Is the Ultra Mental deck better than Brainwave deck?

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Guest » 02/10/05 08:44 PM

I was reading my copy of PRISM last night, and Max Maven mentioned using the ultra mental deck (a variant on the brainwave deck) to also show all the backs in the deck to be a different color than the selected card. Its been a long time since I used my brainwave deck, but as I recall, while I can show that any selected card is the only card in the deck turned over, and perhaps convince the spectator that that card has a different colored back than the other displayed cards, I cannot spread the deck out to show this. So the ultra mental deck looks interesting. However, my experience with heavily gimicked decks, particularly if they use r***** & s*****, is that the effect is often not convincing because too few cards actually form up the spread or whatever, and there is a certain problem sometimes of thickness. Do folks find the ultra mental deck to work well in practice?



Postby Steve Bryant » 02/10/05 09:47 PM

A quick look through the books turns up this: Both decks are R/S. The Brain Wave deck allows you to spread a red (for example) deck face down. One card, the freely named card, is face up. When it is turned over, it is seen to have a blue back. The Ultra Mental deck allows you to spread a face-up deck. One card in the deck is face down. When it is turned up, it is seen to be the freely named card. No alternating back colors can be shown. The "Invisible Deck" is a routine popularized by, among others, Don Alan, with the Ultra Mental deck. It is sometimes sold simply as the Invisible Deck.

As to creators: TA Waters names Joe Berg as the inventor of the Ultra Mental deck. Maybe ... My library yields this: Dai Vernon published a description in the October 1938 (issue 49) issue of Jinx titled Brain Wave Deck. In this, he claims to have invented a R/S deck (using magician's wax instead of roughing fluid) in 1930 that is in fact what I have described above as the Ultra Mental deck. (Cards are spread face up, no alternating colors.) In the same piece, Vernon states that Paul Fox showed him a variant in 1932 that is what we now call the Brain Wave deck (face down spread, alternating colors). Later, when material was culled from Jinx for inclusion in Practical Mental Effects, the effect titled Brain Wave Deck is attributed to Dai Vernon, only the red-blue version is described, and there is no mention of Paul Fox. I don't know where Joe Berg enters the picture, but my assumption is that he was first to market the deck (first to call it Ultra Mental?) that is essentially a roughing fluid version of the trick Vernon originally invented in 1930.

I have personally never had any difficulty using a Brain Wave deck ( I spread cards in my hands; doing a ribbon spread on the table would more likely show the paired situation), and you have all seen David Blaine create wonder with an Ultra Mental.

Others have produced interesting variants along the way, notably Ron Wilson and Eugene Burger.
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Postby Guest » 02/10/05 10:20 PM

Thanks! I'll have to dig out my deck and see which one I have. But as I understand it, UltraMental just changes the cards from face-to-face to back-to-back.


Postby Richard Hatch » 02/10/05 10:37 PM

I personally prefer the Brainwave because of the apparent "extra" effect of the different colored back. I say "apparent" because in either case the effect is just 1 out of 52. But the odd colored back is an unexpected surprise and pretty much eliminates the idea that you might have turned the thought of card over in the deck by mannipulation. I use the Lesley marking system to know where I am, as counting from a pencil dot and talking at the same time proved too much for me to handle (note: the marks show the card that will appear, not the card bearing the mark. That should make sense to those familiar with the deck!).

Of course, the ultimate small packet version of this effect is Goldstein's B'Wave. He manages to get 3 seperate effects, so even though it is just a 1 out of 4 effect, it really packs a punch. And no R/S...
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Postby Guest » 02/11/05 11:10 AM

I notice that Neil Lester has an Ultra Ultra Mental deck, which combines the best properties of the brainwave and ultra mental decks. has any one tried this version?

(Richard - you are right about B'wave).

Canuck (Steven)

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