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Y2John
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Benjamin Earl and Alakazam Magic present to us a 3 DVD set featring some of Ben Earls takes on commercial card magic, some of his Gambling style techniques and effects, and his work on psychological card material.

This set was something I was very much looking forward to, and I know that there were/are others who were also highly anticipating it's release... so was it worth the wait... is it actually any good... and what exactly is gonna happen once midnight passes???


Product: Past Midnight

Performer/creator: Benjamin Earl

Company: Alakazam Magic

Available: http://www.alakazam.co.uk

Format: 3 DVD set

Price: £49.99, approx $100


Im gonna split the review up into 3 sections... one for each DVD, with a fourth section at the end for everything overall.

Before we get into everything, let me just say that I don't really like going over difficlty as, well, it's different for each individual and no matter how demanding, if the performer is dedicated enough they can learn anything.
I have still tried to go over difficlty... but I was really unsure throughout.


The DVD's:

Before getting onto each individual DVD etc, I'd like to give my opinion on the quality of the DVD's themselves.
This set has fantastic picture and sound quality, with nice easy to navigate menus, and a clean overall look and feel.
I am happy to say that these are all great quality and so good job with the production of these.


DVD 1, Commercial Card Magic:

As this first DVD is, for the most part, Bens takes on classic plots, I won't be explaining what happens in the routine as I'm sure you already know what happens in collectors etc.

Collectors 1-

An in the hands collectors.

My thoughts-

I have never really liked this style of effect, and there have been so many versions that... well... they just don't feel fresh.
Bens version surprised me by having a handling that is nice and to the point, it's probably the first time ive liked a collectors routine.

Can be done with a borrowed deck.

Difficulty wise it's about medium... though it's hard to say as everyone is at differing levels, but this does require some work.
Of course if your card handling is great then you'll have no problems picking this up.

Overall... I wasn't expecting to like this as I don't really like collectors... but Bens handling and ending has won me over and I admit that this is a great effect.
If you like collectors then you'll love this.


Collectors 2-

A second version of collectors, but this time one that ses a surface... though it can still be done in the hands.

My thoughts-

I didn't like this as mch as the first collectors, but once again I thought that Ben had come up with a nice handling.
Infact the handling for this version is extremely clever... it really is, and it's nice to see this.

Can be done with a borrowed deck.

Difficlty... well I'd say this one will require more work than the first, and so is a step up in difficlty... though for some it will be easy, it will really depend on you.

Overall... another collectors that impressed me... that's 2 on the same DVD lol.
I don't hink I'd use them still as I'm just not into collectors, but this really is very clever and a great effect.
I imagine that there will be a lot of performers who will use this and collectors 1.


Open Triumph-

As the title suggests... this is a trimph style effect.

My thoughts-

Now this is a fantastic Triumph effect, by far my most favourite Triumph routine by far... this uses any named card, and has a great ending.
A very well thought out handling.

This is completely imprompt and so can be done with a borrowed deck.

Difficulty... it's probably at about medium...ish lol, it's not too hard but because it uses a freely named card it will take some work to get down.

Overall... I wasn't expecting to like this as there are already so many Triumph routines, but Ben has really come up with a fantastic handling using a freely named card, and it has a nice ending.
Also the fact that it's completely impromptu, using borrowed shuffled cards.
Excellent.


Ace Assembly-

Yep... an ace assembly...

My thoughts-

There are so many ace assembly's, and here is another one... but Ben has once again has a great handling.
It really is a good ace assembly, infact it's excellent.

It can be done with a borrowed deck etc... as long as the deck has the four Aces still intact.

Difficlty... a nice and simple handling that is direct and to the point.

Overall... a great ace assembly, and you'll learn something else that makes 4 for 4 even more deceptive.
Another fantastic handling on a classic plot in card magic.


Shades of Hofsinzer-

An effect based on Hofsinzers Aces.

My thoughts-

Im sure by now you'll not be surprised to hear this, but once again Ben has come up with a great handling.

A very small set-up is required which can be done infront of the specs.

Difficulty... pretty easy... I guess.

Overall this is another really good effect... not sure what else to say, I mean Ben continually comes up with fantastic handlings.


Prophecy Shift-

A freely selected card gets placed into the deck, the 2 cards next to the selection and the selection are removed... lets say the selection was a King and it was placed in with 6 and a 8 either side of it... now a coincidence is gonna happen... you cut at about where they did, it's a King, the King now vanishes and appears in the deck... you remove it and the cards either side of it, the 2 cards are a 6 and an 8.

