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Pocket Nightmare by Max Maven

For 40 years, this has been Max Maven's legendary reputation-maker. Today, it's available for the first time ever. LIMITED SUPPLY. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Price: $39.95

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Max Maven has created more usable magic than any other magician alive. His offerings are strong, direct and leave the participants speechless. This effect is no different in that respect. Strong, direct and the typical "WTF... how!!" Max Maven experience.- Banachek

"Pocket Nightmare is a dream effect with a typically beautiful Max Maven construction and a perfect presentation for a killer effect."

- R. Paul Wilson

"I have known Max most of our professional careers and I have never known anything he has done to be less than superb. As Max explains, Pocket Nightmare is actually about 40 years old. Both the presentation and secret of Pocket Nightmare made me smile at the typical Max cleverness and framework. This is a totally entertaining routine, incredibly clean, with a surprise ending that is astonishing beyond belief! There are no “moves” in this effect where a peeked at card instantly vanishes from the deck and reappears in your pocket. Did I mention you perform the routine one-handed!

Not only do you get Max’s brilliant performance, but the gimmick is professionally produced and is such that no one could ever suspect the working. Max’s explanation is exhaustive with the history of the effect, the detailed handling and what to do in every situation. There is nothing left to chance. Best of all, you can do this wonderful routine without any finger gymnastics or difficult sleights. If you can spread a deck, Pocket Nightmare is within your realm of skill.

I am not recommending this because Max is a friend, but rather because Max is, and always has been a force of nature in the world of magic and this effect is totally Maxian! Get this today!"

- Richard Osterlind

"I've been waiting since the mid 90’s for Max to release this gem! Extremely well thought out and will be going directly into my act!"

- Chris Korn

To say Max Maven is one of the most influential persons in the history of mentalism is to call water wet, the earth round, and time inevitable. This effect alone is a testament to his power. Pocket Nightmare was originally performed at the 1985 FISM in Madrid. It has often been imitated but never duplicated. Now for the first time, the complete instruction and gimmicks are available to you.

Here’s what happens:

The performer informs the audience that they will perform an effect with only one hand so as to make sure that everyone knows that sleight of hand is impossible. The other hand is placed in their pocket. The spectator peeks at a card in the deck. The magician then is able to divine the card that the spectator is only thinking of. The deck is then given to the spectator who is invited to search the deck for their card only to discover that it has completely vanished. The magician said they would do the trick with only one hand, but they did not specify which hand. The magician removes their other hand from the pocket holding the vanished card.

Taught in detail by Max Maven, including a complete history of the effect, Pocket Nightmare is ready to go right out of the box. This effect is devastating to an audience, especially because the gimmicks do all the work for you while hiding in plain sight. This is powerful magic from a legendary creator. Pocket Nightmare is nothing less than a thing of terrifying beauty.

Winner P3 Product of the Year Penguin Magic Awards 2020
Nominee Trick of the Year Penguin Magic Awards 2020

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A miracle for performers at any levels Report this review
Pro Privacy ON (login to see reviewer names) on February 18th, 2020
Here is my in-depth review of Pocket Nightmare by Max Maven.


When I review a product, I’d like to judge the product by itself alone. I will try to put myself into readers’ shoes and give the most honest review.

I paid full price of the product, and come with no affiliation with any magicians or dealers, thus as a consumer I want my readers to have full information.

I will provide what is not said on the advertisement and details beyond the product itself.
If the product is good, I say it out loud. At the same time, if there is bad about the product, I don’t hesitate at all to say it. I do not judge based on the magician’s reputation or history. The quality of the product is the only thing I will take into consideration.

I believe by giving you the most transparent information, you will have better knowledge to judge.

Helping my readers is my biggest goal with this review.


You’ll get a Bicycle deck with some specially printed cards. For those who has learnt this effect in Kayfabe volume 3, you will be delighted that 36 gimmick cards are included instead of 15 cards in the original version (I would call this release a Penguin version).

And a link to the online tutorial is included in the box.


The deck is not fully gimmicked. Only 36 cards are printed in a special way, and the remaining cards are normal cards.

Since the cards are printed by the US Playing Card Company, you will expect you receive a high quality deck of cards.

