Oil and Water

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Guest » 10/21/01 05:58 PM

I've been tap dancing around this one for a while. Was wondering if anyone uses this piece on a regular basis, in a working environment? If so, what kind a reactions are you receiving? I love the plot and there seems to be plenty of room for suspense and drama.

Larry Jennings' version on "Thoughts on Cards" is very magical; no gaffs, 8 cards, and a spectator gets involved with the dealing. I'm starting to break it in a bit in walk around scenarios. Those who've worked it for a while may have some insight.

Like all great plots, there are sooooo many variations.

[ October 21, 2001: Message edited by: ChrisDavid ]

Postby Bill Duncan » 10/21/01 06:31 PM

Originally posted by ChrisDavid:
I love the plot...
... a spectator gets involved with the dealing.

I too love the effect but haven't ever performed it for laymen because I haven't a script that I'm happy with and simply saying "lookie here Oil and Water" doesn't work for me.

Phil Goldstein has two very nice sequences called Mixant and Up and Down Mixant which are the opposite of Oil and Water in that the colors interlace when you shake the packet. You can find both in Focus from Hermetic Press.

The best Oil and Water I've ever seen is in "Spectacle" (L&L Publishing). It's from Ray Kosby and it's called "Never The Twain Shall Mix" in which you and a spectator take turns dealing cards onto your palm in alternating color. Sounds like Jenning's has a similar sequence...

I wonder if people would care to share their presentationalconcepts?

[ October 29, 2001: Message edited by: Bill Duncan ]
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Postby Guest » 10/21/01 06:49 PM

Yes! Someone informed me recently that the middle sequence of the Jennings version was based on Kosby's idea. It's a bit cumbersome to perform fluidly, particularly when they are burning the hands at that moment, but talk about magical!! Yikes! The colors separate, then instantly mix, this time face up/face down!!! This flows nicely into the end phase, also pure magic as nothing seems to happen techniquely.
I'm going to check out Spectacle. Tamariz wrote a thesis on the subject in The Magic Way, but as I run through it again, it appears to be mostly on the table with the magician doing the mixing. His psychological observations are what's important however, and worth studying.

My desire is to perform it standing for a small group, impromptu, with spectator involvement.

[ October 21, 2001: Message edited by: ChrisDavid ]

Postby ADG » 10/21/01 07:15 PM

Hello Chris....I usually don't like oil & water card tricks until I saw Harry Lorayne's version which had a kick butt climax at the end. I don't perform this routine when I do walk around since you need a table for the card displays. However, if the occasion ever arises and you don't want to perform another pick,look,think,peek,point,select,...etc.card trick, this is the one routine that I do. I do not use the oil & water patter, since in my opinion I think that it's weak. However, I can't remember in which video it's in. Spectator reaction at the end has always been WOW! where did those cards come from...and of course, you're left clean at the end!
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/21/01 07:47 PM

The version of "Oil and Water" that you are referring to is called KJV and has appeared in a set of Larry Jennings' lecture notes (possibley "Up in Smoke"). Two of the three sequences are Ray Kosby's. One sequence is Vernon's. The combination is the only thing Jennings claimed.
It is the best "Oil and Water" I've seen.
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Postby Guest » 10/21/01 07:54 PM

Although I don't do Oil and Water, I too have read and re-read Tamariz's version in The Magic Way. BTW, anyone interested in taking their magic to a deeper level should study his stuff. (Especially The Magic Way) Not necessarily for the effects themselves, but to learn how to make your own effects stronger.
Oil and Water has a reputation for being boring and overdone. (Only magicians know that however) I personally believe that any effect CAN be strong in the right context.
The Kosby is version is good because it uses audience participation and has a logical climax. In fact, I believe I'm gonna go work on it myself.


Postby Guest » 10/21/01 08:07 PM

If tables aren't a restriction, you've got it made. My criteria though is:
a) impromptu (no gaffs, no extra cards)
b) audience involvement (they help dealing/alternating their color)
c)stand up, no table top.
The oil and water patter does ground the effect in the spectators mind. But certainly other analogies can be made. It would seem that without such an analogy , you may run the risk of it being too puzzle-like.

Most, if not all of my work, is done in the walk around venue. Unfortunately this limits my selection of material sometimes, and since I make my living performing magic, I cannot afford the luxury of learning beautiful routines or techniques that I'll never use.

Are you saying you absolutely need a table to display the cards? The Jennings version I've been playing with requires no table but contains a tough middle sequence. What makes it tough is the spectators intent on watching the separation the second time around. You're creating and holding multiple double cards during the display. It's a wee bit awkward, and a little contrived. But the pay-off, as I mentioned above, is tremendous (instantaineous mix, face up/down)

I'll check out Harry Lorayne's version. Thanks.

