PredicTABLE by Chris Rawlins
This is Chris’s take on the classic out of this world using a “game” with yes or no questions rather than playing cards.
This tutorial begins with a history on the trick. Originally Chris was using a normal deck of playing cards with questions written on the back and the final reveal was a red/black separation. Chris then shows us the first prototype that was specially printed for this. It worked, but the design wasn’t quite right. This led him to creating a prototype that used index cards and an index card holder which he quickly moved on from. This eventually led to the final fully designed product which is disguised as a conversation starting game.
The cards look great, they handle well, and they look exactly like what you would purchase in the check out line in a store or in an airport. The cards are bridge-sized and the box they come in is different enough to make it feel like a game instead of a card trick. The deck also comes with a “yes” card, a “no” card, and a “how to play” card to add to that game feel. The cards come already marked with “yes” and “no” on the back, and it really looks exactly like the words have been hand-written in marker. The cards also have a built-in code in the questions that allow the performer to know if the card says “yes” or “no” on the back.
My one complaint from a design perspective is that the back of the cards are black with white logos, and the hand-written “yes” and “no” is written in black marker. This means that up close, it is actually difficult to see the “yes” and “no.” They don’t pop out; you have to really look close to be able to read it. Funny enough, the cards are easier to read the further away you are. So if you are videoing or showing it to an audience, it is immediately obvious what is written, but the closer you get, the more the writing blends into the background. In fact, when I performed this on my wife, she often picked up the questions and turned them toward me as she asked me the question and she never noticed the writing. I guess that could be seen as a perk, but I would prefer the separation to be IMMEDIATELY obvious the moment the cards are turned over. That’s one of the strengths of the original OOTW with playing cards—the color difference means it is immediately obvious and that very clear pattern is pleasing to the brain. It also allows your brain to instantly see if there are any that are incorrect because it would stand out instantly. With this, you have to see the entire back of each card to see if it’s correct; you can’t just spread them facedown.
Next we see a full performance out in a garden.
Chris then walks us through how to do that particular method. I first saw this method used in Stephen Leathwaite’s “Spiral Principle and Beyond,” but it originates with John Kennedy in his effect, “Red and Black.” For those wondering, Chris does indeed gives Kennedy the credit. This version of OOTW involves the performer and the spectator taking turns answering questions. One of the odd things with this procedure is that the spectator and performer aren’t separating the deck into a “yes” pile and a “no” pile. Instead, they end up with a “yes” pile, “no” pile, and a “discard” pile. IMO, this procedure works in a red/black separation but it feels a little odd in this particular iteration. So much so that during the performance, Chris had to clarify what the spectator is supposed to do with their card during the performance because it feels intuitive that if your answer is yes, you’d put it in the yes pile, and if it’s no, you’d put it in the no pile. But that’s not the process for this. For this, if their answer is yes, they keep the card. If their answer is no, they discard the card. And if they check the discard pile, they will see a random assortment of “yes” and “no” which just doesn’t feel right to me in this particular context. It’s also odd that the performer answers half the questions. In my mind, this immediately makes the trick half as impressive because if the spectators give it even a little bit of thought afterward, they are going to think “oh, he just knew which cards had the word “no” on the back and only picked those for himself.” Which is a fair assumption.
Next we see a studio performance of the same Kennedy method that was just taught. Honestly, I thought this was a little unnecessary since the routine takes quite a long time to get through and we’ve already watched it once. This second performance doesn’t add anything new.
The next method taught is Paul Harris’s Out of This Galaxy. This method is intended for one person. In this method, the spectator is going through the deck by themselves and separating the cards into a “yes” pile and a “no” pile. This seems to be the more logical approach. The biggest downside with this method is that at the end, a switch of some cards has to take place meaning that if they look through the yes and no pile, they will discover that some of the questions are actually marked in the opposite way to how they answered. Thankfully, this is easily remedied by a quick shuffle and putting the cards away. I do think separating into two piles makes more sense, but I personally think that this particular handling isn’t the best choice because the move happens at precisely the wrong time.
Chris then shows that you can do the Kennedy method with two spectators instead of the spectator and the performer. He says he thinks this is weaker, but I think this is inherently stronger than the first because neither of them know what is written on the back, unlike the performer.
Now we see a studio performance of a “bonus.” In it, the spectator chooses a question card and remembers the question and the emoji that is printed on the card, and the performer is able to reveal both.
Chris then explains the bonus. This only works as a follow up to the main routine because if you spread the cards facedown, they are going to see the writing on the back. Clearly, this is just a force, and you can use any force you want, but Chris explains the Hofzinser Spread Force.
Finally, Chris goes over all of the credits. He is very thorough and leaves nothing untouched.
As a bonus, there is an additional video of a handling John Bannon provided. It allows you to begin with a genuinely shuffled deck (all of the previous versions require a set up.) In this version, the spectator and performer take turns choosing a question for the other person to answer. I really like this format, and I think it’s the best method taught for these cards. The downside here is that it’s the performer answering questions again, and you can’t go through the whole pack. Chris recommends only going through about half the cards with this method. This is fine and all, but depending on the cards they choose, you could end up with VERY few cards in play at the end which makes the final revelation a little lackluster.
Some things to keep in mind:
This is a trick that is difficult to do if you know the person very well—especially if you’re doing a version that requires the performer to answer half of the questions because it may cause the performer to lie, and if that person knows you well, they may know you’re lying. It’s also quite a long routine. Chris has taken a routine that many people already complain about being too long (the traditional OOTW) and made it about 10 times longer! Inherently, thinking about the questions is an interesting process, but it definitely requires buy-in from the spectator or they are going to just be ready for it to be over. Clearly, this isn’t going to be in your table hopping set, or really any professional set for that matter. It’s simply too much time invested for a relatively small payoff in a professional setting. I think it is much better suited for casual performances with someone who you genuinely want to know more about. This certainly limits its functionality, but I think that’s the best environment for it. For those in the dating scene, this is a perfect thing to bring out at your house on the 3rd date.
Overall, if you like the idea of this, it’s worth picking up because the quality is great, the questions are fun, and the idea of using conversation starter cards to do an out of this world effect is nice. I think in the right circumstances, this is really great! I just personally don’t think any of the methods taught are the best method for the premise. If you want my opinion on the best method to use for this, I suggest Cosmo Duo by Greg Rostami. I love the way Greg handles the displacement. It has long been my preferred handling for OOTW, and it’s not very well-known.