As you may aware, the deck is handed to spectators to search for the peeked card at one point of performance. While the deck cannot be examined, it can be handled relatively freely by spectator. Since the deck is only handled by spectator for a short span of time during performance, it should last a long time. Even if the deck was mishandled and damaged a bit accidentally, it doesn’t affect how the deck works.

In addition, the principle of the gimmicked cards is versatile enough for you to accomplish other effects.

To conclude, the gimmick quality is quite as expected. No surprise or disappointment at all.


The video lasts about 18 minutes & 54 seconds. The performance is recorded in front of live audience in studio. The explanation is done in studio with a straight-ahead camera most of the time.

Length (in minutes) of the main parts (I literally counted):

Performance- 2:10
History- 4:56
Gimmick- 2:18
Explanation- 8:47
Conclusion- 0:15

‘History’ session starts with some background information about how this trick is born. Then Max Maven talks about the Ken Krenzel which somehow inspired his presentation. Next he moves to talk about the plagiarism of this effect. This session is quite interesting because the story is fun and it’s always good to learn about how a creator develops his effect. As we are all standing on the shoulders of giants, this session is a good reminder of how we should treat our own creations.

In ‘Gimmick', Max Maven introduces the gimmick cards and the improvement. He briefly mentioned the reason why you are receiving different number of gimmick cards from his original effect.

In ‘Explanation’, Max Maven goes into the execution of the effect. He follows his presentation and explains what should be done at different stages of the effect. There is a handling to be used when the effect doesn’t work as it should be. And Max also gives advice on audience management when they search for the peeked card. The information is enough for you to perform the effect, but learners may be surprised at how few tips are given provided that the effect has been performed for 40 years.

Overall, the production quality of the tutorial is not bad. But it is way too short for an effect with such a long history. Except beginners, most competent magicians should be able to understand mechanism well enough to execute it, but it is another matter whether they can perform it with maximum impact. There are many small issues I am aware of but they are not answered on the tutorial. So, this tutorial is like being able to teach you swing your hands and legs in the swimming pool so that you can float but not able to make you swim confidently. That being said, for performers with strong presentation and experience, they should have no issue at all.


The mechanism of this effect is very easy to understand. It involves almost no sleight-of-hand.

However, audience management is crucial. There are at least 2 moments (1. Peek; 2. Selection searching) where the effect can go totally wrong. Once it goes wrong, it’s hard to recover.

I would advice learners to understand the effect fully before performing it.


There is no restriction on angle. In the performance, Max is standing on stage right (from audience’s angle, he is on left). Thus there may be a moment where a move (which is only done when the effect doesn’t go smoothly) may be seen, or if thing goes wrong during peeking,

I would suggest to perform this effect on stage left, covering even that very slight chance of flashing. I believe Max is doing perfectly okay on stage right with this effect (his performance in Kayfabe is also on stage right), but we are not Max Maven, right? So it’s better to play safe.


There is no strict requirement for clothing, because you can perform it as long as you have a pocket on the right side. It’s because you need to put your right hand in the pocket while your left hand holds the deck.

You don’t need a pocket if you are not performing with Max Maven's presentation.


In general, this effect can be performed by magicians of any levels. However, its impact mainly depends on the showmanship. In other words, just like Penn & Teller can make a Vase Trick into miracle, whether you can make this a great trick depends on you solely, but not the method.


I will include my analysis of the effect in my product review. In this analysis, I will present my view on the strength and weakness of the effect. And will also go deeper with magic theory in mind.

This is a card-to-pocket effect. And there are usually two main issues in this type of effect, namely the VANISH and the PRODUCTION of the selection.

In this version, Max Maven has done a great job in making a clean vanish of the selection without sacrificing much freedom of the trick. Even though the deck cannot be shuffled by spectators at the beginning, the fact that spectator can search for their own selection increase illusion of the degree of fairness in this effect. Since at no point the magician can manipulate the cards, the vanish of the selection can only explained by magic. This is what makes this effect great in the first place.

Of course, clean effect always needs sacrifice. The method itself is brilliant, but it requires good audience management if it is performed in casual setting. With spectator which may go wild like street performance, they may want to inspect the deck unless you have established yourself as a competent magician already. However, if the performer stresses too much that he won’t using sleight-of-hand, then the first solution that lay audience may come up with is trick deck. So, think about your performing environment and how to stage the effect properly to avoid troubles.