My thoughts-

Well this is another solid effect.

There is a set-up, and some will be able to set-up infront of the specs... but this may not be too easy.

Difficulty... this is definitely among the harder routines to learn so be prepeared to practise... saying that there will be many who will not have many problems, but it's still among the hardest of this set.

Overall a nice solid effect that I'm sure many will enjoy and use.
I doubt I'll be using this myself, but it's a good effect.


Soft Spread Production-

A card is peeked... now as you spread through the deck, one at a time the mates of there peeked card just seem to morph in the deck, turning face-up.
You then reveal that the card they saw never was really in the deck to begin with.

My thoughts-

How ive described this really does not do it justice... it is a great effect, and has a really smooth and soft feel to it.

There is a set-up which can't be done in front of the specs... well it probably could but wouldn't look right, so I'd say no.

Difficulty wise it's fairly simple and it's more getting everything smooth and flowing that will take up most of the practise time.

Overall this is another fantastic addition to this set, it's a really solid effect.
Great.


Stroke Change-

Ben Earls colour change.

My thoughts-

An amazingly visual colour change where the card seems to change with a stroke of your finger.
All the little subtleties make this into a truly astonishing change.

As it's a colour change, it can be done whenever a deck is in play.

Difficulty... not sure, the mechanics are not hard, but making everything flow will take a lot of practise, getting all the little things together smoothly to create a magical change.


Pop Over Move-

A move where you cut the deck and a cardd just pops out into view.

My thought-

A nice little move that will allow you to cause a card to just pop out of the deck.
Could be used for all sorts from revealing selections... to finding the Aces etc etc.

Can be done anytime you have a deck.

Difficulty... very easy to get the workings down, then it's just a matter of getting it 100% of the time while looking natural... though the natural part isn't hard as the move has a natural feel to it.

Overall a great little move and one I'll be using for sure. It's always nice to have various ways of accomplishing things like this, and this is a good one.


Loose Double Lift-

A double lift technique.

My thoughts-

Cool... a very natural looking turn over of a double, doesn't look like you could be using a double.

Can be done whenever you have a deck.

Difficlty... I think this is actally pretty difficult, it will take a lot of practise to get good at... now that still doesn't mean it's hard as the workings are not, but you'll need to get a feel for it and just practise practise practise.

Overall... well it's a double that looks like there is no way that's what it is... completely fair and open, probably the most natural looking turn over ive seen.
Excellent.


Streamlined Control-

A card control... single or mltiple.

My thoughts-

A great control that is so deceptive. It literally looks like your just spreading through the deck, and they can peek cards from all different parts of the deck... all the cards are now on top of the deck.
No funny looking moves or anything.
Also a variation is taught which is also great.

Can be done whenever you have a deck.

Difficulty... not sure, the workings are pretty easy, but as with a lot of Bens material, getting it smooth and flowing is key.

Overall... excellent control that I will be utilising for sure. It really is great and just won't be seen... so deceptive.
Fantastic.


Side Faro False Shuffle-

An in the hands false dise faro.

My thoughts-

Yea, a nice false shuffle that is done in the hands... deceptive.

Can be done whenever a deck is in play.

Difficulty wise this can be pretty challenging to get down, for me anyway.
If you can faro well then you'll get this in no time, if your faro isn't too good you'll need to practise a lot.

Overall this is a great false shuffle that I can see a lot of performers sing as it's a very deceptive and fair looking false shuffle.
Always good to know other ways of doing false shuffles etc, and this is a really good one.


Chrisbuckgreenhoff and Sybil show-

A flourish that can be used to reveal a four of a kind.

My thoughts-

Well I am not keen on flourishy type manouvers, and so have not given this any time as of yet... but it looks cool.

Can be set-up infront of the specs.

Difficulty... no idea lol, for me probably very as I have not put any real time into flourishes like this... but those who are into this type of thing will very likely pick this up pretty quick.
Im really not sure though.

Overall... a nice looking flourish to find a four of a kind... looks goo but doesn't appeal to me.
Im sure there'll be a lot of others who love this though.


Kolyvargin-

A flase shuffle kinda flourish.

My thoughts-

Wow this is a great flourish to make it look like your mixing the cards... though I am not a fan of flourishy stuff, this looks great and is something that I just had to learn... I will be using this.

