DISCLAIMER, PLEASE READ: This video/training was originally created to be part of our full memorized deck course, titled ‘The Skyscraper Method.’
However, for obvious reasons you can only genuinely learn the memorized deck LIVE on camera ONCE, which is why we didn’t reshoot this training.
You can start at minute: 3:30 and everything after 2:50:11 you DON’T need to watch.
NOTE: In this session, I use our ‘personal’ list. You’re more than okay to ‘swipe’ it if you’d like to, but I made sure to put together a more general one that might be more to your tastes. The choice is completely yours, and can be accessed on the right where it says ‘our list.’
After you finish the Live Session: you have two choices at this point. You could stop and resume the course once you have the stack memorized, but honestly, you really don’t need to…
That’s because, in the upcoming modules, I explain most of the effects and techniques using a ‘number deck.’
(i.e a deck of cards that are blank on the face, with the numbers 1-52 on the cards)
Because this is the same thing as a memorized deck (all we’re doing in a memorized deck is remembering that the first card = 1 and the second card = 2), you can watch the tricks and understand most of what we’re doing…without even having the stack ‘fully’ memorized!
Ready to proceed?
We’ve got a LOT of fun stuff lined up…
(for text explanation read below)
‘A basic definition’:
The underlying working of the memorized deck can be summarized in two simple sentences—but don’t let that fool you. The possibilities these sentences unlock are seemingly endless.
Here they are:
- For any CARD in the deck, you instantly know the POSITION of it.
- For any POSITION in the deck, you instantly know the CARD there.
For example, if someone were to ask me where the Jack of Hearts is in the deck, I’d be able to instantly answer them by saying ‘20’.
Likewise, if someone were to ask me what card was at position 44, I’d be able to tell them ‘The 9 of Clubs.’
While in itself that might sound like an effect, we’re barely scratching the surface here!
Structure and Patterns.
A memorized deck is so powerful because it looks CHAOTIC but is actually highly ORDERLY.
Those two highly contrasting concepts are so far apart that it’s very hard to imagine something combining them…but the memorized deck does.
A memorized deck looks random, but there’s structure all over the place. If you imagine each playing cards as a floor on your skyscraper, you know exactly which playing card is on which floor, and the relationships between those floors.
It’s the same as building a skyscraper. Some might look beautiful, and even ‘chaotic’, but there’s a deep structure underneath the outer façade.
Since the structure is built into the deck, it actually allows you to be very flexible and improvisational. The structure is precisely what gives you the flexibility.
Don’t worry if already this is going over your head.
We’ll be getting deep into ‘improvisation’ in the next module, and we’re going to talk more about ‘structure’ in your memorized deck in module 4, but I wanted to get you started thinking about this right out the gate, since it’s so essential.
Alright, enough theory for today.
Let’s get knee-deep into HOW to memorize the deck, using our ‘Babylon secret’…
The Babylon Secret
There are a lot of excellent magicians using the memorized deck, with books full of their ideas and routines using this system.
But there’s one area that almost all of them are highly ‘lacking’ in, and that’s this:
How to memorize the darned thing!
This one thing is the biggest ‘barrier’ I see magicians struggle with when approaching the memorized deck.
But let me tell you a secret:
It’s ridiculously EASY, when you know what you’re doing.
In fact, using the ‘Babylon Secret’ you’re about to unlock, you can learn ANY stack in under 20 minutes.
That’s why I always find it amusing when I see quotes like these on some of the big magic retailers:
“Many performers have never used a memorized deck as it is considered difficult to learn.”
I think it’s ridiculous that it’s such a commonly accepted ‘fact’ that a memorized deck is hard to learn. It’s not.
It’s only hard if you try to ‘brute force’ the cards into your mind. But if not, it’s remarkably simple when you follow the system.
I personally learned my first stack with the Stack Trainer app, which is a great way to ‘drill’ your stack, but NOT a great way to learn it.
(It took a number of weeks to learn the stack.)
The first time I applied the method below to a stack, I was blown away.
It took me 16 minutes and 29 seconds.
Let’s talk about how it works, and how it differs from the other ‘memory systems’ out there.
Don’t get me wrong. Some of the other methods CAN work for certain people. But they each have distinct disadvantages.
