THE NUTSHELL: A good magic DVD; nothing more, nothing less.
THE REVIEW: (Go put on a pot of coffee, you're in for a lot of reading.) It seems to me that almost all of the reviews for Pips are either completely positive or completely negative. So once again I wonder why people can’t see both sides of the fence. Let me try to break this DVD down for you as clearly as possible. Before we get to the dirt on these tricks, here are first some general opinions.
My opinion on the material: In general, I think there is a lot of good stuff out of this tape. I didn’t like the tricks as much as I enjoyed the moves (SAC, Bertram Change, Zenneth Alignment, etc.). These are all moves that I’ve come to use every day. Most of Oz’s tricks are applications of these moves, so it can get a little repetitive. I prefer to custom-make my own applications, with my own style. This stuff is for intermediates. I would steer beginners away from this one and treat them to it after learning some of the basics. Be prepared to practice, but almost everything is practical and usable. A lot of the tricks fell to heavily on preparation and (home-made) gimmicks. I don’t want to whine about it, but I think we all like impromptu tricks over ones with setup. Finally, 90% of the tricks require a table, so be warned. Street performers might want to reconsider.
My opinion on Oz: I think Oz is a great magician – mechanically. His handling with a deck of cards could not be more perfect or better practiced. He is a master of the pasteboards. He is also one of the very best teachers I have ever learned from. His explanations are slow, detailed, and thorough. You’re never left behind. His talent lacks, however in his presentation. Oz Pearlman is a very unnatural performer. (Yes, I’m ready for some serious attacks on this one.) From the lame jokes to the constant disconnection he has between him and the spectator, if you purchase this DVD, I am begging you not to copy his style. Don’t do it. You’ll only realize how poor Oz’s presentation is after you’ve seen guys like Gregory Wilson, Paul Harris, and Jay Sankey working.
My opinion on the DVD: Compared to the quality of other magic DVD’s, Stealing Pips is just alright. The picture is perfect, the sound is fine. The whole thing is set where you see it in the demo video. A blue backed studio, well lit, with a table and Oz standing behind it. Okay, it’s an instructional video. But it would have been cool if he had gone out and shown us what it looks like for real people in real situations. What’s even more annoying about this DVD itself is the fact that it’s so hard to navigate. The menus are clear, but if you’re watching the video, and you want to skip to the next thing, the order of the explanations and the performances is all mismatched. It’s a pain in the butt. That said, you can’t let DVD quality bring you down too much.
They say: A prediction effect so clean and unbelievable, they'll think you are actually psychic.
I say: A lengthy and somewhat indirect alternative to just forcing a card. Here’s how it goes: The spectator shuffles the deck as much as they’d like. They then take it behind their back and turn one card upside down. They stick it back into the deck – halfway – and bring the deck forward. You show them that their card is face down in a face up deck and then close it into the pack. You spread the cards, showing that their face down card is still there, and then you take out another deck and spread that one out. There is a card face down here too. Both cards are turned over, and of course they match. This is completely impromptu, and any form of prediction may be used, as long as you do use a prediction. However, being the bold and absolutely incredible magician that I am, I prefer to do something much more daring. I call it. . . . The Riffle Force.
They say: The most VISUAL two-card transposition EVER!
I say: It might be visual, and it’s the perfect application of the Bertram Change, but don’t use a machete to kill a mosquito. Unlike most Here then There effect, this one uses visual changes. It is truly eye-candy, and is about as direct as this kind of trick gets. But, to me it’s not worth the setup. One, there is setup. Yuck. And two, it’s gimmicked. You do not end clean. The gimmick is a two buck purchase at any convenient store, worth getting anyway. I used it once, and though the reactions were nice, it’s not worth doing every time.
They say: The ultimate anytime, anywhere routine using a playing card, credit card, or any card you have on hand. A great icebreaker.
I say: Whoopadifriggindoo! This is just sort of filler material, a quick routine that Oz does, combining different palming and misdirection techniques all with the right timing. It’s nothing earth-shattering, but I do agree that it is a great icebreaker. I usually open up with this, without saying anything, and then introduce myself. It doesn’t get the best reactions I’ve ever had, but it is a nice little bit to get them wanting more.
I C 3
They say: Devastating 3-card prediction effect utilyzing only one invisible move. Maximum spectator impact with minimal work!
I say: They’re completely correct. When I saw how this was done, I realized just how powerful the SAC move was. The effect: You spread out a blue pack of cards and say that you are actually missing three cards from the deck, so it’s not completely fair. You pull out a red deck and explain that you’ll sub in three red cards to the deck. The spectator shuffles the red deck and picks any three. You slide them into the deck and spread it. You then “realize” that you’ve had three blue cards in the case all along. You pull them out. The three blue cards match the three red cards. This is all accomplished with one super-easy move. The only reason I don’t do this ALL the time is because 1) it uses a table, and 2) you need to be carrying around two decks. I hate carrying around to decks. The cleanup is also a little rough. But let me assure you that when I do perform this, the reactions are incredible.
Twist and Shake
They say: Dynamite card revelation using the four Queens and a little shake.
