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Review of Essentials in Magic Svengali Deck

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Review of Essentials in Magic Svengali Deck
As all magicians recognize, the "Svengali Deck is a well known trick deck that’s often sold to beginners and kids at magic kiosks, toy stores and at fairs, as well as through magic sets.

The Trick Deck

Those who are serious about magic probably write off the Svengali as a deck that not only eschews sleight of hand, but is probably too well known among the lay public for most magicians to use. That’s generally the way I feel about Svengalis, but I have employed some version of the trick deck on occasion for particular effects. But if you want to learn how to efficiently use a Svengali deck, the excellent “Essentials in Magic Svengali Deck” DVD features noted magician Daryl who teaches moves, techniques and routines that result in some powerful card tricks. You won’t fool your magician friends, but the routines will go over well with lay audiences. And you may even fool beginners who already know about the Svengali.

Daryl is not only a great entertainer and technician, he’s a first rate teacher who has researched the topic and offers a thorough and comprehensive lesson on the Svengali. Daryl teaches fundamental moves, handlings, and techniques for apparently mixing the cards (even riffle-shuffling the deck); as well as revelations, forces and more (the revelations are particularly varied). Most important, he teaches “convincers” that make all of the difference and even shows how to end “clean.” While I’ve studied the Svengali deck, I learned a few new moves and techniques that I hadn’t seen before.

Great Lessons

The first rate video is well shot and edited and offers varying camera angles. And for teaching purposes, Daryl employs a Svengali deck that has been altered to clearly show which cards are being displayed, which greatly assists in the learning process. On camera, Daryl is enthusiastic, energetic and engaging and the disc features lessons in English, Spanish and Japanese.

I like the way that Daryl teaches routines that professional magician can perform. The routines are not the standard, fast Svengali pitch that’s often demonstrated at fairs where it’s apparent that the magician is employing a trick deck.

(In the standard routine, the pitchman shows a deck to have different cards. A card is freely selected and mixed back into the deck and it’s quickly found on top of the deck. The spectator cuts the deck into several piles and the selected card is found to be on top of each pile. At the end, for the big finale, the entire deck is shown to consist of the spectator’s selected card. Those who grew up in the era of Marshall Brodien’s “TV Magic Cards” that were advertised on television will recall the routine.)

Svengali for Pros

Daryl’s routines employ natural handlings (the only indication to magicians that he’s using a Svengali is the display of the different cards). Daryl teaches an “ambitious card” effect where the selected card continues to rise to the top of the deck, and there are various spelling and counting effects where spectators name words or numbers to locate their selected cards.

There’s a clever effect where a “trick” deck is “exposed” to audiences. Half of the deck consists of a single card and the other half features random cards. And the magician causes the packs to change places.

I don’t care much for the ad copy (and attitude) that says “Look like a sleight of hand expert - like a true magician - all without years of practice.” Contrary to this attitude, I think that magicians should seriously study sleight of hand, as well as trick decks and employ the technique that best works for the effect that they want to create. But if you want to learn how to use a Svengali deck, “Essentials in Magic Svengali Deck” offers some excellent lessons. And it's only ten bucks.

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