Card deck memorization : challenge to get below 2 minutes at speed cards



Hi there,

I am starting a new thread addressed to all those who want to challenge themselves to get better at speed cards.

Previously, there was this thread that was very popular on the topic :

But it was moved to a wiki page :

Which is great to post our times !

But harder to post discussions on the topic.

So I hope we can revive enough momentum of the old thread to make it an active and inspiring discussion !

I’ll speak about my own challenge in the next post.

Alexandre Philippe


So, here is my own challenge :

I am training every day since the 1st of this month to get below 2 minutes.

My initial goal was to finish this challenge at the end of the month.

But I realise it will be tough.

My age is 39.

And let’s face it, my mind is not as sharp as before…

But I am very motivated.

And I will extend the delay if needed.

I established my best time on day 5, with : 10:58 minutes using the PAO system.

Since then I have focused on getting faster at mnemonic recall.

But I haven’t improved much. My best time being 1.56 minutes to recall all the 52 mnemonics of a shuffled deck.

I am quite desperate with this. I expected getting under 1 second would take me no more than 2 days. But I’m stuck, and this is day 9.

Does anyone have the same problem ?

(Silvio B.) #3

Cards has always been harder for me to get faster at, than for example numbers.

I think sometimes you just have to try to go faster even if you don’t get all cards right in recall. Then you get used to the speed and you eventually get the same accuracy as with slower speeds. This approach has helped me a few times to break through a plateau. You’ll see that you actually remember more than you think even if you go faster than you think you can.

Keep training and you’ll see that you’re under 2 minutes soon. :slight_smile:


Hello SilvioB,

Well I expected the opposite : cards easier than numbers.
Since cards at least have symbols, kings, queens, etc.

Personaly, I know the major system but have a limited experience with numbers (most of the time I only use it to memorize phone numbers).

So I can’t really compare.

About my issue, it was more about fast recall of the mnemonic that is behind a given card (that is, while going through the whole deck in the memorization phase).

Anyway, I will apply your recommandation and use the metronome for training.

Thanks for your help and support !



So today, I got a great answer to my problem by memory champion Nelson Dellis :

It’s totally possible to even get sub 60 seconds at your age. Just keep practicing.

What might help you pick up speed is being able to recognize your images faster.
So do some drills where you go through the deck just saying the images to yourself, don’t memorize.
You should be able to do this sub-30 seconds if you practice enough.
If that is still hard for you, what you need to do is spend time with each and everyone of your cards.
What I did many years ago was, each day, I’d choose a card or two and carry it with me all day: in the car, in the shower, while I had dinner, on the seat next to me.
So I was forced to look at it and think of the image it represented all day.
I made those images my life .
After a while, I was SO fast at looking at cards and instantly thinking of the image, which helped tremendously with memo speed.
I honestly think that’s what helped me get under 1 minute for the first time.

I followed the advice and kept the card 10 of clubs with me, which in my case is Sarah Palin hitch hiking with a bear.


Also today, I broke my personal best time !

I made 6 attemps.

Here are the results :
9:01 4 errors
8:08 11 errors
8:55 perfect score
7:44 perfect score
9:10 3 errors
8:37 perfect score

So my best time is now 7:44 !

I practiced with the metronome, but sometimes kind of ignored it.

Need to work on it.


Today, I made 6 more attemps, with the metronome.

Unfortunately, I did not enhance my personal best time, but I’m getting close :
8:52 8 errors
7:54 2 errors
6:45 12 errors
8:46 0 error
7:00 8 errors
7:15 2 errors

I noticed that sometimes I don’t trust my memory enough to convince myself to switch to the next cards.

And I hate making mistakes.

Well I guess I’m being perfectionnist !

I’ll try to get more agressive and allow myself more errors the following days…

This should speed up my progress…

(Silvio B.) #8

I might give that a try too! :smiley:


@SilvioB : glad you found it useful !

