ARM: Almost Real Magic (Obie O’Brien, Joe Riding)
- Difficulty: INTERMEDIATE
- Category: CARD MAGIC
- Product Type: MAGIC TRICK
NEW PARLOR SIZE EDITION
This is a very clever routine that is full of surprises.
The theme revolves around an entrance exam that is used to qualify players to enroll in a Blackjack Card Counting School.
The observation test begins with two identical hands of Blackjack (AC and JH). The object is to see if the candidate can follow where the cards are.
The first test is easy and your friend names the Ace, then things get tough. Unexpectedly the Blackjack on the table is now seen as two Aces while the one in your hand has the Jacks.
To simplify things, you decide to only use the two Jacks this time but wait now there are three Jacks and only one Ace. As a finale all four cards are shown to be jacks and there is no Ace in sight.
Although there are many impossible sequences and changes the routine only uses four cards and the only sleight used is the Elmsley Count at the end.
Comes with all the necessary Parlor Size, Cheetah Back, cards (3”x4.5”) and access to an online video tutorial by Meir Yedid and Obie O’Brien.
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Tom Dobrowolski Review from the May 2023 issue of Genii Magazine
“ARM: Almost Real Magic” is a rerelease of a slightly different take on a couple of classic packet tricks from two past masters of close-up magic: Obie O’Brien and Joe Riding. It combines elements of a Four-Card Monte and “Daley’s Last Trick” into one fun routine.
In this current release, the routine is presented as an entrance exam, consisting of a series of tests used to qualify players to enroll in a “Blackjack School” to teach you advantage play. It begins with two identical hands of blackjack (Ace of Clubs and Jack of Hearts). The object is to see if the candidate can follow where the cards are throughout the “exam.”
The first test is simple, and the spectator easily names which card is the Ace. The magic begins afterward as, unexpectedly, the blackjack hand on the table is now seen to have the two Aces while the one in your hand has the two Jacks. To simplify things, you use just the two Jacks this time but now there are three Jacks and only one Ace. For the finale all four cards are shown to be Jacks and no Ace in sight, causing the “applicant” to unfortunately fail the “exam.”
It comes with all the necessary parlor-size Cheetah Back cards (three by four and a half inches), one of which is a gimmick, as well as access to an online video tutorial by Meir Yedid and the late Obie O’Brien. The cards are well made and easy to handle. They are made of plastic so are quite durable. The parlor size makes them good to use in one-on-one, close-up, and small parlor settings.
The online tutorial is 26 minutes long and opens with Meir Yedid giving a short history of the trick going back to when it was first released in the 1970s by Obie O’Brien. He then goes over some of the small modifications he’s made to it for this current release. These include adding the blackjack presentation and eliminating a couple of phases from the original routine. That’s followed by a brief overview of the cards provided and Meir’s performance of the trick in one to the camera. Next Meir walks through a thorough explanation of his handling. As he mentions, it is not a difficult routine to learn, you’ll just need to remember the sequences for all the phases. The routine is virtually sleight-free, utilizing just a couple of counts. Even though you will most likely already be familiar with the counts, Meir does a detailed explanation of both for completeness. He then does a very quick walk through of the routine again that you can use as a refresher. The cards cannot be examined at the end of the trick, but I don’t see that as an issue for this trick.
This is followed by the original footage of Obie O’Brien performing and explaining the routine. It was fun to see Obie perform the routine, and as Meir says you’ll probably take a bit from both his and Obie’s routines in coming up with your own. As mentioned earlier, Obie uses a different presentation and has a couple of extra phases in his original routine. He also uses jumbo cards for the trick. Obie also talks about when he bought the rights to the trick from Joe Riding and how the trick got its name. I won’t spoil that for you. I really enjoyed seeing this old footage. It was a highlight for me and I’m glad it was included.
One caveat is that the routines included are versions of the spectator versus magician “I’m right, you’re wrong” challenge. That can lead to some uncomfortable situations and become the focus, overshadowing the magic. With some tweaks to the handling and to the basic script, the way it’s delivered that can easily be softened or eliminated. I would recommend making these changes.
This release is a throwback to the Emerson and West/Nick Trost packet trick heyday in magic. Those of us who were around during those days can vouch for how much fun they are to work through and how effective they can be when performing for family, friends, and professionally. You don’t want to overlook them. Kudos to Meir Yedid for keeping this genre of magic alive with this and several other tricks he offers.