Can be done whenever a deck is in play.

Difficulty... not sure, it's about medium I guess... for me anyway. It's getting it smooth that will take the practise, the mechanics themselves are nice and simple.

Overall a really deceptive and good false mix flourish.
Excellent.


Aston-

A false cut flourish that retains the order of the pack.

My thoughts-

Not for me at all as I don't really like this kinda thing, but it looks great.

Can be done whenever a deck is in play.

Difficulty... no idea as I have given none of my time to this.

Overall... not for me bt a great looking little flourish nonetheless.


Full Suit Production-

Produce every single card in a suit... in numerical order.

My thoughts-

This is a great production sequence as you seemingly manage to find every card in a suit and deal them out... all in numerical order.
A great rotine.

This requires quite a big set-up, and you won't be doing this one infront of the specs.

Difficulty... pretty difficult to get down I guess, har to say as it will really depend onhow much you wanna perform this.
If a lot and you really practise you'll have it down without too much trouble.

Overall a great routine, and a fantastic show of card handling.
Great.


DVD 2, Gambling:

Psychological Table Shuffle-

A false table shuffle.

My thoughts-

An excellent false table shuffle that is very deceptive, and yet it absolutely flys.
This is not one to be used whilst the spectators are burning your hands, but for when your conversing with the participants it's ideal.

Seeing as it's a false shuffle, it can be done with any deck, at anytime and for the most part anywhere... I say for the most part because you will need a surface to take advantage of the shuffle.

Difficulty... easy mechanics, but will require a smoothness and flow that only practise will bring.

Overall this is a great false shuffle... I know I'll be using it, and I think many others will also.


Broken Thompson Cut-

A multiple false cut.

My thoughts-

Oh my... this is what I call a deceptive multiple false cut, seriously it looks so fair.
I was so happy to see this and learn it as it has to be the best multiple false cut ive ever seen.
Very well thought out.

Seeing as this is a mltiple false cut, it can be done whenever there is a deck in play.

Difficlty... well it's not difficult, and once you have the basic workings down you'll find that it feels so natural.

Overall this is my favourite false cut... period. I really love it that much, it's just so deceptive and fair looking, and you can change it up as you go along whilst it still retains it's naturalness.
Excellent.


Middle Spin Cut-

A card is spun out from somewhere within the pack.

My thoughts-

Well first, so you understand more what this move actually looks like, you momentarily lift at a point in the deck and shoot out a card... say an Ace.
This is a nice little move that looks very good, and isn't knuckle busting to pull off.

Don't know what to say about set-up as like similar things, all that's required is for you to get the card you want to use in the correct position in the deck.

Difficulty... easy, and I'm sure mostly everyone will be able to pick this up in no time at all... I have to say mostly as, well, maybe someones reading who has no fingers... you never know.
But if you do have fingers then you'll get this down no probs.

Overall... a nice little move that does what it sets out to do very well, and it's easier to accomplish than some other moves which are similar, which for me makes it better.
This will be my version of choice for this style of move.


Blind Cut Technique-

A false table cut.

My thoughts-

An old false cut but one that is very good... infact it's great, and with Bens subtleties it really is the best false cut ive ever seen (single cut).
Even when you know exactly how it's done and have learnt Bens subtleties... when you watch him perform it it still looks like an actual cut lol, fantastic.

Can be done whenever a deck is in play... need surface though.

The mechanics are not hard at all, infact it's very simple and easy.
The practise will be to get it smooth and get your speed up.

Overall... well on the DVD Ben says how he thinks this is the best false cut there is, and I can see why he thinks this as it really is a fantastic one.
Great.


4D Discovery-

Erm... not sure how to explain... it's a way to cut the deck mltiple times and come to a card of your choice.

My thoughts-

It's hard to explain exactly what this is without tipping it's workings, but let me just say that this is so deceptive and fair looking, it's like you just cut down to the card to reveal.

As it's a subtlety/move it can be done once the card is in the required position... which no one will have trouble doing if they have even the most basic of card knowledge.

Difficlty... extremely easy, and yet extremely fooling.

Overall... very good and something that I, and I feel a lot of others, will be using.


