Better Returns by Mike Ince

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Tom Frame
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Better Returns by Mike Ince

Postby Tom Frame » December 6th, 2013, 8:52 am

Better Returns (Ebook) by Mike Ince $12.00
53 pages
Available at:

This ebook contains close-up and stage mentalism effects from the mind of Mike Ince. Mr. Ince writes well and does a good to inadequate job of teaching the material.

The author dutifully cites his inspirational sources. He acknowledges that several of the effects were aided and abetted by Sean Waters and Patrick O’Gorman.

Mr. Ince should have included some photographs to complement the text but, alas, he didn’t.

Fortunate One: While dining with friends at a Chinese restaurant, the performer hands a participant a fortune cookie sealed in a plastic wrapper. He tells the participant that he sees thrills in her future. The participant opens the cookie and discovers that her fortune reads, “A thrilling time is in your immediate future.”

Mr. Ince exploits a manufacturing glitch in some fortune cookies that allows you to secretly read parts of the fortune while it is inside the plastic wrapped cookie. If you can find the right brand of fortune cookie, you too can create this impressive effect.

I like it.

The DWRNAP Peek: The performer holds his closed bi-fold wallet in his right hand. A participant writes a message on the back of the performer’s business card. The performer retrieves his card and places it, writing side down, onto his left palm.

He flips open his wallet, letting its left half fall on top of his business card. He grips his wallet with his left hand as his right hand, holding his business card, emerges from beneath the right side of the wallet. He places his business card into his wallet and closes it. He places his wallet into his inner breast pocket of his jacket. He correctly divines what the participant wrote.

Mr. Ince’s method is similar to the Jinx Switch, which I detest.

I don’t like it.

Einstein in My Pocket: On stage, a bowl filled with quarters rests on a bare table. The performer invites a female participant on stage. Using both hands, the performer removes all of the quarters from the bowl and puts them in his front pants pockets. He asks the participant to reach into his pocket and remove a handful of quarters. Realizing that his request is inappropriate, the performer takes off his pants, exposing his boxer shorts and sock-garters.

He instructs his participant to take his pants into the audience and ask three people to remove one quarter from his pants pocket and hold it in their fists.

The participant returns to the stage, reaches into the pant pocket and grabs a handful of quarters. The performer grabs a handful of quarters from his pocket and states that he has the same amount of coins as the participant, plus five, plus enough to bring her total to twenty quarters. They count their coins into the bowl to reveal that the performer was successful.

The participant removes another handful of quarters from the pants pocket. The performer removes a handful of coins from the pocket. They simultaneously count their quarters into the bowl to reveal that they grabbed the same number of quarters. The participant returns to her seat.

The performer addresses the quarter-clutching audience members. He asks them to stand if he divines the dates on their coins. He announces the years 1995, 1999 and 2002. The three audience members stand, signifying the performer’s successful divination.

This is Mr. Ince’s version of Al Koran’s “The Trick That Fooled Einstein”. The author states that borrowed the structure of the effect and much of his method from Barrie Richardson’s “Alphabet Mentalism”, published in Theater of the Mind.

The spectacle of a person dropping their pants for a laugh stopped appealing to me about 45 years ago.

I have never liked the “same amount as you, plus five, plus enough to bring your total to twenty” effect. It’s too vague and weird for my tastes.

While I like the phase in which the performer and participant grab the same number of quarters, I don’t like the fact that the performer’s hand is in his pocket for a longer period of time than is required to simply grab a handful of coins. The crowd must realize that he is doing something in there, even if they don’t know what it is.

I like the date divination phase, but it doesn’t salvage this effect.

I don’t like it.

Between Strangers: Two participants stand behind the performer on stage. He displays two large cards to the audience. One card bears the word “Sender” and the other card bears the word “Receiver.” The performer turns the cards face-down and mixes them.

Participant #1 freely chooses a card. Participant #2 takes the remaining card. The participants look at the printed sides of the cards to determine which role they will play. The performer retrieves the cards and sets them aside.

He gives each participant a yellow legal pad and a marker. He positions the participants so they are standing back to back. He asks the Sender to draw whatever she likes on her pad and mentally transmit the image to the Receiver. He asks the Receiver to draw whatever image pops into her mind.

The performer retrieves the pads and displays them to the audience. Both participants drew the same image.

Mr. Ince’s clever method made me smile.

I like it.

Changing the ODDS: This is the author’s enhanced version of Richard Osterlind’s “Osterlind Design Duplication System.” Mr. Ince’s clever addition significantly increases the perceived odds against the effect’s success.

I like it.

