Card deck memorisation - post your times here!



Jwrig8, as was said above, Alex and I made this switch. It took me a little over 4 months to decided to ditch PAO from after day 1 of learning mnemonics. The night of the first USAMC, I went back to the hotel and began naming objects based on the major system for digits and began developing a 2-card system mapped to the major system, which did not exist at that time to my knowledge. It takes a while to set up, but it didn’t take me long to pass up my level with PAO. I never got that good with it to begin with though. But I hope you make the switch. It’s the best way to go for someone interested in the long term. I haven’t edited my original “A new 2-card system” post, but I recommend sticking with phase 1 for yourself and comprehending phase 2 only as a curiosity, if you want. Making only 360 objects over and above your 1000 is so efficient, and Alex has overcome the relatively minor inconvenience that comes with doing this, which teaches something to us all. So I couldn’t recommend taking it any farther than that.

Congrats on your first major milestone.


LocilnTheSky, thanks for your comment. I have read your post “A new 2-card system” and I have a basic understanding of your system. I have been using PAO for almost 2 years now and I’ve become very comfortable with my system. However, I really like the concept of having an already created image for every 2 cards vs creating an image on the spot for 3 cards. I’m planning on competing at this years USAMC and after that event I plan on switching to a 2 card system.


Very cool! Might see you there, but I’m on the fence about attending this year and leaning toward “no.”

Today I got 9 decks+2 cards with five blanks on 10min cards.

Really been reducing the blanks recently on multi-deck for some reason. I’m really happy about that because when you’re writing out 9 decks in just 30 minutes, a blank means going back through your writing to find which cards are missing - which is not quick - and then mentally playing with the cards. They’ll destroy you on paper, which makes digital easier by this token. It’s a big deal. But I won’t be doing paper multi-deck for a long time.


9 decks in 10 minutes is really impressive. I have never done multi deck like you are describing and written out the order of a deck. Which competitions use that format?

A couple days ago I did 2 decks in 5 minutes and recalled each deck with no mistakes. I’ve been focusing on speed cards and I finally broke the 1 minute mark. A few days ago I did it manually in 59 seconds but haven’t been able to do it again. My times today were between 65-75 seconds.

What is your strategy for multi deck cards? Do you go through all 9 decks once then review the decks once again?

(Simon Luisi) #1166

Hi Tammish,


A warning here: minding your recall times may slow down your progress, in my opinion. Always go for speed, more speed; its the only way to improve fast, not that I’m an expert in quick progress at speed cards. But I wouldn’t mind if some of the experts on speedy progress in this thread contradicted me here. How did you do your recall, straight out calling the cards or rearranging the deck with another deck?


Hey Simon!

Thanks for your message!

I thought a long time after reading it because I respect a lot your experience, but I don’t know if I totally agree with the “go for speed, forget recall” strategy, I am afraid.

My records show me that memorisation quality is inversely proportional to memorisation speed and directly proportional to recall speed. When I go for speed in the memorisation phase, recall takes a long time (even if I make no errors). Recall takes a long time because memorisation was not good enough. When that happens, I have huge “holes” after running through my entire memory palace trying to recall the images. Then, it is almost like a brute-force approach where I begin looking at all the remaining cards and trying to see which seems to activate any memory (answering your last question, I do rearrange the deck with another deck).

I hate when I have to rely too much on that. So, now I decided to write down the sequence of cards (like 4D-3S-7C, etc.) when recalling. This forces me to really know the cards, instead of guessing them. Because this approach is harder, for the last four days, I’ve been memorising a “full” pack in instalments of 17 cards each, like LociInTheSky suggested in another thread. Soon, when I make decent improvements, I will try with half, than an entire pack.

Thanks again for your feedback!



I think you’re both right, though Simon’s phrasing of the point might have been a little more extreme than the words I’d pick.

My records show me that memorisation quality is inversely proportional to memorisation speed and directly proportional to recall speed.

Absolutely true.

You’re going to get better by taking this “17” approach that you’re taking, but assuming you already know your images well (mere exposure will not improve your time much like it would in the very early phases), but you’re not going to get faster until you attempt to go faster, and fail or not, you’ll gain that skill by sleeping on it.

You are going to have the tools to do an above-average job of making decent imagery when going faster, but still, that is the necessary step.

Small groups are great for improving your speed as well when dedicated to that end. You can do a pretty bad job and still get good feedback, whereas if you did so poorly (sloppy) with a full deck, there’d be too many errors to be of use. You couldn’t learn anything from them. But with a small packet you can go at very high speed, check out the results, and then back off the speed a little at a time and exercise more care and finer technique until you’re at that top speed that still allows you to get 100% sometimes and huge holes rarely or never.

Your speed with 52 cards is going to have to be slower than this, but you’ll be able to find the right speed by backing off some more when adding the rest of the cards. It’ll be a speed well within your comfort zone since you have already been moving more quickly.

Something I’ve been doing recently in my training in various areas when it looks like this is adding the smallest reasonable quantity, which will probably be one locus per day as long as my performance doesn’t plummet, which is a rare thing since the addition is so small. In other words I do this as a rule rather than basing it on my performance, that I have to be “this good” before adding more. I just assume I’ll become “that good” along the way, and add little by little from the start.

May or may not be your style, may or may not work for you here, but I recommend taking this road over adding large chunks at certain benchmarks. By “one locus per day” of course that could mean “one locus every other day,” just depending on what time frame you have in mind to get to the full 52 cards.


Hey LociInTheSky!
(can I call you Lance? It is a pain to write your nickname correctly with all this capital letters :slight_smile: )

Thanks for the great message!

