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Disc 2

Find my review of disc 1 here:

We're back for more Dani on disc 2 of Reloaded, which like Utopia, is devoted to exploring his "fascinations". 5 topics related to card magic are examined in-depth with Dani offering a mix of routines, ideas, and even philosophy in his typically loose, and freewheeling style. Below is a description of the content as well as my thoughts on the material.


Ace Assembly (Explanation)

The set begins with Dani explaining the method to Ace Assembly on disc 1. I mentioned in my first review that I was impressed by the handling of the final ace, which in this handling is visible in its proper packet, right up to the moment that it seems to appear in the leader one. Well this explanation only serves to heighten my respect for the method employed. This is a wonderfully direct ace assembly with simply the aces and and any 12 spot cards. It’s impromptu, it has no Elmsley counts, and the arrival of each successive ace is clear, and magical. Personally I will use this as a second phase to Ben Train's Bold Assembly, as you can transition straight from the latter into the former without needing to revisit the deck.

My one tiny critique is that I’m not really sure why the explanation is being given here on disc 2 rather than on disc 1 where it belongs. Yes, Dani does teach a subtle variant on the Stuart Gordon double lift, but it seems like a minor detail as far as the method goes.

Queens Production

Effect: The performer quickly cuts the deck into 4 relatively equal packets. He turns the top card of each packet over revealing one of the cards to be a Queen. He invites the spectators to follow the queen as he plays a simple 'monte' with the 4 face-down packets. The spectators inevitably succeed in following the Queen, but that's ok, since the top cards are all clearly turned-over to reveal 4 Queens.


This handling is a variation of an effect Dani performed on Utopia, in which after cutting the deck into quarters and showing spot cards on top of all 4 piles, a magical gesture resulted in all four top cards becoming Queens. That earlier handling is better than this one. I don’t think Dani would argue that point. Rather it's presented here more as a vehicle for Dani to share his tips on how to practice picking up doubles in his instantaneous, biddle style. The practice tip is solid, if not exactly ground-breaking.

The second section of the dvd finds Dani discussing some handling tips for triumph effects in general, followed by three different routines.

The moves Dani demonstrates are mostly 'convincers' to show a mixed deck of face up and down cards. One technique involves a method of overhand shuffling after the initial face up/face down mix. There is no tabled display - it is all accomplished in the hands, and like most of Dani's stuff, this is pretty easy.
Next he tips a cutting sequence, applicable to most Triumph routines, that displays the mixed condition of the pack, while setting-up the final reveal. I felt that this sequence was a vast improvement over the standard displays and solutions one tends to find in the literature. And although Dani doesn't mention it explicitly, the overhand shuffle technique and the cutting display can be used together, which is precisely what I intend to do with my handling of Jay Sankey's in-the-hand's Triumph routine 'Back In Time'.


Effect: A spectator shuffles the deck face-up into face-down with a faro-style shuffle. The deck is seen to be mixed in the spectator’s hands. The magician requests that the spectator hand him some cards from the top, and some from the bottom of the deck. Naturally those cards are mixed faces and backs, but when the magician snaps his fingers the cards 'right' themselves. The magician, who has not touched the deck since the effect began, now asks the spectator to spread the whole deck on the table. Despite being mixed by the spectator, every card in the deck is face down.


This is a powerful effect, so many of you will be disappointed to hear Dani begin his explanation by saying that this is a handling for magicians only. The reason is because the spectator must give the deck a faro shuffle (which does NOT need to be perfect). To my mind however, there are many people who can approximate the faro sufficiently well for the purpose of this effect, particularly if given a primer by the magician. Will this play as strong with the lay public as it certainly will with magicians? That's a question I can't answer right now, but I have a hard time believing anyone could see this effect and not be fooled badly.

Effect: The magician gives the face down deck a series of running cuts. One half is now clearly turned face up and shuffled back into the face down balance. Face down cards are visible right up until the moment the two halves are coalesced. WIth no delay the cards are spread on the table revealing a surprisingly uniform pack of face up cards.


Fun, and deceptive. This is actually a triumph I can see myself doing because it doesn't have to supplant any of my other handlings. It's quick and offbeat, and modular, and it can even be performed silently as the actions are so clear that no additional context is needed. The immediate spread of the cards proceeding the shuffle gives the whole affair a surprising and delightful rhythmic hiccup, precisely when the spectator is expecting 'handling'.

For my own future use, I can imagine substituting Dani's pre-shuffle cutting sequence with an idea Joshua Jay shared on disc 1 of his Talk About Tricks set. There he shows a way to spread a face up and face down half cleanly on the table, before commencing a deceptive shuffle which leaves one exactly in the same position as required for this conclusion

Effect: The magician gives the deck a face up/face down shuffle that produces an utter mess. Prompted to name their favorite 4 of a kind, a spectator calls out Aces. The magician now quickly cuts the jumbled deck 3 times producing 3 face up Aces. A 4th cut results in another face up card, but this time it is a 3, not an Ace. Never fear, the magician explains that this indicator card will lead to an Ace, and sure enough, 3 cards down in the deck is the 4th face-up Ace. To conclude the deck is spread and somehow all the cards are seen to be oriented the same way.


