Memory in magic

Was wondering if any fellow magicians on here use speed card teqniques and actually do a shuffled mem deck routine where u actually memorise the cards. Having only just started at this kind of thing my time would be way to slow to use in performance as it would bore the spectator. What kind of times do u think are possible under fire… Noise and having to converse at the same time etc… Ie no silence and headphones make it a lot harder for recall. Looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks.

I have thought about that as well and you would need sub 60 sec times to not bore the spectator in my opinion, but still keep it magic.
I have only used pre-memorized decks myself since my best is 5 minutes without distractions, that would just suck. :wink:
You could just memorize a few decks and do a full deck false shuffle on a deck that the spectator gets to choose.

If you really want to use a spectator shuffled deck, you could start with half a deck.
Let the spectator shuffle the top half and you false shuffle the other half.
That way you only memorize the top half and can review those cards in your head when it seems as though you’re going through the bottom half. (that you already know by heart.)
I don’t know, it’s still a lot of cards, you’d have to practice and see how many you can manage in a minute while talking etc, and customize the act from there. Magic is after all supposed to be entertaining.
Hopefully the 20-30 sec pros answer this one! Would be fun to see how many cards they could remember under duress and/or distracted. :smiley:


Hi andreas

I was thinking along the same lines of it needing to be under a min. At the moment I just run through and remember the court cards only and then use a little skulduggery to make it appear like more have been memorised that appears. To be honest I think just half a deck would get a great reaction. I like u I would be interested to see if the 20 30 pros do anything similar to this when passed a deck of cards…it must happen… Like doing magic once people know u do it its only a matter of time before someone asks u to do something.

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Exactly, you’d wanna show off those sick skills right?! :slight_smile:

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Hi origami

I’m also a magician - and use a memorised deck. One trick you can do - that gives the impression of being able to memorise a full deck - is as follows. (Forgive me if you already know/use it.)

Using your memorised deck, hand out a few batches of cards up to the mid-way point (have a joker there, so you know where the mid-point is). Have these batches of cards shuffled as you hand them out, but stop at the half way point, saying that you don’t want to bore everyone.

Then ask for the second half to be shuffled, and pretend to memorise it. Say that because you know the cards in the second half, you know - by elimination - what the cards are in the other half. But say that, to make it more interesting, you’ll call the cards out in random order. All you do, then, of course, is call out the top 26 in your memorised deck order. (Two or three people could hold batches of the cards, or one person - having sorted them into new deck order) could.

There are variations on this, using the entire pack, that I use - but, if you haven’t thought of this approach, I hope it helps.

I’d love to be able to memorise the full deck in front of people - but would certainly send them to sleep with my current speed!

And I’m still looking to battling you for last place in the first UK memory competition we enter! :slight_smile:



I do a few different approaches to it but never done that one before. Thanks, I’ll definetly be giving it a go.

What time can u memorise a deck? If you don’t mind me asking.

U should check out sal piacentes memory opener if you haven’t seen it before, that’s a great little mem routine.

A couple of years ago, I managed to get down to three and half minutes - but am now back up to about ten minutes! Having said that, I haven’t tried for ages. Since joining the Memory League a couple of years ago, I’ve been trying to improve my speeds. Unfortunately, for various reasons, after joining the League I had lots of distractions and everything ground to a halt. It’s only in the last three or four months that I’ve finally found the time to start practising - and, even then, not as often as I should.

A few days ago, I managed to memorise 24 cards in about 56 seconds (and the two mistakes was me being clumsy as I accidentally put them in the wrong way round!; that was really upsetting!) More often than not, I can manage about 20 cards in 60 seconds, which, if I went no slower, would translate through to a deck in three minutes. So I’m guessing that my time (if I was lucky) might be closer to five minutes, allowing for the fact that I would start to slow down. (I must have a go soon. It would be interesting to find out what it really is.)

It amazes me the speeds some people can reach. Just now, I can’t ever imagine being able to
memorise 52 cards in a minute. But I’ll keep on trying. Two minutes would do me! :slight_smile:

Before joining the League, I’ve only memorised info for tricks (eg a deck of cards - using the Nikola stack and about 400 words in a dictionary). I’ve also memorised all the FA Cup Final results since 1874 (just because I once did a show for a local junior football club and thought it might impress them!), and all the British prime ministers since 17-whatever, just to see if I could do it. But it was all slow-going work over several weeks. (All I remember these days is the deck of cards and the dictionary - the football results and prime ministers have long gone!).

Thanks for the pointer towards Sal Piacente’s memory opener. I don’t know that one and will try to hunt it down. There’s some great stuff you can do with a memorised deck. (Funny thing is, I only got into memory work because I was rubbish at card sleights and thought it might be easier to memorise a deck of cards. It wasn’t - but it got me started!)