Pluckley-

Sort of a psychic game of poker... kinda lol.
Basically the participant thinks of a card, and the performer will attempt to deal himself there card... lets say they chose the 7 of spades... the performer ends up dealing himself the 4 of spades, the 5 of spades, the 6 of spades, and the eight of spades... the performer removes a card that he placed into his pocket before the effect even began, and it's the spectators selection, the 7 of spades.
If I have not described it well enough, it is one of the performances in the demo vids... so go look at the trailer to DVD 2.
Oh forgot to mention... the spec also gets to name the number of hands to be dealt.


My thoughts-

A very nice routine, excellent.

There is a set-up for this and one that can't be done infront of the specs.

Difficulty... well it's about medium I guess, not really sure as it's not too difficult, but it's not quite as easy as some of the others so I'll say between easy and medium... depends on each individual.

Overall... a very good routine that, when set, is great.


Sow by the Lug-

A sort of 'get the spec to cheat without them knowing it' kinda routine lol.
It's got qite a bit to it, but basically you lead the spec along a series of shffles etc, and at the end they have dealt themselves the four Aces (or any other four of a kind).

My thoughts-

Well to be honest I am not too keen on this routine myself, but this is not because of the effects being bad as it's not... it's just not something I see myself performing.

There is a set-up and it's pretty simple and so I imagine that most will be able to set-up infront of the specs.

Difficlty... well it's not difficlt at all, and as long as the spec follows your directions everything will be fine and dandy.

Overall this is a pretty decent effect/rotine, but just not something that really grabbed me.
Not bad by any means... just not for me.


Riverboat Harmony-

A Black Jack, Poker, and Bridge demonstration all in one... lol.
The performer does all the above with a freely chosen suit, and as a kicker, you manage to deal Ace to King in Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, and Spades... which if you wish can be blindly sorted into the correct order.

My thoughts-

Ok... this is what you call a gambling demonstration lol, I mean not just poker, but black jack and bridge also.
A great routine, though I myself will probably not make the unnamed suits be in the correct order as it may be a bit anti-climatic.

There is a set-up involved, and it cannot be done infront of the specs.

Difficulty... very simple and easy, which is good.

Overall... a great routine.
You also get taught some extra things which are also very good.


House Rules-

A card tracking/card control effect where a card is peeked and thoroughly lost in the deck and you then find it... followed by 2 cards being peeked and the deck once again going through multiple shuffles and cuts, only for the performer to cut to and reveal the 2 peeked at cards.

My thoughts-

I really like this one, and have been having a lot of fun with it.
It really looks good and seems impossible, and as the spec will find out, keeping track of the cards is just insanely difficult... yet the performer shows that they have mastered this technique.

This can be done without any set-up.

Difficulty... well it's mediumish I guess, though most of this is getting everything smooth and flowing.
I really don't know lol.

Overall a fantastic routine.
Great.


Bottom Deal-

Bens handling for the bottom deal... with an effect put to it.
Four aces are lost in the deck, you then deal some hands and end up dealing yourself the 4 Aces.

My thoghts-

Well to be honest I am not good at bottom dealing at all... and when I say bad, I really mean teriible lol.
Bens handling for the bottom deal is pretty nice, and looks very natural, though I can't take advantage of this because I am not at the stage where I could utilise this.
If you are already at home with the bottom deal then this will be something you'll like as it looks more natural.

As this is a technique, it can be used anytime there is a deck.

Difficulty... well for me it's hard as ive always had trouble with the bottom deal, and have yet to get it down.

Overall... if I could perform the bottom deal then this would definitely be my version of choice as it looks a lot more natural... though have not been able to experience it's deceptiveness for myself as of yet.


Grey Shuffle-

An in the hands false riffle shuffle.

My thoughts-

Well this false shuffle is just insane, I mean it looks just like your actually shuffling... very deceptive and one of the greatest false shuffles ive ever come across... this'll be something I'll be using forever more.

Can be done anytime there is a deck in play.

Difficulty... I'd say it's pretty hard to get down, and it's something that will take a lot of practise... though it's way worth the effort.

Overall... an amazing false shuffle that is just beautiful.
You will use this.


Erdnase Productions-

A series of productions using the Erdnase one hand cut.

My thoughts-

A nice selection of productions.

Get the card into the required position and your set.

Difficulty... well I guess it depends on if you can already do the Erdnase move... if not then it will take quite a lot of practise... if you can already do the cut then you'll have no problems with executing these productions.

Overall a nice set of productions that can be utilised when using the Erdnase one hand cut.
Nice.


One Hand Shifts-

A selection of one hand shifts to be utilised however you'd like.

