Pocket Nightmare by Max Maven

Trick by Max Maven and Penguin Magic
39.95 In stock.
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4.5 | 6 reviews
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Pocket Nightmare by Max Maven

39.95 usd

Trick by Max Maven and Penguin Magic (39.95)

In stock.
Pocket Nightmare by Max Maven - magic
Pocket Nightmare by Max Maven Pocket Nightmare by Max Maven

For the first time in 40 years, legendary mentalist Max Maven’s reputation-maker is available to you!

This sold out instantly at Blackpool and our limited stock won’t last long.

Pocket Nightmare is an amazingly visual card trick that is perfect for any close-up magic situation, and can even be easily adapted to any parlor magic or stage magic situation. Professional magicians and mentalists around the world have been clamoring for this effect for decades.

"Pocket Nightmare is a dream effect with a typically beautiful Max Maven construction and a perfect presentation for a killer effect." R. Paul Wilson

"I've been waiting since the mid 90’s for Max to release this gem! Extremely well thought out and will be going directly into my act!" Chris Korn

This unbelievable feat of magic from one of the greatest mentalists in history was initially introduced to the magic community at the 1985 FISM competition in Madrid. Many have attempted to duplicate it, but have never been able to effectively recreate the mind-blowing miracle that is Pocket Nightmare. Now, for the first time, you can get your hands on authentic gimmicks and instructions directly from the legendary creator himself.

With Pocket Nightmare, the magician or mentalist informs their audience that they are going to perform an effect with a deck of cards and only one hand. To ensure no tricky sleight of hand can occur, the performer places their other hand in their pocket. After the spectator simply peeks at a card, the magician is able to accurately divine the card they are thinking of.

But, it doesn’t end there….

The spectator is then allowed to search the deck for their card, only to find it has completely vanished. Reminding the audience that, while it was stated the trick would be done with one hand, it was never stated WHICH hand would be used. The hand which has been secured in the pocket in plain view the whole time is then removed to show it holds the selected playing card.

The Pocket Nightmare gimmick does all the work for you in plain sight and is ready to go right out of the box. You’ll receive incredibly detailed instructions from Max Maven himself, including a history of this powerful magic trick and the essential tips needed to fully unlock its devastating potential.

"I have known Max most of our professional careers and I have never known anything he has done to be less than superb. As Max explains, Pocket Nightmare is actually about 40 years old. Both the presentation and secret of Pocket Nightmare made me smile at the typical Max cleverness and framework. This is a totally entertaining routine, incredibly clean, with a surprise ending that is astonishing beyond belief! There are no “moves” in this effect where a peeked at card instantly vanishes from the deck and reappears in your pocket. Did I mention you perform the routine one-handed!

Not only do you get Max’s brilliant performance, but the gimmick is professionally produced and is such that no one could ever suspect the working. Max’s explanation is exhaustive with the history of the effect, the detailed handling and what to do in every situation. There is nothing left to chance. Best of all, you can do this wonderful routine without any finger gymnastics or difficult sleights. If you can spread a deck, Pocket Nightmare is within your realm of skill.

I am not recommending this because Max is a friend, but rather because Max is, and always has been a force of nature in the world of magic and this effect is totally Maxian! Get this today!" Richard Osterlind


Customer reviews for Pocket Nightmare by Max Maven



If you’re looking for a self-working card trick this is not it. It WILL take some practice. Most of Max’s effects do but if you’re willing to put the minimal time in to this you will have a winner on your hands. (Again stop with the fancy packaging and this would have been $5 cheaper)



Lovely effect, beautifully packaged and with good, clear instructions. Whilst I had twigged the method beforehand this didn’t stop me buying it. Whilst there is some important spectator management needed, the deck does most of the work for you. There are some tricks, no matter how clever, that only magicians seem to be impressed by. But Pocket Nightmare hits home for the lay audience – the reaction I got on first perfuming it was strong. I think this will be added to my list of favourite card tricks.



It’s a great trick that hits hard, it’s easy to do, and virtually self working and really allows you the freedom to go on presentation: I wouldn’t recommend this for restaurant work/maybe only for closer that you do once: but other than that, this trick pretty up there in my top 10 for stage act or parlor.



Great trick, easy to do, as long as you follow the method, if you dont feel confident for a spectator to do there part, as shown in this addvert, the magician can do this part, by asking someone to say stop at any time, knowing where you the magician needs to stop, this method is common practice with a lot off card magic, the video tutorial is well explained, with a couple of usefull pointers, you can also fan this deck before you start, just remember the deck oriontation at all times.



