Speed Cards Handling Technique

Hi Everyone,
I’m searching for a discussion of optimal card handling techniques for speed cards. That is, not a discussion of systems (2 card, shadow, PAO etc.) but of handling and memo directions, top to bottom and/or left to right. This comes up in a few spots in various threads that are mostly focused on the memo system and I thought it could benefit from a more focused discussion.

For example, if I have this deck:

One method would be to start at the back with the 7C-5D-KC (reading left to right) and continue to pull cards from the back with my left fingers (and/or pushing with my right fingers) into my left hand. Let’s call this Method 1. I believe Ben Pridmore uses this method here: https://youtu.be/g_KlsQxf_UE

The other major method I see is to start at the front with the cards closest to the athlete, pulling the cards with my right fingers (and or my left thumb) into my right hand. This is what I think happens most often. Let’s call this Method 2. For example, Alex Mullen here: https://youtu.be/-qxOvKh7g_8

My big question is, for Method 2, what is the order of memorization? Let’s assume that I’m using a system that captures more than one card in an image. So if I’m using a PA or two card system do I:

    • capture the image for 4C-JS, then 10H-JD (reading right to left within the pair and right to left down the deck). Let’s call this Method 2, Smooth.
    • capture the image for JS-4C, then JD-10H (reading left to right within the pair, but right to left down the deck). Let’s call this Method 2, Chunky.

What are your experiences with Method 1, Method 2? Smooth or Chunky?

Some other system? (Like Simon Reinhard who uses front to back, right to left: https://youtu.be/sbinQ6GdOVk )

What works best for you based on your individual style and why? What are the implications for recall and reconstruction with a new deck?



It’s Method 2, Chunky for me. The downside is that if I’m reciting the deck verbally, I need to start with the second card of each pair, which is slightly annoying but you get used to it. I think it’s fine for recall with a second deck though.

1 Like

When I did PAO I was using what you call Method 2 / Smooth. If you compare English or other languages written in Latin script to Arabic or Hebrew, that’s how they all work. You’d never read the sentence right-to-left but then the words in the sentence left-to-right.

If you do it like this you can just sort the second deck in the order you memorized it. You just have to tell the arbiter that you are doing the recall from the bottom. They will then pull the cards from the bottom and you can lay them down from the top of your deck.

There’s no issue reading the cards like this if you’re using PA, which only forms a compound image of P and A. I’ve changed to Method 1 when I started using a full double card system because I’m more used to reading left-to-right… basically, running into the problem that @Simon already mentioned if I stayed with Method 2.

You need a German deck for that… they have pips in all four corners. Imagine if you did that with the deck in your picture where you only got pips in two corners… all your top right corners would be blank if you tried to go through the deck the way he does.


1 Like

I’ve never really thought much about how people “handle the cards”. That might explain why I’m so much slower with a real deck compared to when I memorize on memory league.