My thoughts-

These are very good and are very valueble to know.

Can be done whenever a deck is in play.

Difficulty wise I'd say that these are pretty hard to get down smoothly, though some are easier than others.
Within the reach of all who are willing to practise.

Overall a nice set of one hand shifts, these are very good and things that many will want to utilise.


Discrepency Switch-

A way to seemingly switch a packet of cards with another... though not really.

My thoughts-

I really like little moves like this, and it's something that will be getting used for sure.
It is very bold, and very simpleto execute.

Can be done when ever a deck is in play.

Difficulty... not at all difficult, just bold.

Overall... I really like this false switch, it's deceptive, and easy to execute.
Very nice.


Palming Techniques-

Bens way of palming cards with one hand.

My thoughts-

I really like Bens way of getting the card into palm. It's used to get cards on the bottom of the deck into palm, or into cop.
Can also be used to get cards from within the deck into palm/cop... and can be done with the deck raised.

Can be utilised when ever a deck is being used.

Difficulty... I really am not sure, especially with this as everyone has different sized hands, different finger lengths etc etc.
It's not easy when you first start, but you'll get it with practise.

Overall... A great way of palming/copping.
Ben covers various ways of using this move.
Excellent.


DVD 3, Psychological:

Ramjollock-

A card is peeked at in the deck, then the deck is cut and shuffled, then cut and shuffled, and cut again if you so wish...
All this happens out of the performers hands, and with the performer turned away.
After this the participant finds there card and can move it to any place they wish in the deck...
For the first time the performer takes back the deck and spreads through, you are able to tell the spectator the card they are thinking of.

My thoughts-

Ok, this is the first effect you come across in this DVD, and what a start it is. Basically if how ive described the effect interests you... well that's exactly a how clean and fair it is.

This is not a completely impromptu effect, there is a little set-up, but it's not that much... not everyone will be able to set-up infront of the specs, but it's not impossible so can be done.

Difficulty wise this is not hard at all... infact it's easily within the grasp of all as far as the mechanics are concerned.
What could cause difficulty for some will be participant control and selection.
I say participant selection because not everyone you come across will be able to take part in this effect... I'd say it's more for other performers than laypeople, though you will come across laymen who you can perform this for.

Overall this effect is a good one and I think I'll be saving this for the times when I come across another performer.
A nice start to the thrid DVD.


Pseudo Brainwave-

A card the spectator has locked in there mind reverses itself in the deck while in there hands.

My thoughts-

Wow this is good, I mean it's really good...
I love the moment the participants see there card they have in mind reversed, it's such a great piece.
The rotining and way the deck is handled is so well thoght through, I mean it's truly like the card just seems to appear reversed in the middle of the deck, and this is after they have already been spreading through and handling the the cards.
Infact most of the effect takes place entirely in the specs hands.

This is a completely imprompt effect, so you can borrow a deck and perform this.

Difficulty wise, well it's kinda hard to say... many will have no problems what so ever, while others it may take quite a bit of work to get this down.
I find it hard saying about the difficulty as it will be different to everyone, but I'd say easy/medium.

Overall I love this effect, it seems so fair and free, and it happens basically all in there own hands.
A great piece.


Mental Voyage-

A fantastic subtlety that can be used in other effects, and with a routine/effect given to it where the spectator spreads through the deck and locks a card in mind, they then place there card anywhere in the deck (this all happens with the performer facing away)... the deck is not needed anymore and it gets pocketed by the performer.
Now the not only tells them the card they have in mind... but also reveals a card they were gonna pick but moved on.

My thoughts-

A really fantastic subtlety and with a fantastic effect given to show it off. This has the feel of real mindreading, more so than usual, and has the potential to really amaze.
It's not 100% sure fire, but then if it doesn't hit there is no worry what so ever as you still reveal there card they have in mind.

This can't be done with a borrowed deck as a set-up is needed which can't be done infront of the spec... but many of you will be able to utilise this subtlety.

Difficulty... well it's not difficult to perform at all, but it will require practice and actual performance time to get really good at.

Overall this is another great piece, it's very clever, and has the feel of true mindreading... excellent.


Thought of Card in Pocket-

The performer looks through the deck, removes a card, and places this card in his/her pocket...
The participant is asked to think of any card...
The card the participant is thinking of is the card the performer has in his/her pocket.

