Beginner memory based magic trick

So I have been working for a while on creating a viable magic trick which makes use of memory techniques. Obviously just memorizing a deck of cards or 100 numbers is impressive, its not really a usable skill. You cant just say to your friends 'hey give me 5 mins and i’ll memorize this entire deck of cards. It comes off as showing off and its bloody boring for them to just have to sit and watch you memorize then recall the deck (unless your really good obviously).

So my solution is actually fairly simple and I use it when performing magic to build my credibility. All you do is divide the deck into two half’s, one which has the hearts and spades and one which has the diamonds and clubs. You then allow your spectator to shuffle one half and hand it back to you. You then memorize it and hand it back to him. You then take the other half, reorder them into the same order as the other half so that the colors match up (spades with clubs, hearts with diamonds.) and then you simply deal both halves out proving they are now in the same order.

So why does this work? Well there are two reasons. The first is that people outside the memory community aren’t aware that memorizing half a deck of cards is as easy as it actually is. To you only memorizing 26 cards may see ‘light weight’ but it isn’t to your average joe. They will still be stunned and believe you are some sought of savant. The second reason this works is because memorizing half as many cards is exponentially easier than memorizing a full deck. You can practice an get really quick at 26 cards and your times will likely be below 50% of your full deck time. For example I can do 26 cards in under a minuet but still struggle to do a full deck in under 4. Doing so also doesn’t hurt your long term memory aims either as memorizing 26 cards can easily be built on later on.

Let us know what you think. I’d love to hear how others have used memory as a tool to do magic.


Sounds fun.

I haven’t done it for awhile, but I can false shuffle convincingly and have all kinds of fun ways to use a fully memorized deck to amaze the pants off of people. You should read Juan Tamirez’s Mnemonica for a whole host of cool tricks.

I also interviewed magician Alex Stone on my podcast about card memorization. He has some cool stuff on the topic in his book Fooling Houdini. Highly recommended. :slight_smile:

That’s a good trick. I am interested. Please share more tricks if you have.


I’ve just joined - and am a magician (among other things!). I use memory-based tricks (not just cards), where all the memory work is done beforehand. I agree that Mnemonica is a great book for memory tricks - though a good Faro shuffle helps to get most use out of it. Simon Aronson has a free pdf which also has some excellent tricks for use with a memorised deck. (It’s available from his website.)

The 26-card trick can also be done with a pre-memorised deck - Charles Gaucci has an excellent version. I’d like to use a borrowed deck and memorise half of it - but am currently way off even two minutes. But I aim to improve.

Good luck!


PS And now I must track down ‘Fooling Houdini’. Thanks for that!

Thanks for sharing this! Awesome idea.

On the subject of mathematical magic tricks, Persi Diaconis has a few memory based ones in “Magical Mathematics”. For example, there is one, which goes:

Magician is with a large audience. He throws a deck (in its packet), into the audience at random. Get that audience member to cut the deck and pass it to someone else at random. Repeat this a couple of times. Now get the member of the audience who is holding the pack to take the top card, pass it on. Do this for another four cards. He tells them to put the remaining deck of cards at the back of the room, far away from him. The magician tells them to focus on the mental picture their cards - he can tell what the values of the cards are telepathically. At first he says there is “too much information” being transmitted, so could only the people with a red card stand up and focus on their cards. He names their card. Then he does this for the black cards.

Also there are a lot of effects which rely on a stack e.g. Aronson