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Review of Poor Man's Cups & Balls

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Review of Poor Man's Cups & Balls

Poor Man's Cups & Balls

I’m truly not sure what to make of this product. “Poor Man's Cups & Balls” is a packet style card trick that recreates a performance of classic cups and balls with what are effectively playing cards. The card trick follows the plot of a conventional cups and balls routine - complete with large loads at the end. But what’s the point?

Virtual Cups and Balls

Here’s how the effect looks. You bring out a packet six cards: three with pictures of cups and three with pictures of single balls. You state that you will perform a “poor man's version of the classic ‘cups and balls’ effect.” Following a variety of turnovers, counts and other moves, the three balls individually “penetrate” through the cups, one by one (a ball card is placed on top of a cup card and the ball card is revealed underneath).

In the next phase, all three balls penetrate the cups at the same time and land on a card (there are now three balls printed on a single card). In the final phase, three large loads - three different kinds of fruits - appear on the cards from “underneath” the cup cards. If you like, the trick comes with an alternate ending that features pictures of bunnies. The cards are gimmicked so spectators may not examine them. The trick quickly resets so it’s ready to be performed again.

The kit comes with the cups and balls cards, extra cards for the alternative ending and written instructions. The cards are good quality. The instructions, on the other hand, were only adequate, as the pictures could convey more information. For example, when magicians are told to turn over the cards, it’s nice to know in which direction. A simple arrow in the pictures would have helped immensely.


So are there any advantages to depicting a “cups and balls” routine using a packet card effect? One could argue that a magician could perform a “cups and balls” effect with a set of cards that are easily carried in a pocket and that doesn’t require relatively bulky props. As the ads state, “[it’s] An all time classic that fits in your pocket.” I would buy that but the routine is nowhere as effective as a real cups and balls routine. And there are small sets of cups and balls that one can purchase and perform with. I’ve carried these around in my pockets during strolling gigs.

Furthermore, I’m not sure that spectators who are unfamiliar with a cups and balls routine would understand what is going on when the ball cards appear underneath the cup cards. The different pictures of the final loads at the end will be surprise. But since there’s no issue of there being no way that such a load could barely fit into the cup, the conclusion of “Poor Man’s” pales in comparison to a real cups and balls routine. Magicians would “get it,” but I don’t know if this is an effect to perform for the lay public.

Worth It?

One could say that “Poor Man's Cups & Balls” allows you to perform a cups and balls style routine without the need for a table. However, the card routine requires a table as you need to lay cards down. Furthermore, because you have to pick up cards, it’s best to perform this one on a close-up pad and not a smooth table surface.

One last consideration. As a packet trick, “Poor Man's Cups & Balls” is a complicated routine with lots of turnovers, placement of cards, and other segments that will have to be memorized. Of course, if an effect is worth it and I want it in my sets, I’ll memorize and endlessly rehearse just about any magic routine. But given all of the considerations, I just don’t find “Poor Man's Cups & Balls” to be worth the effort. Instead, I’ll stick to my real cups and balls routine.

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