Postby Guest » 10/21/01 08:11 PM

Thanks for the clarification, Richard.

Postby Guest » 10/24/01 11:22 PM

I use Oil and Water constantly when I work.
I use the first two phases of Rene Lavand's and end with a modified handling of Chad Long's. It gets great reactions from laymen. The Kosby version is very solid however I never have liked his ending for it. Just my .02

Postby Richard Morrell » 10/25/01 07:17 AM


Guy Hollingworth has quite a nice version of O&W on his London Collection video, Simon Lovell has a really good patter hook along with his version in Simon Says (won't tell you what it is, look it up!) and lastly have a look at Scott Guinn's The "X" On Val Dees routine over at Visions:
http://www.online-visions.com/effects/0 ... ldees.html

It combines Aldo Colombini's 'Nice Salad', Ray Kosby's 'Never the Twain shall Mix' and Dan Fleshman's 'Oil Slick', Dan's part for me is one of the strongest simplest versions of O&W using just 4 cards, its brilliant! And Scott's routine ends with a kicker climax.

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Postby Guest » 10/25/01 02:59 PM

Thanks Rich,
I'll check out Hollingworth's and Lovell's routines.
I used the effect last night and was really suprised at the strong reaction. Because there are no gimmicks and only 8 cards are used, it's completely impromtu.
Guinn's version sound great. Too bad about the double backer though.

Postby Guest » 10/25/01 04:26 PM

Juan Tamariz has decribed planty of version of O&W in his book "The magic way". He also have a very visual one: four cards are on the table(mixed), the other four cards are face up in his hands, he just makes a waving action and that s done. The cards wich are inhis hands visualy turn into 4 red.
But it seems that he did published this version.

I personaly use Hollingworth routine wich is very clean.

Postby Guest » 10/25/01 05:07 PM

I've sited "the Magic Way" above. Remember, the original criteria was:
a)No extra cards
b)No gimmicks
c)No tables

A bit restrictive, but the real world demands it.

Postby Guest » 10/25/01 05:19 PM

You may live in the Matrix for such a demand ;)
without extra cards ... then forget about Hollingworth's routine.
You can use one of Tamariz wich he combines with his trick "nether blind nore stupid".
I know that the decription of this version is in a french videotape (Best of Tamariz seminar - Joker Deluxe) but i don't know for an english description.
In this version spectators are highly involved.

Postby Guest » 10/25/01 05:38 PM

I've been performing Larry Jennings' version from "Thoughts on cards" video.
As Richard Kaufman has pointed out above, Jennings took ideas from Vernon and Ray Kosby and blended together an in the hands, perfect routine.
It's been going over very well with audiences, so consequently I've become fascinated with the age old plot.

[ October 25, 2001: Message edited by: ChrisDavid ]

Postby Steve Hook » 10/25/01 11:01 PM

Besides "Never the Twain Shall Meet", my vote goes to Chad Long's full-deck Oil and Water.

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Postby Guest » 10/26/01 05:07 AM

I agree the Kosby Oil and Water is excellent. I use it often. For a full deck Oil and Water that is killer and quick check out John Bannon's routine from Smoke and Mirrors titled "Shake Well Before Using" page 26. You can hear the jaws hit the floor at the end of this great effect.
Take care all.

Postby Brian Morton » 10/28/01 08:23 AM

Richard Kaufman writes:
The version of "Oil and Water" that you are referring to is called KJV and has appeared in a set of Larry Jennings' lecture notes (possibly "Up in Smoke"). Two of the three sequences are Ray Kosby's. One sequence is Vernon's. The combination is the only thing Jennings claimed.
It is the best "Oil and Water" I've seen.

Richard, are you talking about the O&W on the "Thoughts on Cards" tape? I loved that version, but it seemed to me (especially as it is an A-1 tape) that there was a discrepancy in Larry's description that messes up the trick for someone trying to follow along. I think it was in one of the middle sequences.

I love that version (for the same reason that Chris does) but I'd love to see it in print.

brian :cool:
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Postby Frank Yuen » 10/28/01 08:46 AM

I love that version (for the same reason that Chris does) but I'd love to see it in print.

As Richard mentioned it is in print in a set of Jennings' lecture notes. I'm pretty sure it was in "Up in Smoke" as well. I also seem to remember that the printed routine was a four phase routine.