For example, one of the most popular ‘stack trainers’ is a Penguin Magic release featuring Rick Lax and glowing reviews.
I purchased this stack trainer while prepping this course, and I was rather ‘let down.’
This method undoubtedly works. In fact, it’s VERY similar to the one we’re about to use.
The downside is, this video will only teach you ONE stack—Mnemonica.
In contrast, the Babylon Secret will work for any stack you throw at it—and takes the same amount of ‘upfront’ time to learn.
Think of it as the difference between giving someone a fish, and teaching them how to fish.
One of the other more popular stack memory systems is ‘The Memory Arts’ by the Trustmans. Again, this method is very well thought out and has the benefit that it will work for more than one stack—but it requires MORE memorization than the method I’ll show you.
(26 locations vs 17 for ours…but you’ll understand what we mean by that later.)
With that said, let’s move into the Babylon Secret.
The Babylon Secret:
The analogy below was inspired by a story in a book by author and entrepreneur MJ Demarco.
There’s a rich man living in Babylon that wants a pyramid built for him.
(before you correct me on whether this is actually accurate or not…historical accuracy was thrown to the wind in the construction of this story 😉 )
Two men, Neb and Jeb, offer to build the pyramid.
The rich man from Babylon tells the men that whoever finishes first will receive a huge fortune. Whoever finishes second will receive nothing.
Neb sees the piles of gold and can’t wait to get started. He immediately starts lugging huge bricks around, building the first layer of his pyramid.
Oddly enough, the Jeb simply strolls home.
Neb, laughing at his opponent’s laziness, keeps on heaving bricks around. But they’re heavy, and it takes him a long time to get each one in place.
After a month, he finally finishes the first layer.
When he looks over to the plot of land assigned to his competitor, he laughs in scorn. There’s nothing there!
Neb keeps on grinding away at the pyramid, but now that he’s on the second level it’s harder for him to place the bricks.
But he keeps after it, and after another couple of months, the second layer is finished.
As ever, Jeb is notably absent.
Finally, 6 long months in, Neb finishes the third layer.
One day, while he’s lugging bricks for the fourth layer, he hears something all of a sudden.
He turns around to see Jeb turn up at the seat of a strange contraption with lots of moving parts and odd mechanisms.
As he watches, the contraption rolls over to the brickyard, picks up a brick like it’s nothing, and lays it perfectly in place.
After a couple more bricks have been finished by the machine, Neb starts to see where this is going. He furiously starts lifting more bricks and trying to brute force them into place—but to no avail.
Jeb finishes his first layer within that same day!
Within a couple of weeks, he finishes the entire pyramid while Neb is left still toiling on the 4th layer.
Well, Jeb retires happily with his newfound fortune.
This story is the perfect metaphor for what I’m about to show you.
In the context of our Skyscraper, the difference is between trying to build the Empire State by shoving each brick into place, rather than simply hiring a construction crew to do all the work for you.
It’s all about realizing that you shouldn’t be trying to achieve this through sheer ‘brute force’ alone, and instead simply implementing the system I give you.
Sure, you can technically ‘start’ sooner if you just start trying to remember stuff, but you’ll quickly get stuck and slow down. Whereas if you don’t even THINK about memorizing the cards and just learn the system instead, you’ll be able to memorize the entire deck in no time at all.
And better yet, you can use this system to memorize ANY deck you’d like!
Which is why it frustrates me so much when I see magicians say:
“I’d love to perform with the memorized deck…but it’s too hard!”
The truth is, memorizing a deck is easy.
I’ll tell you what IS hard:
- The pass
- The second deal
- The side steal
I’m willing to bet that any ONE of those alone requires at least 10x more work than memorizing a deck of cards…but I don’t see many magicians shy away from that
(excluding yours truly 😉 )
Which is why I find it so funny that it seems to be such a commonly accepted ‘fact’ in the magic community that mem deck work is hard.
To me, the irony is quite exquisite. So many magicians will think nothing of practicing for 5 hours a day for 10 years to be able to perform a perfect bottom deal…but they shy away from spending a couple of hours memorizing a deck!
So, here it is:
There are two stages to the system. I’ll call one of them ‘Building the System’, and the other one ‘Cashing In.’
Part 1: Building The System.