Beyond Grant’s OOTW: A participant shuffles a deck of cards. The performer retrieves the deck and briefly spreads it face-up to display its mixed condition. He turns the deck face-down, cuts off the top half and places it aside.

With the bottom half of the deck, he and the participant perform U.F. Grant’s “Nu Way Out of This World”, but the dealt cards remain face-down for the moment.

The performer picks up the previously tabled portion of the deck and turns his head so that he can’t see the backs of the cards. He correctly divines each card’s color before turning the cards face-up and dealing them into red and black piles.

Then he turns over the cards that the participant dealt, revealing that she also perfectly sorted them into reds and blacks.

This is a worthy addition to “Out of This World.” Mr. Ince teaches Lewis Jones’ “Pattern Principle” that allows you to perform your portion of the effect with relative ease.

I like it.

Berglasian Bombshells 1.0 and 2.0 (ACAAN): The performer shuffles the deck legitimately. He fans the cards, holds them in front of a participant’s face and asks her to remember one card. He closes the fan, shuffles the deck and allows the participant to cut it repeatedly.

The performer asks another participant to name a number from one to fifty-two. Let’s say that the participant chooses the number 23. The performer deals to the 23rd card and turns it face-up, revealing the first participant’s selection. The deck can be examined.

This is a very strong version of ACAAN. However, Mr. Ince’s method involves a special deck and a deck switch. He recommends a deck switch that was featured in a very popular marketed effect, but he doesn’t teach it or any switch.

Well, I don’t own that popular marketed effect, thus I’m not familiar with that switch. Sure, I know a number of effective deck switches and I could adapt one of them to this effect. But that’s not my job. Mr. Ince should have taught a deck switch, any deck switch. I can’t endorse his method if I don’t know what it is.

I don’t like it.

2.0 (Sean Waters): A participant shuffles the deck. The performer retrieves the deck and cuts it. He puts the deck into the card case. The participant drops the case into a paper bag and the performer sets the bag on a table.

With the performer’s assistance, the participant mentally selects a card. The performer reaches into his inner left jacket pocket and removes a pen. He writes the name of the selection, say the Seven of Diamonds, on a note pad.

The participant names any number between one and fifty-two, say 34. The performer writes the number on the note pad and places it on the table. He replaces the pen in his inner left jacket pocket.

The performer reaches into the bag, removes the card case and hands it to the participant. She removes the deck from the case, counts to the 34th card and discovers the Seven of Diamonds.

Mr. Water’s method requires two special decks, one of which must be memorized. You are also required to execute a psychological force. Mr. Ince recommends Mr. Waters’ “Red Handed” force, but he doesn’t teach it.

Mr. Ince states that this method will work “at least half the time.” Since he doesn’t teach the method, I can’t vouch for his math. When the method fails, he suggests performing another effect or performing another version of ACAAN. He recommends several versions.

Again, Mr. Ince fails to teach the complete method.

I don’t like it.

Apophenial Square: A completed magic square sits on an easel in full view of the audience. Holding a dry-erase board, the performer writes something on the board, but doesn’t show it to the audience.

He asks the crowd to think of a color. He reveals that he wrote “blue” on the board. He asks for a show of hands to see who thought of the target color and a number of audience members raise their hands.

He erases the board with a cloth, writes another word on it sight unseen and successfully sends the word to the audience.

The performer invites a member of the audience to join him on stage and seats her in a chair. He instructs her to close her eyes and then he hypnotizes her. He places a marker in her right hand and the dry-erase board in her left hand, with its writing surface toward her.

The performer mentally transmits a word or image to the participant and asks her to write her response on the board while keeping her eyes closed. He announces the target word that he sent. He approaches the participant and uses the marker to circle and compare her written answer with the one he just voiced. The transmission is sometimes successful.

The performer takes the board with his left hand. With the marker and cloth in his right hand, he erases the board.

He hands it back to the participant. He places the marker in her hand and helps her place its tip against the writing surface of the board. He instructs her to keep her eyes closed and, without consciously trying to write anything, let the marker slowly move around on its own.

He takes the board and immediately displays it to the audience. They see a crude drawing of the number 23. The performer writes the number below the magic square on the easel.

The performer takes the participant out of the trance and she returns to her seat in the audience.

He rattles off a number of coincidences involving the number 23.

Finally, the performer traces his fingers over the magic square, showing all of the ways that the numbers add up to 23.

This is an interesting marriage of the magic square and automatic writing. Mr. Ince provides the magic square for the number 23.

The author doesn’t teach his method for performing the first two thought transmission effects. He recommends, but doesn’t teach, a method for performing the third thought transmission effect. He doesn’t teach his method for hypnotizing the participant.

