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Stack Attack Review

Official Review

March 23rd, 2006 10:44am
Reviewed by David Acer
“When performing with a stacked deck, the entertainer is usually free from worries about sleights that might go wrong, or a gimmick that won’t do its thing at the proper moment. He can concentrate his efforts on his performance.”

Lew Brooks

There are, broadly speaking, three kinds of DVDs currently being marketed to the magic community “ the rare but often instructive performance-only DVD (such as Steve Spill’s excellent 10 Years of Steve Spill), the considerably less rare and usually personality-based lecture DVD (such as any one of the fifteen that came out since you began reading this review), and the increasingly prevalent, theme-driven compilation DVD (such as Michael Ammar’s Easy To Master Card Miracles).

At first glance, Lew Brooks’ Stack Attack would appear to be among the latter, but there are two important distinctions:

  1. This is not (nor does it purport to be) a compilation of the “best tricks ever published” using a stacked deck. It’s a collection of eight original stacked deck routines by Lew Brooks.
  2. . These are not just stacked-deck routines - they are gambling-based, storytelling stacked-deck routines, all told in the first person (e.g., “The other day I went into my favorite tavern for lunch and there was one seat open at the bar, so I sat down and I noticed that the fellow sitting next to me was playing with a deck of cards... We got to talking about all kinds of gambling games and he asked me if I knew how to play Blackjack. I said, ‘I’ve played Blackjack before’...”).

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that I’m not a big fan of gambling routines, nor do I gravitate to storytelling card tricks, so unfortunately, the very congenial Mr. Brooks did not arrive at my home to a sympathetic audience. But setting my own prejudice aside, and even deferring to the requirements of the genre, I still feel that some of these routines take far too long to get going. For example, “Bughouse Poker” features 2 minutes and 17 seconds of discourse before anything happens with the deck (not even shuffling or cutting). Then there’s another 42 seconds wherein the deck is employed to help illustrate the story, but no magic occurs, and finally, there’s another 2 minutes and 20 seconds during which the deck is shuffled and cut extensively, whereupon, at long last, a royal flush is produced. That’s more than five minutes dedicated to the production of a royal flush! Is the presentation uninteresting? No. Could it be cut down by eighty percent? Absolutely.

Unfortunately, the other routines on this DVD (and my reaction to them) follow along similar lines, although each and every one of them does result in a strong magical effect, and is sleight-free, as promised in the adcopy. There’s a Blackjack deal with a gag ending, a clever selection location, and a variety of poker deals, among other things, including an interesting effect called “Order Out Of Chaos,” wherein, via the application of Chaos Theory, a randomly shuffled packet of 13 suited cards somehow ends up in sequence.

I guess, in the end, my real problem with this kind of material is the danger of your audience being removed from the equation. If you’re spending three, four, five minutes per trick telling a story about something that happened to you, with no audience interaction other than dealing with any incidental comments they might make, how long will it be before they become emotionally disconnected from the show? My guess is far less than three, four or five minutes.

On the other hand, if your intention is to include just one trick of this type in your repertoire, and you have occasion to perform in venues where the audience is predisposed to listen (e.g., a private home, a theatrical space, etc.), then you will likely find several tricks to work from on this DVD.

David Acer

Product info for Stack Attack

Author: Lew Brooks
Publisher: Bob Kohler Productions
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $34.95
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Manufacturer's Description:

Stack Attack is a collection of absolutely stunning card miracles from Lew Brooks that are extremely easy to do. The reason is this, all of the work is done before the performance by simply stacking the deck in a prearranged order!

This DVD contains eight card routines based on gambling themes and there’s nothing hotter right now than gambling demonstrations. Lew will take you step-by-step through each routine. Absolutely nothing is left out, included with each effect is Lew’s complete patter and presentation.

Lew also completely covers an extremely easy false shuffle sequence that anybody can learn in a matter of minutes. If you can overhand shuffle a deck of cards you can do every routine on this amazing DVD. Even though the techniques are drop dead easy to d they are totally deceptive. Combined with Lew’s patter and presentation, you will instantly have all of the professional level gambling style routines you’ll ever need!

Running Time 1hr 54min

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