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Mind Mysteries - Volume 2 - DVD Review

February 26th, 2004 1:33pm
Reviewed by Spencer Singleton
Contained within this volume is what Richard describes as his "finest achievement." The Breakthrough Card System. A more wonderfully workable playing card stack would be difficult, if not impossible, to find. This ingenious stack lays hidden in every deck of cards, relying on no external systems of memorization, only a simple (VERY simple) formula. Best of all, it would be all but impossible for anyone unfamiliar with the stack to see it for what it is; it appears 100% random.

Before the review, I must share a few simple stories. First, having never really worked with a stack of any kind (despite researching and learning a few), I had never attempted to spread a stacked pack of cards before my spectators. For comparison, I vigorously shuffled seven decks of cards (anywhere between 10 and 20 shuffles per deck) and laid them all out on the floor. Many of the fairly shuffled decks looked more "stacked" than this one!

Also, I have a cousin who currently teaches advanced mathematics at our local university; he has a Ph.D. in mathematics. He also has a healthy interest in magic and has a large knowledge base of "mathemagical" effects. I gave him two decks, one stacked with the Breakthrough card system and one randomly shuffled. I told him that one deck may be stacked, both decks may be stacked or neither deck may be stacked. He loved the challenge and was certain he would be able to tell me which answer was correct. After one week with both decks he concluded that neither was stacked, accusing me of duping him. I told him which deck was stacked and left it with him. He came back to me a few days later accusing me of duping him again! I, of course, directed him to Richard's website.

Finally, let me tell you that I am FAR from a math whiz. My main talent, prior to discovering magic, has always been writing; I have never liked math, I have never been good at math, I have actually attempted to avoid math. The formula behind the Breakthrough system is not difficult. I am also not Harry Lorayne and often have trouble remembering my own phone number. If I can learn it as quickly and efficiently as I did, anyone can learn it quickly and efficiently.

By this point, hopefully I have taken steps to convince of a) the unprepared appearance of the stack and b) the ease with which you can learn it. Those points being covered, it is time to move forward to the effects Richard demonstrates using this system. Keep in mind that, due to the Breakthrough System, there is no forcing and no pumping of any kind.

The first effect, done on the DVD with jumbo cards, is Card Calling. I have been having more fun with this effect over the last few weeks than I can begin to describe. Richard has been having fun with it for over twenty years; it's just that strong. Richard shuffles the deck and has a volunteer remove a "clump" of cards (say, 5 to 10 cards). Richard turns his back and the volunteer openly and freely mixes up the selected clump. Following this mixing, Richard names the cards one by one. There is no explanation, no deconstruction possible.

Following this, Richard moves to Two Cards In Pocket, a baffling effect where the volunteer mixes the deck and places two cards into his pockets. Richard proceeds to divine the two cards and, stunningly, the volunteer correctly determines which pocket the cards are in!

Challenge Mind Reading is next and is perhaps the simplest and, conversely, most stunning effect on the DVD. Richard establishes "test conditions" to avoid reconstruction and deconstruction later. A volunteer is brought up and instructed to mentally select a playing a card. She is given the deck of cards. Richard does not face her during this process. She finds her card in the deck, buries it in the middle and places the deck in the box. With absolutely no fishing, pumping, guesswork, equivoque etc, Richard names her card. To further cement the "test conditions," the volunteer keeps the deck!

Moving on to the Corinda Effect, Richard establishes yet another impossible miracle with playing cards, which serves as a perfect setup, in plot, to the final effect. In the Corinda Effect, a volunteer mixes the deck and holds them under the table; she then continues mixing the deck until she decides to stop. She freely selects a card and buries it, face up, in the deck. The deck is placed on the table and covered by the card box. No one has seen the selected card, not even the volunteer who selected it. Richard names a card and the volunteer spreads the deck, personally revealing the selection and proving Richard correct.

Finally, Richard closes with the Blackjack Demonstration. After the cards are mixed, a volunteer deals any number of blackjack hands around the table to additional volunteers. Richard then correctly divines each hole card and, correctly divining the next card to come from the deck, instructs each volunteer on how to play the hand. This is a horrifically impressive effect and one that is fun to perform because it is completely different every time. Just be warned, those people that "joked" about not wanting to play cards with you before will be deadly serious after this.