Once again, Mr. Ince fails to teach the complete method.

I don’t like it.

A Presentational Idea for a Blindfold Routine: The performer enters the stage with a bag over his head. He asks a participant to hold up several fingers and he correctly divines the number of fingers.

The performer removes the bag to reveal that he is wearing a blindfold. The participant holds up several fingers and the performer divines the number of digits.

He removes his blindfold to reveal that he has duct tape over his eyes. The participant holds up several fingers and the performer divines the number of fingers.

The performer removes the duct tape, leaving him with a bare face. He asks the participant to hold a number of fingers behind her back and he is still able to divine the number.

Finally, the performer asks the participant to guess how many fingers he’s holding behind his own back. He jokingly removes his hand from behind his back to show she is correct.

In addition to knowing how to see while wearing a blindfold and tape, you also require a secret assistant and a secret electronic device.

I like it.

Thoughts on UV Ink: Mr. Ince shares several interesting ideas for the use of UV ink and a “UV Wash” light during performances.

I like it.

Wishing Well: Audience members write their initials on coins and toss them into a “wishing well” bucket onstage, as they mentally make a wish. The performer picks out a few coins, identifies the owners and divines their wishes.

This is Mr. Ince’s novel presentation for a Q&A routine. He doesn’t teach any methods for covertly gaining the secret information, but he recommends several sources.

I like it.

Six Degrees (Of You-Know-Who): The performer has everyone in the audience think of an actor. He invites three participants onstage. The first participant names her actor. The performer links that actor to Kevin Bacon, playing the game “The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.”

The second participant names her actor and the performer links them to Kevin Bacon.

The last participant thinks of the name of her actor and the performer works backwards, starting with Kevin Bacon, and arriving at the name of the thought-of actor.

The performer links the first participant’s actor to the second participant’s actor and then he links the second participant’s actor to the third participant’s actor.

Mr. Ince teaches several methods and recommends various devices for performing this effect both on stage and close-up. However, you must also be skilled at playing the game in real time. The author recommends a website where you can learn and memorize actors’ links to Kevin Bacon.

Mr. Ince also teaches several methods for predicting the outcome of a game of Twister.

I like it.

Impromptu Pocket Prediction: The performer displays the back of a card residing in his pocket. The participant freely selects a card. The performer removes the card from his pocket and it is the selected card.

This is essentially Mr. Ince’s playful version of Francis Carlyle’s “Homing Card” from Stars of Magic.

I like it

Easy Peasy Prediction: The performer writes the name of a card on a piece of paper, folds it and leaves it in view. A participant takes the face-down deck and deals cards one at a time into a pile, stopping at any point to set one face-down card aside. The participant turns the card face-up, displaying the Queen of Spades.

The performer spreads the deck face-up to show that all of the cards are different. The participant unfolds the performer’s prediction and discovers that he correctly predicted the Queen of Spades.

The author’s method requires the use of a special deck and the deck switch used, but not taught, in “Berglasian Bombshell 1.0.” Again, I can’t endorse his method if I don’t know what it is.

I don’t like it.

Glance A’Hoy: The performer hands a participant a magazine. He holds a different magazine. He flips through the pages of his magazine until the participant tells him to stop. He announces the page number where she stopped him.

The participant turns to that page in her magazine. The performer describes the details of a picture on the page.

The participant turns to another page, focuses on a long, challenging word and the performer sometimes correctly divines it. If he fails, he asks the participant to concentrate on the first word on the page. He correctly divines it.

Mr. Ince has combined Hoy's “Bold Book Test” with “Glance”, a magazine test by Steve Thompson. I don’t own “Glance”, so I can’t evaluate its method.

I’ve never liked the practice of having a participant select a page number from one magazine and then turn to that page in another magazine. There is no plausible reason for using the first magazine just to choose a page number.

I don’t like it.

This is an instructional ebook. Purchasers pay the author to teach them his methods for performing his effects. In four of the effects, Mr. Ince fails to teach the complete method.

If you’re a seasoned mentalist, these omissions may not bother you. You’ll simply pull a method out of your well stocked tool box and plug it in. But the rest of us may feel frustrated or gypped by the author’s incomplete instructions.

Despite these inadequacies, Better Returns still contains enough solid, well taught material to make it worthy of your consideration.

"There is more to consciousness than meets the mind's eye." - Frame

Mike I.
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Joined: November 22nd, 2013, 3:07 pm

Re: Better Returns by Mike Ince

Postby Mike I. » December 6th, 2013, 1:48 pm

Thanks, Tom, for being candid. I'm glad you (often) liked it. I'm also glad you were up front about what you didn't like. Next time I'm sending my work to you first.