This is a Terry LaGerould effect called 'Man From New York' that Dani has updated with his open shuffle technique. Triumph routines with poker themes are usually not my cup of tea, and in truth, neither is this. But while I don't really see myself performing this effect, I was pleasantly surprised by it and can see a lot of other magicians liking this better than I do. Dani mentions at one point that in his opinion, his very best Triumph handling is Horizontal Open Triumph from Utopia. I agree with that assertion, but if this routine is an indication, adding that 'Dani touch' can seemingly improve every Triumph, as I'm sure it's done here.

Before leaving the Triumph section, I want to briefly mention a few philosophical points that Dani makes in this section of the DVD. Those points are paraphrased here as:
*Triumph is fundamentally a stronger performance piece than Oil & Water
*Triumph routines should be concluded with a face down spread revealing a face-up selection, not a face up spread that then requires the turning over of the face down odd card.

I will say that I wanted more exploration of these assertions. On the face of it, I don't necessarily agree with either point, and feel that perhaps there was a language barrier preventing Dani from really detailing his thoughts in a more persuasive manner. Elsewhere Dani mentions that he's not comfortable utilizing the "magician in trouble" ploy, so obviously he has a performance philosophy that's rather encompassing and merits a full examination. That's not really what you’re going to find here, so take it for what it is.

(Creating the stack)
Next on Dani's agenda is an exploration of his stacked deck sequence, which he tells us is based on a Si-Stebbins sequence. Dani gives us to methods for getting into stack: one that is best done alone, pre-show. The other is a technique for getting into stack from new-deck-order. Both methods are somewhat involved, but then again I'm not familiar with any of the existing methods from getting into Tamariz, Aronson, etc. stack from new deck order so I don't have anything to compare it to.

Now that the stack has been arranged, Dani discusses several of the features of his stack. 5 key features are presented:
1. A formula exists and is provided for identifying the very next card in the stack
2. A formula exists and is provided for identifying how many cards have been cut from the top or bottom of the deck; or used another way, for determining how far away any card in the stack is from the top or bottom
3. A formula exists and is provided for determining where in the deck the mates of any given card are
4. Card which are removed from the deck and either replaced, or isolated, are quickly easily identifiable
5. The deck can be easily put into a mirror sequence

Of course, it should go without saying that Dani's stack is not-transparent to the casual observer. So even spreading the deck face up while in-stack will not result in any obvious order being noticed by your spectators. Which is remarkable considering that with the formulas provided, essentially every magician could begin performing the Memorised Deck routine from disc 1 without memorizing the deck. Of course, modest amount of brain power and multi-tasking will be demanded, but it's quite impressive to think that you could begin practicing that routine straight-away, even if you've never worked with a mem deck before.

This section ends without Dani discussing any specific routines, but as I just mentioned, disc 1 contains arguably the best one you could do with this stack. Personally, I would have preferred that Dani would have taught Ace Assembly on disc 1, and held back the explanation of the Memorised Deck routine for this particular moment.


The C10 system was introduced in Utopia and is greatly expanded here on Reloaded. Without tipping method, I can share that the technique Dani discusses in this section is one in which the magician keeps track a small number of cards in the deck, but can present the illusion that they have the whole sequence of the deck memorized. Many other magicians and mentalists have explored this idea, usually in the context of impromptu memorized deck routines. And indeed, this technique makes an appearance in Dani's Memorised Deck routine from disc 1.

Dani begins by showing us how to identify and begin keeping track of the right cards in the deck. He also shares a Vernon idea for making the demonstration part of the routine more indelible. In my favorite tidbit, he shares a method for getting into the proper position, despite handing the cards out prior for fair shuffling by the spectators. Further thoughts are given on extending the concept into new deck order scenarios, as well as ways to reduce the mental load required of the performer.

ACAAN - Seeking to arrive at a free selection of a card, the magician asks a spectator to think of a card value but not a suit. A second spectator calls out any number from 1-52. Finally a 3rd spectator names a suit. The magician cleanly counts down into the deck and finds the named card value and suit at the randomly chosen number.

Of the three routines Dani teaches in this section, this one is my favorite. Using ideas taught elsewhere in this section, one could easily get into position for this effect from a shuffled, borrowed deck. In fact, I like this quite a bit more than even Barrie Richardson's Impromptu Card at Any Number (my previous 'go-to' version in fasdiu settings). The one change I can see myself making is to perform this effect with Queens, rather than 10s, and to replace Dani's numerical !@#$e with Joshua Jay's e****que technique from 'Inferno'. That would make everything even more hand’s off (read: fair) and on the flip side it would give me an impromptu outlet for Josh's brilliant selection procedure.