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Postby Guest » 10/28/01 10:59 AM

Yes, there is move Jennings fails to point out during the third phase (a card is stolen back.) A couple of rewinds clears it all up.

The entire piece is logical, magical, and just plain good theater.

Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/28/01 07:56 PM

I've just gone back and watched a tape I made (for myself) of Jennings performing all the material for the "Up in Smoke" lecture notes. This was done so I could have a primary source for the material when writing it up for the books rather than relying on the descriptions in the lecture notes.
In any case, the KVJ routine does have four phases, two are Kosby's, one is Vernon's, the fourth is Jennings'.
I should point out, however, that the OTHER version of Oil and Water in "Up in Smoke" is also damn good and VERY convincing. LJ uses TWO extra black cards (so 10 cards all together) and at the end counts all 8 cards as oil. VERY good stuff.
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Postby Steve Bryant » 10/29/01 07:14 AM

My long-time favorite oil and water is Danny Dew's, plus a Vernon finish. This weekend at my favorite bar I added the Kosby phase from Spectacle, which I had overlooked. Thanks to you guys for pointing this out. It's incredible. Alas, I don't have the Jennings tapes and can't follow the rest of the thread.
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Postby Guest » 10/29/01 06:45 PM

Where can I get my hands on "Up In Smoke"?


Postby Guest » 10/29/01 06:54 PM

At a private party Friday night, the host gave away playing cards as table favors. It was nice to crack open those decks and perform the KVJ oil and water.

That middle section knocks 'em down!!

Currantly, this has to be the strongest card piece in my walk around set.

Postby Rafael Benatar » 11/01/01 05:38 AM

I also use the jennings-Kosby-Vernon routine from Thoughts on Cards. In the 1st phase I draw attention to the left hand and do the moves in the shadowy area as in-transit actions. Only after the first 2 moves are accomplished do I call attention to the fact that we're alternating the cards, i.e.: put a red card here...(do my thing without saying anything while retracting my hand) ... another one...(everything is done) ... another red, another black, red, black.
If sitting at a table I do the first 2 phases of Ascanio's routine, then I have a strategy to lead into Walton's Oil and Queens. This whole routine is included as a bonus effect at the end of my tape on the Cups & Balls (I know, this doesn't make much sense but that's the way it is), with permission from Ascanio and Walton.
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Postby Chad Long » 11/27/01 11:43 AM

Rafael: That's exactly what I do. Another thing I do for added misdirection is, as I'm dealing down each of my first two cards, I look up at the spectator and ask them to give me another one.

So basically their attention gets split between me putting down my card (and doing the secret move), and them getting ready to deal their next one down. After the first two, of course, you can be as fair as you want. :D

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Postby Curtis Kam » 11/27/01 02:12 PM

Like many of my own practice sessions, this thread started as a search for a presentation, but became an exploration of techniques instead.

It's easy to get distracted, since the methodology is so darned clever. (by the way, check out the methods created by Jose De La Torre, I believe in "Magicana from Havana" that will make you smile inside each time you do them, they're such out-and-out swindles.) See? I did it again.

In our defense, I think part of the problem is that the effect itself seems very closely tied to the method used. It does take a fair amount of narrative patter just to get the effect across. And clarity and a lack of moves seem to define the better routines. In other words, I'm not sure a presentation will be effective if it leads the audience too far from the details of the effect. For instance, an involved story patterline would probably muddle things up.

So, to get to it, here are some presentations that have been used successfully:

Derek Dingle was the first (I think) to change the patter to "oil and vinegar", making it a little easier for audiences to relate to.

Guy Hollingworth, being English, uses the effect to illustrate the "admirable facility with which aristocratic noblemen escape the company of the common herd" (to paraphrase Erdnase)

Come to think of it, Erdnase's patter from "The Exclusive Coterie" could be adapted to the O&W plot successfully.

Using four Queens and four Kings, you could say whatever you want about male/female relationships in the O&W phase, and end with the "Royal marriages" effect.

Various performers have defined the "mixed" state as "Chaos" and the "separated" state as "Order" (although things could be presented the other way around)and talked about the Third Law of Thermodynamics, and all things tending towards increased entropy. (Or is that the Second Law?)

Jose De La Torre suggests using the effect as sort of a "running gag" , with each phase performed separately, inserted between your other effects. He also suggests using a sign with "Mixed" on one side and "Separated" on the other, with appropriate graphics, and the sign is turned to further illustrate the supposed state of the cards. He has such faith in the plot that he ends his act with the final phase of the O&W.

