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'House' of cards? No, he stacks skyscrapers

  • Story Highlights
  • Bryan Berg makes a living building houses out of playing cards
  • His latest achievement is a record-setting skyscraper that's 25-plus feet tall
  • Berg has been breaking world records for 15 years
  • Berg says, "I like what I do. This is no kind of torture or boredom for me"
  • Next Article in Living »
By Aaron Brodie
CNN
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DALLAS, Texas (CNN) -- Bryan Berg spends much of his life in a house of cards. Literally. Berg, the Guinness World Record-honored "Cardstacker," has devoted his career to building houses of playing cards -- and skyscrapers, domes, cathedrals and stadiums, too.

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Bryan Berg puts the finishing touches on the card city surrounding his record-breaking card tower.

As with any house of cards, these unbelievable creations can come crashing down at any moment. However, almost in defiance of gravity, they remain standing until Berg decides it's time to blow them all down.

Berg, 33, is one of those lucky people who makes a living from his hobby. He travels across the United States putting on shows in which he builds seemingly impossible structures out of ordinary playing cards.

He does not use glue, tape or any other tricks to keep these card houses standing. That's what makes Berg's creations so jaw-dropping when people see them.

His latest achievement, which took about a month to build, is a record-setting skyscraper that stands 25 feet 9 7/16 inches tall. That tops the previous world record of 25 feet 3 inches, held also by Berg. The Iowa native, who lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has been breaking world records for 15 years. Video Watch Berg knock the tower down »

"I like what I do," Berg said. "This is no kind of torture or boredom for me."

Trained as an architect, Berg says he's the only person he knows of who is building card structures on a large scale publicly and making a living doing it. See how Berg got started building houses of cards »

While building card houses might not seem like a stable profession, Berg says he'd definitely take a pay cut as an architect. "I do well," he says as he points out his job's biggest perk: all the time off.

Berg isn't the only person who knows how to turn kings, queens and aces into floors, walls and roofs. He says people send him photos of their card creations all the time.

They may be learning the tricks of the trade from the master himself. Berg says he doesn't keep his card-stacking methods a secret. Indeed, he's revealed his techniques in a book, "Stacking the Deck: Secrets of the World's Master Card Architect."

Berg says he builds his card houses using a very methodical system. He doesn't randomly place cards here or there. He visualizes the structure and builds it using a type of repetitive geometry that resembles a honeycomb.

But geometry isn't the only thing that keeps the card houses standing. Berg says every seven decks is a pound, and he uses 10 to 25 pounds a day. All that weight adds up. "You take all that mass, all that weight, and combine it with all that repetitive geometry, and you're looking at something that's incredibly strong," Berg says.

Berg's card stacking began at age 8 when he would watch his grandfather play cards. His grandfather wasn't an accomplished card stacker, only a card player. Still, Berg watched him build houses with a single deck of cards between games. Berg took up building card houses as one of his first hobbies.

In 1992, before he graduated from high school, Berg already had his first Guinness World Record for the tallest house of cards. He's held that record continuously since then. In 2004, he added a new Guinness World Record to his resume: world's largest card structure. Guinness created the category when Berg built a replica of Cinderella's Castle for Walt Disney World.

At the 2007 State Fair of Texas in Dallas, surrounded by scaffolding from floor to ceiling, he methodically constructed a monstrous tower that was limited in height only by the room's ceiling. When he was done, he'd broken his world record once again.

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Despite his achievements, Berg may be the last person impressed with his card-stacking abilities.

"I'm actually a very clumsy person," he says. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About Guinness World Records Ltd.

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