Here is my in-depth review of Pocket Nightmare by Max Maven.


When I review a product, I’d like to judge the product by itself alone. I will try to put myself into readers’ shoes and give the most honest review.
I paid full price of the product, and come with no affiliation with any magicians or dealers, thus as a consumer I want my readers to have full information.

I will provide what is not said on the advertisement and details beyond the product itself.

If the product is good, I say it out loud. At the same time, if there is bad about the product, I don’t hesitate at all to say it. I do not judge based on the magician’s reputation or history. The quality of the product is the only thing I will take into consideration.

I believe by giving you the most transparent information, you will have better knowledge to judge.

Helping my readers is my biggest goal with this review.


You’ll get a Bicycle deck with some specially printed cards. For those who has learnt this effect in Kayfabe volume 3, you will be delighted that 36 gimmick cards are included instead of 15 cards in the original version (I would call this release a Penguin version).

And a link to the online tutorial is included in the box.


The deck is not fully gimmicked. Only 36 cards are printed in a special way, and the remaining cards are normal cards.

Since the cards are printed by the US Playing Card Company, you will expect you receive a high quality deck of cards.

As you may aware, the deck is handed to spectators to search for the peeked card at one point of performance. While the deck cannot be examined, it can be handled relatively freely by spectator. Since the deck is only handled by spectator for a short span of time during performance, it should last a long time. Even if the deck was mishandled and damaged a bit accidentally, it doesn’t affect how the deck works.

In addition, the principle of the gimmicked cards is versatile enough for you to accomplish other effects.

To conclude, the gimmick quality is as expected. No surprise or disappointment at all.


The video lasts about 18 minutes & 54 seconds. The performance is recorded in front of live audience in studio. The explanation is done in studio.

Length (minutes) of the main parts (I literally counted):
Performance- 2:10
History- 4:56
Gimmick- 2:18
Explanation- 8:47
Conclusion- 0:15

‘History’ session starts with some background information about how this trick is born. Then Max Maven talks about the Ken Krenzel which somehow inspired his presentation. Next he moves to talk about the plagiarism of this effect. This session is quite interesting because the story is fun and it’s always good to learn about how a creator develops his effect. As we are all standing on the shoulders of giants, this session is a good reminder of how we should treat our own creations.

In ‘Gimmick', Max Maven introduces the gimmick cards and the improvement. He briefly mentioned the reason why you are receiving different number of gimmick cards from his original effect.

In ‘Explanation’, Max Maven goes into the execution of the effect. He follows his presentation and explains what should be done at different stages of the effect. There is a handling to be used when the effect doesn’t work as it should be. And Max also gives advice on audience management. The information is enough for you to perform the effect, but learners may be surprised how few tips are given provided that the effect has been performed for 40 years.

Overall, the production quality of the tutorial is not bad. But it is way too short for an effect with such a long history. Except beginners, most competent magicians should be able to understand mechanism well enough to execute it, but it is another matter whether they can perform it with maximum impact. There are many small issues I am aware of but they are not answered on the tutorial. So, this tutorial is like being able to teach you swing your hands and legs in the pool but not able to make you swim confidently. That being said, for performers with strong presentation and experience, they should have no issue at all.


The mechanism of this effect is very easy to understand. It involves almost no sleight-of-hand.
However, audience management is crucial. There are at least 2 moments (1. Peek; 2. Selection searching) where the effect can go totally wrong. Once it goes wrong, it’s hard to recover.
I would advice learners to understand the effect fully before performing it.


There is no restriction on angle. In the performance, Max is standing on stage right (from audience’s angle, he is on left). Thus there may be a moment where a move (which is only done when the effect doesn’t go smoothly) may be seen, or if thing goes wrong during peeking,
I would suggest to perform this effect on stage left, covering even that very slight chance of flashing. I believe Max is doing perfectly okay on stage right with this effect (his performance in Kayfabe is also stage right), but we are not Max Maven, right? So it’s better to play safe.


There is no strict requirement for clothing, because you can perform it as long as you have a pocket on the right side. It’s because you need to put your right hand in the pocket while your left hand holds the deck.
You don’t need a pocket if you are not performing with Max Maven's presentation.


In general, this effect can be performed by magicians of any levels. However, its impact mainly depends on the showmanship. In other words, just like Penn & Teller can make a Vase Trick into miracle, whether you can make this a great trick depends on you solely, but not the method.


I will include my analysis of the effect in my product review. In this analysis, I will present my view on the strength and weakness of the effect. And will also go deeper with magic theory in mind.