My thoughts-

YES!!! WOOHOO!!!
I love this so much, a fantastic piece without a doubt.
I have been eager to learn of this since first hearing of it when the 'Past Midnight' set was first announced, and now I know it I just can't get enough of it.
The routine is so well thought out, and so simple to execute, and doesn't come across at all like a card trick... but as the real thing.

There is no set-up or anything of the like, so this can be done with a borrowed deck of cards.

Difficulty... well let's just say that it's easily within the reach of all who wish to perform this.

Overall... one of my favourites from the set, and just a really well put together effect that is simple, to the point, and totally practical for real world performance.
Don't go expecting some revoltionary new technique or sleight as if you do you'll be disappointed... what your getting is a real world practical worker that has been worked on and honed to perfection.
Brilliant.


Peek Techniques-

Ben shares his work on some peek techniques... the look away glimpse, look away glimpse 2, and look away glimpse 3.

My thoughts-

3 different handlings and each one usable in the real world.
Im sure you'll find that one of the 3 techniques will be of use to you.
I myself will very likely use them all, though number 3 is the one ive already been putting to use.

Well as these are techniques they can be used with any deck, anywhere, and at anytime.

Difficulty... really can't say, it will be different for each individual.
You'll definitely be able to find one of these to suit you.

Overall I enjoyed this section as I always love to learn new techniques and sbtleties etc.
Now these peeks have been seen before, well 1 and 2 have, but it's the little things that Ben has added and thought about that really make these worthwhile... with Bens work on these the peeks have been made more deceptive.


SAS Force-

A very deceptive and clean card force/glimpse... in one.

My thoughts-

A very decent card force that looks, well, like nothing funny could be happening.
It's as clean as you taking a deck, holding it up and riffling through till they say stop... you already know the card at this point lol.
There is no need to handle the deck in anyway after to glimpse the card... you can just riffle through the rest of cards (or not... up to you) and name the card.

No set-up or anything as it's not an effect but a technique... so any deck etc.

Difficlty... well it's pretty easy really, everything happens in such a short space of time and it's all so natural and flowing that it sorta feels natural pretty quickly.

Overall a very nice force and one I'm sure many will take advantage of... I will be for sure.


Intuitive Poker-

Poker of the mind... you reveal a thought of card in a poker hand.

My thoughts-

I really like this routine... a lot.
Poker presentations always play well, especially with how many enjoy playing/watching it, and this takes the poker theme and twists it into something... mental.

There is a tiny set-up needed for this, but it can easily be done infront of the spectators with no worry.

Difficulty wise this is very easy to perform when it comes to the mechanics, but like most mentalism, it's the presentation/performance that is gonna sell this, not the card handling.

Overall a really good routine and another great piece of material from Ben Earl... so far everything has been great, and this doesn't change the pattern.


Intitive Poker II-

An alternate handling for Intuitive Poker.

My thoughts-

Well this is another way of performing Intuitive Poker, but the difference is that this is completely impromptu... and starts with the spec handling the deck, I'm saying this so you know that they can literally remove a deck and without you touching it you can go into performing this.

No set-up what so ever, so if there's a deck you can perform this.

Difficulty... well it's not too difficult, but one thing it is for sure is bold.

Overall... this is a great alternative to Intuitive Poker, and is actually Ben Earls version of choice.
I think it's a great alternative.


Mental Swap-

A thought of card transposition... that's right, a card that the spec has in mind, actually swaps places with a card the performer has in mind.

My thoughts-

A nice solid effect, and a bit different to the usual thought of card as in this one the card the performer has in mind and in his pocket, swaps with the thought of card the spec has in mind and in his/her hands.

There is no set-up involved, so you can be handed a deck and perform this.

Difficulty... well it's pretty easy to get this one down, and though it's simple it is very deceptive and fair.
Definitely within the reach of all.

Overall I like the idea of this one, it's clever and easy to accomplish, and looks so clean.
If you like the sound of a thoughtof card transpo then I'm sure you'll love this.


Playing the Odds (bonus effect on DVD)-

A poker themed routine where not only do you reveal there thought of card, but they deal themselves a Royal Flush.

My thoughts-

This is a very nice routine, and is completely hands off on the performers part throughout.
From 5 hands of poker the spec can think of any card, then they deal 5 hands again... you get them to put there hands over there pile... now not only can you tell them exactly where there card is, but they have dealt themselves a great poker hand.

There is a tiny set-up, but it can be done infront of the spectators.

