Review: Card Delusions by Ryan Matney

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Dustin Stinett
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Review: Card Delusions by Ryan Matney

Postby Dustin Stinett » June 30th, 2016, 4:25 pm

I like card tricks, and sometimes card tricks are just that: tricks. They do not require any deeper meaning than that, and—in my opinion—that’s okay. It’s like any other form of entertainment: know your audience. A lot of people like card tricks. If you like to collect them so you can perform them for those who enjoy seeing good card tricks, Ryan Matney’s Card Delusions is a good source, particularly if you are not deft of finger and require something easy, but still deceptive and entertaining.

The majority of the effects in this collection are subtlety-based. Be prepared to do some Down/Under (or Under/Down) Deals and—as it appears to be a favorite of Mr. Matney’s—use George Sands’ Prime Number Principle.

Of high importance, when performing effects that are process heavy, is that the routine have an engaging premise. Mr. Matney seems to have an enviable gift for coming up with presentations that not only keep the audience’s attention, they justify these procedures.

Right off the bat he hooks you in with a Jack the Ripper story, complete with pithy comments about the “suspects”: Jacks of course. In “The Whitechapel Solution,” the culprit is identified via an earie message that appears on the back of the card. Whether or not one sticks with the Ripper premise—or the follow-up version, “The Court Card Murder Case,”—the concept of this packet effect is something that table workers should investigate.

“A-Proxy-Mate” is a coincidence effect between the spectator and the magician that ends up with a production of four Aces. That the cards are mixed via cutting (by the spectator) seems to preclude any stacks or sleight of hand (there is none of the latter and a six-card slug of the former).

Coincidence and matching is the usual theme of effects using these kinds of procedures that “Discard Dating Service” falls into. This time the spectator is able to match the Queens with their appropriate King mate. It is a version of Hofzinser’s “Royal Marriages” with a big assist from Peter Duffie. In fact, the majority of the effects in Card Delusions are Mr. Matney’s versions of known (and little-known) works. Mr. Matney never claims them to be “better,” just different, usually easier, and he always fully cites his inspirations.

I enjoyed “Grifter's Game” as it is a poker themed routine that will engage card players as well as those only somewhat familiar with games of chance—so most people in an average gathering. In effect, the performer shows how to cheat, switching in three Aces for a nothing hand that the spectator has. Of course, in a double cross, the performer ends up with a Royal Flush. This effect might have the most difficult sleight of hand in the collection, and it is well within the grasp of the intermediate student. Beginners looking to make the step to intermediates should have little difficulty as the “hard move” is Mr. Biddle’s handy move. Virtually every sleight of note in this book is fully described, though—again—Mr. Matney sources those that are not in the realm of standard.

“Without a Clue” is a card revelation with the kicker ending of having the selection’s three mates make an appearance. There’s more than just “pick a card and I’ll find it” going on here.

I am not a big fan of stickers versus signing cards, but I’m not sure I’d agree with the late Aldo Colombini that signing is a better way to go in “Harmony,” a coincidence effect between a couple or pair of close friends. The reason is a cozy handling in which the bottom card of a packet must be so identified without revealing it prematurely. Under these conditions, placing a sticker sounds easier to me than signing.

Two black Jacks are introduced as the thieves of the deck. They steal treasure right out of the spectator's hands leaving behind a surprising message” is the description of “Primal Scheme.” Even Mr. Matney clearly had a hard time describing the effect as it happens with the eight card setup of two Jacks, five Diamond cards, and a message card. The bottom line, it’s a nifty little trick.

I’m not sure how I feel about “Neepomuk” [sic]. It’s a combination of “Twisting the Aces” and (but only sort of—and not just because it uses the Kings) Hofzinser’s so-called “Ace Problem.” A selection is revealed via a message printed on the backs of three of the Kings—the backs of which have changed color.

The hardest part of “The Pallbearer's Aces” will be finding someone who can riffle shuffle (versus riffle mangle) the cards and who you can trust to spread through the cards by what we might consider a “normal fashion.” In the end, you look like a real live card expert when, in fact, you do nothing but recall the order of three cards and pull another one out of a pre-loaded pocket.

“Penultimate Man” is a Triumph routine that is easy to do and without any doubt has the most amusing excuse for not doing a particularly difficult version of a sleight I think I’ve read. You’ll have to buy the book to read it yourself (and, Mr. Matney, I don’t have one of those either).

Apparently my idea of a “direct effect” and Mr. Matney’s is a bit different. I do not consider the effect produced by “Psi-Caustic” to be “direct.” When procedure must be used to arrive at a “secret number,” we have left the direct road. But that doesn’t make this routine, in which a selection is found at a random (yes, it is random) number in the deck, bad. In fact, it’s pretty good.

Ryan Matney gave up completely on describing the effect of “The Conqueror Worm,” so I’ll give it a lash: Three witches disguise themselves as an innocent woman, but in the end cannot hide their true, evil selves.

This routine with a presentation that will come in handy during Halloween, might have the most sleight of hand than any of the other 15 tricks in the book. It’s all easy for even the intermediate student. There’s a Brau Addition, the Glide Force, Ken Krenzel’s Multiple Lift Sequence, a Down/Under Deal, and it all leads to a nice multi-effect routine with a kicker ending.

“Amara Rises Again” is a showpiece that requires some pre-work to the card box. In the end, the identity of a card placed into the box is revealed in a mysterious manner.

If mental magic is your bag then “Supremo Divinator” might be of interest. It requires a significant setup, but in the end you will be able to “divine” the identities of “random” cards placed into a spectator’s pockets. And, in a follow-up feat of magic or card handling (should you want to confuse the issue), you can remove the mates of the selections out of the deck that has been placed into your pocket.

A fun theme for card tricks is time travel, and “Now it’s Now Again” fits the bill. Yes, there are more direct ways of getting there, but perhaps not quite as easy as this one is, and from the audience’s point of view, the trick is the same. Though not the only sleight in the routine, Cy Endfield’s “Tweezer Double” (a double lift from the center of the deck) is the toughest thing you’ll need to do here, but you will arrive back in time with a fine effect.

This last effect in Card Delusions might also be my favorite of the 16 fine card tricks available in the book. Or is it the “The Whitechapel Solution”? Come to think of it, choosing a favorite might be the most difficult thing in Card Delusions.

Card Delusions by Ryan Matney. 96 pages, 16 effects using playing cards. Available at

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Ryan Matney
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Re: Review: Card Delusions by Ryan Matney

Postby Ryan Matney » July 4th, 2016, 2:40 pm

Thanks for the review, Dustin!
If anyone is interested, my trick "Without a Clue" was published in the July 2016 issue of Genii Magazine. That should give you an idea of my style as it is one I have used myself a lot.
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