I say: Cool trick, but not a favorite. A card is selected and lost into the deck. The four queens are removed and you say that they will find the selection by magic. You line them up, give them a shake, and the queen that matches the suit of the selection turns visually face down (cool, cool move). When you pull that queen out and blow on it, it changes to their selection. This is a simple effect, but it hits hard. The reason I don’t like it may not be solid, but I just think it looks like your hiding something. I’ve never thought that the Zenneth grip on the cards looked innocent. That said, I can’t deny the quality of this trick.
While I’m on topic, I should talk about the two sleights you’ll learn. First, the Zenneth Alignment Move is somewhat awkward (in my opinion), but it is effective, easy to do, and very useful. It is taught in the Impossible Twist Video, and re-taught here on Stealing Pips. The Oz Alignment Refinement (OAR) Move is almost equally important, as it allows you to remove the transformed card from the spread.
They say: Streamlined approach to the Red Hot Mama effect with an eye-popping double color change and a dazzling climax!
I say: Why not just use Red Hot Mama? For those of you who don’t know the effect, two cards are selected, one turns out to be red, the other blue. Then the colors of the backs change places. This one’s just a bit different because it actually changes one of the cards visually. It’s also nice because there aren’t any gimmicks to worry about – there is setup, but there aren’t gimmicked. You will probably use this when you learn it, but I’m a solid fan of Red Hot Mamacita so I don’t use it too much.
They say: Classic force for the spectator's eyes... looks like pure mind reading.
I say: Chancy but killer. There is a lot of room for error with this, but when it works, it works big time. I have probably a 75% record with this, which to me is more than worth it. Here’s what happens: You fan the cards out face up, the spectator looks at one, and you name it. You force the card without the spectator ever touching the deck, or stopping you, or anything. They just think of a card. What tops this off as an awesome force is the out that’s provided. It’s not like the stupid Classic Force out. This one takes the effect from a 9 to an 8, and the spectators will not know you messed up. You can do this with anybody’s deck, anytime. I’ve gotten a lot out of it.
Lord of the Twist
They say: A two-phase stunner that delivers punch after punch!
I say: Sweet effect, but a crummy method. The effect is this: The two of clubs is selected. Four Jacks are held together face down, and the Jack of Clubs turns face up, the suit representative of the selection. After some fishy repositioning, the Jack turns into the Two of Clubs in the same fashion. This either knocks people out or confuses them. The effect is good, with the exception of the fishy parts I mentioned. The method was just disappointing. One, I don’t like Zenneth too much. But more than that, you need a gimmick (that you might not have) and setup. This is not impromptu. This is doable with a lot of practice, but there are still discrepancies. Overall, I’d say this is just alright.
Once Upon a Time
They say: Magician vs Gambler effect with astonishing revelations and transformations!
I say: Overly complex in my opinion. You claim that you can take four aces right out of the deck, blindly. You pull one face down card out and it turns out to be the three of clubs. The three is put face up on the top of the deck. The deck is closed and when it’s spread again, the other threes are now face up. (Gotta love the SAC move people.) The threes are taken out and they change to Aces. The method is a bit over the top and there is setup involved (no gimmicks), but I credit Oz for putting it all together. I usually only do the first phase as a four ace production, and then go into a four ace routine.
They say: Richly detailed explanation of this breathtaking color change.
I say: If this is worth half the price of the DVD, that’s fair. This is my new favorite change. You saw it on the demo video, where Oz just waves his hand over the card and it changes like trick photography. I practiced this for a long time and couldn’t get it right. I gave up on it, and came back to it another time. Now that I’ve perfected it, it’s one of the most useful utilities I have. Please take the time to get this right. It’s so worth it. Oz does a great job of explaining this one in particular, with eight minutes of thorough teaching.
The SAC Move
They say: Revolutionary move that is easy to learn, invisible, and has endless applications. It will raise your card magic to the next level!
I say: The description above doesn’t even do it justice. This is a brilliant new concept that I’ve been putting a lot of work into to. It’s not a trick, but rather a sleight that allows for so many possibilities. I mentioned this before, as it is part of several of Oz’s tricks. Those are just the beginning. So far, my favorite application of the SAC Move is for the Ambitious Card. Get this: you have a spectator place their card (and they know it’s their card) in the middle, and it comes to the top absolutely invisibly. (Not taught on Pips, but you can figure it out.) I don’t want to say that the SAC Move was worth thirty bucks on its own, even though it might be, but I will say that it saved the DVD from being just okay.
Dirty Deck Principle
They say: Indicator card that blows other methods out of the water. You will use this one all the time.
I say: It’s a useful tool, but it’s nothing new. I kind of resent the way Oz Pearlman takes credit for this, but let’s not talk politics. This indicator card is awesome. It’s a superior alternative to corner shorting or pencil dotting a card.
I hope this review has given you enough information to decide whether Stealing Pips is good for you or not. If it hasn’t, I give up. I recommend it to experienced card workers only. I think you’ll get a lot out of it. For what it’s done for me, I give it a 7.