David Blaine In-Spades Review

Before I get to my review, let me introduce David Blaine. He turns 50 in April and is from humble beginnings in Brooklyn. It’s my understanding magic was initially a hobby for him with an emphasis on street magic. From there, he developed in an interest in daredevil stunts and feats of endurance. His Las Vegas show and television specials combine both. His style is very plain clothes and plain spoken. Theatrics are almost non-existent.

David Blaine
Image source: Resorts World

When I first learned of David Blaine through his television specials, I was a huge fan. However, as I developed my own interest in performing magic, I learned parts of his show employed actors and very careful editing to create illusions that could only be done on television. Ethics in magic is something I feel strongly about and have no compunction to call out magicians who are not doing real magic and exposing how they do it.

I ranted about a levitation trick Blaine did in my November 25, 2021 newsletter.In another example I’ve wanted to get off my chest, consider this video. Here Blaine correctly predicts the color of five consecutive roulette spins. I contend this one was really quite simple.

He kept doing it until he was successful and conveniently omitted the unsuccessful attempts from the show. The probability of five winning color bets in a row in double-zero roulette is 2.38%, so he would have needed 41.9 attempts on average. Even in his Las Vegas show, Blaine joked that it was much harder to preform magic live than on television, because with television you can just edit out anything that doesn’t go right.


Fast forward to March 10, 2023, when I saw Blaine perform during a limited residency at Resorts World in Las Vegas. The name of the show is In Spades. Tickets range in price from $59 to $750, before taxes and fees. To give you an idea of the taxes and fees, a $137 ticket was $176 after the various up-charges were applied.

When I arrived, I was pleased to pay only $10 for parking, regardless of how long I stayed. Mrs. Wizard and I dined at the food court, which had lots of unusual options. I liked the pour your own drink option at the bar, although it was pricy. We showed up to the show about 20 minutes early and encountered almost no line, despite metal detectors and a bag check. All due credit to the show for being very well staffed.

After going up to the fourth of five levels for my nose-bleed seats, an usher collected out tickets and produced two different ones saying, “How would you like to sit in the orchestra section instead?” Of course, I was happy to agree. On the elevator down to the first floor we were joined by a couple given the same upgrades. Our seats were four rows behind a huge pile of cardboard boxes, which I’ll explain shortly.

As I waited for the show to start, I noticed a packet in front of every seat that said “do not open” on the envelope. Of course, I did anyway. Inside was a very nice quality deck of cards I later found for sale for $25 on Amazon. The deck was custom designed by Blaine. I don’t want to give away any secrets about it, but it was clear to me some tricks could be done with it that couldn’t be done with ordinary cards. It is on my list to decipher how they work. For now, I’ll just say they were in what appeared to be a random order. I passed the time waiting for the show to start doing magic tricks for the couple on my left. Every decent magician should have several tricks up his sleeve he can do with normal cards.

The second routine into the show, Blaine walked over to my section and apologized for the big pile of boxes. Next, he proceeded to do a card trick for our section four seats directly in front of me. This routine is hard to explain, but it was outstanding slight of hand. He had a volunteer sign a card, which he had appearing all over the place. I thought it was on par with any card magic seen at Shin Lim’s show.


He then proceeded to climb up a tower to the side of the pile. At a few points along the way he stopped and feigned getting ready to jump. However, he kept going higher until he got to the top. The height at the top was, in my estimation, about that of a four-story building. He then jumped off the top platform and landed on his back into the pile. An army of stagehands then cleared the boxes until they found Blaine, who was fine. They also removed or flattened all the boxes so the view of my section was not blocked.


A bit later in the show, Blaine went into what I’ll call his ice pick trick. In a previous show, I think in February, this trick went wrong and resulted in Blaine impaling his hand with said ice pick. The way it works is he had three Styrofoam cups with an ice pick pointing up underneath one of them. The other two cups had empty stand underneath them. After mixing around the cups, he had two audience members, one for each of his hands, choose a cup. He then had them on a count slam down his hands on their chosen cups. The audience members had free will in which cup to choose and I’m sure couldn’t follow which was the safe one. This time, he was successful. The unchosen cup had the ice pick. I have my theory how it worked, but I won’t explain it here.

Besides the ice pick trick, there were still more sharp objects in the show. In one segment, he had two audience members sew his lips shut with a needle and thread. The volunteer reactions to being asked to do this I think was more than half the fun. He then appeared to capture a card with the corner ripped out in his mouth with the whole deck flung in the air. In yet another use of sharp objects, he had what looked like a long sharp spike poked in and out of his arm. I have my theories how he did both. However, I only like to discuss such things with other magicians.

After an intermission, Blaine appeared before what looked like an enormous fishbowl. He was breathing from an oxygen tank and an unseen narrator explained David was going to attempt to hold his break underwater for an unspecified period of time. The narrator emphasized that Houdini’s record was three and a half minutes. Unsaid was the fact that Houdini probably didn’t have the aid of breathing pure oxygen for 30 minutes before the trick, which helps significantly. I did some research for this review and in 2008, Blaine held his breath for 17 minutes and four second on Oprah’s show in 2008. That set a Guiness World Record at the time, but it has since been beaten with a time of 24:37. The science of it is quite interesting, but I won’t get into that. To get to the end, Blaine went ten minutes in his performance that day. He was not rushed off stage afterward. Instead, he was just given a towel and left to compose himself on the stage in soaking wet clothing.

Water Trick

During this time of collecting himself from the water trick, he didn’t seem to have anything prepared so he said “any questions?” The audience then shouted out questions I couldn’t hear. In his replies, he made comments that it was very challenging to do two big daredevil tricks in the same show and all his advisors warned him he was pushing himself too hard. He also seemed to say the show was taking a toll on him and that he wasn’t sure he would do more once his contract ran out, which I think ends in June.

Somebody asked about the packs in front of every seat. To that Blaine said he almost forgot about that. This led to a couple of tricks, the last involving every member of the audience. I don’t want to over-explain it, but it appeared that every audience member cut the deck twice, but everyone had the same card on top after both cuts. I deconstructed this one when I got home and happy to do it to anyone upon request. It was quite simple and mathematical, but I won’t go further than that, per the magician’s code of silence.

What I wrote about in this review were Blaine’s major segments, but he had many more that I didn’t address.

In conclusion, I give David Blaine’s ‘In Spades’ show an enthusiastic recommendation. I’ve seen all the big magic shows in Vegas and it is easy to say this one is a lot different. For one thing, it was only about half magic, with the other half being daredevil and endurance stunts. There were no hot assistants to distract the audience. No electronic gimmicks, at least that I could tell. Everything was very simple and direct, as is Blaine’s style. Throughout the show, the audience was gasping in amazement and I’m sure the vast majority left happy.

I would be happy to see this show again. Some of the tricks went a bit fast for me and I’m sure I would get a lot out of a second viewing. I also hope Blaine takes his career more in the direction of live magic as opposed to taking the easy and somewhat fake route of television magic.