Review: Four fun packet tricks from John Bannon & Cameron Francis

Discussion in 'Product Questions and Reviews' started by EndersGame, Aug 11, 2020.

  1. Four Fun Packet Tricks from Big Blind Media

    Let me start with a confession: I love packet tricks. Fortunately I know that I'm not the only one, and there's a long tradition in card magic that gives attention to effects that play big with just a small set of cards. Nick Trost was a master at it, and in recent times John Bannon has also devoted considerable attention to the genre that he likes to describe as "fractal magic". Others who have made good contributions in this area include Paul Hallas, author of Small But Deadly (2005) and Still Small, Still Deadly (2010).

    There's something appealing about the minimalism and directness of a good packet trick, and how it can pack quite a punch despite its small size. Some of the world's best card tricks are packet tricks, including well-known ones like Color Monte (Jim Temple), B'Wave (Max Maven), Twisted Sisters (John Bannon), Ultimate 3 Card Monte (Michael Skinner), Wild Card (Frank Garcia), and Twisting the Aces (Dai Vernon).

    While some packet tricks use standard playing cards, I also have a fondness for packet tricks that use novelty cards. Once again, Nick Trost has made some wonderful contributions here, with tricks like Bigfoot and The Unknown Card.

    The good news is that there are some delightful packet tricks on today's market courtesy of imaginative contemporary creators. Here are four fun packet tricks I recently picked up from Big Blind Media. They have quite a range of packet tricks in their catalogue, but I'm quite fussy about what I get and usually do some careful research before deciding what to order. I'm very pleased with the four selections I made, and they are all excellent, and well worth considering.


    Buzz Kill (John Bannon)

    Background: John Bannon needs little introduction to most people familiar with modern card magic. He's had a prolific output with his self-working and sleight-light approach to card magic, which often focuses on clever psychology rather than complicated moves and sleights. Some of the finest examples of his packet tricks are Twisted Sisters, Duplicity, Strangers Gallery, and The Royal Scam, all of which can be highly recommended. His DVDs Fractalicious and Bullet Party both come with custom gaff cards, and are also excellent places to begin.

    Overview: With Buzz Kill, Bannon offers us a more light-hearted brand of card magic. This is immediately obvious once we see the custom cards, which feature amusing novelty artwork with a pesky fly that needs squashing. This trick comes with the nine custom cards you'll need to pull off this small miracle, and like the other packet tricks covered here, they're the usual Bicycle quality cards. You can also see the official video trailer here, and a performance of the Buzz Kill routine by John Bannon himself here.

    Effect: This effect starts with you showing your spectator four cards, each with just the fly pictured on them. Then you show four blank cards (the "fly-paper"), putting these on each of the fly cards. Then comes the first surprise: you show that the flies have vanished from their cards. And then comes an amazing final twist: the four fly-paper cards now each have a squashed fly on them!



    Buzz Kill is very fun to perform, with an instantly engaging and familiar novelty theme. It has the advantage that you can get people involved by having them slap the cards - especially children will enjoy this. Fortunately it's not that difficult to do, and if Mr Elmsley is your friend, you'll have no issues in learning how to do this, with the help of the video instructions (18 minutes) you access via the online link provided with your purchase.

    As part of the video tutorial, an alternative `fractal' routine that ends examinable is also taught, along with a more difficult `oil-and-water' style routine. But even the basic routine is very visual, and has a great surprise with the ending. It's a fine example of the mileage you can get from a small number of cards, courtesy of the clever thinking of John Bannon.

    Performance video:

    Nothing But The Truth (Cameron Francis)

    Background: Cameron Francis has a background in acting as well as in card magic. His output is quite prolific, with many DVDs on card magic to his credit, as well as releases of numerous individual effects. He brings a somewhat quirky and larger-than-life style to his card magic, which I find amusing and entertaining. But he's not just a funny man, he's also clever, and when he applies his mind to packet tricks, it's worth paying attention to see what he's come up with.

    Overview: A case can be made that Nothing But The Truth is Cameron Francis' very best packet trick. It's a great self-working effect that comes with five fully custom cards and a great lie-detecting theme that gives a lot of scope for interaction with your spectator.

    Effect: After your spectator selects a card, you demonstrate your Lie Detector machine, which consists of some very specially printed cards. You proceed to ask your spectator a series of questions about the colour and identity of their chosen card, and each time your remarkable Lie Detector reveals the word TRUTH or LIE correctly, depending on their answer. As a completely unexpected twist, you turn over all the cards from your Lie Detector itself, and they turn out to be duplicates of their selected card!



    The fact that this trick is basically self-working (courtesy of the Olram Subtlety) gives it immediate appeal, because it puts it within the reach of practically anyone, including amateurs performing for friends and family. The main premise is a good one, and the concept of a lie detector time-tested favourite in card magic. But it's the final kicker that especially has the potential to surprise and amaze.

    As for the instructions: my copy came with a physical DVD, consisting of a little over 15 minutes of footage all up (plus some extras like an interview). These also include some advanced handlings (think: Elmsley) for those looking for more. But the heart of strong magic is that it needs to be entertaining, and being able to interact with your spectators with a lie detector test is a time-tested plot that is a proven success, and that's really what this about, along with the unexpected final revelation.

    Performance video:


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