This is a nice aspect of it that I hadn’t thought much about. It is indeed so great to have more data points to analyse (now I have 3 a day instead of the usual 1) that I am more decided now to create additional memory palaces. Every 17-card run is a learning experience, so I want more! Moreover, it’s nice to generate data for a change, instead of simply downloading it :slight_smile:

This is also a very nice idea, thanks! In fact, I have suggested the same to my wife when she was beginning to study for this very hard exam (people study for years for it and she is beginning her second year). Since she also works every day and, well, has a family, it was very hard for her to reach her 4-hours-a-day studying objective. She did 2 hours and thought 4 hours to be impossible. I then suggested (like you) what I call a “fuzzy approach”. This term comes from Fuzzy Logic and the Sorites Paradox, meaning that there are no strict bona fide boundaries separating most phenomena. If she used that idea and added 1 minute a day (1 minute only!), she would gradually reach her 4-hour objective without feeling it. Said and done, I made her a schedule spanning 4 months of constant adding 1 minute a day and she now studies 4.5 hours a day, works 7 hours, takes care of the house and still has to put up with me. Not bad at all.

I shall do as you suggested.

Thanks again!



I agree with Lance and (mostly) Simon.

Once you are consistently recalling a deck correctly, you might notice that you’re also doing so at almost exactly the same speeds. Many of us here have experienced such plateaux.

There was a point in time when I genuinely though i was destined to never go faster than 90 seconds. And i could hit that target almost exactly. Yet, i recently did an e-deck in under 40 seconds.

It sounds obvious to say it, but the key to going faster is… going faster.


Hi everyone!

I started with memory techniques 5 weeks ago and finally got under the 2 minute mark today! (111.62s with an e-deck)
I am currently using 52 images and storing them in 52 loci and will probably continue with this and try reaching 1 minute.

(Badr Ibrahim) #1172

Okay …
I think that I struggling with my new SS system … but I think it will be a while before I get my full deck memorized !!

(Badr Ibrahim) #1173

Hi QTKaze
Wow!! … That’s a very good start …
Congtatulations with your New Best !!


Hi Badr4sudan!

It took me about a week to learn my 52 items associated with the cards. After that, as fast as I had time, I went through a deck of cards to see how fast I could imagine the items without storing them in my memory which I believe might be a big part of my progression.

(Badr Ibrahim) #1175

Hi QTKaze

Okay that’s a good way to became faster … and I’m not the Best on memorizing a deck of cards in this forum … but I think if you tried to imagine the images in ther locations as fast as POSSIBLE !! it’s will be a good way to increase your speed in cards and the quality of your memorization at the same time … I remember that I did my first time under 2 minutes was after two weeks of learning my first method to memorize a deck of cards (the major system 52 image/26 locus) … but I’ve learned the memory palace and used it for monthes in my study … so I had a good experince with mnemonics before I get seriously in memory competions so …
and I hope you will get faster and faster and break the 1 minute mark too ^_* …



Hi Badr!

Thanks for the tip, I will try to imagine my images in their respective location and also try to press my speed the way LociInTheSky decribed. Hopefully it will help me get under the minute mark!

About Hour Cards, is it normal to choose another memorization method compared to the speed cards?
I am in the middle of constructing a 2-digit PAO system for numbers and have thought of using the same PAO for hour cards.


Has anyone here tried or practiced the missing card stunt – where you take out a few cards from a deck, then rifle through the deck and figure out which cards are missing?
I read about it in “The Memory Book” and saw it in this video:

Lorayne’s book discusses a mutilation technique, in which you mess up the object of each card you see (for example, 7C is a cake, so I could see a cake with a big bite out of it). He also mentions burning, flooding, etc as substitutes for mutilating cards. Is this an efficient way to perform this trick? Should I try other strategies?



If it is only one card thats gone, you can simply use math to calculate the card which is taken out.
You can do it by assigning a different number to each card and add the value of the deck together. The value of the missing card will be the difference between the amount you got when adding and the total amount.

For example if each card is numbered from 1-52, the total should be 1378. So if we get 1344 from the deck, it means that card number 1378 - 1344 = 34 is missing. In order to make the calculations easier, we could always mod 100 or any other number which is equal or greater than 52. (need 52 values in order for each card to have a distinct value).

Another way to do it is to number the card from 01-12 (or -2-10), mod 20, and then number the suit from 0-3 and mod 4. This will be smaller number to add, but you will need to keep track of two numbers.

It is a trick I used a few years back, I believe that this is a faster method if it is limited to a single card.

(Badr Ibrahim) #1179

Okay I’ve Got my full deck memorized with my New SS system … It took me a months of training (30 minutes per day) ,to get here … but I’m very happy with it … 5:00 it’s not so bad …
but time to get down … 4 >3>2>1>world record … Yeaaah! …

Thanks … LociInTheSky … The System you created is very amazing … I loved it so much … I will keep training until I get my world record (very tough Huh!) …

Okay , see you soon …

(Badr Ibrahim) #1180

Hi QTKaze …

First I didn't used PAO ever in my life ... so I can't Judge on it ... I used the (52 image system) for an year...

For hour cards if you are still using your 52 images … there will be a lot of images to memorize … for example if you want to memorize 10 decks … that’s means you will have 520 images … and for sure there will be 520 images if you used PAO (156 image system) … but the images will be different… so the images will not repeat so much as (52 image system) … but you will have the same number with different images … and I think it’s will be very helpful in memorizing …
for me now I use a two cards system … and for 10 decks of cards I’ve 260 images only … so it’s will be easier for me to memorize but my system have (1352 image) so it’s not easy to get comfortable with it … but I’m doing my best !!


Interesting method you described – but wouldn’t that addition be more time consuming than seeing images in your head? It seems to me that dealing with numbers is slower than dealing with images.