This is a card-to-pocket effect. And there are usually two main issues in this type of effect, namely the VANISH and the PRODUCTION of the selection.

In this version, Max Maven has done a great job in making a clean vanish of the selection without sacrificing much freedom of the trick. Even though the deck cannot be shuffled by spectators at the beginning, the fact that spectator can search for their own selection increase illusion of the degree of fairness in this effect. Since at no point the magician can manipulate the cards, the vanish of the selection can only explained by magic. This is what makes this effect great in the first place.

Of course, clean effect always needs sacrifice. The method itself is brilliant, but it requires good audience management if it is performed in casual setting. With spectator which may go wild like street performance, they may want to inspect the deck unless you have established yourself as a competent magician already. If the performer stresses too much that he won’t using sleight-of-hand, then the first solution that lay audience may come up with is trick deck. So, think about your performing environment and how to stage the effect properly to avoid troubles.


* If you knows that the spectator is not peeking at the target zone, you may want to push the deck forwards when he is peeking, so that you have a bigger leeway to make the move. Never depend on spectator to open the deck widely enough, because you have asked him to take a peek, the peek will only open the deck slightly for sure.

* If you want to make sure you will always get the card 100% right, buy 2 decks of Pocket Nightmare to make your ultimate deck. It may sound ridiculous, but if it will remain as your lifetime effect, the idea doesn’t sound too bad at all.

* Left-hand magicians have to learn how to hold the deck in left-hand peeking position, and do that life-saver move if thing doesn’t go perfectly.


1. Gimmick is versatile
2. A solid effect with strong presentation
3.In a sense, easy to do


1. The tutorial is way too short. Advices are barely enough.
2. If number of gimmick can be increase from 15 to 36, why not make a full deck?


The product is nicely produced. An effect with 40 years of history and still performed today is unbeatable.

However, I wish more information can be provided in the tutorial and let me understand this effect in-depth.

There is no difficult sleight-of-hand involved and therefore suitable for performers of any level.

I am satisfied with the quality of the product. At about US$40, I will highly recommend it for people who loves easy-to-do miracle.

Product Quality: 8/10
Video Quality: 7/10
Effectiveness of Tricks: 10/10
Practical (Vanish): 9/10
Practical (Production): 10/10
Creativity: 9/10 (this is created 40 years ago!)
Cost Performance: 9/10
Final Score: 9/10

Thank you for reading.

Alex Magic Review (YouTube, Instagram)



The method is bold although not as unique as some proclaims. And it's not a worker if you're doing restaurant gigs or any kind of environment where the same audience can see it twice. You'll probably need a lot of audience management skills if you're performing this in any normal environment. The props can't be examined and they have to be handled in a very special way. Magicians loves to tell other magicians about how "real people" thinks. And yeah, this is mainly a magicians fooler based on a lot of hype and 40+ years of lore. It simply isn't worth your money when you can create the exact same effect with an ordinary deck


Community questions about Pocket Nightmare by Max Maven

Have a question about this product? It's possible others do too. Ask here and other Vanishing Inc. Magic customers will be able to respond with assistance! Alternatively, email us and we can help too.

  • David asks: The obvious question is: can this trick be repeated for the same group of people with different selections?

    • 1. James answers: Forgive me, but this is a question designed to fish for the method. How often do you perform the same routine for the same audience?
    • 2. David answers: Every time I perform at restaurants for example, and the method is kinda obvious so no need for fishing there. I just wanted to be sure that it wasn't suited for walk-around. And now I know that it isn't.
    • 3. James answers: I would not recommend performing the same routine for the same audience in any venue. If you are worried that audiences at other tables would see the effect twice, then I understand. I would not recommend this effect for that situation. It is better suited to parlor, platform or stage work.
    Post an answer to this question
  • Delong asks: How is this trick different from mind power deck, like the one Derren Brown did with Steven Fry, except the handling?

    • 1. Adam answers: Only similarity is that they use cards...
    Post an answer to this question
  • Shawn asks: Can the pocket with the hand in it in the beginning be shown Empty after the trick has ended?

    • 1. James answers: Yes, but I don't believe that this is particularly important—when the card is revealed, no one is concerned about the pocket.
    Post an answer to this question
  • Charles asks: This sounds exactly like The Other Brothers' Card to Pocket. How is it different?

    • 1. James answers: Without exposing methods, I will say that the Other Brother's effect uses a named card (pro), and requires more than twice the materials (con). Max's effect has a much better presentation (pro), a single deck (pro), uses a peeked card (con) and it includes tips and recommendations gathered from over 40 years of performances (huge pro, IMHO).
    Post an answer to this question
  • Jeffrey asks: Is the effect still as strong if the "hit" is missed or is there a lot of unusual(double) talk to get to the desired outcome? Thank you.

