon, breaking a pencil in half - but our other friend claimed that it was impossible. Perhaps not impossible, he said, but difficult enough that no human could throw a playing card with that much force. The physics of it, he said, were impossible. My other friend grew adamant, and started to raise his voice, his arms flailing. You see, not only had my other friend seen the clips of Jay chucking cards, he had read the Cards as Weapons book. He grabbed a card and showed us how to grip the card, how to flick the wrist, how to release for maximum velocity. My other friend still didn't believe him. Furious now, my friend with the card stood up, aimed his shoulder at the empty door frame that leads into the kitchen, and hurled a card with as much force as he could muster. The card immediately veered off course about 35 degrees and headed toward my fiance, who was drinking a glass of cider on the sofa, as she quietly watched television. The card hit the glass square on and it exploded. Cider and glass flew everywhere, my fiance's arm frozen in an awkward position, her eyes darting from the glass to us to the glass to us in complete confusion. There was silence. There was shock. There were promises not to play cards at our place ever again.
posted by billysumday at 5:14 AM on January 16, 2010 [27 favorites]

Basic card throwing technique:

Place card flat between the index and middle fingers of your throwing hand. Hold your arm straight out in front of you. Keeping the card parallel to the ground, turn your wrist in toward your body. As you do this your arm will turn in as well. You should have the card in at your body, parallel to the ground, with your arm coiled in. Now you can throw the card. What you want to do is rapidly uncoil your arm and wrist, starting from the outside of the coil, which is to say your arm. Your wrist should be the last part to uncoil, creating a good smooth whip motion as you let the card go when your arm makes maximum extension straight out fom your body. If you've kept the card parallel, it should fly straight out and zip pretty good. With a little practice, you should be able to hit the wall on the far side of the room easily. (Note: I have never been able to break anything with a thrown card. I have, however, been able to dent corkboards and have also been able to accidentally make someone yelp when hit by a wayward card.)
posted by azpenguin at 7:28 AM on January 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Interesting timing for this post from my perspective. Just a few days ago I picked up card throwing again (making the cards come back to me boomerang style, like this guy) to kill time between page loads as my internet connection mysteriously became lethargic for some time.

Sadly it doesn't always work, which is why I must now crawl under the table under my monitor to gather another 52 cards.
posted by Anything at 9:30 AM on January 16, 2010

From Youtube: "Ricky Jay penetrates a watermelon"

Um, ok... I'm not sure I'm up for that.
posted by klanawa at 12:28 PM on January 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Did anybody else have that awesome seventies book of his "Cards as Weapon"? My dad passed down his copy to me when I was like ten and my brother and I put so many little dings in our walls because of that book.
posted by raisindebt at 2:19 PM on January 16, 2010

I used to practice throwing cards so I could pretend to be Gambit of the X-Men. Could never figure out how to throw them straight though. Or more than 1 at a time. Also, I realize it is a drawing. ...Now.
posted by spec80 at 7:29 PM on January 16, 2010

Years ago, in downtown Santa Cruz, there was a guy who bet a passerby that he cold throw a single playing card across the street and over the edge of the roof of a three story building. The passerby took the bet ($15) and the guy hurled the card over the roof. It's true. I was standing right there watching. I could not believe it. The $15 was paid.
posted by njohnson23 at 8:52 PM on January 17, 2010

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