At first, it might not SEEM like we’re doing anything that will help us eventually know the order of the cards. Like Jeb, we’re going to spend the first little bit of time completely distanced from the actual thing we came here to do—in our case, memorize a deck.
But once we’ve learned this system, like Jeb, we can roll up and quickly and easily use it to memorize the deck.
As we do so, it will gradually become clearer and clearer how what we’re doing is going to help us memorize the deck.
NOTE: To watch me coach Jacob through the system and help him learn the stack ‘LIVE’ on camera, check out the Live session that accompanies this module.
Now, when I was first investigating the most commonly used methods for memorizing a deck, I was a little bit surprised.
That’s because, although there’s a lot of ‘custom’ methods and ideas magicians have had, most of them seem to be overlooking one thing:
As magicians, we’re experts on MAGIC, not memory.
So, that begs the question…what should we do?
Well, I think the answer is simple—we should seek out the best memory experts in the world, and learn from what THEY do.
Very conveniently for us, there’s actually a whole community of ‘memory athletes’ who LOVE this kind of stuff, and even gather each year for the equivalent of the Olympics for memory.
Here’s the interesting part:
One of the ‘sports’ is memorizing a deck of cards as fast as they can!
Now, wouldn’t it be convenient if we could ‘lift’ this technique for our own purposes?
The good news is…we can!
And even better, we don’t need to be a world-class memory athlete to benefit from this method. That’s because it taps into something present in ALL of us—our brain’s natural aptitude for remembering images.
(in fact, most of the so-called memory athletes will freely admit that they have no special memory, they just know how to leverage this system)
First of all, I want to give you a list that will become VERY useful.
Now, take a look at that link but DON’T WORRY if it seems like hieroglyphics to you right now.
All will become clear soon.
The first thing I’m going to draw your attention to is the suits.
Each suit—Diamonds, Hearts, Clubs and Spades—has a different ‘category.’
As you’ve no doubt spotted, Diamonds are actors.
Likewise, Hearts are TV/Film characters.
Clubs are athletes, and Spades are, of course, magicians.
Now, your ONE piece of ‘work’ is to get familiar with this list.
That’s the ONLY thing you have to do. Once you do, everything will fall into place like magic.
But don’t worry—that’s a lot easier than you might think.
See, each playing card actually has a built in ‘clue’ that should help you easily know which card is associated with which person.
If you notice, the names for each suit follow the letters of the alphabet.
The Ace is always someone with a first name beginning in ‘A.’
The Two is always someone with a first name beginning in ‘B’.
The Three is always someone with a first name beginning in ‘C’.
And so on—which Jacks being 11, Queens being 12, and Kings being 13.
So if we wanted to recall who the 7 of Diamonds was, we’d simply ask ourselves:
“The seventh letter of the alphabet is G. Diamonds are actors. Which actor’s name begins with a ‘G’?
Ok, what if we wanted to recall the 8 of Spades?
“The eighth letter of the alphabet is H. Which magician’s name begins with a ‘H’?
Alright, one more example. What if we wanted to recall the Queen of Clubs?
“The 12th letter of the alphabet is L. Which athlete’s name begins with an ‘L’.
Of course, over time this connection will become more and more intuitive. Don’t worry if it’s not straight away—the good news is that this one piece of work will continue to repay us time and time again. That’s because it’s the key to memorizing ANY number of stacks. (but more on that later.)
Now, the list I gave you is a pretty ‘general’ one. I built it so that anyone who read it would know nearly every name on the list.
However, if you’re curious, I’ve also included my personal list. It’s below the main list in that same document.
(NOTE: This is the list I use with Jacob in the Live Session, but you can easily follow along with the more general list I gave you.)
NOTE: Since I first created this training, we’ve had some very generous Skyscraper Method students and Inner Circle members contribute their personal PAO lists. When you click through to the Google Doc linked above, you’ll find their complete lists too. With all 4 lists, you should have MORE than enough to either build your own list, or simply adopt one of the provided ones.
Now, let’s talk about how to use that very list to memorize the deck.
The method we’re going to be learning is an adapted version of what they call ‘Person, Action, Object.’
It works like this:
For each three playing cards in the deck, you associate a Person that performs an Action on an Object.
Okay. Listen up, hotshot, before you get scared…
That might SOUND hard, but it’s far simpler than you might think. So stick with me and all will become clear.