For my formal close up show, I once used a presentation where the separated state of the cards was called the "present" and they moved into the future through the mixing process. The cards then travelled back to the "past" by unmixing. This was helped by a paperweight given to me by a Japanese magician, an hourglass that ran backwards, with the "sand" (really yellow plastic beads) flowing upwards (floating in a liquid)

That's about all I can think of at the moment. I know you can also present the thing like an abset-minded professor, starting the effect by mixing the cards, then setting them down to tell a joke or something, and then starting again, thinking nothing of the fact that the cards are unmixed.

And as encouragement to seek out the De La Torre book, here's one of those phases: Openly interweave the 4 red and 4 black. Spread in a face-down fan. Turn the fan to show the faces, then turn face down again. Pull out the middle two cards, turn them face up as a unit, and reinsert them into the fan at the same spot.(this reverses their positions) Separate the fan between the two face up cards, and, by placing the face up cards face down either onto or under their respective packets, you can now Elmsley count each packet, showing the colors separated.

Are you smiling? I was.

The other sequences are even better.
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Postby Sean Piper » 12/01/01 06:15 PM

For the past few months now I've been slowly working on an O & W routine to call my own. Before I even started I placed a few restrictions on the end product as follows:

1) No gaffs, strangers or gimmicks. This is for the simply because I'd like the routine to be completely impromptu and examinable.

2) No more than four phases. This is a fairly standard rule when creating magic, yet sometimes I get carried away with six, seven, eight phases!! Right now I do three standard separations, plus an instant mix climax.

3) Each succesive phase should appear fairer than the previous. In other words, get the dirty work done early.

I first do a fairly standard red, black, red, black mix with the cards face down to start, followed by a similiar phase whereby the cards are shown face up. The third phase involves the spectator dealing cards themself, and finally the instant mix.

4) Decrease the number of 'moves' as the routine goes on. This ties in with number 3, in that the spectator will be watching closer and closer as the effect moves on.

Apart from a side-steal at the beginning, there aren't many chances to be caught out through the routine.

5) There should be a definite climax. I've seen many O & W in which the separation is done three times using different methods and that's it...???

I currently use Harvey Rosenthals method to achieve an instant mix of the cards.

So with all of that in mind, I've combined ideas from Ben Harris, Danny Dew, Ray Kosby, Paul Cummins and Harvey Rosenthal plus an original touch of my own which I think makes for a real crowd pleaser.


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Postby Pete McCabe » 12/01/01 11:56 PM

As per Curtis's suggestion, here's another presentation strategy that can serve to heighten the effect.

In Carneycopia, John Carney presents "Oil on Troubled Waters" as an effect in which the red cars rise to the top. There is no mention of separation. Focusing solely on the red cards aids in clarifying the effect.

This is a great routine which climaxes with all the red cards in the entire deck rising to the top; it begins with the spectator shuffling the deck.
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Postby Guest » 12/02/01 08:39 AM

I can remember many years ago disagreeing by mail with Karl Fulves, who thought that Oil and Water was simply not an entertaining trick. My own experience is the exact opposite: audiences love it.

A Follow the Leader/Oil & Water combination has been a staple in my act almost forever, usually following the opening trick. The Oil and Water sequence has varied in length, at one time running from 4 cards to 5 to 6 to 8, with an Anti-Oil-and-Water climax. I taught that one to a number of magicians, including one bar magician who used it constantly.

But for several years now, I've used an abbreviated version with simply an oil-and-water, followed by an anti-oil-and-water. I've used virtually all the methods at one time or another, but always came back to one using an Elmsley Count. These days, a lot of magicians make up reasons why they feel that face-up EC's don't fool audiences. Nonsense! I have never in many, many performances had a non-magician have any idea what was going on.

If you want to see my routine, check the video of it on my web site. Sorry but it requires Real Video and is over 1 mb to download and run.

The best version I've seen from a magician's point of view is Chad Long's.


Postby Guest » 12/02/01 09:41 AM

Thank you Robin for mentioning Chad Long's routine, which includes three Red/Black effects, two of which use a full deck: Black-Red-Blank, Oil and Water, and Full Deck Oil and Water. It is clever, magical, and the only Oil and Water routine I've seen or read with patter which makes sense and don't seem stilted.

It is found on "Chad Long's magic video."

I believe the routine is not only compelling for magicians, but a great lay-audience effect as well (I'm currently routining it to be my close-up opener, so I'll let you know).

Randy Campbell

Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 12/02/01 11:08 AM

The Jennings' Oil & Water (from Up In Smoke) was published as "Hefty Oil & Water" in my old "Inside Out" column in the other magazine. The only thing I added was a phase from Roy Walton's "Oil & Queens."