Open Prediction - The magician introduces two decks and removes 3 predictions from one of them, which are shown to a neutral spectator before being placed aside. Using the second deck now, a spectator is prompted to call out a number and then deal that many cards from the deck. The card arrived is the mate to the three set aside earlier, leaving the magician with a 4 of a kind, and proof that the fair proceedings had been predicted in advance.

This is a neat effect that could theoretically be done on the fly provided the magician had two decks available. Personally I can't see myself using this for the reason that I already have Open Prediction handlings I prefer; there are other C10 effects that I think are stronger (see ACAAN above); and this effect can’t quite reset without the magician revealing some of the discrepant evidence of the method. Dani doesn't really discuss where to go next from this, and given that it's not quite strong enough to be 'closer' material, I think this is more valuable as an idea piece than an actual performance one.

Memorisation - After reconstituting the deck with no alterations to the cards post-shuffling, a number is called out by a spectator. The magician asks a spectator to name any card. The card they name is found cleanly at the position called out by the other spectator.


I promise you that you will have the same reaction to this effect that I did: "Please let this be practical!". Sadly, it's not. But it does look a whole heck of a lot like the holy grail of card magic.


Dani introduces us to what he calls the General Card, but which will be know to many as the Universal Card plot. The concept is as old as card magic itself and typically involves one card being made to look like multiple different spectators selections. Solutions have historically relied on switches to create the illusion of a chameleon card, but Dani for the most part explores different ways to create the same effect.

Robert Houdin - Three cards are selected and replaced without the magician or other spectators seeing their identity. The magician removes a Joker from the deck and proceeds to show it to each spectator individually. Amazingly, each helper confirms that the solitary card being held by the magician is their selected card. To conclude the card is tossed face-up on the table and it is indeed a Joker.


This is a version of the classic metamorphosis effect. Dani teaches his top change which is ideal for surrounded dynamics although Dani ultimately recommends against performing this effect in close up (as opposed to parlour) circumstances. There are some tricky audience management issues to contend with, and I can see why this material might be better suited to someone playing a large room. If that sounds like you, then this might be a piece worth looking into.

Double Prediction - The magician begins the effect by setting two cards aside but not before first showing them to a neutral spectator. Two additional spectators each select a card in seemingly fair circumstance. The magician makes a magical gesture towards the previously isolated cards claiming that he is sending them the spirit of the two selected cards. The faces of the deck are now displayed but neither spectator can observe their card in the spread. The two cards removed at the outset are now revealed. Both spectators' cards are there.


Wonderfully classic magic. Period. Not only is it impromptu but it fulfills the classic axiom of great magic being something that happens in the mind of the spectators. Dani employs several psychological convincers to create a picture of events that never really transpired. In a way, it reminds me L'Homme Masque, the trick that kicked off disc 1 of this set, except this handling is far more mystifying and elegant to my mind.

Routine 3 - Two spectators are invited to remove a selection and replace it in different parts of the deck. The magician begins dealing cards from the deck to the table and each is given a chance to stop the dealing at the time of their choosing. When the two removed cards are revealed, the spectators discover that they've stopped at their selected card.

This is a simple effect, and watching it in Dani's hands is almost enough to convince you that it's a real work-horse. And who knows, perhaps for some of you this effect will capture your imagination and find a home in your repetoire. I have to repeat a similar critique I levied against Open Prediction earlier in the disc: there are other methods of achieving this effect I prefer; and there are other extensions of Dani's General Card work that produce better effects. It was nice to see Dani's work on the bluff pass however.


At the end of my review of disc 1 I hoped that I would discover more impromptu card material in disc 2 and Dani did not disappoint. Including the Ace Assembly, that quite possibly didn't belong on this disc there were 4-5 brilliant, practical effects on this disc that have piqued my enthusiasm.

Now inevitably at some point it’s natural to start comparing this set to Utopia - don’t pretend you weren’t wondering. My personal feeling is that this set is not quite as revelatory and necessary as Utopia. That set seemed to introduce exciting, practical takes of classic plots with each effect. On the whole I think the material on that production was slightly stronger; slightly more practical; and with a higher number of impromptu (or light set-up) pieces. But let's put this in perspective: Dani had his whole life to create the material on Utopia and he's had 4 years to create all this new content. That we are even in the same ballpark - and we are in the same ballpark for the record - is nothing short of a miracle. Half-way through this second set and I feel that I can already say with confidence that if you are a fan of Dani's, you will not regret this purchase.

Stay tuned for more detailed commentary about disc 3 in coming days.
Tim Cavendish
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Thanks for such a chewy, detailed review.

I love when the reviewer fully engages with the material and lets the reader in on that process.

We look forward to your reviews of discs 3 and 4!
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3 years later: thanks for this insights and for taking the time to review !!!!
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