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Daniel Meadows
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Well it was late on a Sunday and I had a few hours to spare and I stumbled across Max Vellucci's 'Brain Games' ebook. I couldn't find any reviews or threads or anything about it (maybe I should have taken that as a bad sign!). But as it was below my impulse purchase price (at a very modest $10) I thought I would take the plunge.

I had a vague awareness of who Max was, as I had seen some of his products advertised (more on that later), but don't know him and paid for the ebook (not a review copy etc).

So what are you getting? A 70 page ebook containing 9 routines. If you're only going to read this far then this would be my summary: the ebook appears to be the equivalent of a dealer-dem as 10 pages are devoted to adverts for Max's marketed products. 3 of the 9 effects plug his products and are followed up by a full page advert. I don't have a problem with that but it would have been nice to be a bit more up front about it.

The effects:

Mental Max
With this effect you will guess the right symbol chosen freely from a spectator amongst five present on three cards, without any forcing. 

This uses an old method that has been better explored (and explained) by Leo Boudreau, Joshua Quinn and more recently Andreu. I didn't see what the advancement was and seemed a lot of process for a 1 in 5.

Secure Draw Duplication
A simple and effective system to perform a clean and safe version of Drawing Duplication. This method, together with Mind Poker Face, has deceived even the best mentalists. 

Not a method I am particularly experienced in but I would think that Max's experience and tips with this helps to avoid a potentially embarrassing situation. Features 'Plug 1' for his Mind Memo cards as an alternative. (To be fair he does recommend another Pro's product too).

Mind Poker Face
Five people will secretly choose five poker chips from a bag: four chips are white and one chip is red. You will be able to easily identify the person with the red chip. A very clean and practical version of the Kurotsuke effect. 

I don't see the advantage of this method. You're not as hands off as with some methods, but you will definitely know who has the red chip without any trouble. Would need to be familiar with Plugged Product 2 to know the handling restrictions.

Four Chairs Prediction
Invite three spectators to sit in any of the four chairs available on stage, leaving one of them empty. Despite the fact that the choices made are completely free and at will, you will be able to foresee the final outcome of the effect. It is a very practical version of the chair prediction without forcing, nail writing or using uncomfortable outs. 

There are so many chair tests. I know quite a few. I don't quite know what this adds in terms of presentation or method. Anyone deciding on adding this to their set needs to decide in their own mind what an 'uncomfortable out' might include, as this could still fit that description.

Four Chairs Prediction V2
Another version of the Chair Prediction that opens up different types of presentations. 

More of the same.

Draw Suggestion
An innovative psychological effect that will allow you to read the minds of three different people through the vision of an abstract drawing. Draw Suggestion is an effect using real psychological mentalism and doesn't employ any illusionist technique. 

This is interesting, and credit is given to another for the effect. It reminds me of a Bruce Bernstein effect (nothing in particular just the vibe) and there must be at least 5 realities going on. It might not be surefire but the principle here could be expanded for other things with a bit of thought.

Kissing Roulette
An impromptu effect that you can create using your own business cards. Playing a funny game of Russian Roulette where at the end you will receive a nice kiss. 

I'm sure this has been done. Can't remember where. Turns are taken to eliminate cards etc. Would have been nice to credit the method. It is quite well known but even so.

Egg Roulette
Invite a spectator to participate in an original Russian Roulette. On stage there are five envelopes. One of them contains an egg. We ask the spectator to mix them up and your objective will be to crush them all, leaving the last one which contains the egg. 

If the above sounds good then that's what you get.

The Gift
A grand finale for your shows in which the final prevision will have a real unexpected twist . 

Plugged Product 3 is a recommendation for this one. Has a vibe with Bernstein's 'Eat At Joe's' with a free choice of objects from a selection first.

Did I enjoy it? Not really

Will I actually use anything from it? Probably not.

Do I regret buying it? For the price no. There are a few touches in there that may be ones for the future.

I don't think it's fair to comment on the use of language and explanation as I know Max's first language isn't English, but this might have benefited from another proof-read as some of the explanations aren't particularly clear.

It could also have benefited from credits where other people's methods are used, mentions where people have previously published similar material, and mentions of his inspiration or alternatives. There are a few nods included.

With the 42 pages of effects and explanations, and the 10 pages of ads for his 6 marketed products it does come across as a dealer dem. It may be a way of raising awareness and marketing those products but on first read through it left a bad taste.