Difficulty... well it happens with them handling the deck throughout, so not very hard lol.
Will take practise to get your part perfect, but handling wise it's easy.

Overall I love this routine as it's something that happens without you having a part in the card handling, and you still get there thought of card and they themselves deal a Royal Flush... so it's got mindreading, poker, and they themselves do the handling.
Great.


A quick Q&A with myself... yes, I talk to myself.

Q- Yowza... so is everything really as good as your saying, I mean surely it can't all be good... a bit caught up in the hype are we?

A- No... not caught up in the hype at all, the material really is as good as ive been saying.
If I were to say any different I'd be lieing.

Q- Any thing I'll need, like Gaffs or gimmicks?

A- No, none at all.

Q- But how advanced will I need to be in my card handling to be able to fully take advantage of the material?

A- This is suitable for all skill levels, and everything is achievable by all who are willing to learn.

Q- Hey... who's that over there!!

A- Where? (turns to see)

SMACK!!! POW!!! BANG!!! BOOSH!!!

Q- Ha ha thanks a lot... see ya!! (runs of with Johns 'Past Midnight' set)

A- ................ (Lays on floor unconscious... wakes up and realises whats happened, then falls into a state of depression)

Q- Oh... thanks for the bonus booklet!!!! I hear only 100 of these were available... cheers!!!!!! (shouts from a distance)

A-............ (can't handle the emotions and falls into a coma)

NEXT DAY- John wakes up to find it was all a nightmare, his 'Past Midnight' set nestled safely on his side... he lets out a 'WHOOP' and has a nice cp of tea.

Erm... maybe I should stop there... Smile


Material Overall:

As you can see from what ive written, I love the material contained within this set... and in all honesty there is not a single piece of filler.
Everysingle effect is well thought through and fantastic... seriously.
On top of that, Ben covers alternate additions, sleights, and added subtleties throughout.
I don't think I have ever seen a set which offers so much fantastic material, even the effects I wouldn't use are still of such a high caliber.
I was expecting to not like much from the first DVD... oh was I wrong, it's brilliant... and then the 2nd and 3rd DVD's material, well, is just phenominal.
Completely full of practical, workable, powerful real world material.


Teaching Overall:

Benjamin Earl is really good at explaining and showing the material and everything that goes into them.
He's clear and covers all points fully.
Nothing is rushed through, nothing is left out, everythig is very well done.
I enjoyed his teaching style and found everything to be enjoyable to watch.


A quick something in regards to difficulty:

Though ive said a lot of the material is pretty easy, that's just the mechanics... the real work on many of the pieces is the presentation and subtleties.
The way you perform them and how they flow.


Overall:

An absolutely amazing set that is completely full of insanely good material.
Sometimes it's rare to find a couple of good pieces on a DVD, sometimes maybe nothing at all... everything in this set is fantastic, even the effects you wouldn't perform you'll be able to appreciate just how good they are.
I truly can't praise this enough, it's just so good.

Buy this... buy this now... you won't regret it.

Totally recommended.


Thanks to Ben Earl for sharing his material, and thanks to Ben and Alakazam for putting this project together and bringing it to us.


Roll on 'Skin'!!!
deputy
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Great review John Thanks
Daren
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Ditto to what john has said above, I have this set also, and am blowing people away with ramjollock, pluckley, thought of card from pocket, shades of hofzinser etc, buy this set now!
boinko
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I take it this is available only in the UK?

I see no mention of it on Alakazam's US site.

Will US retailers carry this?
deputy
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Alakazam ships to the US or I think I saw it on Hocus Pocus
Y2John
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It's on hocus pocus
nikyas
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Great review! thanks!
bonesly
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I disagree with some of the things you said in your review. Firstly, I would like to say that Past midnight is definately a great dvd set, and definately well worth the price. However, this dvd is definately not for begginers of card magic, definately not, there are only a few pieces that beginners may be able to perform, but the majority of the work is for medium to advanced workers.


The first sleight is enough to put anyone off card magic completely. Imagine being introduced to card magic, and then seeing that as your first test, wow! Also Ben assumes a lot of card knowledge when going over most of the explanations., For example with the first effect, it would have been nice if Ben could have explained what culling of cards is. I mean I know what it is, you may know, but a beginner to card magic would have no clue, culling is not even explained in expert card technique by Hugard and Braue ( which was my very first card book. I am saying all of this because it is a bit misleading to tell everyone that there is no difficulty, because I feel this dvd is just not for beginners.

