Memorize the Mnemonica Stack Fast: A Step-by-Step Tutorial

Mnemonica stack feature imageJuan Tamariz is a genius, but his suggestions for memorizing the Mnemonica stack order are not very strong.

Drawing animals on your cards?

Singing the name and number of each card?

I mean, sure, those activities can work.

But it’s basically rote learning that can take weeks, if not months.

That’s compared to learning a stack within days, if not mere hours when you take a very short period of time to learn the mnemonics shared on this page.

You’ll be in good company too.

Darwin Ortiz learned his stack with mnemonics.

Michael Close has talked about the benefits of using mnemonics for learning the Mnemonica order.

And many other magicians and mentalists use mnemonics with ease.

Why not you?

Well, the problem is that there’s a lot of bad advice out there about using memory techniques, especially for card magic.

So let’s cut through the noise, get you the skills you need, and get you performing with the Mnemonica stack quickly.

Why the Mnemonica Stack Is One of the Best Memdecks

As I shared in my memdeck post, there are countless stack orders.

But what makes the Mnemonica stack special is a combination of factors:

  • Juan Tamariz has a great book on how it can be used with contributions from many magicians
  • The stack contains a number of useful properties for creating magical experiences
  • It’s easy to go from new deck order into the stack with just a few faro and overhand shuffles
  • The stack looks random, so people won’t spot it unless they know it (rare)
  • Pit Hartling has produced great routines for the Mnemonica stack
  • Many other magicians have published ideas for using it
  • You can spot when magicians are using it and study their skills

For example, David Blaine gets into Mnemonica stack in this video and you can tell by the 9 of Diamonds on the bottom and the fact that the 10th card is the 2 of Spades that he’s in Mnemonica:

Frankly, I can’t think of another stack that can be studied and observed out in the wild as much as this one.

So are there pros and cons to the Mnemonica stack order?

As far as I can tell, none.

In fact, once you discover how easy it is to memorize, you can readily have multiple stacks memorized. Using deck switches, you’ll ensure no one will ever know that you use memdecks.

But if someone finds out?

No problem – they’ll be even more impressed!

What Is The Mnemonica Stack Order?

The Mnemonica stack order was devised by Juan Tamariz and published in 2004 by Hermetic Press.

Tamariz gives a brief history in the book, but for the fullest history of memdeck stacks and their orders, read The 6-Hour Memorized Deck.

Mnemonica Stack Order Example

The order itself is:

  • 4 of Clubs
  • 2 of Hearts
  • 7 of Diamonds
  • 3 of Clubs
  • 4 of Hearts
  • 6 of Diamonds
  • Ace of Spades
  • 5 of Hearts
  • 9 of Spades
  • 2 of Spades
  • Queen of Hearts
  • 3 of Diamonds
  • Queen of Clubs
  • 8 of Hearts
  • 6 of Spades
  • 5 of Spades
  • 9 of Hearts
  • King of Clubs
  • 2 of Diamonds
  • Jack of Hearts
  • 3 of Spades
  • 8 of Spades
  • Six of Hearts
  • 10 of Clubs
  • 5 of Diamonds
  • King of Diamonds
  • 2 of Clubs
  • 3 of Hearts
  • 8 of Diamonds
  • 5 of Clubs
  • King of Spades
  • Jack of Diamonds
  • 8 of Clubs
  • 10 of Spades
  • King of Hearts
  • Jack of Clubs
  • 7 of Spades
  • 10 of Hearts
  • Ace of Diamonds
  • 4 of Spades
  • 7 of Hearts
  • 4 of Diamonds
  • Ace of Clubs
  • 9 of Clubs
  • Jack of Spades
  • Queen of Diamonds
  • 7 of Clubs
  • Queen of Spades
  • 10 of Diamonds
  • 6 of Clubs
  • Ace of Hearts
  • 9 of Diamonds

How to Memorize The Mnemonica Order

Basically, you only have a few options:

I suggest combining the final two points for maximum speed, effectiveness, efficiency and knock-on benefits.

The reason for the Memory Palace is that you can more readily use linking and stories or rhymes within them. It’s the one memory technique in which all other techniques improve when used within Memory Palaces.

Step One: Create A Memory Palace For Mnemonica

A Memory Palace is a simple mental device that lets you place associations along a remembered journey.

I based my Mnemonica Memory Palace on a house I rented a room in during my undergraduate years. I literally haven’t been there for decades, but remember enough of it to easily use it for 52 cards.

Step Two: Elaborate The Cards

Using what scientists call elaborative encoding, you want to associate each card with a memorable image.

In my case, I do this by associating each card with a number first using the Major System.

For example, the Ace of Spades is a Toad for me. The card next to the Ace of Spades is a Five of Diamonds, which I imagine as a conspiracy theorist wearing a tin hat. (Essentially these mnemonics are pegwords and if you want all of my examples, they’re in the Magnetic Memory Method Masterclass.)

To remember this specific order, I have the toad act on the tin hat in a weird and wonderful way.

To remember that the Ace of Spades is specifically the seventh card, I use a supplementary image linked to that number.

This is the part where a lot of lazy and unimaginative magicians have preached just rote learning the order.

But again, Michael Close, who is widely considered to have done the best memdeck performance ever televised, points out the many benefits of using mnemonics:

And Juan Tamariz himself promotes imagination, so it only makes sense to get into the ancient memory techniques that have helped our ancestors to imagine so many things we enjoy today.

