OVERVIEW: Aces have always been among the magician's best friends, and this video features magician
Ben Salinas teaching you seven different Ace routines. Every magician owes it to himself to be able
to perform at least one good Ace routine, and this instructional DVD will teach you several
classics, including an Ultimate Ace Assembly, a classic "Spectator Cuts to the Aces" routine, Dai
Vernon's famous "Twisting the Aces", and several more.
WHAT YOU GET: This product consists
of a DVD case that contains a single DVD with a running time of just under an hour, plus a small
black card wallet with some gimmicked cards.
ROUTINES: Here's an overview of the seven
different effects that are taught in the course of 55 minutes of performance & instruction:
1. Ultimate Ace Assembly [12 min] - This is a version of the classic MacDonald's Aces, and
involves Aces actually disappearing from three piles of four cards each, only to reappear magically
in a fourth pile with the Ace of Spades, replacing three indifferent cards that were there
previously. It's a very visual trick with a high impact, and although it requires some set-up
(including gimmicked cards using tape), it's a routine well worth mastering, and almost never fails
to please, entertain, and astonish.
2. Mo Money Monte [7 min] - This is a Monte style
routine which requires the spectator to "follow the Ace", and select it from four cards, the other
three being Jokers. Each time the odds are changed to make it easier for the spectator, first a one
in four chance, then a one in three chance, then a one in two chance. Each time the spectator
guesses wrong, until the final card too, is revealed to be a Joker, and the Ace magically turns out
to have been in the card wallet all along. Credit is given to Marty Grams for this effect.
3. Impossible (gimmicked) [6 min] - Four Jokers are turned face down one at a time, and then
revealed to be four Aces. This trick is reminiscent of Gary Freed's NFW, but Ben attributes it to a
book published by French-Canadian magician Gary Ouellet in the 1980s.
(ungimmicked) [10 min] - This is basically the same effect as the previous one, but uses Kings
instead of Jokers, is completely ungimmicked and uses different handling. You'll need to be quite
brazen to pull this off successfully in an impromptu situation, but it can be done! There's a
trailer for the video here, featuring Ben performing this version of "Impossible" for a spectator:
5. Dai Vernon's Twisting the Aces [5 min] - This is the classic effect from Dai Vernon in
which four Aces are turned face down, and one by one turn face-up in a packet of four cards, through
sheer sleight of hand. The beautiful thing about this trick is that it only uses four ungimmicked
6. Easy Aces [4 min] - Relying on Arturo De Ascanio's "Ascanio Spread", which Ben
Salinas does teach as part of this effect, this trick has you show a spread of cards multiple times,
and each time a different Ace has turned face-time.
7. Spectator Cuts to the Aces [5 min] -
Another classic effect, in which the spectator cuts the deck into four piles, only to discover that
the top card of each is an Ace. Multiple versions of this effect exist - this particular one relies
on using a simple gimmick that Ben teaches you to make.
8. Bonus: Performances with Ashley
[5 min] - While the other tricks had Ben simply performing for the camera, in this bonus section Ben
Salinas is joined by a spectator named Ashley. Three different tricks are performed for Ashley -
Ultimate Ace Assembly, Impossible (gimmicked), and Impossible (ungimmicked). Although Ashley adds
some eye candy, not a huge amount is to be gained from this section that hasn't already been learned
from the rest of the video. But it does give opportunity to see other performances of three of the
tricks, and see the patter uses Ben uses when performing for a spectator.
DVD has an easy to use table of contents menu that lets you navigate directly to the performance or
to the explanation, each of which is its own chapter. This makes it easy to go directly to whichever
trick you are interested in learning or reviewing. The tricks themselves are performed for a studio
camera, so don't expect to see audience members or street magic style reactions, except for three
performances with a spectator in the bonus section. The filming is well done, and the sound is
clear. With the explanations, the view of the camera is mostly from behind the hands, which means
that as you watch the video, you are at the same angle as if you are looking at your own hands, and
this helps you to copy exactly what is happening. But different camera angles are also used wherever
necessary, to show the spectator's view as well.
TEACHING: Ben's teaching is well done, and
everything is clearly and slowly explained, and easy to follow along. He does a fine job of running
through the tricks with appropriate patter, and adds some humour here and there to help keep things
engaging. In most cases Ben gets straight into performing the trick for the camera, with minimal
introduction. The explanations are very clear and smooth, and no time is wasted with lengthy
discussions that aren't related to showing the trick or explaining how it works. So what you get is
the essentials you need to learn how to perform these tricks for yourself. An hour long video might
not seem very long, but that's because Ben doesn't repeat the moves over and over, so expect to
watch his explanation multiple times. On the plus side, this means that he manages to pack a lot of
material into a short time.
GAFFS: Some of the routines do rely on gaffed cards, and these
are provided, along with a slim black card wallet, which is a welcome bonus. The packet consists
five cards featuring Aces and Jokers, which includes three normal blue-backed cards (standard
Bicycle rider-back style), and two gaffed cards. Most magicians will own a standard blue-backed
Bicycle deck, which you will need to make use of these cards.
DIFFICULTY: I wouldn't
recommend this product for complete beginners, because it assumes an ability with some essential
sleights, like double/triple lifts and Elmsley Counts. While Ben does quickly teach these, beginners
would be better off learning these sleights from tutorials dedicated to cover all the nuances of
these important moves, which are fundamentals of card magic. But if you are an intermediate
magician, Ben will give you a quick refresher on how these work. Overall I'd consider the difficulty
as suited for intermediate magicians who have already progressed beyond the basics.
RECOMMENDATION: This DVD offers more value than meets the eye. It packs a lot of magic into an
hour long video, with seven solid routines, including classics like Twisting the Aces and
MacDonald's Aces. There's a good variety of different Ace tricks, and almost everyone will find
something that they like or can use. While not the focus, the concise coverage of sleights like
false counts and the Ascanio Spread are also very useful. The filming is good, and the teaching is
very clear. Plus you get a handy card wallet and some gaffed cards, which come in handy not only for
these routines but can be used for other effects as well. Considering that this is a very
inexpensive product, in the final analysis Ultimate Aces is good value for those who enjoy packet
tricks and Ace routines. - BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame