The Vortex Principle & Other madnesses by Avik Dutta

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Tom Frame
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The Vortex Principle & Other madnesses by Avik Dutta

Postby Tom Frame » August 29th, 2013, 11:31 am

The Vortex Principle and Other madnesses (PDF) by Avik Dutta $16.00
15 pages, 6 photographs
Available at:

In this PDF, Avik Dutta teaches the eponymous pasteboard technique and offers several applications.

Mr. Dutta is from India and English is not his primary language. Not surprisingly, his writing is riddled with grammatical and syntactic errors. Before offering this PDF for sale, he should have asked a competent, native English-speaker to proofread and edit it.

The author does a fair to poor job of teaching the material. He does not cite any inspirational sources. He offers no presentations.

The photographs vary in quality, but they are helpful.

The Vortex Principle: The performer borrows a deck and holds it face-down in right hand Straddle Grip. Using his right thumb, he riffles up the deck from the bottom, and separates the deck near the middle. He takes the bottom portion in his left hand while retaining the top portion in his right hand. Both hands re-grip their portions in preparation for a riffle shuffle. The performer executes an in-the-hands riffle shuffle.

He repeats this procedure numerous times and ultimately winds up with the four Aces on top of the deck.

I like this technique on an intellectual level. But in the real world of performing, the method is flawed. The first problem is the amount of shuffling required to produce the effect. Mr. Dutta states:

“And as per my experience with this, the maximum number of riffle shuffles I had to use to find an Ace is three, with practice.”

So, to produce the four Aces, you need to shuffle the deck approximately a dozen times. That is way too much shuffling for this or any effect.

The other problem involves eye contact. There are only two ways in which this performance can play out. In the first scenario, the performer maintains eye contact with the participant, except when he riffles the deck. He must look at the deck while riffling. Then he reestablishes eye contact.

After several iterations of this behavior, a sentient participant must correctly conclude that the performer is looking for certain cards. That awareness undermines the magic.

In the second scenario, the performer never makes eye contact with the participant while he is riffling and shuffling. He stares at the deck continuously during these actions. He makes eye contact only after the dirty work is done. This performance style is bad for all of the usual reasons.

Despite these glaring problems, the author naively states:

“This could be the most elegant solution to Scarne’s Aces.”

Yeah, right.

I don’t like it.

ACAAN (Any Card at Any Name): A participant freely selects a card which is lost in the deck. The performer tables the deck and the participant announces any name. The performer deal cards off the top of the deck, one card for each letter of the name. He turns the final card face-up, revealing the selection.

The methodological basis for this effect is effect is Fred G. Taylor’s “Curious Count.” To locate the selected card, Mr. Taylor asked the participant to name a number within a certain range. Mr. Dutta’s meager modification is to ask the participant to announce any name, exploiting the fact that most names contain a certain range of letters. Ed Marlo and others employed this strategy decades ago. So, unfortunately, Mr. Dutta offers nothing new.

I don’t like it.

Version #2: The participant names any card. After riffle shuffling the deck numerous times, the performer tables it and the participant announces any name. The performer deal cards off the top of the deck, one card for each letter of the name. He turns the final card face-up, revealing the selection.

In this version, you must not only use the lamentable Vortex Principle, but you are also required to follow it by riffle stacking the deck. Mr. Dutta merely mentions riffle stacking, he doesn’t actually teach it. Superior methods abound.

I don’t like it.

The Narcissus Peek: The performer spreads the deck face-down and a participant freely touches a card. The performer out-jogs the selection. He is able to secretly glimpse the identity of the selection.

Mr. Dutta describes his effective strategy for looking away from the participant while engaging her in conversation. But he doesn’t teach the specific details of how he glimpses the selection!

How does he hold the deck? Does he surreptitiously tilt or turn the whole deck, or does he somehow manipulate the out-jogged card? Inquiring minds want to know. Unfortunately, Mr. Dutta doesn’t deliver the goods.

I don’t like it.

Shuffle Tracking Made Easy: Phase #1: A participant freely selects a card from her own deck, displays it to the crowd and the performer, and inserts it into the deck. The performer takes the deck, cuts it, gives it several riffle shuffles and then a couple of Faro shuffles. He tables the deck face-down and announces the selection’s position in the deck. The participant deals to the designated number and finds her card.

Phase #2: The participant freely selects a card from her deck and remembers it. The performer takes her selection and displays it to the crowd, while averting his gaze. He gives the card back to the participant and she inserts it into the deck.

She cuts the deck into several piles, shuffles them together and squares the deck. The performer announces the selection’s position in the deck. The participant deals to the designated number and finds her card.

Here, the author combines estimation with the Vortex Principle. Numerous more theatrically direct and less labor intensive methods of performing this effect have been published over the decades.

In Phase #2, why does the performer take the selection and display it to the crowd, when the participant could easily do so? Well, he engages in this seemingly pointless, suspicious behavior so that he can employ a method that has been around since the dawn of playing cards. That’s why.

Also, the author’s description of the second phase is different than the method he teaches. Either he didn’t read this PDF before putting it on the market, or worse, he read it, noticed the error and didn’t bother to correct it.

I don’t like it.

Practice Tips for Estimating Locations: The author shares four practice strategies for honing your estimation skills. His recommended techniques are useful, but they don’t break any new ground.

Not Recommended
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