Card deck memorisation - post your times here!

Hi all,

I’m gradually working on improving my time taken for memorising a single deck of cards. It seems, reading through the forum, that there are a number of other people doing the same thing. I thought it might be useful / entertaining / complete waste of time (pick one) to have a single post (this is it) that attempts to record the times of various forum members. We could have a league table, of sorts (we will have to rely on the honour of posters giving times as I see no simple way to verify times).

Hopefully this would serve (at least) 2 purposes:

  1. It will help to spur us on to faster times by competing with other posters.
  2. It will give us an opportunity to ask for tips from those that are quicker than us.

Please post your times in the thread (or PM me) and I will update the table (assuming that there isn’t a time limit on editing threads - I’ll check with Josh). Might be handy if you also post the method used.

Webmaster’s note: visit the page below for an updated list of speed card times that users can edit:


3 minutes and 52 seconds (major/OO)

Unfortunately I haven’t been working on it much lately. Gotta get back on the horse!

Today I got a time of 3m58s with using a P-A-O system :slight_smile:
(when recalling cards I speak out the cards)

I wish I could post the sub-2 min time I got this morning (1:43) but unfortunately I had 2 errors. Best error-free time is 2:04 using a P-AO system.


Today I did 44.97 seconds (first attempt, no mistakes), 40.59 seconds (second attempt, no mistakes).

My best time ever is 38.30 seconds (on Mt. Everest, mind you, at 17,000 ft above sea level)

I use PAO (although a lot of my "O"s are becoming "A"s, so some are PAA)


Nelson’s always gonna be top of the league ;D

This is a good idea. Unfortunately, I can’t post my times because no matter whether it takes me under 4 minutes or over 10 minutes I always miss a couple of cards. Any advice?

I used to have the same issue. Depends on why you’re missing them. Is it the same cards, same sequence in the P-AO, same locus, same absolute card number (always miss card 4 for example), always a face or an action, or some other commonality or at least a trend?

4:28 for 52/52 cards using PAO. This is using the iCue app on an iPad.

Hi Dale,

As pilgrim suggests, it may be that there is a common theme that will indicate which area to focus on. In general terms I would try some untimed sessions where you purely focus on making vivid images - once you have 100% recall you can then look to improve the times.

It took me just under 3 months of practice to break 2 minutes for a deck of cards. So far, my best time without any mistakes is 1:57.91. I’ve done a few decks in 1:30-1:50, but there were a couple mistakes. Sometimes when I’m working on speed, I’ll memorize 1/3 or 1/2 of a deck. I’ve done a few half decks in 40 seconds. Hopefully in another month or two, I can break 1:30 for a full deck of cards.

Hi Paul D,

Thanks for your post. What method do you use for memorising the card deck?

Hi Richie, most of my images are movie characters. I tried to pick characters that were memorable to me, and as unique as possible. When I’m memorizing, I create a scene with 4 characters per loci interacting with each other.

Woohoo! I just took over a minute off my best time :smiley:

(and yet I’m peeved it wasn’t a few seconds quicker to get under 5 minutes - oh well, it’ll come)

Thanks Pilgrim, those are good ideas. I did go through the process of catching cards I repeatedly missed and strengthened their images etc. Lately though it seems random. Maybe there is a trend of missing cards that I don’t anchor kinesthetically as well as visually. I can visualize but not at will, so I’m primarily a kinesthetic memorizer. I have to see the P actually touching the location, although not so much for A’s and O’s.

That’s a good suggestion, Richie. Thanks. The weird thing is that my accuracy actually gets worse the more time I take. Even when I go through the deck 9 cards at a time, I usually get an error. Maybe it’s all psychological resistance or I haven’t gotten the PAOs in my unconscious yet.

Way to go, Richie.

Hi Dale,

One thing I noticed is that the quicker I got at memorizing cards, the easier it was to recall them up to a certain point. Maybe it’s because as you go faster, less time has passed since looking at the first cards. Here are a few things that helped me improve my times:

-Spend some time going through decks of cards without actually trying to memorize them, but to practice forming the images in your mind. This will help you form the images more quickly with less effort.

-Break it up into smaller chunks. When I’m trying to improve my speed, I’ll work with 1/3 to 1/2 of a deck of cards. If that’s too much, take even smaller bites. Little victories add up.

-Don’t try so hard. Try to stay relaxed while you’re memorizing. If you’re stressing too much over speed, you’ll have trouble retaining the images. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

-Break the rules. Just because some people use a certain system doesn’t mean you can’t adapt it. Figure out what feels natural for you and go with it.

-Change the image. Whether you’re using real people or fictional characters, feel free to modify them in ways that make them more memorable to you. One of my images is C3P0 from Star Wars. You’d think a shiny gold robot would be good enough, but as soon as I made his eyes shoot lasers, I can hardly forget him.

-Modify your loci to make them more memorable. Your journeys may start out as real places, but that doesn’t mean you need to keep the loci the way they are in real life. You could have your oven shooting flames in your kitchen, or add a swimming pool to your living room, or have spikes coming out of your bathroom floor. Do what ever it takes to create a memorable interaction between your loci and the image you’re emplacing there.

-Keep it fun. We’re practicing one of the coolest things that most people have never heard of. Enjoy what you’re doing and the speed will come on its own. I hope this helps.

1 Like

Nice post Paul.

Looking back at your previous post I see that you picture 4 people at each loci. How do you ascertain what is the correct order of people? Is the interaction always left to right, for example? Do you not use any pre-defined actions or objects at all?

Hey all, just wanted to ask when people are recalling the deck, are you either reciting the deck out or rearranging a new deck in 5mins, or even writing the cards out?

If I rearranged a deck, I wouldn’t get any errors as I once I’ve seen the cards left out, it’s much, much easier to relocate them. My best time in this case is 3m25s (done today), however I don’t want this time recorded as my personal goal is to recite a deck straight off my head.

What’s your view on this guys, and if possible, what is your recall method? Thanks