- If you knows that the spectator is not peeking at the target zone, you may want to push the deck forwards when he is peeking, so that you have a bigger leeway to make the move.

- Never depend on spectator to open the deck widely enough, because you have asked him to take a peek, the peek will only open the deck slightly for sure.

-If you want to make sure you will always get the card 100% correct at the target zone, buy 2 decks of Pocket Nightmare to make your ultimate Pocket Nightmare deck. It may sound ridiculous, but if it will remain as your lifetime effect, the idea doesn’t sound too bad at all.

- Left-hand magicians have to learn how to hold the deck in left-hand peeking position, and do that life-saver move if thing doesn’t go perfectly.


1. Gimmick is versatile
2. A solid effect with strong presentation
3. In a sense, easy to do


1. The tutorial is way too short. Advices are barely enough.
2. If number of gimmick can be increase from 15 to 36, why not make a full deck?


The product is nicely produced. An effect with 40 years of history and still performed today is unbeatable.

However, I wish more information can be provided in the tutorial and let me understand this effect in-depth.

There is no difficult sleight-of-hand involved and therefore suitable for performers of any level.

I am satisfied with the quality of the product. At about US$40, I will highly recommend it for people who loves easy-to-do miracle.

- Product Quality: 8/10
- Video Quality: 7/10
- Effectiveness of Tricks: 10/10
- Practical (Vanish): 9/10
- Practical (Production): 10/10
- Creativity: 9/10 (this is created 40 years ago!)
- Cost Performance: 9/10
- Final Score: 9/10

Thank you for reading.

ALEX MAGIC REVIEW (YouTube, Instagram)
55 of 56 magicians found this helpful.
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Great Effect - Takes Some Creativity Report this review
Verified buyer Pro Privacy ON (login to see reviewer names) on March 16th, 2020
I know some people who were disappointed with this; but I knew exactly how this worked when I ordered it; so I was overjoyed to get it. If you want to perform this like Max Maven does, it’s going to take some work. You have to do an excellent job in picking a spectator and make sure you provide instructions that can’t be misconstrued. I’d suggest also being ready with a means to get back on track if your spectator takes things a bit sideways. It’s risky; but has a great payoff.
I’ve developed a completely different handling that removes the risk and, I think, (and based on audience reactions), has just as strong a finish. Kind of makes it a little different trick. But equally as effective.
If you’re good at audience management, and don’t mind some minor risks, you’re going to have a ball with this one. If you want a ready-made trick that doesn’t require some work from you - either in presentation and audience management, or in developing a handling that is not suggested or taught; then you may be slightly disappointed.
The only thing different I’d like would be an option for a different force card. For example, sell a deck with a five of hearts and another one with a seven of spades and another one with a four of that. Just three, maybe four force options. I’d buy a deck for each option! That’s how much I like this one. I gave it 4 stars, rather than five, though; because there is only one force option sold, it has only one handling taught and you have to take a pretty good risk to perform it as taught.
18 of 18 magicians found this helpful.
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So Sad to post this review...But Report this review
Verified buyer Pro Privacy ON (login to see reviewer names) on February 18th, 2020
If performed as it is in the video, this effect has about a 50/50 chance of you getting caught, no matter how much you practice it.

I've performed this effect 31 times since receiving it and have been caught 17 times. Yes I kept count, because I wanted to replace my invisible deck with this. Unfortunately, if you do it the way it is done in the trailer, any thorough spectator is going to look in the middle of the deck, or check cards one by one, or even just separate them further then normal.

If you perform this for magicians, in front of other magicians, I am sure it will go great. The reason is because we will follow the instructions exactly as we are told. In this type of environment you have a bunch of people demonstrating magic tricks, so we all go along for the ride since we want to see the end anyway. Of course he only goes through it quickly without really trying to bust Max, why would he want to ruin a great moment?

Now imagine you're dealing with a non magician, someone who is genuinely confused about where their card went. This person will go back through the deck, and they will do it before you can say anything. In several cases they simply spread the cards like amateurs and saw the dirty business when the cards had a big gap.

