This book is simply one of the most influential book in my magic learning – and it’ll remain in the magic library for many years to come. However, it’ll mainly benefit newcomers of card magic. If you dabble at card conjuring then you will want to take a look at this. It contains a lot of beautiful routines that are very easy to do. This is the genuine ‘easy to master’ card miracles. If you know your basic sleight-of-hand (hindu shuffles, double lift, glide – to give you a rough idea of what level) you’ll have no problems learning the routines in here. Even if you don’t, it’ll only require a little practice before you’ll be entertaining your friends and family with a deck of cards. What I love most from this book is some of the routines end with a beautiful layout. There are some routines I relearn once in a while because they are so effective. The downside is the description is very wordy at times and the routines have too many unnecessary actions from an effect standpoint. You’ll also have to accept the fact that names to moves like the bluff pass will not be given because Harry Lorayne wrote the book way back in the 1960s. Otherwise, it’s a great classic!!!
Everything I’ve said about CardShark applies here as well. You can go read that. However, you can bet there are more magical effects in this book than in CardShark. Some magical card plots you might be familiar with thats in this book is Do as I Did (spectator and performer cuts to the same card from two different decks – I was badly fooled, it’s real magic!), Signed Card-to-Wallet, an Ace Assembly (what people know as Jazz Aces – his sequence is very nice), and much much more. His gambling routines are superb . . as always. There is one (ok all of them but this one in particular) in here that was way too good to be revealed. It will leave people with the impression you can do anything with a deck of cards – as you demonstrate control of all 52 cards by dealing grand slams in a bridge game.
I should mention what I failed to last time that Darwin Ortiz belongs to the traditional school of sleight-of-hand. His main concern is how to entertain an audience with a normal deck of cards. Unlike some performers, Darwin Ortiz gears his routines to fool even the spectators on his left and right. His routines are not angle-prone like some tricks sold on the magic market today. You’ll really love his routines in that he’s very practical for fooling a small group of people with sleight-of-hand – just as one might expect from a real cardshark. No, he’s not a flashy, finger-flinging performer – but I remember after watching his performance that he was one person I did not want to play poker with – in fact, I was very afraid because he could hustle me without my realization.
I believe books written by Darwin Ortiz are superior to any of that I’ve read from others. His books are collegiate level. He does not offer quick tricks that stuns them for a brief moment. Every routine has the right performance duration, twist/climax, and end clean. How every trick should be performed by every performer. If you’re ready to take your card performance further that to a professional level, study his books.
Another A+. Consider this and CardShark as the same only they cover different grounds with a slight more emphasis on magic (if weighed on a balance scale). You should begin with this as it predates CardShark and also because it contains more magic schemes than it does gambling.
This rather large book contains lots of routines that are real gems. It covers coins, cups and balls, and cards. However, more on cards than the previous two. I won’t comment on the coins and cups and balls as I don’t have any experience with them, but I will give you an idea about how I feel concerning the card routines.
There are definitely strong card routines you’ll find in this book. The sleights are so devious that makes it worth your buy. You’ll find a lot of useful sleights that will fool the audience. However, a drawback is that it contain many unwanted ideas that make the learning process difficult (some of them are based on opportunity). Perhaps if you have all the time in the world, but we magic aficionados want only the best material – in which is embedded within these pages but it is diffused among other less satisfying ones. You’ll have to plow into these pages and find great ideas here and there.
You will also run into the problem of finding some routines so great except for that 1 or 2 parts you know you don’t want to do in front of people. Perhaps it’s more about practice however I personally felt even with practice I wouldn’t be able to fool people with certain moves – only a person with strong presentational control can do it. In such a case then great, get this book. It has lots of great ideas. However, don’t expect every routine to be intellectually gratifying.
I have to give this book an B+. While this book contains a great amount of sleights for use, it’s bogged down with information we don’t want to know as well. I believe it is worth your time to look through this book because you’ll get a lot of sleights you won’t know through magic fad.