Step Three: Review The Order Mentally

The next part is to stretch your mind a bit and recall the deck in a number of different orders. This will give you the benefits of what scientists call active recall. So don’t worry if it feels like a stretch. That just means it’s helping you form the memories needed to know this stack inside out.

Here are the recall practice orders I suggest:

  • Forward
  • Backward
  • From the middle to the beginning
  • From the middle to the end
  • Use a random card generator or poker dice
  • Pick a suite and mentally find all of its cards

In other words, when you’re in the shower, mentally find all of the Kings in the deck. Choose all the 4s another time, etc. This last tip is a suggestion Michael Close gives in the video interview with him above.

Step Four: Practice With A Friendly Audience

I practice my Mnemonica stack with my wife because I know my ego won’t feel too burned if I make a mistake.

Of course, the beauty with a properly memorized stack is that you can easily recover from mistakes. For that reason, it’s good to have a few “magician in trouble” ideas worked out that you can draw upon in a pinch.

Or you can always have another deck that is also in Mnemonica stack order to draw upon.

The point is to start using the stack in performance as soon as you can. This will further establish the stack in memory.

My Favorite Tricks You Can Perform With The Stack

Here are a few tricks I love to practice and perform.

Yes, they are simple, but I find they suit my style the best.

Memory Demonstration

Using your favorite false cuts and false shuffles, create the appearance that you have a randomized deck. If you’re really confident with your stack, you can have the deck cut and mentally note the slightly altered order in your recall demonstration or find the 4 of clubs and bring it back to the top.

When you’re ready, go through the deck in an entertaining way. You don’t really have to pretend that you’re memorizing it – it’s already memorized!

But you can check that every card is correct and use the opportunity to ham things up a little. Or if your character is more serious, you can make comments about how you find certain things in the order interesting.

Finally, reveal that you know each and every card in order.

Any Card At Any Number

For this routine, you don’t even have to shuffle. Just do as Dynamo does here:

Frankly, there’s something a bit fishy about this participant. In most cases, you’ll have to do a quick mental calculation a pinky count and a cut before having them count down to their card.

But if someone actually names the exact number like you see in the Dynamo example, you can obviously remove those steps.

Estimation Count

When you know the number of each card, it’s easy to have someone cut a bunch of cards into your hand.

All you do is glimpse the bottom card as you weigh the packet in your hand.

Or you can reach over and casually turn over the top card on the main packet. Say something like, “If you’d cut one card deeper, this would weigh more, correct?”

They’ll agree and that will give you time to work out how many cards you have in your hand.

Why I Love The Mnemonica Stack

There are lots of stacks out there and all of them have interesting features.

At the end of the day, I am partial to this one because it’s the first one I learned.

But I don’t stick with it. I work with other stacks because that provides so much great brain and memory exercise. It can also help you move into the direction of multiple mentality routines.

I also love it because so many other magicians use it and you can study their examples and ideas for routines.

But at the end of the day, my point has been to encourage you to give mnemonics a try.

It breaks my heart whenever I see anyone discouraging people from using them.

Especially if you’re a person like myself and no amount of rote learning is ever going to happen (too boring), let alone help.

So if you’re the kind of person who likes to go on mental adventures while improving your memory, give my free Memory Improvement course a try:

Free Memory Improvement Course

It takes you through a number of powerful exercises that give you a Memory Palace and associative-imagery you can use for many incredible outcomes.

Such as remembering the names of the people you perform for, which is always a plus. Some of them could book you repeatedly, after all, so it pays to call them by name.

So what do you say?

Are you ready to memorize the Mnemonica stack?

2 Responses

  1. What methods for memorization ore the best for those few of us who are aphantasic (who are not able to use visualization)? We comprise about 4 to 8% of the population and, in my past experience in trying to learn mnemonic methods, most seem to rely on visualization in some way. Any hints would be extremely helpful.

    1. Thanks for your post, Lee.

      It’s actually not necessary to “see” mnemonic associations in order to work.

      I’ve had many successes without seeing them at all. One of Australia’s most senior and best performing memory athletes identifies as aphantastic as well and can use the techniques without issue. I believe she’s involved with magic as well.

      Finally, a few of my best friends are memory competitors. We often laugh about the persistent with that one even has time to see images. There’s no time when the heat is on.

      So to some tips for you:

      1) Learn what the mnemonic tradition is really all about. It’s basically a form of computational logic based on the alphabet. Ramon Llull is one of the earliest figures on this account and he’s been credited as being a huge influence on computation.

      2) Develop your mnemonic systems based on the alphabet. Numbers are also alphabetical insofar as 1 is spelled as “one.”

      3) Expand what “visualization” means. There has always been a multisensory approach, but visual writers have not always brought this out as clearly as it could be. It’s there, however. Draw upon all sensations, especially conceptual or logical sensibilities. This might not feel like a sense, but according to lots of research into mental imagery, it is and it has always provided the fastest path to using these techniques.

      4) Practice earnestly. If you want to see me working with cards on a day when I really didn’t feel like it, search up my “This is Practice” video on YouTube. I might add it to this page, but in that video I’m actually working with the Redford Stack. It’s a bit faster to memorize due to some properties in it, but I still need to use the same mnemonics I used for the Mnemonica Stack. Even with inherent mnemonic properties, many of us will still need the extra boost.

      Hope this helps and just shout out if you have further questions. I’ll get back to you a.s.a.p.

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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.

Dr. Metivier holds a Ph.D. in Humanities from York University and has been featured in Forbes, Viva Magazine, Fluent in 3 Months, Daily Stoic, Learning How to Learn and he has delivered one of the most popular TEDx Talks on memory improvement.

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