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The Ultimate Ten-Card Poker Deal is for the serious performing magician who wants a professional gambling-themed routine. This is a featured showpiece that has been thoroughly audience-tested and is used as a closer in one of David Malek’s shows, a spot he reserves for only the strongest material.
Effect: A game of Poker using only ten cards is played multiple times between the magician and spectator. Despite being more and more fair as each round progresses (and, in fact, seemingly giving the spectator greater control and the advantage), the magician succeeds in winning every hand.
Review by Jamy Ian Swiss
David Malek is a sleight-of-hand close-up magician and gambling expert who has published little of his work, and is not widely known in the magic world, beyond the borders of California where he resides, and the halls of the Magic Castle where he has long performed (albeit in on-and-off-streaks throughout the years), and where I first met him in the early Nineties.
The first time I encountered him, he was performing at the Castle in the Close-up Gallery where he was doing a gambling demo act that featured two overwhelming elements: first, some of the best riffle run-up work I had ever seen; and second, an arch, larger-than-life character, as if he had stepped out of “Guys and Dolls” and sat down at the card table. Needless to say, I loved what I saw.
The deliberate meta-joke of that character, and of the fuzzy borders of where its line might fall between truth and deception, is a “joke” that not everyone always gets, and that can turn some people, especially magicians, off. To me, and to countless audiences I’ve witnessed firsthand, the results—particularly in the guise of his more current persona as “The King” (a running reference throughout his act)—are captivating, and hilarious. The reason I agreed to write the introduction to the first of these two small booklets, The Ultimate Ten-Card Poker Deal, is because I first saw the author perform this routine at the Castle, accompanied by a friend of mine, a talented actress who likes magic and is extremely discerning in her tastes. I took her to three excellent shows at the Castle that night. Malek’s was her favorite, and I understand why. He closed with the routine at hand and had us both screaming with laughter, and at times, all but out of our seats and on the floor. We weren’t the only ones.
I mention these facts in the book’s introduction. I also mention that of all the countless versions of the Ten-Card Poker Deal in print (including those among the massive collection, the Bammo Ten Card Deal Dossier compiled and written by Bob Farmer), this routine stands out as notable in several worthy respects. For one, it contains as many as seven phases, if you choose to utilize the entirety, including a final phase in which the cards are torn in half and the effect is still achieved. That length probably reads as ludicrous to many if not most readers, and I would likely be skeptical myself if I hadn’t myself seen the routine performed live. Each phase serves a purpose and, as in any well-constructed routine, each phase rises in interest and audience engagement. What’s more, the effect becomes increasingly mysterious. Despite the fact that (or perhaps, because) the Ten-Card Poker Deal is a sleight-free trick, Malek’s handling manages to put the secret, as it were, into the spectator’s hands, twice, in turn serving to cancel the method even further than in many other versions.
While it may seem a hyperbolic, over-the-top-claim, the title of The Ultimate Ten-Card Poker Deal—indeed, like other aspects of David Malek’s persona and performances—the word “ultimate” might actually be appropriate in this case. This is a mystifying, entertaining, multi-phase routine that can close an act—a routine with which you can apply all of your focus and attention to the performance, and to your relationship with the spectator and audience, rather than to executing challenging methodology. All of this, and more, is explained in exquisite detail by the author, who provides not mere instructions, but a true lesson in constructing a routine, and learning how to perform it. It’s the invaluable depth and care of that lesson, above and beyond the power of the routine, that makes the asking price more than reasonable. Skip buying the next instant download and buy a genuine lesson in magic and showmanship.