Let’s break it down:
By ‘Person’, I’m referring to, well, the person represented by the card.
For example, if we revisit our list (which I advise you to keep handy in another tab), we see that the 10 of Diamonds is John Travolta dancing on cocaine.
(if you don’t get the reference, go watch Pulp Fiction. If you do get the reference, go watch Pulp Fiction anyway. Why wouldn’t you?)
The person (which I’ll refer to as ‘P’) for the 10 of Diamonds is John Travolta.
Simple enough so far, right?
Now, what about the ‘Action?’
The action (which I’ll refer to as ‘A’) is simply what the person is DOING.
In our example, John Travolta is dancing on cocaine—so the A is ‘dancing.’
The final piece of the puzzle is ‘Object.’
This is the last part of our sentence—the ‘thing’ that the person is performing the action on.
John Travolta is dancing on cocaine—so our object (or ‘O’) is cocaine.
So, in that one sentence, we’ve actually got three pieces of information…
John Travolta (P) dancing (A) on cocaine (O).
All very fun, you might be thinking—but how is this helpful in any way?
Don’t worry, all will soon become clear.
In the meantime, ‘wax on’, student…
What I’d like to point out next is that every card in the deck has its own ‘PAO’ built into it.
Here’s why that’s so magical:
We can combine the cards into sets of three, and each set of three will become ONE image.
Again, no need to panic if that doesn’t make sense yet.
Let me explain…
Let’s take the first three cards of the Mnemonica stack, and see what our ‘PAO’ is for each of them.
4 of Clubs: Djokovic (P) eating (A) grass (O)
Note: Novak Djokovic is a world class tennis player who usually eats grass when he wins Wimbledon, the most prestigious trophy in tennis. If you’ve never heard of him before (although most of you probably have), just Google him and get familiar with his face.
Also, notice how the 4th letter of the alphabet is D, and Clubs are athletes—hence Djokovic.
2 of Hearts: Blondie (P) whistling (A) in the desert (O)
Note: This character comes from the iconic film ‘The Good the Bad and the Ugly’. Even if you haven’t seen the film, you’ve likely seen a picture of this character. Either way, feel free to Google it for a quick reminder.
Also, notice how the 2nd letter of the alphabet is B, and Hearts are film/TV characters—hence Blondie.
7 of Diamonds: George Clooney (P) shuffling (A) a deck (O)
Note: George Clooney plays Danny Ocean in the classic casino heist film Ocean’s Eleven. Hence the shuffling. If you haven’t seen Ocean’s Eleven, I highly recommend it.
Also, as we established earlier, the 7th letter of the alphabet is G, and Diamonds are actors—hence George Clooner.
NOTE: As you can see, the action is associated and very tightly linked to the character. In fact, as soon as you remember the person, the action and object should come naturally—it’s just an extension of what that person does.
We have the first three cards of our stack.
Here’s how we combine them into ONE image:
We take the ‘P’ of card #1 with the ‘A’ of card #2 and the ‘O’ of card #3.
Again, don’t worry if this sounds confusing.
It’s actually very simple—and feels rather magical when you see how easily it all ‘slots’ into place.
The ‘P’ of the first card, as we discovered, is Djokovic.
The ‘A’ of the second card, as discussed, is ‘whistling.’
The ‘O’ of the third card is ‘a deck of cards.’
All we do is combine that into one image:
Djokovic (P) whistling (A) through a deck of cards (O.)
See how we’ve been able to condense three abstract concepts—playing card identities—into ONE funny and entirely memorable image?
The beauty of this system is that, although each card has three pieces of information (the P, A and O) we only need to know ONE to know the identity of the card.
For example, if we worked backward and simply read the sentence…
Djokovic whistling through a deck of cards.
…we would easily be able to ‘spot’ the P, A and O.
We’d see that the P is Djokovic, which we know is the 4C.
We’d see that the A is whistling, which we know is the 2H.
We’d see that the O is a deck of cards, which we know is the 7D.
Now, a quick note:
When we’re visualizing these combinations, it pays to be as ‘vivid’ as possible. Really make them ‘larger than life’. Even if they seem nonsensical—actually, ESPECIALLY if they seem nonsensical. Doing so will make them very easy to memorize (even though we’re not going to ‘try’ memorizing them, per se. More on that later.)