One of the effects one that I was most impressed with was mental voyage. However, it is just a dressed up version of Richard Osterlind's Breakthough control(Test condition card trick, obviously it is not the same stack, but Ben has only added one,but still important, subtelty. Now in terms of explaining mental voyage, if you are a beginner to card magic forget it, you probably won't have a clue about what he is talking about.But don't worry most experienced card workers, amateur/advanced, will have no problem with this set.

Not to keep rambling on but this is not for beginners. Also, if you are an experienced card worker, just remember you are not paying for Ben's originality, only, the slight variations in his handlings.
I have met Ben before, and his skill level is excellent, and the dvd's are testimony to that. 90% of you, will not be dissapointed, the rest will be impressed but a bit lost
magicstudent
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It is already available at http://www.themagicwarehouse.com for $90

Jeff
I'll Be Back!
-Schwarzenegger-
whitefish
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Thanks for the in depth review!

I think I'm going to get it, sounds good value.
Y2John
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Cheers, it is such a great set.

bonesly... I believe that a lot of the materials mechanics are pretty simple, though yeah, there are some that use culling or maybe a pass, but nothing too demanding... infact the pass is used like 2-3 times in the whole set.
And though he doesn't explain culling, I'd imagine that most know how to cull, or at least have basic knowledge of it.
An absolute beginner will not be able to just dive right in and paick up all the material, but there are also quite a few pieces they still could use, plus it gives them something to work towards.
The psychological and gamboling DVD's has a lot of material that everyone from beginners to experienced can learn and use.

I doubt a complete beginner would pic this up though.

I still think that if you like the sound of this set... pick it up, I truly believe it to be as good as what I'm saying.
dylan magic
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Best review ive ever seen on the Café y2john, nice.
again the old saying that .."if everybody could do it, it would be easy" ..springs to mind..i enjoy having something to work towards and if everything on the discs was easy, then I doubt many perfomers would want to use the effects. ben lectured for us and afetr having seen him personally, his own skill is fantastic but the effects are within the grasp of most willing to put jus ta little time in here and there.
past midknight is possibly the best material to surface in a long time.
MOJave
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While y2johns review was extremely indepth and awesome I am surpirised ther ehasnt been much in the way of posts regarding Past Midnight..... I am waiting for mine in the post all the way in OZ so cant comment on it yet, but the hype surrounding this was huge and the effects look superb..... this thread hast even gotten past one page yet..... now that truly is astounding Smile I thought there would be a lot more discussion regarding Past midnight.... just my .02

Chirstopher
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Chris Jenkins
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Christopher,
I suspect it is because people are struggling to drag themselves away from it. There is just SO much material to absorb. As soon as I get the Grey Shuffle sorted I will relax a bit more!!!

Chris
psychicturtle
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Quote:
On 2007-12-21 10:26, Chris Jenkins wrote:
Christopher,
I suspect it is because people are struggling to drag themselves away from it. There is just SO much material to absorb. As soon as I get the Grey Shuffle sorted I will relax a bit more!!!

Chris

That's exactly it. I'm off to practice some more...
Doctor REvil
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Guys,
how does the "Grey shuffle" compare to the Ron Wholl shuffle on the new Malone dvd's....?



David
Karma means you buy now & pay later.....think I've over spent....!

Check out my ebooks at the lybrary.....

http://www.lybrary.com/david-gemmell-m-13404.html
Bobby Forbes
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The grey shuffle looks very similiar to the real green shuffle.
nikyas
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I've got mine today. My initial thought is WOW!

more to follow...
Doctor REvil
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Quote:
On 2007-12-22 08:35, Bobby Forbes wrote:
The grey shuffle looks very similiar to the real green shuffle.


I do hope its better than that........I know some here will disagree re-Real Green Shuffle, but IMHO the Ron Wholl & the Karl Heinstien shuffle is far better.....

Have to wait and see what the Grey shuffle is like.....


David.
Karma means you buy now & pay later.....think I've over spent....!

Check out my ebooks at the lybrary.....

http://www.lybrary.com/david-gemmell-m-13404.html
Bobby Forbes
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Just check out the demo..it's exactly like the real green shuffle but only bridging one of the packets instead of both. I've been doing this for quite a while. You have to admit, it looks great in the demo. And yes, I like it way more than the heinstein shuffle, and it's angle proof.
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