What sort of speeds can you manage for cards just now?

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At the moment i have not fully set up all my systems as only been at this about 3 - 4 weeks.
with work and my little one i am finding it hard to find time to get it all set up, i have half the deck set up so far and can do that in 2 min 30 - 2.40. hard to say what it will be once i get the full deck set up.

It is like you say amazing the speeds of some people…i mean 12 seconds for 52 cards! i don’t think i could go through the deck without memorising them in 12 seconds lol

your speeds sound pretty good to me! i will be happy if i could get down to 2-3 mins for a full deck

you can find the memory opener on the link below…it requires zero memory to do.
well worth a watch that lecture he does a lot of actual memory work.

if you watch the video…the trick at the end where he separates the reds and blacks hes actually remembering them as binary numbers and separating them.

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I’m not sure if it’s the same technique, but there’s a tutorial on how to memorize card colors here:


Are you committed to appearing to memorise the whole deck? I have done a routine where I have a genuinely shuffled deck, and then display the deck to ensure everyone is happy that it is shuffled, noting the bottom 12 cards ignoring the very bottom one.

I then do a false shuffle removing the bottom card, because that may have been noticed. I then hand them the deck and mind read the colours, then after half a dozen cards (as binary), I get more ambitious and do colour and suit for the next 3, and then get really ambitious and get the entire card for 3 cards, with increasing speed. So I only need 12 cards from the bottom, and not complete cards.

The advantage is that it is fast to do the method while the reveal can be drawn out as long as suits the circumstance.


That’s a great idea, Lynne. Thank you for sharing it.

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Thank you!

This is a Brill idea :blush:

That’s great! How fast can you memorize 12 cards in that type of environment?
I feel like it has to be pretty quick not to arouse suspicion.

So you do a PAO for the last 3, but the first 9 are some type of binary technique?

Out of curiosity, what FS do you use? :slight_smile:

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It doesn’t need to be fast. You are spreading the cards. While spreading the whole deck for people to check, you are only looking at the first dozen. You can take ages.

The first six are binary. Black are 1s and red are 0s. For example: Black/red/black 101 is 101 which for me is S. Red/red/black is 001 which for me is A. Which gives me SA which is Santa. I don’t have a system for suits so tend to do the next 6 as I would for competition. 2 locations. I add each one during a pause in the patter. It means that I can play with how much I reveal depending on how the reaction is going.

Because of the cards I use, I comment on the prettiness of one of the court cards and while people are looking at that, it gives me time to fix the image. I don’t use bikes, but ancient looking cards.

I don’t know what FS is. Something system? I use the Dominic System for numbers, both for binary and cardinals.

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Great, I actually learned the binary yesterday. FS means false shuffle. :slightly_smiling_face:

Oh, the false shuffle. I was too busy thinking in terms of memory methods. Silly me.

I don’t know the name of the false shuffle. It was taught to me by a magician from Sydney and I suspect he told me the name at the time and I have forgotten it, which is very poor form in magician circles. It looks like a normal overhand shuffle, but obviously isn’t. It took quite a bit of practice. But it makes it very easy to take off top or bottom cards and do what you want with them. Do you recognise it from that pathetic description?

As a woman performer (who hasn’t performed for a while but is just getting back to it) trying to do the male type stuff with bikes and flashy performance just doesn’t work, well it doesn’t for me. So I use a bizarre / narrative style. Consequently, I can’t use a riffle shuffle. It just looks wrong with my antique cards. Similarly a Hindu shuffle doesn’t look right either.

All this magic talk is making me want to go and grab my cards when I have work to do!


Oops I think I replied via email instead of here! :joy:

Haha no worries. Nice, I can do a few overhand shuffle controls, I like those. They look natural and can be used to both control and force cards, but also to retain top stack.
That particular one doesn’t strike a bell though. There is a full deck false overhand shuffle, but it’s pretty damn hard!
I love the Hindu! I want to learn the false riffle shuffle as well.
Do you have any recorded magic online? Would love to see you perform.

I didn’t get an email.

Mine is a full deck overhand shuffle. So if I need controls, I do that and then do the shuffle which all looks like one shuffle. I do it quite casually, and no-one suspects an older woman in hippie type clothes as doing a false shuffle or anything resembling sleight of hand. Plus my premise throughout is that it is the strange cards that I inherited from my great grandmother that are the cause. So any ‘how do you do it?’ results in my answering that I have no idea. It works for me and my style.

There are no videos of me doing magic. My performances are usually part of presentations related to my books, not stand-alone magic. There is a recent TEDx talk, but there’s no magic in it.

Sorry I can’t manage anything better. Do you have videos of you performing?


Cool, I’m gonna watch that later!
Not really, I have a few clips on Instagram with a couple of color changes and what not. :slight_smile:

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Nice snap change :ok_hand:

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