My times for today :
7:03 10 errors
7:15 18 errors
6:52 18 errors

Well I guess I fulfilled my goal to allow myself errors lol

Actually, the number of my errors in the latest run is parly explained by a section of the palace which is quite boring.

It’s a long straight path where I picked several kinds of displays along the way as loci.

I think I need to embelish that one !

(Silvio B.) #10

If you keep training with your dedication, you‘ll soon be faster than I :slight_smile:


Thanks for the compliment !

I will stop my daily trainings after the challenge.
So if it ever happens, you’ll have plenty of time to catch up ! lol

Here are my times :
6:54 3 errors
6:09 14 errors
5:44 14 errors

Getting below 6 minutes for the 1st time… with many errors…

This time I paid closer attention to the metronome.

Which is also a bit distracting…

And I tend to forget precisely the memories formed when worrying about the metronome time…

Well I need to get used to it.


Back again.

Yesterday evening, I did one more attempt :

6:24 minutes with 1 error

Almost a new personal record !

That’s encouraging.

And today on my morning session :
7:05 5 errors
6:11 9 errors
5:44 11 errors

I am currently thinking about enhancing some of the objects in my PAO system.

Adding color, creating more meaningful shapes, etc.

That should make it more memorable !


Good news !

Today, I have established a new personal record at 6:23 minutes

That’s more than 1 minute below my previous record ! (7:44 minutes).

Also, I established this score with a brand new palace, that I embelished a little with some big objects along the way, like a big container, a scaffholding, etc.

It helped me to enhance my recall.

My other scores :
6:11 9 errors
5:43 8 errors

Now I need to get more agressive with the metronome.

I’ll let you know :slight_smile:

(Silvio B.) #14

Nice to hear your progress :slight_smile:

I‘ll start to train more intensively again from next week on. I need to get in shape for the next memory league season :grinning:


Greeeat !

You could post your times here as well.

Here are my times for today
4:50 (14 cards ok)
5:36 (19 cards ok)

For the first 2 times I didn’t even bother to recall, since that was way too slow.
I used a memory palace that was not well suited for speed.

For the 3rd one I was so disturbed I forgot to set up the timer ! (found out at the end)

For the 2 latest, I followed the metronome at 15 BPM

And at this time was barely able to memorize.
So I only wrote the number of cards I remembered !

For this weekend, my goal is to train at least below 6, and if possible below 5.


So here are my times for today
4:49 14 errors at 15 BPM
4:17 7 errors at 16 BPM
4:48 11 errors at 17 BPM
6:14 3 errors at 17 BPM (ignored the metronome, had trouble to recall some of the mnemonics, so slow !)
5:05 26 errors at 16 BPM
4:46 7 errors at 16 BPM

Globally much better than yesteday, as I got proper sleep this morning !


Woohoo ! Made a new personal best time under 5 minutes !

Times :
4:52 2 errors at 16 BPM
4:57 no error at 17 BPM => new PB !
4:46 2 errors at 18 BPM
4:15 27 errors at 18 BPM
4:03 10 errors at 18 BPM
3:49 .38 errors at 19 BPM

I’ll try to train below 4 minutes this week.
Which is quite challenging given the many number of errors I made at 3:49.
Sometimes even not able to assign an image to a loci !

Breaking the ok plateau :slight_smile:

(Silvio B.) #18

You have almost cut your times in half in a week! :smiley: Well done.


Thanks for your encouragements Silvio !

Here are my times for today :
4:00 19 errors 19 BPM
3:47 23 errors 19 BPM
4:18 26 errors 19 BPM
3:57 27 errors 19 BPM

Still lots of errors…

(Simon Luisi) #20

I would advise to report the number of good cards instead of the number of errors. I had 15 good cards today in 60 seconds :slight_smile: I try and avoid monitoring what I don’t want in favor of what I do want. Also, keep in mind that the sub 2 minutes range for a deck was world record time 30 years ago or so. Being ambitious and determined are good thing in this sport. Best of luck to you.