On balance, if you liked the sound of any of the effects then for $10 I don't think you'd grumble, as long as you don't currently have a way of doing it.
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I bought this as well. Your assessment is spot on. Nothing really new plus all the ads were quite annoying I thought. Clearly aimed at beginners - I got suckered in by the price!
Max Vellucci - The Mindperformer
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Hi Daniel,
Thanks for your review and for having bought my book Brain Games.
As you noticed, even though I described nine effects that I normally perform during my personal show, the book is very cheap.
The effects are so tested on a real audience.
As you well said, in the text there are sorts of advertisements of other products I made, and this aspect allowed me to lower the cost of the book itself.
I hope that you judged my effects after a test on stage. In this case I truly accept your criticism and I’ll try to reply discussing some elements of the review step by step.

My aim was not to explore the use of binary code in mentalism, other authors and mathematicians did it before and better than me.
The effect I presented has its own originality and it has never been performed this way. If you have credits or references I do not know, I am prepared to check them.

It is a method that I often use for the preshow work. It is very useful and I think it has never been explored in literature.

Professional magicians who saw me performing this effect, told that it is one of the most powerful variants of the Kurotsuke by Max Maven: you don’t need sleight of hand or any particular electronic device or magnetic gimmick (you just need the bag).
In the book I suggest to use my Mind-Bag, obviously, but as I wrote, it can be performed with ANY opaque change bag you want.
I didn’t share this effect in combination with the Mind-Bag, so that everyone who read my book can perform it without buying my specific product.
Here you can check a video of the performance (audio in Italian)

As you well wrote, this effect doesn’t add anything new to the presentation, but it cannot be said the same for the method.
This method doesn’t involve inconvenient multiple outs, and the variant “Four Chair Prediction V2” gives more possibilities to the effect itself.
Many performers who saw my lecture use this method successfully.

The basic idea for this effect (which is unique in its kind) came talking with two other Italian mentalists (Vito Gatullo and Francesco Busani). The routine and its effect are an original creation of mine.
If Bruce Bernstein created something that results even just similar, please give me all the infos so that I can check.
I do not know anything like that in literature.
You can check a video in which I perform this effect here (audio in Italian):

The idea of “stealing” a kiss from the spectator is very old and many authors gave their different methods for it.
My contribution (original, I hope) is for the presentation and not for the technique, which name is correctly quoted.

Same ad “Kissing Roulette”.

Bernstein’s “Eat at Joe” has nothing in common with this effect, unless I missed some passages.
Also in this case, I suggest to buy my product, but I highlight that this effect can be performed using ANY force bag you want,

As I wrote in the Introduction, some of the effects described in my book are renovations or rielaborated versions of known principles, while others (Secure Draw Duplication, Mind Poker Face, Draw Suggestion) are original creations of mine.

Regarding my English, I well know that I cannot write it correctly, so I came to a native speaker translator (as you suggested), which name can be found in the credits at the end of my book.
I am sorry that, despite this, some points are not as clear as I thought.
Could you please tell me (also privately, if you want) which parts of the book are not clear, so that I can tell it to my translator?
For the credits, I avail of Marco Pusterla as historical and technical advisor, and we just inserted the credits presented in the book.
If you have suggestions for credits and references to add in the book, I’ll be happy to add them.

Thank you very much for having bought and commented my book, and for giving me the possibility to reply.
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I recently picked up a copy of 'Brain Games' after previously seeing Max's lecture in Liverpool last year.
Just to clear things up yes in over 70 pages yes there are 6 adverts, anyone would think half of the book is adverts the way you guys talk..In any case the products advertised one of them (The Dictionary Test) I bought at the lecture last year and highly recommend it, The Mind Bag I've seen up close and plan to purchase in the future too as it is a quality item as are the 4 other items advertised. Also when you buy any other magic/mentalism book these days more often than not the authors other products (and often their friends or associates) other books and products are listed so considering the price of the overall book to criticise a few adverts is a little harsh.

Anyway onto the routines covered:

1) MENTAL MAX - I found this quite interesting as I've never really delved into the whole binary principle before, looking at it, it's a fairly simply idea and I can see this being a nice parlour routine to warm an audience up with, especially if your character is about reading people and perception etc At the same time I can't help thinking there may be better ways to achieve a similar effect so until I've really tested this one out I will reserve judgement.