The deck-switch Tom mentioned but didn't name (like me I suspect he wants to protect the creator's interests) belongs to Dean Dill. You might know the one. It can also be substituted by using "The Cooler" device released by Vanishing Inc. Both switches can be done while standing. I haven't read Giobbi's new book on the subject (I first released this book before his came out) but I'm suspicious somewhere in his tome is a suitable replacement. If you own "The Cooler" or Dean Dill's simple switching device you're set.

I wrote this ebook for mentalists and mental-magicians. I assumed readers would be familiar with certain standard ploys and effects. Psy-forces from Banachek's Psychological Subtleties vol. 1 were not re-hashed for "Apophenial Square."

As for the hypnotic induction, I'm embarrassed I didn't mention this... you can recite the monologue included in the effect description before having the participant close her eyes. She appears hypnotized, she may even believe that she IS hypnotized. The important thing is that before she closes her eyes the audience sees some kind of process that looks like what you're doing is real. You don't have to be a hypnotist to pull it off, but pretend you're a hypnotist and you will be! Confidence (and learning your script) is key. I prefer to use a female because they tend to be more agreeable in front of an audience. Here's an example of a 'hypnotic' induction exactly as I do it:

“Alicia, you’ve shown some aptitude for picking up on my thoughts, as have a few others in this room. That brain of yours is amazing and I’d like, with your permission, to explore its hidden abilities." (At this point the performer will ask her to do two or three simple things to get her in a compliant mood, such as sitting with her back against the chair and placing her feet flat on the floor. As she accomplishes each task, it's important to compliment her.). First, I’d like you to sit here. (She does). Thanks. If you wouldn't mind, allow your back to touch the chair... good. If you could place your feet flat on the floor… great. Relax, breathe in... breath out... and sleep” (gently nudge her forehead downward and her eyes will close) "eyes closed, sinking deeper and deeper… listening gently to the sound of my voice and my instructions. As your eyes remain closed, I’d like you to take this marker in your right hand and the dry-erase board in your left” (suit actions to words and continue the effect).

That's it. Simple. The idea of hypnosis scares some people. It's rare, but if the participant looks uncomfortable when I tell her to close her eyes, I say, "You're not hypnotized, you're entering a deeply relaxed state of concentration." If she still resists, don't force her. Allow her to close her eyes and relax at her own rate and speed as you continue to speak in a soothing voice. (For in-depth hypnosis training for mentalists and magicians, I recommend The Manchurian Approach videos by Anthony Jacquin.)

Thanks, Tom, for your honest and complete review. There was a lot of material to digest and I'm grateful for your thoughts and your time spent.


Mike Ince

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Better Returns by Mike Ince

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 6th, 2013, 2:20 pm

I don't believe "Any Card at Any Number" includes fanning the deck in front of the spectator and asking for a card to be thought of. Generally it's accepted that the card is merely thought of, and a number thought of, both said aloud, and the deck doesn't seem to be touched by the performer.
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Mike I.
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Re: Better Returns by Mike Ince

Postby Mike I. » December 6th, 2013, 3:11 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:I don't believe "Any Card at Any Number" includes fanning the deck in front of the spectator and asking for a card to be thought of. Generally it's accepted that the card is merely thought of, and a number thought of, both said aloud, and the deck doesn't seem to be touched by the performer.

I see your point. CAAN is probably a better description, though to an audience the selection process from Berglasian Bombshell 1.0 will appear more fair than the usual CAAN as the participant doesn't remove a card from the deck. It was originally designed along with the fan selection to fool a room full of magicians with its free appearance. As I teach in the ebook, when doing the same effect one-on-one you must change the handling slightly by asking the participant to cut to a card and remember it. At that point it is definitely a CAAN and I state that in the text. Many readers will prefer that method, but the gutsy "Dunninger" types will use the fan selection for the parlor demonstration.

Either way, with proper spectator management the performer CAN let the participant shuffle, cut, and deal the cards once the selection has been made. I've done it that way. The moments when "heat" is on the deck can all occur with the deck on the table and the participant dealing from it into a face-down pile. You must trust the participant to follow instructions correctly. It depends also on how well the performer delivers the instructions. A phrase like "deal the cards face down onto the table here" delivered to someone who doesn't understand can blow the effect or at least abruptly end it. Spectator management is key. I also prefer to be the one who decides when the card is turned over, whether I do it or I ask them to.

The effect fools people and was well-received when I performed it several years ago so I included it in Better Returns for those who can't get enough of (A)CAAN. It's for performers who don't want to do it the hard way (these days the "hard way" is what I use most).

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