I also reprinted "Hefty Oil and Water" with "Definitive Oil & Water" (based on Richard Vollmer's nice routine) in one of my lecture notes. The latter was also reprinted in GRIFTY BUSINESS. Both of these routines are on my Website.

About 15 years ago I began collecting ALL of the Oil & Water routines published, planning to put out a HUGE Oil & Water compendium. I thought of calling it VALDEZ IS COMING!

I still may do it for the sake of cardman-perversity. As earlier posts have pointed out, the challenge has been to figure out presentations. One of the finest (still unpublished) is by Norman Beck.

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Postby Guest » 12/02/01 11:20 AM

I hope you eventually do publish your compendium of all O&W routines, Jon. I'd love to go through it.

I must say though that I think magicians overrate "presentations" for O&W. My own experience is that this is one of those effects which is so clear for audiences that a clever little story would only get in the way. The "lines" in my own routine are very few and have emerged over a very long period of time.

Reset is another such trick, to my mind. I don't like presentations of it which characterize the two sets of cards.


Postby Bill Duncan » 12/02/01 11:56 AM

Originally posted by Robin Robertson:
...Reset is another such trick, to my mind. I don't like presentations of it which characterize the two sets of cards.

I have an old set of Jamie Ian Swiss' lecture notes (An Interesting Application Of That Principle) which has his version of Reset. Jamy uses red and black cards rather than the "standard" aces and kings.

Jamy also has a very clever presentation about all magicians wanting to invent a slight that will cause their name to go down in magical history. He then demos "the move" which he calls "The Swiss Movement" :D
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Postby Philippe Noël » 12/02/01 01:26 PM

Dear Robin,
I think that the oil and water segment of your routine(just with 8 cards)is the best I have seen.

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Postby Guest » 12/02/01 04:25 PM

Noel, thank you very much for the compliment on my O&W routine. One thing: when you do something over and over for many years, it gets winnowed down to the core elements. E.g., it took me a long time to come up with that twin subtlety of openly transferring one card from top to bottom to make them separate, one from bottom to top to make them alternate.

But so much is a magician's personality. I friend came over today who is much more deliberate than I am. He does a fine, direct O&W routine with two phases: the first where in displaying reds and blacks at the beginning, he ends up with a face-down packet with 2 reds, 2 blacks, 2 blacks, 2 reds. This is before really starting. He takes off the top 4 and uses a Gemini Count to seemingly show 4 reds, each of which is dealt on the table. Then a Gemini to show 4 blacks, each of which is put on a red. Then he slowly assembles the pairs, taps them and the reds and blacks have separated. Very nice.

He follows with Ray Kosby's wonderful in the hands version, which I also should have mentioned. There's a lot that's good out there, and magicians have to choose what fits their personality. I'm an outgoing type who teases a bit, so mine fits me.

Thanks again.


Postby Guest » 12/27/01 01:41 AM

The Harry Lorayne Oil and Water reffered to by someone with the "other card" ending is most likely Walt Maddison's "The Sting." The credit may be in very small print on the back of the video box.

It is a great effect, but when you take a cold look at it, it's like Oil and Queens except you see the cards mixed initially. If you show the cards already mixed as most people start Roy Walton's Oil and Queens you've simply saved some dealing time for lay people.

However, more cards does allow those extra cards to be a Royal Flush, a good ending if working for card players.

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Postby Terry » 12/27/01 10:18 AM

Rene Lavand has a really beautiful oil & water presentation using red & black cards. My ex-roommate from NY, was nailed between the eyes while watching Mr Lavand on Worlds Greatest Magic special.
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Postby Guest » 12/27/01 11:23 AM

I totally agree that Rene Lavand's routine (I believe it is 6 phases !!) is a beautiful piece of magic.

My personal favorite Oil and Water routine is one that is currently in Darwin Ortiz's 2001 lecture notes called "Ultimate Oil and Water". I perform a 3 phase Oil and Water routine and phases 1 and 3 are almost identical to the first half of Darwin's routine (Did that make sense????). It uses 3 black cards and 3 red cards.

This routine is based on Derek Dingle's Routine "Oil and Vinegar" which is based on Roy Walton's routine. Wheww.

Postby Randy DiMarco » 12/28/01 07:41 AM

A really nice Oil and Water sequence that I use all the time is "Oil and Water Two Step" by Gabi. It can be found in The Learned Pig E-Zine vol.1 no.1. The presentation is closer to follow the leader than oil and water. The cards are attracted to like colored cards rather than mixed cards becoming seperated.
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