Overall, this DVD is chock-full of strong material based around an even stronger tool. The Breakthrough Card System alone is worth the price of this DVD; the effects are simply icing on a delicious cake. Whether you're a mentalist or a card shark, you will be able to put this deck to use in a short time for amazing results.

The only negative thing I can comment on is, sadly, unavoidable. I believe Richard would agree that performing 5 effects, back to back, using the Breakthrough Card System is a bit much. After watching the DVD, the effects may start to appear "the same" to you... the answer to this is, obviously, break it up. If you're a card shark, mix a few of these in with other card/gambling effects; if you're a mentalist, work a few of these into other mentalism effects. I, personally, am thrilled Richard put these all on the same DVD, as it makes references and studying just that much easier. Do not allow the repetition to dissuade you; these are killer effects and I hope you have as much fun with them as I have for the past month.

As on the first volume, there are serious gems in the explanation system. Therein, you will listen to the man who created and has been using the Breakthrough Card System for over 20 years. Richard shares subtleties, handling tips and, of course, the mechanics of the system.

This DVD includes standard extras (interactive menus, photo gallery) as well as a few other, very important, bonus features. First, he is interviewed by Jim Sisti, who hosts each DVD, just as Tommy Wonder was interviewed by Max Maven on his set. In Volume 2, Richard shares his thoughts on the differences between mentalism and magic (in terms of the effect outcomes) and the concept of the "intentional miss" theory in mentalism. These interview segments are important and of immense value. Watch them, listen to what he says and think about it -- that's experience talking.

Finally, there are some shots done post-performance. Unlike Volume 1, Richard's post-performance shots are NOT repetitions of effects done in the main performance. Afterwards, Richard shows variations on the watch effect from Volume 1, the metal bending effect from Volume 3, and a gorgeous, visible, excruciatingly wonderful penny bending effect. Watch it so you can experience what Richard's audience goes through... because he does not tip the method. ::sigh::

I recommend this DVD as heartily as I do the first; especially for any performer who doesn't do "mentalism," but would like to add some killer card effects to their performing repertoire. For those mentalists who are completely averse to the use of playing cards during their performance, if this doesn't change their minds, that's fine; Richard, I and many others will continue to slay audiences with this material. I do believe that, after viewing this DVD, many of those mentalists may see how a deck of cards can be used in a mentalism routine without "lowering the value" of the mental performances. As I said before: GO. GET IT. NOW.

This DVD should be available via your favorite dealer. If not, it is available at Finally, for a limited time you can purchase the set from Richard himself at his website.

Until next time...

Product info for Mind Mysteries - Volume 2 - DVD

Author: Richard Osterlind
Publisher: L&L Publishing
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $34.95
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Manufacturer's Description:

Richard Osterlind - Mind Mysteries - Volume 2 - The Osterlind Breakthrough Card System

In this volume of Richard Osterlind's landmark video series, he shares perhaps his greatest contribution to magic and mentalism-the Breakthrough Card System, considered by many to be the most ingenious playing card stack ever devised. The spectators could look at the cards for hours and never discover its devilish secret and, for the first time, Richard Osterlind, along with host Jim Sisti, shares twenty years of effects, performance tips, ideas and shortcuts with his inspired creation.

Card Calling - A group of cards are removed from a shuffled jumbo-sized deck and the performer names them all. This effect, one that will play to the largest audience, has been a staple in Osterlind's stage show for over two decades.

Two Cards in Pocket - A spectator places two cards in his pockets from a deck he's been mixing. Not only does the performer name them but also divines which one is in which pocket. This is a true killer!

Challenge Mind Reading - A thought-of card is named without the performer ever touching the deck. Quite possibly the most impossible-looking card trick ever!

Corinda Effect - The performer names a card that was reversed in the deck by a spectator while he was holding the deck underneath the table. This is the trick that started it all!

Blackjack Demonstration - Your spectators will be convinced that you are the greatest blackjack player ever! You not only know their hole card but also instruct them, quite successfully, on how to play their hands!

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