How to Memorize a Deck of Cards: 7 INCREDIBLY Easy Steps

Image of playing cards to illustrate having a card memory system using mnemonicsDo you have a system for remembering cards?

Whether it’s for bridge, poker, memory competition or just your own personal memory training, it’s fun and rewarding to memorize cards.

What’s involved?

Well, let’s look at it from a bird’s eye view

Memory techniques work by dressing up information in costumes. Sound weird or confusing? No worries: One of the best ways to understand this concept is by having a system for remembering cards.

Consider the following when it comes to using memory techniques in your quest for total memory improvement:

Dressing information in costumes is at least 90% of what’s going on when you develop a system for remembering cards (or any information).

Often, this practice is called “association” or “encoding.” Tim Ferriss has used the term “converting” for memorizing a deck of cards, and many other terms abound.

Don’t get caught up in the terminology, however. That risks missing the math, because …

The other 10% of memory success belongs to the Memory Palace and how you use it to store and practice recalling information. Since you need a means that will help you get good at remembering numbers, check out this video:

Since it’s in the storage and recollection practice that helps you guide the information on playing cards into long-term memory, you’ll want to know how to memorize numbers with letters to make the process fast and easy.

When you know how to “hack” your memory, you know that it’s actually in that 10% of the process where most of the memory magic happens. It’s in the process that you’re harnessing the power of the primacy effect and the recency affect. But the memory magic happens only …


If You’ve Got The Skills Needed
For The 90% Under Control


And if you want to get that 90% humming along for yourself in record time, then there is one crazy memory exercise you can do that will completely train your brain so that your memory operates at a shockingly high level.


Sounds Stupid, But Memorizing Playing
Cards Is Still The Best Memory Exercise Ever


I know, I know. Unless you’re a magician or memory athlete, memorizing a deck of cards does sound like a meaningless skill.

Yet, I can tell you with absolute certainty that all of my success with memory comes from, is maintained and continually improved by this seemingly stupid stunt.

And 90% of it involves little more than dressing up each card in a costume using the Major Method.

And to convince you that you should have a system for remembering cards, I’m going to show, you 13 reasons why you should memorize playing cards as part of your memory practice.

How to Memorize a Deck of Cards in 7 Steps

Step One: 

Choose a method for memorizing the cards.

There are a few choices, the main ones being the Major Method or the Dominic System.

Other systems include the Ben System and the Shadow, which I talked about in detail with memory athlete Braden Adams.

To date, one of the most impressive card memorizers is Alex Mullen. From what I understand, his approach is grounded upon the Major Method.

No matter what you choose, it’s important to understand the rules of association and why such systems help.

As a magician, I’ve always been dismayed by how many teachers talk about rote learning instead of using mnemonics, and that is why you ultimately have to not only pick your system. You also need to pick your teacher.

Step Two:

Let’s assume that you’re going to use the Major Method (sometimes called the Major System). You’ll first want to learn the system:

Major System on the Magnetic Memory Method

Once you have a consonant for each digit 0-9, you’ll then assign a number to each suite.

This arrangement goes back to the early days of mentalism, which often uses memorized deck of cards:

Spades = 10

Diamonds = 30

Clubs = 50

Hearts = 80

Now, a lot of people are going to ask, why these numbers? There’s no strict answer, but one reason has to do with the wider availability of words. You also need to run into the next set of ten using this method, so that is only possible if you leave space.

But at the end of the day, you’re trying to reduce the arbitrariness of the choices to the smallest degree.There is always some arbitrary level, but I find that the Major reduces it to the minimum.

For the sake of this tutorial, do your best to place “why” questions aside and just memorize this association. No matter what system you choose, there will be things that don’t immediately make sense – and they don’t have to make sense. They just need to work.

Step Three:

You’ll want to assign each card a number without using the number given to the suites themselves. For example, the spades run like this:

  • Ace of Spades = 11
  • Two of Spades = 12
  • Three of Spades = 13
  • Four of Spades = 14
  • Five of Spades = 15
  • Six of Spades = 16
  • Seven of Spades = 17
  • Eight of Spades = 18
  • Nine of Spades = 19
  • Ten of Spades = 20
  • Jack of Spades = 21
  • Queen of Spades = 22
  • King of Spades = 23

Then, when you move to the Diamonds, you start with the Ace of Diamonds at 31.

Step Four:

You need to make words for each of the numbers. Since 1 = a d or t in the Major, you could make a word like “dot” or “toad.”

I prefer toad because it allows me to pick a specific pop culture reference, namely the Warner Brothers toad:

It’s really important that your choices are logical, concrete and ideally bring to mind a specific pop culture reference.

Step Five:

Once you have a word that you’ve made as concrete as possible, exaggerate the images. If you’ve chosen well, such as in the case of the Warner Brothers toad, the image if already sufficiently exaggerated.

Step Six:

Practice without the cards in hand.

This step is really important. It’s called Active Recall and will train your brain to think of the card and its image without an external trigger.

Get out a piece of paper and start with 11. You’ll soon start to see how helpful the Major is as you go because it lets you guess what your image was. If 1 must be a t or d, then the limited possible words will quickly bring back the word and the image you chose.

Step Seven: 

Practice with cards in hand.

Shuffle them first, ideally with a combination of overhand shuffles and ladder cuts.

Look at each card, place the image in a Memory Palace and then add the next. Get the images interacting.

For example, my images for Four of Hearts and Eight of Diamonds are the flamethrower used in Mission in Action 2 and the mentalist Max Maven.

(Flamethrowers shoot “fire” which is my word for 84, f+r. Maven is my word for 38, m+v.)

You want to have the images interact with each other in the order of the cards. In this case, I would have the flamethrower igniting Max Maven. Then, Maven would interact with whatever image goes with the next card.

Then, recall the cards, a process that will look like this:

Now that you know what to do, let’s talk about the 13 incredible reasons memorizing cards is such a powerful skill to develop.


1. You Experience Overall Memory Improvement


Obviously, memorizing playing cards improves your overall memory. How could such intense memory practice not improve your memory abilities?

After all, the best way to improve your memory is to use it. I normally say that you should always practice your memory by using it to remember information you can use to improve your life in a substantial way, but card memorization is the one exception.

And since there is ALWAYS an exception to every rule, this one is worth your close attention.

The rest of the points I’m about to share explain in detail why card memory is so powerful even if it amounts to memorizing information you cannot and will not use in any immediately practical situation (outside of card magic).

2. Having A System For Remembering Cards
Improves Your Memory For Numbers


Not only that, but you wind up with a neat way of remembering a lot of different kinds of numbers. So long as you don’t let yourself get overwhelmed with excitement by your super memory powers (like I sometimes do), you’ll have the ability to memorize any number after picking up this simple memory technique.


3. You’ll Get Good At Memorizing Long Lists


After all, what is a deck of cards other than a list of job positions in a unique order? Learn to remember the order of 52 cards and you’ll instantly know how to memorize 52 of anything.

Then there’s Marno Hermann. He memorized 1200 digits of Pi!

And with a few simple expansions and some practice, you can repeat the process or hundreds if not thousands of lists. It’s easy and fun.


4. You’ll Develop Killer Abilities With Memorizing
And Managing Abstractions


People find memorizing concepts amongst the most difficult information types in the world. The symbols on playing cards are downright abstract themselves, so this skill will lighten the load on other abstractions and arbitrary associations you encounter.

One trick is to simply stop convincing yourself that concepts are different than any other kind of information. Training with card memory will teach you how to stop making that mistake because it levels the playing field. Just like a rose is a rose is a rose, so does all information share certain core tendencies.

When we focus on the differences between information and levels of difficulty, we trick ourselves out. When we zone in on the similarities and refuse to privilege information by placing it in hierarchies of difficulty, we win.

5. Remembering Cards Improves Your Imagination


Just about everyone wishes they could be more imaginative. Knowing how to memorize a deck of cards can help your imagination grow on a daily basis. All you have to do is carry a deck of cards in your pocket. Or, if you don’t want your memorize a deck of cards mnemonics linked to a physical deck of cards, you can use a memorize a deck of cards app.


6. Memorizing Cards Helps With Language Learning


To be honest, I’ve only used the card memory application to language learning with the tones of Chinese Mandarin.

But darn if this approach to memorizing Chinese tones with the Major Method isn’t a humdinger! Anytime you can put a number or image on how words should be pronounced in any language, you’ll almost certainly find assistance from this skill.

Plus, I’m convinced that regular card practice has developed my speed and agility with coming up with mnemonics for memorizing vocabulary in any language.


7. Card Memorization Improves Your Critical Thinking


Imagine being able to see more angles to different arguments and manipulate information in your mind. It might sound unrelated to card memorization, but I’m confident you’ll find yourself more capable of manipulating ideas once you have this simple skill.


You experience boosts in critical thinking from using memory techniques in general because you’re combining spatial memory with the manipulation of perspectives and scenarios.

When you’re using Magnetic Bridging Figures, for example, you spend time considering what it’s like to act and react from different perspectives.

Plus, you’re continually diving deep into your imagination which makes it easier to penetrate other topics imaginatively. You should find that you start thinking at a more engaged level by default.


8. Memorizing Cards Is A Cool Party Stunt


This reason isn’t as lame as it sounds. After all, when those other dudes are winning bets by balancing quarters on the edges of their beer mugs, you’ll be demonstrating real miracles.

Seriously. People will start looking for mirrors.

They’ll look at the back of the cards to check if they’re marked or gimmicked. Recalling a deck of shuffled cards in perfect order is such a stunning feat to watch that it’s hard to believe what’s happening, even if it’s the hundredth or thousandth time you’ve seen it.

If you’re not doing card memorization as a memory stunt, you can also learn to false shuffle cards and perform magic tricks that play like miracles. Provided that you can pull off false cuts and shuffles (it’s not that hard), tricks that use a memorized decks are probably the most powerful you can ever learn.


9. Card memory is a legitimate sport.


If you aren’t a physical athlete, but have always felt that lust to compete in some area of human performance, card memory is a great option. The memorize a deck of cards world record list is stunning, inspiring and … frustrating. It’s hard to not want to beat it.

And if you ever give it a try, at either a local, national or international level, you’ll meet a lot of cool and interesting people. And if you attend events like the World Memory Championships, you’ll meet absolute masters of the art. Just listen to Tony Buzan talk about that on this episode of the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast.


10. Having A System For Remembering
Cards Is A Transferable Skill


I’ve already got this point covered, but it deserves its own category. You really can use this technique to remember a large assortment of numbers and experience powerful applications in language learning and more.

Having a set of mnemonics for memorizing a deck of cards gives you improved abilities in all areas of memory. And even if you’re already good at memorizing cards, you can always get better.

Alex Mullen may have shocked the world with how quickly he memorized cards, but someone will eventually shock us even more. It could be you and the transferable skills you’ll build along the way will be invaluable.

11. You’ll Experience Untold Waves Of
Accomplishment From Card Memorization


When was the last time you felt proud of yourself?

I mean, really proud?

Be honest and don’t worry if it’s been awhile.

With card memory skills, you can feel proud each and every day of your life.

I know self-pride strikes some people as fickle, but it’s not. The normal need for self-confidence is what extraordinary people use to keep their memory sharp and help fend off “digital dementia.”

I’m in no way claiming that mental exercise medically prevents brain disease, but it’s positively logical to assume there are physical benefits at work.These visualization exercises will help.


12. You Become More Mentally Agile
When You Practice Card Memory


Not only do you experience physical brain benefits, but you strengthen your memory skills across the board. It’s like getting better at skipping rope can make you better in the boxing ring.

Think about your memory in terms of space. You have warm and cozy places of familiarity and outer regions of cold and darkness you rarely visit.

By taking on a simple new skill, you bring heat to more parts of your memory. That means new civilizations of information can move in, giving you the chance to practice managing diverse data as part of your personal and professional growth. Just imagine being able to juggle facts in your mind, knowing each one in crisp and sharp detail thanks to the well-lit fires in your mind.

In fact, you’ll be like the expert juggler, each piece of information like a burning torch you can expertly spin through the air and effortlessly catch in a display of memory mastery.

Plus, knowing how to memorize a deck of cards teaches you to create a system for remembering cards based on classic memory methods. Even better: the practice you’ll get creating and using the system helps you create other memory systems.

It’s in this ability to create memory systems out of an understanding of universal principles of memory and methods that you develop amazing powers of mental agility. Even better, you’ll stop losing your train of thought, which is perhaps my favorite benefit of all.


13. You Can Excel At Card Games Like
Bridge, Poker And Blackjack


Imagine being able to remember every single visible card in play during a card game. Do you think that would give you a competitive edge?

It certainly would, even though most experts agree that it would only amount to a 2% advantage.


If you know your numbers, then you know that a 2% advantage in any game is huge. And if that game involves bets with money, be it pennies or dollars, your earnings could be huge.

I myself don’t gamble, but I can tell you that the pleasure I take in playing no-stakes games using memory to my advantage is a lot of fun. And it’s always amazing exercise as one of the most powerful brain games you’ll ever play.

Of course, you don’t have to use memory techniques for gambling games. The “memorize a deck of cards game” world is full of non-competitive “find ’em” variations that have no stakes involved whatsoever. You just lay out card pairs and practice remembering locations so you can match and remove them during game play.


Should You Use An App For Memorizing Playing Cards?


A lot of people ask me to recommend my favorite memorize a deck of cards app.

I always tell them to simply carry a deck of cards with them. It’s the best deck of cards app on the planet in my view because it gets the muscles of your hands, arms and eyes involved in card memorization at a much deeper level.

No, I don’t have any direct research to make claims that you get a memory advantage when using a real deck of cards. In fact, using a memorize a deck of cards app, provided it includes such functionality, has the advantage of tracking your results on autopilot.

By the same token, you get equally great results by tracking your results by hand, including developing the discipline of monitoring results based on a tracking system of your own creation. Ultimately, if you take the art of creating a system for remembering cards seriously, you’ll eventually create your own tracking methods anyway.

If you come to rely on a memorize a deck of cards app, you won’t be able to modify its tracking modifications to your needs. But you’ll likely have become habituated to using it, which means you may be less likely to evolve. Or maybe you’ll be more likely to evolve … it could go either way.

One of the memorize a deck of cards app you can try that can give you tracking options if you’re a premium member is the Memrise deck of cards course.

What I like about the course is that you get some good ideas for images for each card. However, you aren’t getting training in the universal principles of memory, nor are you creating your own system. The relationships are not arbitrary, which is good, but they’re also not based on the Major Method, which means that you don’t have functionality beyond the card memorization for numbers.

But as far as a kind of deck of cards memory game, the Memrise deck of cards course is worth taking a look at. It gives you something different to try. However, taking this course risks creating some confusion if you have an existing set of memorize a deck of cards mnemonics in mind. It will also not give you a system for remembering cards in the true sense of a “system” you get when basing your card approach on the Major Method.

By the same token, it can be a great memory challenge to have more than one system for remembering cards in mind. Juggling multiple memory methods and the systems you create from them is for advanced stages of the game, however. It’s best to master one memory skill first and then move on to the next.

Should You Develop A System
For Remembering Cards?



Again, I know it sounds like remembering cards is a useless skill on the surface. However, if you’re serious about memory improvement, you’ll be glad I twisted your arm into learning it.

Once you’ve recalled even just 1/4 of a deck of cards, you’ll be convinced of how much potential your memory holds. This simple feat of memory accomplishment will create energy and inspiration that keeps you moving forward. Once you’ve accurately recalled just a few cards you’ll know just how easy it is to learn, remember and recall anything.

It’s a life changing experience and I can’t wait to hear your story of success with developing your own system for remembering cards!

50 Responses

  1. Hello Anthony,

    A very inspiring pod cast; thank you very much.

    I must admit I felt that some of the card mnemonics and π mnemonics were not my cup of tea. However, after hearing your presentation, I have revised my thinking on the subject.

    I had shared with you in another episode a method I used for recalling playing cards, but it was, I feel, rather impractical. After hearing your presentation I am opting for another method, which I hope will be less pain and more gain.

    I, too, am a huge fan of the Major mnemonic method because of its simplicity and power.

    My card room will consist of four walls each having 13 stations. It is set up like an art gallery with each “picture frame” having a Major memory hook from 1 to 52: Tie = 1; hoNey = 2; etc. These images will not change and therefore become fixed image places (memory loci for those who like the term) for my Card people to interact with. For instance, if CaSH be card 1, he will be belting out Ring of Fire wearing a humongous bow tie with clown bubbles, etc. Or if it be another card, he will be wearing the same Tie doing what he does. This fixes the series of cards and the cards themselves.

    I know I won’t win any speed records for this method, but my goal is accuracy not rapidity.

    I like this method because it involves Major method, Journey method (loci), Person Action Object method, along with various senses sound, smell, taste, movement, emotion, etc.
    As well, the Card images are the same, the place images are the same, the only thing that changes is the series of actors. They will inhabit different frames on each iteration.

    So I intend to practise this method and do hope it works out. I know there are many ways to get where you want to get to go in the world of Mnemosyne.

    I think you kindly for inspiring me and many others in your Magnetic Memory Method community.

    Kind regards.

    1. Thanks for this, Alex, and glad to hear your strategy going forward with memorizing cards.

      There’s an older – and very quick description – of how I used to proceed with playing cards in the episode called “The Amazing Doctor Who Wanted To Cure His Patients By Memorizing A Deck Of Cards.” A lot of what I do is still the same as described in that episode.

      Some of my characters based on the Major Method have changed, however. Also, I’ve been doing a lot of experiments with placing three cards per station. That has produced exciting results that tripled my speed – literally overnight. There are some mnemonists who do 5 and 6 cards per station with varying results for speed and longevity, and those are two considerations one should keep in mind because they are two different skills.

      In any case, it’s such an amazing exercise and I can’t wait to hear more about your journey with it. Thanks as always for commenting! 🙂

  2. Hey Anthony,
    Thanks for the podcast. If you are a ‘Skat’ or ‘Doppelkopf’ player you will benefit from knowing how much trump cards are out of the game.

    I’ll start again with memorising deck of cards. Sounds fun and I am sure is helpful for creating associated images.


    1. Great to hear that you’re going to pick card memorization up again, Björn. It’s so rewarding and so easy to do as a simple and daily (or near-daily) memory improvement habit.

      I’ve never learned to play either Skat or Doppelkopf. However, someone was telling me about Doppelkopf just the other day and I really want to learn it. I think I’ve also seen people playing it at cafes and restaurants in Berlin – they use two decks in that game, right?

      In any case, I’m going to check it out and look forward to hearing from you about your experience memorizing cards. Have fun! 🙂

  3. Very interesting and a desirable skill to obtain…… BUT HOW? No mention of how to do it. Am I to assume I just plunk the cards down and start from the top? “The first one is the eight of clubs… OK. The second one is the two of hearts…. OK. Now what was that first card again?”

    1. Thanks for taking time to comment, Douglas.

      As linked to in my response to Alex, there’s an older post and podcast episode that gives a training on how I used to memorize cards. The full training is in the Magnetic Memory Method Masterclass.

      Also, I link in the post above to Tim Ferriss’ explanation on his blog near the beginning. I’ve never tried the approach given on that page, but it describes a fairly standard routine.

      Whatever you do, please don’t waste time on rote learning a deck of cards. That’s thoroughly against the point when you can use it to develop your abilities using memory techniques and mnemonics.

      Thanks again for your post and enjoy your journey into card memorization! 🙂

  4. Excellent question Douglas, I outlined my metro above. But each devises his own method. If I may suggest a way:

    1 learn a mnemonic method – a classic method is called the Major method – it is used to devise memory hooks in the form of images

    2 devote a memory palace to serve as your imaginary playhouse ; mine is contrived or artificial but you might make one with 52 stations (or 26) or the number you like,
    Maybe start with learning 13 cards over and over; then take on greater numbers until your able flawlessly to get 52.

    3 your playing cards must be familiar to you – use the Major method to devise images for each card; Ace of spades could be Mr T (t = 1)

    4 Practise practise practise. Persist and have fun in the practise. The idea is to improve your memory, and as Dr Metivier said this is a method and a process. Embrace trial end error because that’s how you develop memory mastery.

    As Dr Oakley says in her course Learning how to learn “Persistence makes permanent.” Once you succeed at 3 or 5 or 13, pat yourself on the back. That’s how the memory champs started!

    Best success on your memory journey!

    1. Thanks for expanding on this, Alex. Great approach!

      And yes, it’s important to reward the small wins. Even recalling just a small set of cards is worth a celebration. It feels amazing and demonstrates the ease of this memory skill. You just need to get started by learning a system (which means modeling and revising one from an existing approach in most cases). Then start using it.

      What could be more fun? 🙂

  5. For the A of Spades I choose Lemmy, due to the song it only makes sense. Due to you are Heavy Metal guy Anthony I think you would appreciate that reference. Not sure what I will name the other cards yet but that is a standard for me. We lost a good one earlier this year. I had all cards memorized but I have to tweak my list a bit.

    1. Lemmy is indeed an obvious choice for the Ace of Spades if you’re not going to base the entire deck on the Major Method.

      I’ve never strayed from using the Major Method so I wonder if it would help or cause confusion to have some cards based on it and others not. Do let me know how you fare if you decide to do a hybrid PAO with a Major Method approach. 🙂

        1. Awesome. I can’t wait to hear more as you continue practicing. I really need to check out that audio program again sometime soon – I love re-visiting programs. There’s usually some angle one misses the first time around that makes the review worth it. 🙂

  6. My A of Spades is Mr T, but I find it hard to come up with numbered images for 52 cards, so I used persons that were close to the Major method number. Here is my list, which you may feel free to use or not to use, as you wish. The point is memorability; when you use a powerful memory place (mine is a room with 52 Major memory hooks – 13 per wall)

    It works per suit, but I need to practice with half the deck, then 3/4, then the full one.

    C1 Mr T (A-Team)
    C2 Noah (of the Ark)
    C3 Moe (Howard – 3 Stooges)
    C4 Ray (Liotta)
    C5 Lee (Bruce)
    C6 Shoe (Cartoon owl)
    C7 Kaye (Danny)
    C8 Fey (Tina)
    C9 Po (Teletubby)
    C10 Des (mond Tutu)
    C11 Jesse Jackson
    C12 Cleopatra
    C13 Dean Martin

    H1 Albert Einstein
    H2 Atilla the Hun
    H3 Ernest Hemingway
    H4 Xaviera Hollander
    H5 HAL
    H6 Bob Marley
    H7 Howie Morenz (Montreal Canadiens – Habs – legend – wore jersey 7)
    H8 Hugh Hefner
    H9 Bob Hope
    H10 Dirty Harry
    H11 Jack Benny
    H12 Mado (Lamotte – another Montreal thing – Google if you want)
    H13 Henry VIII

    S1 Sammy Davis Jr
    S2 Santa
    S3 Yosemite Sam
    S4 Zorro
    S5 Salvador Dali
    S6 Sugar Sammy (Montreal comedian)
    S7 Asok (Dilbert intern)
    S8 Stephen Harper (former Canadian PM)
    S9 Spider-Man
    S10 Taz (re Bugs Bunny fame)
    S11 Jack Black
    S12 Idi Amin Dada
    S13 Sadam

    D1 Odie (Garfield’s “friend”)
    D2 Don Cherry (Canadian obnoxious hockey announcer)
    D3 Dom Deluise
    D4 Dora (the Explorer)
    D5 Dolly (the Sheep)
    D6 Desh (Bouksani Bourne’s foe)
    D7 Doc (the dwarf)
    D8 Mike Duffy (Canadian senator of girth and mirth)
    D9 Dobby (the house Elf)
    D10 Tyson (Iron Mike)
    D11 Jackie O (wife of JFK)
    D12 Diana (Princess of Wales)
    D13 Dim (one of Alex’s droogs)

    Make your own zany list and use a zany mind palace, then you’re away to the races.

    1. Using 13 stations per wall is a solid idea, Alex. I think it would have many applications for card tricks.

      Thanks too for sharing your images! Do you have any figures where you use more than one option? Or are there any that have evolved over time? (For example, I used the vague signature of “man” for a long time before upgrading it to Johnny Cash, the Man in Black.)

      It’s great to see so many recognizable characters in your list, including some Canadiana. There are also new names to look up, which is always fun. Thanks! 🙂

  7. Thanks Anthony.

    These characters are specific to my card memory approach. I use other images for other purposes.

    However, if one wanted to remember book chapters or something else one could use characters such as these and associate an abstract of each “concept” to them. Such techniques are not that far away from Giordano Bruno`s approach using St Thomas or St Eusebius or other saints’ and martyrs’ names, although he added some pretty far-out imagery (Zodiac and Mythological) in his approaches, .

    My 52 memory room stations are all Major method images though, from 1 to 52 (Tie to LawN). I put them all on the 4 walls. 13 per wall, so I do not have issues of “running through” my house or down a street or crossing my path. For me, my palaces have in the past been physical places, but I find imaginary areas and journeys more powerful for me because I can light them or decorate them as I see fit. It’s almost like an imaginary candy or department store with all of the fun things displayed.

    I thought you might enjoy the references to colourful Canadians, with many Quebecers and politicians among them.

    As a lad from BC though, you have many West Coast weirdos from which to choose! 😉

    Thanks again Anthony. Kind regards.

    1. BC definitely has its share of colorful characters, but I’m afraid none so interesting as the likes of Rene Levesque and his era. Perhaps I romanticize the past, but those were really interesting days in Canadian politics.

      Oddly enough, Rob Ford has never entered any of my Memory Palaces … I’ll have to fix that.

      On the matter of lighting your imaginary Memory Palaces, this is very interesting. Do you find that lightning is crucial to success? I know it’s a huge point in the ancient books and texts of the Middle Ages, but I’ve never found it to be an issue. I think it’s not a problem for me because I don’t spend time imagining the Memory Palace. It’s simply a locus in space that is understood as such. It requires no special act of visualization and therefore no lighting.

      I used to do more visualization of my Memory Palaces following the initial setup (when visualization is key for long term success, which is why I usually add a quick drawing to the creation process). I’m not entirely sure when I stopped “seeing” the Memory Palace station. To be fair, there is still a base level of visualization going on – it’s really hard to describe exactly what goes on. I think that is part of why it’s such a challenging skill to teach. Each person has such a different experience of it – yet those of use who practice the art of memory know more or less exactly what the other is talking about.

      I’m going to try and work out a 13 station-per-wall Memory Palace. It’s an interesting challenge using odd numbers like that, but I think the solution for making the first run as concrete as possible is to use number symbols: Candle for 1, swan for 2, etc. That will help divide the space in the most direct manner.

      Thanks as ever for your ideas and experiences. Looking forward to the next! 🙂

    2. Alex,

      I am intrigued by your method of placing 13 cards per wall. How do you do that? How does the wall become 13 stations for the cards to be placed while memorizing?

      Thank you!


      1. I’m interested to read Alex’s response too.

        In the meantime, I’d suggest you use what you already know about the MMM and try finding ways to segment the wall. Keep in mind that the difference between “Magnetic Stations” and “hooks” will be either minimal or maximal depending on your experience with setting locations for “loading” mnemonics in place.

        At some point, it’s the thousands of variations on terminology throughout the history of the art of memory that can make things so confusing. That’s why it’s always best to take just one training from beginning to end, do all that it says and then add another. Otherwise, one risks becoming overwhelmed with multiple discussions of the same thing from dozens of angles and never taking action.

        For example, if you’re not regularly using the Magnetic Memory Method already, it would be more harmful than useful for me to suggest using the Pillar Technique offered in the MMM Mastermind. I don’t think there’s anything out there quite like it, yet at the same time, it’s based on ancient ideas. But if you haven’t already established some mastery of the core techniques, adding new variations for practice risks getting little or no results.

        Myself, I am for the first time using apps to train my card memory speed. It’s not really a skill I’m desperate to develop, but more for research. And it is beyond all doubt that with practice, the Pillar Technique will enable 3-12 cards per station. I’m just not yet sure if it can do so consistently, nor am I sure if I’ll devote the practice to seeing what’s possible.

        However, I know that some MMM Masterclass students with Mastermind access are experimenting with it and getting interesting results. I love when this happens, but it’s only ever possible when they have mastered (or reached a happy level with) a core strategy first before adding on other techniques.

        Where would you say that you’re currently at with your card memorization technique?

  8. Likely the ancients didn’t have much light, but I find we have too much. For me, it’s merely a question of effects, kind of the way photographers use lighting for effects. Sometimes I like black and white like when i mentioned Casablanca, or North by Northwest. Sometimes I like to shine a light like a spotlight on a station.

    Rob Ford is great especially when he is mowing down the councilors in Toronto City Hall. Or you could have Chris Farley with Rob Ford getting into a spitting match, too funny!

  9. Hello Sir, I purchased a deck of cards as my old one is seemingly lost.

    Anyway, what must one do here? Must they shuffle, look at the cards and then start calling them in the order they remember?

    Anyway, hope you enjoy your evening.


    1. I’m not sure what you mean by your question, but yes, we shuffle the cards before memorizing them.

      There are a number of training drills in the card course, which is part of the MMM Masterclass.

      James Gerwing, who won the 2019 Canadian Memory Championships, discusses how he used this course as part of his memory competition win if you care to listen.

      1. Ok thank You.

        What I mean is, when starting this, do we shuffle the cards, and then look at them

        And then afterwards, recite them?

        Basically I understand everything about giving each card an image and placing it in a palace…… I now just don’t know what the actual exercise Is (haha)

  10. Ok thank You.

    What I mean is, when starting this, do we shuffle the cards, and then look at them

    And then afterwards, recite them?

    Basically I understand everything about giving each card an image and placing it in a palace…… I now just don’t know what the actual exercise Is (haha)

    1. To help accelerate your learning process, let me ask you this:

      Of all possible exercises (of which there are many), do you think the process you’ve described would be one of them?

      For example, when else would you recite the cards you’ve memorized except other than after you’ve memorized them?

      Since critical thinking is another topic we cover extensively on this blog, I humbly invite you to think deeply about the nature of your own questions and see what answers emerge.

      1. Yeah I think so. I searched a couple of videos.

        The other memory expert (Ron white I think) was asked to demonstrate memorizing the deck on valuetainment

        Ron said he was rusty and all, but got it all correct.

        And yeah, he looked at the cards and then gave it to the host and memorized them.

        Anyway, I think it could be. Looking at all the cards and then turning them back and remembering them….. It’s not something you can just rote learn.

        1. Rote learning would be a very painful way to memorize a deck of cards. But one could do it.

          Now the question is…

          Why do you just “think” it was Ron White?

          Why didn’t you memorize the name of the individual so that you know?

          1. Haha, yeah true. This Is actually a great question because what I take from it is that you don’t exactly ever turn it “off”

            Like for me my answer (as to why I didn’t memorize the name) is laziness (really tired)…. But yes, I do acknowledge that that’s missing the point.

            There’s a difference between being “decent” or “good” at an exercise….. and then clocking off for the night……. And on the other hand, engraining the habit into subconscious.

            I saw in another video that one sees the images that they associate with What they are memorizing all in their dreams too (I get really weird dreams sometimes sadly…. I saw your content on dreams, but I’m not sure if I’ll get to journaling some of the stuff I dream….. atleast for now).

            But yeah, I need to kick the gears up.

  11. Haha, yeah true. This Is actually a great question because what I take from it is that you don’t exactly ever turn it “off”

    Like for me my answer (as to why I didn’t memorize the name) is laziness (really tired)…. But yes, I do acknowledge that that’s missing the point.

    There’s a difference between being “decent” or “good” at an exercise….. and then clocking off for the night……. And on the other hand, engraining the habit into subconscious.

    I saw in another video that one sees the images that they associate with what they are memorizing all in their dreams too (I get really weird dreams sometimes sadly…. I saw your content on dreams, but I’m not sure if I’ll get to journaling some of the stuff I dream….. at least for now).

    But yeah, I need to kick the gears up.

    1. There’s no right or wrong to how people choose to approach memory training.

      But the path to true mastery is always the same and boils down to Yoda-levels of certainty that this matters above all:

      Do or do not. There is no try.

  12. Hello, hope you are well. I wanted to share my experiences from these last few days.

    First of all, I did a lot of drawing, basically when doing the card memorization, I start from my clothing drawers and work my way to the lounge.

    Now in terms of my actual experience, let’s say I start attempting to memorize the deck, but I can’t remember the card…. I then proceed to put that card down, and upon remembering the image for the said card, I then trigger my memory for the next FEW cards.

    That’s one experience, another is, with me being a huge Anime fan, I follow my palace like a story with a lot of anime tropes (eg the sage toad (Ace of spades) explodes on chazz (10 of clubs), causing chazz’s duel disk to fall off, hitting ledgic (6 of clubs), ledgic gets annoyed and flings it like a boomerang, and it almost hits Maka (7 of diamonds), but Maka knocks it away with her scythe, and the sharp dual disk strikes majima goro on his neck (6 of diamonds), thus killing him…. majima’s ghost then escapes and punches metal lee (5 of diamonds) and metal lee thinks it was tarble (4 of spades)…. they fight and tarble blows up metal lee etc).

    Another experience is that if I have a bad session (I had a few), once I put the deck away and ponder later without any cards…. I remember the story eventually(and thus the cards)….. I don’t even use the palace.

      1. THANK you.

        I think I can just do one deck.

        I never had a full deck of cards on my first try. I’d miss cards, but then after I put the deck away, I’d ponder on them and remember all the cards (when the cards are away from me).

        So with just one deck there’s still some trial and error involved…… haven’t caught any session on a first try yet.

  13. Hello, Hope you are well.

    I took a break from memory training for a while but returned a week ago with cards.

    Today I recalled my last 3 decks done yesterday and the previous days from then.

    I successfully recalled 154 out of 156 cards.

    A) does this count as me remembering 3 decks or does it only count when you memorize 3 physical decks in real time?

    B) can you write down the cards in a book and memorize them or must you physically own several decks for it to count?

    C) are you allowed to use trading cards (yugioh, pokemon, cardfight etc)….. I have like 5 decks if I count trading cards.

    1. Congrats on your success.

      To your questions:

      A) I would suggest you formulate your own standards for what counts as how many decks under what conditions. Unless you are competing against others. Then, agree with them what the standards will be.

      B) Same answer as above.

      C) Who would allow or disallow this? Sounds like equally good practice.

      1. Thank you

        For me, I’m not competing with anyone.

        The great thing about trading cards is they are very imaginative due to already being animated images.

        I will use them tomorrow.

