John B Born, a young magician from New-York, is back with a 200-page book dedicated to his card magic. Because it was announced that half the book would be focusing on stack effects, I felt compelled to buy it. You can purchase directly from its author on his website.
The book itself has a pleasing format and page layout, with photos that may be a little bit small but still more than enough to understand the effects.
After a foreword by Joshua Jay, John opens the book with an introduction containing interesting ideas about the notion of a magic that is more «cognitive» than visual.
Here are the effects that made a big impression on me:
The Perfect Pick is an idea that John had already described in Card Magic USA, a compilation of American magic authors organized by Peter Duffie. Here, John explores the idea in further details. To sum up the effect, a spectator freely selects a card from a spread deck as your back is turned, then you guess the selection in a direct, easy and clever way.
John also describes a stage version of his effect, whose core principle lends itself to many variations. It is an idea that I’ve been using since I found out about it in Card Magic USA, and it never fails to fool laymen and magicians alike.
Seeking the Bridge is probably the concept that excited me the most in the book. As the magician looks away, three cards are freely peeked at during a riffle. You then manage to guess the three cards in a very direct way. Like The Perfect Pick, and other ideas presented in the book, Seeking the Bridge is a versatile tool that you can adapt for your own routines.
Pocket Change is a technique allowing you to change a deck for another, without a table, without any strange moves, and even without touching the deck! It’s a great tool for those in need of a discrete change in walk-around or table-hopping situations, or even inside a routine. John discusses the change within the frame of a stack-related effect, but of course it can be used to introduce any gaffed deck.
Time to Shine is a very sneaky idea for those who refuse to use a marked deck but still wish to do an efficient and indirect glimpse.
Numerical Reverse Revisited, as its title implies, is John’s version of an effect by Mike Powers. Based on a stack and a faro, it may not please every reader, but the effect is nice and the construction simple. By the way, that’s the main characteristic of most of John’s routines: the construction simplifies the procedures to the extreme, to obtain a very direct effect.
The Delayed Crimp is once again an interesting and original tool to use in your deck and repertoire.
Slugged is a Texas Hold’em gambling routine based on a stack. As all stack effects described in the book, you can use any stack to perform the routine. Page 96 describes an excellent idea to manage the dealing of the burn cards during the game, and the reconstitution of the stack afterwards. A few pages later, John quickly goes over a psychological notion about false shuffles, and I suspect you’ll underline this idea to use it later. Slugged is also interesting because it has been designed not as a magic trick, but as a realistic and convincing memory demonstration for an audience of poker connoisseurs.
A Blackjack Bet has the same base as Slugged and applies the idea to a blackjack demonstration. It is also interesting to note that both Slugged and A Blackjack Bet can be performed with only a partial stack (a half, a third or even a quarter of your stack), allowing you to really shuffle part of the deck, reinforcing the impossibility of the demonstration.
Mathematical 3-Card Monte Revisited is John’s usage of the Hummer principle. Although I wouldn’t add this routine to my repertoire (the Hummer principle is clever but too procedural for my taste), it is the occasion for John to describe a clever idea related to the stack (Memorized Deck Solution), as well as Wesley James’ variation on the one-handed Daley switch, a very convincing and versatile tool.
Motivation: Glued Deck is a nice magical joke for this spectator who insist on showing his great (and probably only) magic trick he knows.
Right on the Money is a prediction effect that I had seen during his French lecture tour. This very commercial routine is here described in details.
Casino Card Killer is another commercial effect for table-hopping, based on the same idea as Right on the Money.
My Ladies can be combined with either Right on the Money, Casino Card Killer, or some of your routines. It is an «optional» effect that is extremely visual and impressing when the situation is right; if it isn’t, the effect simply becomes foreplay for your following routine.
Motivation: Cutting to the Aces is a reflection on... yes, cutting to the aces. John suggests an original presentation for this classic, managing not to use (as it is often the case with this effect) the gambling theme. As described by John, the effect even becomes an interesting structure able to support the rest of your show.
Queens Prediction manages to combine an extremely strong and direct prediction effect with a magical and visual revelation. The idea itself is not new, but that doesn’t diminishes its impact, and once again I’m sure it will make you come up with other effects based on the same principle.
« My Cards » is another effect based on the same principle, and offers a memorable ending to your demonstration.
Card in Spectator’s Pocket is a walk-around effect in which a freely selected card (that could be signed) is guessed by the magician, then disappears from the deck, only to reappear... in the spectator’s pocket! The method is ballsy but the structure of the effect is used again for the following effect, Card under Spectator’s Shoe (a free, signed selection disappears and reappear under the spectator’s shoe), a routine that is easier to perform than the previous one, but whose effect remains just as impressive for the audience.
To sum up : The book as an object is nicely produced, and the content is intelligent and diversified. The methodological approach is more psychological than technical, all the while avoiding boring procedures and still obtaining strong effects for the laymen and magicians. I’m glad I bought this book and will probably add some of John’s ideas to my arsenal.