John Carey has earned a reputation for streamlining effects and making already
good magic even better. His strength is to rely on clever thinking and good presentation rather than
complex moves and techniques, and he has the unique ability to distil routines of unnecessary
sleights and complexities, and turn them into effects that retain the impact of the magic while
ensuring that they are also very doable. In other words: clever plots and powerful magic without
knuckle-busting moves. A superb example of this is his trick, Think and Sync.
Here's how it works: The spectator begins by genuinely shuffling the deck. He takes off a
small packet of cards from the deck (less than 13), and secretly counts them to determine a random
card number. He then freely/secretly thinks of any suit to go along with this, to determine a merely
thought of card. The spectator returns the cards to the deck. The magician now selects a card from
the deck, and amazingly proves he is in sync with the spectator by getting a perfect match.
What you get is access to the video, either by instant digital download or you
can play it via streaming. The entire video is around 11 minutes long. The first three minutes of
the video feature a performance of the trick (note that the performance in the video trailer is an
edited/condensed version that leaves part of the routine out), with the tutorial/ taking up the
remaining eight minutes.
The video is filmed in a studio, with John demonstrating and
explaining the routine to another magician behind a table on a close-up mat. The camera angle is
static and there are no close-ups, but since the trick's method is very straight forward, and relies
more on a clever method rather than tricky sleight of hand, close-ups aren't necessary either, with
John Carey explaining everything clearly.
John Carey does a great job
in teaching all the details of Think and Sync, is explaining them to and discussing them with his
fellow magician. The explanation has John going through the routine slowly, and explaining the
method carefully, as well as the patter. He covers all the small elements of what to say very
carefully. He has a very straight-forward and direct style, which is very clear and easy to follow,
and makes for easy viewing and learning. John's strength is simplifying of routines, so he is a
natural teacher who knows how to make things simple.
He's also very good at crediting his
sources and influences, making frequent references to these throughout the video. The original trick
was inspired by an Allan Kronzek routine first published in Genii magazine in 2012. John liked the
idea but not the style, and so he used an idea from Bob Hummer to help improve the handling. He has
experimented with more than one handling of this routine (more on that later), and I think the one
he teaches in this video is the best.
Think and Sync as taught in
this video involves no difficult sleights and is quite easy to learn. John Carey has been well
described as having a "work smarter not harder" mindset in creating magic, which means that his
effects rely on clever methods, plots, and presentation, rather than difficult finger-busting moves.
This particular trick is very accessible, and can be performed after just a small amount of
I've seen other instructional videos from John Carey, and compared with some of
his other tricks, Think and Sync as taught in this video is one of the easier routines he has
shared. It's almost self-working, with no real sleight of hand, because it relies more on
psychological subtleties. This does mean that the patter needs to be carefully mastered to deal with
several eventualities, so that it can be performed smoothly, but it's really quite easy to learn.
Beginner magicians who know how to do a false shuffle will be able to learn and master it without
too much difficulty.
I love how John Carey has the ability to reduce
existing plots and tricks to their essentials, simplifying and refining effects so that they are
easy to learn and perform, and yet pack a real punch. The Think and Sync routine is a fine example
of his skill, because he has eliminated all excess fat, and streamlined it to make it very
straight-forward to perform.
It is also quite a powerful trick. After all, being able to
divine a card that your spectator has merely thought of? It seems truly impossible, and with good
presentation and patter, the impact can really be strengthened. It's especially a trick that's good
for fooling laymen.
The "hands off" quality of this effect is truly outstanding,
especially the way John handles the ending of this trick. Without giving away the secret, I can say
that John has come up with a very creative solution for the final phase. Where other magicians might
resort to sleight of hand, John uses subtlety and patter to come up with a perfect outcome that
really wows an audience. If you like John Bannon's approach to magic (Bannon apparently gives credit
to Carey's Think and Sync for his trick AK47), then you'll really appreciate what John Carey offers,
and his approach will give you good ideas that you can use in other contexts as well.
video download isn't the only place where you'll find this particular routine. It's also in John
Carey's book Crafted With Carey (2015), and was part of his 2014 lecture notes Streamlined. It has
also been taught on other videos, including John Carey Collection 2 (Vanishing Inc Magic). It also
appears under the name "Sync" in Sublime Self Working Card Tricks (Big Blind Media), and under the
name "Think n Synch Revisited" in his 2015 video Classic Carey (RSVP Magic). However, these don't
all use the same handling, for example in Sublime Self Working Card Tricks, first the spectator
thinks of a suit, then cuts the deck and uses the value of the card cut to, after which the deck is
shuffled and the magician finds either the card or its mate. In the Vanishing Inc Magic video, John
first strips out the Jokers at the start of the routine, and requires more sleights in the first
phase. This has the advantage that after the spectator counts the cards in their packet, they can
return them anywhere to the deck and shuffle it, making the final result seem more impossible. The
version from the Vault avoids any suspicion that might be caused by removing the Jokers from the
deck, and eliminates the sleights John originally used, making the effect even easier to perform. So
it would appear that this new download from The Vault is the smoothest version of the trick.
I'm just loving The Vault series from Bro Gilbert, and he has really
picked out some gems to feature as part of it. John Carey deserves a lot of respect for his skils in
creating streamlined magic, and Think and Sync is a wonderful example of a very straight forward
trick that is easy to perform and yet has the capacity to blow the minds of lay people.
BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame
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