Review from Genii
Bob Farmer is one of those singular figures in the world of magic, whose brain doesn’t work like anyone else’s. A lawyer by trade, he is not a performer, but is a very interesting creator. He’s been marketing and publishing his unique creations for decades (always accompanied by amusing and confusing ad campaigns). Some of his creations that you might be familiar with include “Headhunter,” “Mutanz,” and “Deja VooDoo.” You likely know him as a long-time columnist in MAGIC magazine and the author of The Bammo Ten Card Deal Dossier.
What has Farmer unleashed on the magic world this time? In The Bammo Tarodiction Toolbox Farmer explores a mathematical system for sorting cards and he has found entertaining ways to exploit this system. The system relies on a ternary (or trinary) number system. What is that you ask? You’re familiar with binary systems, surely; think of ternary systems as the same thing, except there are three digits, instead of two. The second section of the book explains the mathematics involved, but the good news is you don’t need to understand the math in order to do the tricks. You merely need to follow the necessary procedures.
What sort of procedures? Well… (I know this is going to sound dull, but trust me, the tricks that it makes possible are fun, entertaining, and deceptive.) Imagine you have a deck of cards, each of which is marked with (specific, not random) variations of “center, right, left.” If you were to thoroughly shuffle the deck and then deal through the cards, placing each into the pile indicated by the first word, then gather up the cards, then dealing each into the pile indicated by the second word, then gather them up and dealing and gathering a third time, the entire deck would be in a specific order, such as new deck order or Mnemonica. Obviously, dealing through fifty-two cards three times is not something an audience will want to sit through, but the principle can be exploited for smaller groups of cards, and all the tricks in this book use fifteen cards or fewer, keeping dealing time to a minimum.
The challenge with using this system as a method is justifying the dealing and/or making it entertaining. Well, that’s where having a brain like Farmer’s comes in handy; he is nothing if not entertaining.
The tricks include one where you teach a spectator how to cheat at cards, a couple gambling-themed tricks that are reminiscent of “Sympathetic Cards,” some interesting effects involving ESP cards, and a wonderful, elaborate routine using Tarot cards. The manuscript I was originally given for review was 99 pages long, but in the short time since, Farmer has come up with so many new effects that there are addenda, and the book now comes in at 146 pages. The addenda include some really interesting new tricks, ideas, and variations, including a fantastic routine, inspired by “The Tantalizer,” which has long been one of my favorite tricks.
Also included in the manuscript is a reprint of “Tsunami,” a long unavailable gambling manuscript that was, as Farmer says, “universally praised by those who praise universally.” I remember Michael Weber frying me with this at a magic convention many years ago. This is welcome addition to the manuscript, an underrated trick, and I’m glad to finally have a copy of it.
The ternary principle explained here is very interesting and Farmer explains many variations. I’m sure it will continue to inspire a lot of new applications. Serious card men (and math nerds) are going to have fun with this Toolbox.