    • 1. Ken answers: Jeff, you may have assumed some of the working of this effect that is not in play. Either that or you're being extra careful in your 'coding' the question, which is a good thing. So the 'hit' is a nearly impossible thing to miss. Max gives an out in case you (they) do. Like anything else regarding a spectator you must select someone who can follow instructions. (That would include most sober humans). The working is extremely simple. Your practice must come in detailing the instructions you give. Perhaps this 'detailing' is the key to the 'double' talk reference. 'Clear Speak' would state it better. BTW, get this. It is killer.
    • 2. Jeffrey answers: Your answer was extremely thorough helpful. Thank you.
    • 3. James answers: I'm not sure that the question is worded well. There are no "hits" or double talk used in this effect.
    Post an answer to this question
  • HJ Skip asks: Can this be done using a borrowed deck?

    • 1. David answers: no, you need the special one
    Post an answer to this question
  • Andrew asks: How similar is this to Christoph Borer’s Get Sharky?

    • 1. Andrew answers: Done a little research - there is certainly shared DNA between the two. I’ll stick with Borer’s.
    Post an answer to this question
  • Neal asks: Is this for a beginner?

    • 1. Vanishing Inc. Magic responds: Like all tricks, it will some practice. But it is not overly difficult.
    • 2. Garry answers: I agree with the last post, as not to repeat this to the same audience. But for a beginner yes it is easy to do, I allways recommend, to watch the video tutorial first, before handaling any trick, the reason being is, so the buyer understands that on certain tricks and illusions, including this one, the product is allready set up, and ready to use straight out off the box, and this will allways be explained in the tutorial, what the set up is, and the tutorials will explain, not just how to do the trick, but what to watch out for, as certain things will be pointed out as what to be aware off in handaling the trick, which is as important to understand. (Allways follow the instructions/tutorials) I Hope this helps you on your journey, the key is to enjoy the ones you do, and if you like the trick you have watched, you will want to learn it, thats my method.
    • 3. Garry answers: To Neil. the best option is to not complicate it, pocket nightmare and other decks, you can get are tricks straight out off the box, and ready to go, and this one is easy to do, as long as you follow the tutorial video first. There are a few tricks out there that you can repeat to the same audience, But most off the tricks you do not repeat to the same audience. Check out the addverts, and the reviews, or even email vanish inc for advice, as we will all probably have different advice on what we think is best, choose what you like the look off, and go with what you feel is right for you, if you get a trick that you think is too difficult to do, leave it and come back to it when it feels right, as if you liked it in the first place, so it's about timing, for when you are ready to give it a go. Personally I enjoy the very easy ones , as I can use these straight away, but I also enjoy learning what is for me the more difficult tricks, which will be different for everyone. Enjoy the journey.
    • 4. Garry answers: To Neil. I hope I am allowed to mention this to you, which is, A beginners card deck trick thats just come out is called UNOrthodox trick, this can be repeated, and it is an easy one to do, and it's fun, and different too, This one, straight out of the box and ready to go, watch the tutorial first, due to how to use this deck first. Also check out any borrowed deck video downloads, There are quite a few brilliant card magicians that are out there that provide this type off material, including, John Carey, and Jay Noblezada, Both are very enjoyable to watch, and good borrowed deck routines they both do, Check them both out, see which is more suited for you.
  • Fabrice asks: May I buy two decks with a different forced card?

    • 1. Dottore answers: It is only available in one version.
    Post an answer to this question
  • Matthew asks: Will lefty’s have a problem with this?

    • 1. Vanishing Inc. Magic responds: You would need to hold it in your right hand. But there is no sleight of hand required.
  • Daniel J asks: After you perform this trick, can the deck be used for other tricks? If possible I prefer to not use 'one trick pony' decks because I feel that it arouses suspicion from the audience if you only use a deck once and then use a different deck for another trick.

    • 1. SGKYDUYEN answers: The gimmick deck work with this trick only I'm afraid
    Post an answer to this question
  • Matthew asks: Not a question, more of a response to the question about whether this works for left-handed magicians. I actually disagree with Vanishing Inc. I'm left-handed and hold the deck with my right-hand (as us lefties generally do) for this. Works absolutely fine. Haven't had any problems.

    • 1. James answers: Thanks for the feedback!
    Post an answer to this question
  • Michael asks: Is this printed on bicycle stock?

    • 1. Vanishing Inc. Magic responds: Yes.
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