Wish I could give this 5 stars, I love Max's work (The elephant trick via text is the only phone trick I do) but I can't recommend this for lay audiences, especially the kind of audiences we get here in Vegas.
16 of 20 magicians found this helpful.
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THANK YOU MAX MAVEN! Report this review
Verified buyer Pro Privacy ON (login to see reviewer names) on April 7th, 2020
Not that long ago, there was a dvd set that came out called Kayfabe by Max Maven. I loved Max's work and I purchased the set right away. There was some tricks I liked and some I didn't like, however there was one effect that stood out from the rest in that set and completely blew my mind and was worth the price of the set, and that effect was Pocket Nightmare.

I was disappointed with the explanation however, because I found out that you had to have a very gimmicked deck in order to perform this wonderful effect. Unfortunately a deck like that wasn't available and you had to make one yourself, which was bad news for me because I wasn't good at making gimmicked cards, so I was unable to perform this routine. UNTIL NOW!

This is THE deck needed to perform this wonderful effect, and when I saw this was available I never clicked the "add to cart" button so fast. Now this effect is bold and it will take guts to perform live, but don't be afraid. Because the payoff is incredible. The performance itself is short and direct with no moves or sleight of hand at all, and Max emphasizes that in the routine performance. My favorite moment in the routine is when the spectator goes through the cards to find his chosen card and he can't find it, so he has to look again.

And I've got to tell you, that moment will get the room, like a ripple effect. Then that final reveal hits everyone like a ton of bricks and Max's final line seals the deal perfectly. This effect is going in my professional set, it's just too good not to be performed at every show. Now will this work 100% of the time? No it won't, but that's ok because the payoff when it does work is more then worth it. And if you follow everything step by step in the download as well as being confident in your abilities and performance, it should work perfectly the majority of the time you perform this. The more you perform this, and the more the effect works out to perfection, the more confident you will be.

I want to say a personal thank you to Max Maven and Penguin for making these decks. Thank you so, so, so much for making these decks for the magic world, and letting us have this wonderful routine.
8 of 8 magicians found this helpful.
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Nightmare Indeed Report this review
Verified buyer Pro Privacy ON (login to see reviewer names) on April 12th, 2020
The method is very ingenious. However, unless you are as good at spectator management as Max is, this is likely going to be a hit or miss effect. I have tried it many times with random people on the street and it has worked less than 50% of the time. I simply can’t add a ‘might work” effect to my repertoire. I even tried having the spectator insert a card into the deck, rather than peek a card. It still can go wrong and loses much of the impact. For the effect to be most impactful, you need to let the spectator handle the deck twice and things can go wrong in both those handlings. Either peeking too much, or mis-spreading the cards to look for theirs. I really wanted to be able to use this. But it is collecting dust in my bin of hit or miss effects.
5 of 5 magicians found this helpful.
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Good but... Report this review
Verified buyer Pro Privacy ON (login to see reviewer names) on August 5th, 2020
I much prefer using Get Sharky for several reasons ... including the fact that I can give the deck to the spectator. But it's a good trick.
4 of 4 magicians found this helpful.
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Pocket Nightmare Report this review
Verified buyer Pro Privacy ON (login to see reviewer names) on February 26th, 2020
One of THE best tricks I have ever owned (and I have bought a lot of them!!!). A great progression of moves ending in a surprising finale!!
4 of 4 magicians found this helpful.
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Take the Time to Listen Report this review
Verified buyer Pro Privacy ON (login to see reviewer names) on February 26th, 2020
The effect is outstanding and well worth the price! Be sure to take the time to listen to Max' instructions and tips. You can easily give away information unintentionally if you don't.
4 of 4 magicians found this helpful.
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Max Maven's "Pocket Nightmare" Report this review
Verified buyer Pro Privacy ON (login to see reviewer names) on February 26th, 2020
A brilliantly reimagined effect with a powerfully startling conclusion! I performed this last night right out of the box and it KILLED!
4 of 4 magicians found this helpful.
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Risky Business Report this review
Verified buyer Pro Privacy ON (login to see reviewer names) on August 23rd, 2020
Overall this is a novel and theatrical sort of trick.

Max does an excellent job of explaining the trick. I did not give it 5 stars, because it is a bit risky to perform.

The peek method is good but must be controlled. If the subject pulls too hard on the deck when he preeks at the card, it could expose the method.

The trick works very well if the subject is right handed. A left handed person may or may not handle the cards in a particular way.

If the trick goes wrong, there is no good "out."

3 of 3 magicians found this helpful.
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