The Modern Conman Collection is an entertaining collection of "how to's" for those interested in petty tricks and subtle human manipulation. Volume one features a couple of no-lose (for the perpetrator) and no-win (for the mark) card games, bar games, challenges and plays on words involving definitional splitting of hairs.
Even for the curious among us who would never actually use any of these tricks this engaging DVD will amuse you for the full run of the video (roughly one half hour). With the no risk trial (you just pay shipping for the first DVD, which is free, and cancel before the second volume comes) you can't lose.
Todd Robbins prefaces the video with the advice that you try these scams on family and friends before trying it on strangers. He also advises you to be careful in how you present these scams (if you are too arrogant or showy you can really make people made).
The scams are relatively simple. After watching the video only once I was able to duplicate two of the scams with no problem. I tried both of these scams on my wife. I was a little too smug with my presentation (going against Todd's advice), which she found very annoying. One trick was a card game, and the other was a game using match sticks. Both were set up so that I could not lose. The trick is getting the other person fooled into thinking the game is legit and that there is a chance for them to win.
Afterward, I tried the match stick game on my wife's eight year-old cousin. She had no problem believing that there was at least some chance that she could win the game, though I don't think that had much to do with my skill at trickery (or lack thereof).
The mechanics of behind the card games and the match trick especially are so simple and yet intriguing. Logic and math oriented types will surely enjoy that aspect of the video.
All that being said about the substance, let's talk a little about the marketing. This video is really heavily marketed toward single men in their twenties. It could play equally well among frat house audiences and recent college grads entering their first jobs. The cover of the DVD (and the website built to market the DVD series) features images of beautiful women, cards, and booze. These same things make appearances in the video once you play the DVD, but as with any good trick, these are merely misdirection to get you to buy into the gimmick, not at all integral to the core substance of the DVD. (For those hoping only to find images of drunken girls stammering around drunk and losing all their money at the card table, let me give you a big head's up. You will be disappointed big time with the Modern Conman Collection Volume 1. Conversely, women worried about portrayals of young ladies being exploited for commercial gain, you can put your mind at ease, because this DVD is free from any of that stuff.) The fact of the matter is that taken out of the bar-room setting and into the back-yard of family home, many of these tricks could play equally well to the crowd at a little kid's birthday party.
Final analysis: The fact of the matter is that people love tricks, from the biggest magic displays on down. And the Modern Conman Collection: Volume 1 Starring Todd Robbins has just the right mix of magic.
Final Grade: Final Grade an A-/A, awarded with a smile.
by Cameron Hatch
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