Just Flip A Coin!
Since 2010, Just Flip A Coin is the web’s original coin toss simulator. This fast, easy to use tool utilizes code which generates true, random 50/50 results. To play, simply click/tap the coin. After you flip, check out your flip number! Click/tap the color boxes to choose your favorite color scheme. Go ahead, flip to your heart’s content!
Just Flip A Coin is perfect for:
- Deciding between two choices
- Playing Heads or Tails with friends
- Making yes or no decisions
- Deciding which team goes first in a game
- Resolving a dispute between two players
- Determining the winner of a tie
- Choosing whether to do something or not
- An alternative to Rock, Paper, Scissors
- Deciding which of two movies or shows to watch
- Teaching children and students the nature of probability
- Making picks in fantasy leagues
Coin Flip History
Metal coins were first manufactured as early as the 7th century BC, however, the first accounts of the practice of coin flipping can be found in ancient Rome. During this period, Romans called the game “navia aut caput,” which translates to “ship or head.” This is because some Roman coins had a ship on one side and the head (or “bust”) of the emperor on the other side. Julius Caesar himself endorsed the coin flip in 49 BC when he began minting coins which depicted his name. During this time, flips were utilized to make some very serious decisions, including those related to criminality, property, and marriage. The outcomes of those flips were considered to be legally binding.
Later in history, the British called the game “cross and pile.” At the time, many coins depicted a cross on one side. “Pile” comes from a Middle English term which means “reverse of a coin.” In Peru, the game is called “face or seal,” even to this day! In ancient China, the game was known as “ship or head.” This is because ancient Chinese coins were minted with a ship on one side and a head on the other.
While the actual origin of the coin toss is up for debate, many historians believe it originated in Ancient Greece. It is believed that players would cover one side of a shell with a black or very dark brown substance called “black pitch” - a resinous goo which is obtained from trees. The other side of the shell would remain its original color. Players would then flip the shell in the air and call the correct side, just like we do now!
Today, the practice of coin flipping can be found all over the world. Many sports, such as football (both American and non-American versions), eSports, cricket, tennis, and fencing, flip a coin to determine which team goes first in a match, or to determine a winner in the event of a draw. In politics, a flip is sometimes used to determine an election in the event that two candidates receive the same number of votes. Sometimes even scientists will flip a coin to determine the order of listed authors for use in academic publications.
Coin Flip Psychology
People are often faced with difficult decisions between two choices. Flipping a coin can be very useful in these situations. Sometimes, however, you may find that you’re disappointed with the result. In this scenario, instead of letting the coin decide, you may want to go with the choice that you now realize you really wanted.
In fact, it is said that Sigmund Freud himself realized this phenomenon and used it to his advantage. When faced with someone who was struggling to make a decision, Freud would sometimes suggest that they flip a coin. Allegedly, Freud would then say “Look into your own reactions. Ask yourself: Am I pleased? Am I disappointed?” This method of flipping is sometimes called the Freudian Coin Toss. By analyzing your reaction, you may realize that you actually knew the choice that you wanted to make all along!
In his book titled Grooks, the Danish poet Piet Hein included a poem entitled “A Psychological Tip” which relates to the Freudian Coin Toss. The poem reads as follows:
Whenever you're called on to make up your mind,
And you're hampered by not having any,
The best way to solve the dilemma, you'll find,
Is simply by spinning a penny.
No—not so that chance shall decide the affair
While you're passively standing there moping;
But the moment the penny is up in the air,
You suddenly know what you're hoping.
Famous Coin Flips
Naming Portland, OR
One of the most famous flips in history took place in 1845 with a one-cent coin. The City of Portland’s two founders, Francis Pettygrove and Asa Lovejoy, both wanted to name the 640 acre area which was called The Clearing at the time. They decided to leave the naming rights to chance with a best-out-of-three coin toss. Pettygrove won, and named the city Portland after his hometown of Portland, ME. The historic coin was later dubbed the Portland Penny.
Picking the first flight pilot
On December 14, 1903, the Wright brothers (Wilbur and Orville) were gearing up for the world’s first heavier-than-air flight. To determine who would fly the plane first, Wilbur pulled a coin from his pocket and flipped it into the air. It landed in Wilbur’s favor, winning him the first chance to fly. Unfortunately for Wilbur, this first attempt ended with a crash after flying only 3.5 seconds. Three days later, it was Orville’s turn and the first successful flight was finally made.
1966-1984 NBA drafts
Before the lottery system was introduced in 1985, a coin flip between the worst teams in each conference determined who would obtain the first draft pick. The careers of many of the league’s most famous players were forever changed by a toss, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, and Magic Johnson among other legends.
The Day the Music Died
On February 3, 1959, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. Richardson suffered a plane crash which cost them their lives. If not for a coin toss, Valens life would have been spared. Prior to the flight, Valens and Holly’s guitar player (Tommy Allsup) flipped a coin to determine who would get to fly in the plane chartered by Holly. Valens won, and the rest is unfortunate history. In 1971, Don McLean would memorialize this day as “The Day the Music Died” in his hit song “American Pie”.
Secretariat, the Triple Crown horse
In 1969, four years before Secretariat would claim the Triple Crown, Penny Chenery and Ogden Phipps flipped a coin for first pick of two foals sired by Bold Ruler, the famous racehorse. Phipps won the toss, decided against Secretariat and chose the other foal, a decision which would prove costly. Chenery’s Secretariat would go on to become one of the most famous horses in history, setting several records which still stand today.