You can walk through the hole…of a tiny piece of paper!

You can walk through the hole…of a tiny piece of paper!
Children’s Corner


Since we were kids, all of us have made innocent bets with our siblings, parents or friends that we will be able to achieve something they won’t expect us capable of. Often these bets are very funny and, to give an example, might look like: “I bet you I can eat this whole cheeseburger in less than five minutes”. Wagers like these are commonly known as ‘proposition bets’, and some historical figures have even made a living from winning them.

Alvin Clarence Thompson (1893-1974) was a well-known American hustler, and garnered such a notable reputation that he became known as Titanic Thompson. He travelled the country wagering at cards, dice games, golf, shooting and famously, proposition bets.

One of his favourite wagers was betting that he could throw a walnut over a tall building. Those accepting the bet didn’t realise that he had weighted the hollowed shell with lead beforehand meaning he could throw it with ease. His wagers have amused people across the world and certainly highlight the importance of thinking outside the box.

While trying to emulate Titanic Thompson is not recommended given his questionable and shady lifestyle, he does show how proposition bets intrigue people, and give them a sense of wonder.


Luckily, there are plenty of proposition bets you can try out in the comfort of your own home. One that always invites scepticism is the wager, “I bet I can cut a hole in this piece of paper large enough to walk through”. Of course, no one will believe you can do it – but this wager is possible and quite simple to execute. All you need is a piece of A4 paper and a pair of scissors.

Fold the paper in half lengthwise. Cut the paper horizontally but not all the way through, alternating which side you cut from as you go down starting with the folded side ending with the same cut (starting on the folded end) as you started with. Then, cut through the folded parts of the paper except for the first and the last ones. This keeps your paper together in a big circle. Now unfold the paper revealing a very large hole – large enough to walk through! If you find this part difficult, make sure you ask a parent or sibling for help, as it can be a little tricky.

Once you have made the hole in the paper, you can walk through it, much to the disbelief and amusement of those who are watching. This is great to perform at family events or gatherings, like Christmas, and will certainly have everyone in hysterics.

With this proposition bet under your belt, you can begin to learn even more.