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Dice stacking isn’t really magic, it’s a stunt. But it is still a very cool skill to have and can work great alongside magic, so I’m going to review this product anyway.
So what is it?
The name “How to Cheat at Dice” (or “How to Dice Cheat” as it’s also called) implies illicitly winning vast amounts of money at a casino, nothing even remotely like that is explained here. It’s dice stacking all the way down. That’s not a bad thing, dice stacking is great fun to both do and watch, just don’t buy this thinking its something completely different to what it is. What you get is a cup (plain grey plastic, black leather, or limited edition canary yellow leather), eight dice (two coloured sets of four), and three volumes of tuition. It’s amusing that two of the options are leather and one of the first things Zonte says is leather cups are not good and should be avoided. This isn’t quite as incongruous as it may sound though, as all three options are plastic cups, the two leather options are leather wrapped rather than fully leather cups.
What exactly is Dice Stacking?
If you’ve got this far, you probably already know what dice stacking is, or you are hoping that I lied about the cheating at the casino thing and want to make sure you aren’t missing out. But if you don’t know, dice stacking is where you scoop dice off the table and end with them in a vertical tower on top of each other. There is a bit more to it than that, but that’s the basic core of it. It’s more akin to juggling than sleight of hand, but you can use various methods to move it into the sphere of magic.
What does he teach?
Zonte goes through from the absolute basics up to some pretty advanced stuff. He goes into great detail, actually a little too much detail sometimes. Volume One is the basics and getting you going, Volume Two is advanced moves and methods and the third volume is him walking the viewer through a few of his award winning routines. He uses clear cups for most of the tuition so you can see the dice and what is happening, but what is really missing is some good slow-motion footage to show exactly what is happening and when. It’s OK without this, but could have been fantastic with it. Such a shame they missed this as it’s relatively cheap and easy to hire a good slow-motion camera for the day (or however long is needed).
One drawback is the fact that Zonte is teaching everything in Spanish, so unless you are fluent in the language, you will have to rely on the English subtitles. This isn’t much of a problem with shorter releases, but as there is a total watch time of twelve minutes shy of four hours, this could get very fatiguing very quickly. Especially as you are constantly jumping between subtitles and very quick moving things in the demonstrations.
Another issue that does crop up occasionally is Zonte going into a detailed explanation on how to do something without going into what that thing actually is. Once you’ve watched through a couple of times you’ll quickly get the idea of what he’s teaching, but first time through it can be rather disconcerting.
Some of his outs for when things don’t go exactly according to plan are extremely fishy and I just don’t think they would really fly in performance (unless performing to very dimwitted unobservant people) as well as he claims. But a sub-par out is still better than no out so the get out of jail (mostly) free card is handy to have in your pocket.
As a magician, you’ll probably be most interested in volumes two and three (but don’t skip or skimp on volume one, that’s where you learn the base skills you’ll be building on) as this is where you can take dice stacking from a stunt to magic with vanishes, productions, transformations, transpositions, and other cool stuff too. He does fully teach you a couple of his award winning routines (and variations), but with the skills you’ll learn you’ll be coming up with your own ideas in no time.
Although there are a few issues, there is far and away more good than bad with this set, and most of the flaws are negated with careful repeat viewings anyway. If you are wanting to try your hand at something new, or you already know the basics, but want more. I already knew how to dice stack, but still learnt quite a few new things here. This is a great little set and well worth the money.