BOOK REVIEW - Plots & Methods by Michal Kociolek
Updated: May 14
Here is my in-depth written review of Plots & Methods by Michal Kociolek.
As with many items on other books, sometimes some effects sound better on book or look greater in performance. Thus, I will try best to look at the items from different perspectives and give you the more accurate if not the whole pictures of the effects.
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Michal Kociolek has gifted this booklet to me awhile back out of generousity. Although he explicitly said I didn't have to review it at all, I found that there are some interesting things I want to share with my readers. In this review, I take no consideration that the booklet is a gift and thus I will tell you honestly what this book is about. If you have doubts or questions, I am open to discussion and listening to your voice.
WHAT YOU GET
There are 2 formats for this book, softbound version and ebook version.
It’s a 46-page book with only 3 illustrations. But no worry, the writing style is very clear and I didn’t even realise that I only saw very few illustrations.
Omitting the covers and other pages which are not the explanations, you get 33 pages of material, averaging 6-7 pages per trick, which is an optimal length.
QUALITY OF THE BOOK
Since I only got the ebook version, I could not comment about the quality of physical copy.
For the ebook, the format and editing is top-notch. The font used in this book is Adobe Garamond Pro, which has a nice balance of readability and elegance. Overall the format for each trick is very consistent.
In general effects are made of ‘Effect’, ’Set-up’, 'Method and presentation’ and ‘Credits’. Three of the effects come with ‘Comments’ which deals with additional handling or discussion of the effects. Credits are very detailed. I am quite sure that Mr. Kociolek is well read from the way he credited others. One minor improvement I’d suggest is, the character P in ‘Method and presentation’ should be in Capital Letter. It’s more common to use capital letter for words in sub-header. In fact, since method and presentation are equally important, we shall make ‘Presentation’ stand out, right?
All in all, the book layout is professionally made. The description of the tricks is written in good clarity, and the writing style is easy to follow. It’s a good role model for other magic books.
While some people may want more illustrations, the tricks in this book in fact do not require illustrations to make the explanation clearer. So, I found no big issue about it.
HOW MANY TRICKS?
Number of Tricks: 5
Tricks which need table: 4
In-hand tricks: 1
Except ‘All In’ which can be done in hands, other tricks require a performing surface. All are card effects.
QUALITY OF THE TRICKS
As there are only five routines in this booklet, I will discuss each routine in details.
Effect: 2 Jokers traps the selection which is buried after very fair and thorough shuffles by spectators. No funny move!
This is my favorite effect in this booklet. There are 2 genius aspects which makes this effect work flawlessly. Both are out-of-the-box thinking which is not common. While the effect is not for beginner, it is very accessible to intermediate performers. Beside, there is an optional kicker which is strong and easy.
However, there are 2 things which you may want to know. First, ideal audience size is 5 (or at least 4). But with altered handling, I think it can be done with 2 audience. But this effect is definitely not 1-on-1 effect.
Second, there is a slight chance that you need to improvise. Though the chance is not high but it’s not zero. Mr. Kociolek didn’t give a solution how what to do when it is messed up.
Effect: A selection is located by a number which is determined by pure randomness.
This trick requires a very simple preparation by writing a few numbers on some small pieces of paper. It can be done on the fly in less than 2 minutes.
The trick is very simple in structure, but the fact that the number is randomly chosen adds a layer of deception to the actual method. In fact, the principle is versatile enough to be employed in other effects. You can construct a 5-10 minutes stage act with it. I am sure that this trick will inspire you to make your own routines in no time.
Effect: A thought-of-card vanishes from a packet of 12 cards and found in an isolated envelope.
Although this effect cannot be done impromptu with borrowed deck, the procedure is quite interesting and clean with minimal setup. However, memorization is required to perform this effect (not stacked deck). It’s not particularly difficult, but once mess up, recovery is almost impossible. To make this effect convincing, readers are advised to follow the author’s advise closely. And an old deck will be much better for the presentation.
Three + One
Effect: The performer produces four-of-a-kind with 2 audience under almost impossible conditions.
This trick is very good, but at the same time it’s hard to perform well. It’s not exactly ideal for non-English speakers. Which means you need to alter the handling. It won’t be too difficult for experienced performers but I doubt beginners can do it at all. Besides, a style like Dani DaOrtiz’s will be best for this effect because there are some procedures to follow. You don’t want to bore your audience unless you can divert their attention with a very casual performing style.
This effect requires very simple gimmicked cards, but I think it is justified by how strong and clean the effect is. Again, it’s not a 1-on-1 effect, 2 spectators is ideal.
Polish Poker Stacking
Effect: This is a pseudo-riffle stacking demonstration. It allows you to stack a Royal Flush in just two riffle shuffles, and produce any ranks of hands audience call for.
This effect requires a marketed item by Mr. Kociolek. Since I don’t own the item, I cannot fairly analyse the effect with confidence. However, the fact that you can stack a Royal Flush in 2 shuffles and then produce any ranks of hand with one shuffle is amazing. But it’s a pity that most readers will probably not be able to perform this effect without the marketed cards.
With 100% confidence, I can say all 5 (or 4? excluding the last effect which I don’t have perfect knowledge) effects are foolers to even magicians. There are some clever and unexpected elements in each trick. I really hope I could watch the performance before I read this booklet.
RATING OF TRICKS
I usually rate a trick based on several factors:
Practical of Effect
Effectiveness (how magical the effect is)
Sometimes, even I rate a trick (5/10), that doesn’t mean it is a bad trick. Maybe I just think the method is not particularly new or interesting. The effect may still be ok.
And even if an effect was very magical and creative in execution, I wouldn’t give high rating if it involves a lot of procedures or easy to mess up.
As a general guideline, a trick rated 7 or above is good. A rating of 9-10 guarantees a great trick (even if you don’t do it, it contains a lot of new things you can learn).
I will try to give a reason if I rate an effect low score. I hope this will give you a better idea of my reasoning.
All In 8☆
Lucky You 9☆
Three + One 9☆
Polish Poker Stacking (For fairness, no score is given because I don’t own the gimmick)
PROS ABOUT THE BOOK
The writing style is nice and the book format is very thoughtful.
There are some clever and unexpected methods which you seldom see in other books, unless you are very well-read.
All effects are totally different. So you will be able to pick up something.
CONS ABOUT THE BOOK
All tricks require a degree of setup or preparation. They can’t be done with borrowed deck.
Considering most readers would only do 4 tricks in this book at most, the price tag is a little bit on high end.
While there are many card magic books out there, I found the material in this book quite refreshing.
The setup in these tricks are not particularly complicated, but it allows some very clean outcomes and astonishing moments.
Although the readers won’t probably perform all effects here, but I am sure there will be usable material for you. In fact, I recommend you don’t perform the effects as they are, but take the principles to create your own routines. All effects (except the last one, which I don’t know in details) are flexible but deep in structure, thus experienced performers can find way to customize the effects.
As for the price tag of $25, I would say that it is little bit on high end for digital copy. But still, considering that the effects have indeed surprised me, I will certify it with ‘Excellent Choice’ award.
Book Quality: 9/10 (ebook version)
Effectiveness of Tricks: 8/10 (I want to give it 9 but considering 3 of my favorite effects are only single phase, it seems there are more to ask for)
Cost Performance: 7/10
Final Score: 8/10
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