Ed Marlo felt magicians have very short memory. We often use concepts without knowing where they originated from. I can testify to that fact because recently I met a magician who could not vocalize the proper terms for each sleight-of-hand technique he used. Whenever he wanted me to realize what move he was thinking about, he just did it and said "that one." Furthermore, whenever I spoke the magic language, he always asked me to show the move so he could say "oh that!"
The Annotated Erdnase is your reference to all of the sleights created since "Expert At The Card Table" was written (back in 1902). It is simply a copy of "Expert At The Card Table" with additional sidenotes from Darwin Ortiz. For those of you who don’t know, "Expert At The Card Table" is an extraordinary book offering technical description on gambling sleights such as false cuts, false shuffles, and shifts (what magicians call the pass). These sleights described however assumes the performance is at the card table. Because it was written back a century ago, it needed an update. What the reader will find valuable is the references to many other modern, variant sleights created since then. Let me tell you, this book is loaded with information. This is one book card conjurors need in their library. If you wanted to know everything related to the slip cut, this book will let you in on that! I should mention a different book called "Revelations." The format is the same only it was written by the "Professor" Dai Vernon. In that book the focus was on the technical moves themselves, providing tips overlooked by the original author.
The Annotated Erdnase isn’t just a reference guide; it also contains informational tidbits regarding the book itself (like how many technical errors the author of "Expert At The Card Table" made). Also included is documents from Martin Gardner concerning the identity of the original author, who we still don’t know. If you’re interested on that topic, I know that new research has been done that is not in this book. Check out Genii and Magic Magazine – I believe sometime in 1999-2000.
I give this book also an A+ because it is readable, rereadable, and loaded with essential information. It will appeal to people who are interested in the history of sleight-of-hand as well as people who are looking for gambling techniques. If you’re a flashy, finger-flinging type of magician wondering if the sleight-of-hand in this book is good, look elsewhere. The sleight-of-hand techniques described have their roots in gambling.
I had the benefit to see the reaction from a fellow magician. What shocked me is that he appeared rather less than enthusiastic about the tricks – commenting that its way too long and too difficult.
I believe the large majority of magicians will feel the same. However, I contend that the materials contained within these pages are not for the average magic hobbyist – nor is it intended for the intermediate card performer. It’s only for those very special few who have what it takes to bring the art of magic to a professional level. If you are advance in sleight of hand (particularly gambling techniques explained in "Expert Card Technique" and "Expert at the Card Table" / "Revelations" / "The Annotated Erdnase") or willing to put in the effort here you have Mr. Ortiz to provide excellent routines that will maximize their usage. They are not easy. I can tell you right now that one sleight requires over 700 hours of practice before mastery – which Darwin Ortiz claims that 1 in 10,000 people can do. But the dividend it pays back more than suffices for your time spent. These are genuine card miracles for the close-up conjuror.
As the title suggests, this book consists mainly of routines regarding gambling themes such as the Scarne effect (cutting to four aces after spectator shuffles the deck). However, it also contain routines with magical themes – such as Mr. Ortiz’s construction on a Card-to-Wallet effect and Mr. Ortiz’s version of Brother John Hamman’s famous signed card. But what a student will find most valuable is the performance tip that the author gives from his experience through performing his creations over hundreds of time. He offers his rather sharp insights and observations. Everything he discusses has been performed before being in print.
I wish I could write more on the book but I need to get offline and pay attention to my wife. You’ll have to just check it out to know what I mean. I remember being nonplussed (and that’s an understatement!) when I first saw Darwin Ortiz’s performance. My mind was racing for an explanation when I saw him perform One-Handed Poker Deal; I was wondering if it was real magic because intellectually I could not understand it. But even if you don’t plan on using his routines, it is worth reading to see how he thinks. He has a very special mind thats worth looking at. When he describes other people’s sleight like Mike Close’s Spread Control, he changes the handling in such a subtle way. Alright, I got to go. I hope the review was useful.
Strong presentation, readable, reread value, and great illustrations. I must give the book an A+.