2) SECURE DRAW DUPLICATION - The principle of this is something I have never been comfortable with, even though I am aware many established performers use it. To me there has always seemed to be something not quite right about setting a participant up to do something before the show. After reading Max's presentation and justification on this, I have to say this is now something I may consider in the future. Also if it were performed following the MIND POKER FACE routine as a justification for bringing the individual on stage (as Max later recommends) it would seem all that bit fairer. Definitely a winner here and something I will certainly try out.

3) MIND POKER FACE - I do a similar routine using an electronic device which recently failed me a couple of times. After reading this I believe this will now replace that routine. I actually believe this routine combined with the above SECURE DD routine is worth the price of the book alone and if you're a working mentalist I recommend you check it out on the basis of that.

4) FOUR CHAIR PREDICTION - After reading this one through, I have to be honest an say I'm not sure if this adds anything to what is already out there. Having said that it is a nice method that I haven't seen before in this concept. The downside of a book is that you don't get to see it performed as I'm sure it probably plays better than I envisage.

5) DRAW SUGGESTION - Another principle of Max's I really like. I think any creative performer will look at this and think of ways to add/increase to perhaps make it a bigger routine. Very nice, I really liked this.

6) KISS ROULETTE - When I first started learning magic, I had a few little card routines which would result in me receiving a kiss from a girl. Once I moved more solely into mentalism I never really continued with these effects. My presentation can be quite a cheeky character at times and I think this will fit right in with a lot of situations that I work in. The method is simple and this will definitely go right into my close-up repertoire.

7) EGG ROULETTE - Same method as above with obviously a different presentation set for stage/parlour with a different outcome. Gives a more fun variation to the often very serious Russian Roulette plot. To be honest initially I didn't think this would be my thing but having read it a few times now I can see myself at the very least giving this a go at a future show. Simple to perform and maybe even combined in a more comedy setting this could be taken a step further with the performer or maybe their sidekick/assistant etc being covered in egg! Just an idea.

8) THE GIFT - This is one of those effects I think is really difficult to describe how strong it can be. I recall a number of times over the years I've looked into buying something and the description sounded 'Okay' but it wasn't until I saw it presented did it make me think "I want that!" ...This I believe is the case here. It reads like a nice effect but I saw this performed at Max's lecture last year and saw the power of it! Very very strong.. A wonderful piece of mentalism that really pulls the show together in a Derren Brown type style. Again I believe if you learnt this one and used it, it would massively outweigh the small cost of this book.

Overall I have to say this was a great purchase, like stated above some routines I probably won't use long term, but some I know I definitely will. The several adverts to me were not an issue and simply provided ideas on how to potentially present some of the effects included. Considering some of the overpriced and overhyped mentalism books around right now this is great value for money. If people don't see that then I just see that as their loss.

Thank you for a great set of routines Max, I look forward to seeing more of your work in the future Smile
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Hey guys, I recently bought Brain Games + Mind Bag few days ago and I thought I would post some of my thoughts in here!

I will just comment on the effects which I thought were really amazing, and the reasoning behind this.

* Mental Max

This is an interesting effect based on binary. As mentioned before on this thread, I have published a book (MindSight) about the subject and the effect is pretty straightforward and simple, it's worth reading.

* Mind Poker Face

This is Kurotsuke at its finest - if you get this ebook along with the MindBag, you will have 10 / 15 minutes easily to add to your mentalism repertoire. The routine plays huge for and - as in all great routines - you can focus on presentation and not on performance. It's funny to see some guys investing thousands of $$$ in expensive gadgets, given that you can pull this off so easily with this magnificent approach.

If you like Kurotsuke, get this now (!!!)

* Draw Suggestion

This is great in its concept, I like it a lot because I'm sure that the principle can be applied to a lot of other routines / effects. It's one of those ideas that you feel that has a lot of strength in its conception, and I already see how with DR this could be used to fry audiences. Nice!

* Kiss Roulette

This gets a spectator to kiss you easily and the best of all is that it looks very fair. I loved its simplicity and the fact that it can be done impromptu in AAA conditions... outstanding!

* The Gift

This may be the most powerful effect in the book! Although it requires one of Max's products, I'm going to get it too because I'm sure it's worth it.

All in all, I think this is a book with several amazing ideas for only 10 USD, so it's definitely worth it! Smile

I also recommend getting his Mind Bag, I'm very satisfied as it doesn't look like a magic prop and it's the very simple way to do kurotsuke without expending ridiculous amounts in expensive gadgets. Not saying that you shouldn't, just that there are always alternatives that are worth considering when the end result is the same for the audience. Smile

Hope you enjoyed my comments on Brain Games!

Until a next time,

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