        For now my goal is 5 decks.

  14. Hi Anthony! all is well ? I would like to know if I can use the same memory palace every time I memorize decks, for example daily, in a post you commented that you memorize decks daily, how exactly do you do to have so many memory palaces for this purpose?

    1. Thanks for this question.

      Decks of cards is one of the few cases where I reuse Memory Palaces.

      This is easy to do except for when I’m doing card magic that involves a memorized deck that is always the same.

      But for memorization drills, it’s easy to just use the same Memory Palace over and over. It can cause a bit of “ghosting,” but this is a minor issue and one that actually teaches you a lot about the miracle of memory.

  15. Good night, how are you?

    I would like to know how many cards, do you recommend or practice, to place in each station to optimize the Memory Palace? ex “pictures for ace of hearts and 3 of spades at 1st station, 5 of diamonds and 9 of spades at 2nd station”.

    If you are going to put each image that corresponds to the card in 1 station, I would need 52 stations to memorize a deck, other doubts do all the images have to interact with the next image, as in the Link method? or is it only linked to the same station? thanks

    1. Thanks, João.

      There are a few different amounts you can experiment with.

      When I started, I did one card per station. That was just to establish the basic skill.

      Then I did a number of experiments based on something Dave Farrow told me and came up with a way to “fragment” stations so I can memorize 6 cards per station.

      But these days, I usually do 4 cards per station.

      These cards interact with each other based on the images, but please note something very important:

      The Memory Palace is a form of linking. In fact, it is the ultimate form of linking. Linking one card to another, or one word to another is inner-linking within a larger link.

      1. I tried to memorize 3 cards per station but I was not successful in recovery, I got all confused, it caused me a lot of frustration and I ended up losing interest, but my memory is so bad that I’m here again trying to motivate myself to try to practice this exercise that I believe to be best of all to improve memory, any tips? should i start with 1 card per magnetic station until i get the hang of it?

        1. Three at a time is a good experiment.

          I usually do two at a time these days arranged in pillars of six per station, but started with one at a time.

          Probably if I were to learn it all over again, I would experiment more and make sure my images for each card are as strong as possible.

          In the beginning, I made them too vague.

          Definitely keep going. You’ll learn a lot simply by continuing to come at it. Take care to follow all of the Magnetic Memory Method principles for each step:

          * Well-formed Memory Palaces

          * Truly Magnetic Images

          * Proper Recall Rehearsal

          It’s a small set of considerations that bring the power once you’ve got them coordinated.

          1. Good morning Anthony, I made my main letter system again, something very crazy and funny happened at the same time, when I was creating the system I was having difficulties coming up with images for the consonants, but I managed to finish it after a while, when it was time to recover the system on paper, several other images started to appear when I thought about the consonants to retrieve the images I created for the system, I even had difficulty getting to the initial image I had created, the next day in this morning’s case I tested it with the cards in hand , to reduce the pressure and avoid the frustration that occurred the first time I tried it, I tested it with half a deck of 26 cards, and I placed 2 images (cards) per station, contrary to what I did initially, placing 3 per station, and insisted that the image interacted with the station (I was actively thinking about the ¨station¨ while I was thinking about the images) this is the right thing to do for the image to stay, right? I believe that the first time I tried it I didn’t pay attention, I thought briefly about the station and created the image without that active effort of thinking about the station at every moment of creation, I managed to retrieve the 26 cards and spent 27 minutes to place the images in the palace, then that I recovered all 26 cards I got a little dizzy and disoriented, but now I’m back to normal, I hope this passes, a doubt can I do the deck exercise how many times a day? I would like to express my gratitude that you are answering me, you have brought me back hope

          2. Keep exploring and great results will emerge.

            Make sure you’re well-hydrated, that your diet is check, that you’re getting good fitness and sleep and see a doctor. It’s highly unlikely that dizziness would have anything to do with using memory techniques.

            As for testing with half the deck, that’s a great policy. Even less makes for great practice drills.

            Later, you can take on greater challenges, like recalling the deck out of order, deliberately skipping cards, etc. You’ll want to do that if you ever get into Memdeck work for card magic.

    1. In my admittedly biased view, this is because there aren’t any good apps for memorizing cards. What app could be better than your brain plus a physical deck of cards?

      That said, sometimes I just search for an online card generator. I use it to help me practice my memdeck work. It renders a randomly selected card and then I name the number of the card in the stack. This is quite useful and doesn’t require downloading an app. It also helps me practice some of the counting procedures used in card magic to quickly find a position without looking like you’re counting.

      If it must be an app, another idea you could try would be to memorize Blackjack, poker or even solitaire games as you’re playing them. You might need to take screenshots to test for accuracy later, but that would not be the end of the world.

      Plus, if the intention of the card memory involves performance in those games, practicing this way would potentially give you transfer or near-transfer benefits of the core skill you want to develop.

      Does this way of looking at things make sense and help you out?

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Anthony Metivier is the founder of the Magnetic Memory Method, a systematic, 21st century approach to memorizing foreign language vocabulary, names, music, poetry and more in ways that are easy, elegant, effective and fun.

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