Now that we see how this works for THREE cards, why don’t we see how it works for a full deck?
In fact, let’s take a look at what the Mnemonica stack looks like once we’ve done this…
For starters, here’s the Mnemonica order:
4C, 2H, 7D, 3C, 4H, 6D, AS, 5H, 9S, 2S, QH, 3D, QC, 8H, 6S, 5S, 9H, KC, 2D, JH, 3S, 8S, 6H, 10C, 5D, KD, 2C, 3H, 8D, 5C, KS, JD, 8C, 10S, KH, JC, 7S, 10H, AD, 4S, 7H, 4D, AC, 9C, JS, QD, 7C, QS, 10D, 6C, AH, 9D.
Looks like a lot, right?
Now let’s ‘unpack’ all that information into our PAO system…
Image 1: Djokovic (4C) whistling (2H) through a deck of cards (7D)
Image 2: Cristiano Ronaldo (3C) flying (4H) on a guitar (6D)
Image 3: Aronson (AS) stretching (5H) on a billiard ball (9S)
Image 4: Blaine (2S) patting (QH) a revolver (3D)
Image 5: Lebron James (QC) catching (8H) a coin (6S)
Image 6: Ed Marlo (5S) building (9H) a punch bag (KC)
Image 7: Brad Pitt (2D) shooting (JH) a wall (3S)
Image 8: Harry Houdini (8S) running (6H) for an American Football (10C)
Image 9: Ewan McGregor (5D) demolishing (KD) a baseball bat (2C)
Image 10: Captain America (3H) stroking (8D) mud (5C)
Image 11: Mac King (KS) ducking (JD) a skateboard (8C)
Image 12: Juan Tamariz (10S) sleeping (KH) on a wave (JC)
Image 13: Guy Hollingworth (7S) cuddling (10H) weights (AD)
Image 14: Derren Brown (4S) polishing (7H) glasses (4D)
Image 15: Aaron Rodgers (AC) karate chopping (9C) paper (JS)
Image 16: Leonardo DiCaprio (QD) skating (7C) on a torch (QS)
Image 17: John Travolta (10D) serving (6C) orcs (AH)
We’ll be left with one ‘leftover’ card—the 9D. We just remember this one manually.
See how clever that is?
Each image is a ‘Person, Action, Object’ combination that actually tells us the identity of THREE cards.
Now, that’s already pretty sweet.
We’ve been able to distill 52 playing cards into 17 images (the next best system is the ‘Memory Arts’, which is 26).
But here’s where our system REALLY hits its stride, and takes this to a level most of the other memory trainers don’t…
You can reuse the SAME list, with ZERO extra effort…
…to memorize as many stacks as you like!
Let’s try again, but with the Aronson stack…
Here’s what the Aronson stack looks like:
Let’s ‘unpack’ that using the exact SAME list we used for Mnemonica, just with different combinations…
Image 1: Al Koran (JS) punching (KC) mud (5C)
Image 2: Blondie (2H) sleeving (9S) books (AS)
Image 3: Captain America (3H) serving (6C) (8D)
Image 4: Aaron Rodgers (AC) playing (10S) a rubber band (5H)
Image 5: Brad Pitt (2D) demolishing (KD) a deck of cards(7D)
Image 6: Tony Hawk (8C) walking through (3S) weights (AD)
Image 7: Guy Hollingworth (7S) smoking (5S) a beard (QD)
Image 8: Aragon (AH) escaping (8S) a revolver (3D)
Image 9: Gollum (7H) patting (QH) a lightsaber (5D)
Image 10: Wayne Gretzky (7C) flying (4H) the sun (KH)
Image 11: Danny DeVito (4D) dancing (10D) on a wave (JC)
Image 12: Katniss Everdeen (JH) diving (10C) for a bullet (JD)
Image 13: Derren Brown (4S) cuddling (10H) a tree (6H)
Image 14: Cristiano Ronaldo (3C) bending (2S) a skyscraper (9H)
Image 15: Mac King (KS) vanishing (6S) grass (4C)
Image 16: Harry Potter (8H) karate-chopping (9C) a torch (QS)
Image 17: Michael J Fox (6D) dunking (QC) a baseball bat (2C)
Again, we’re left with one card—the 9D again, as it happens.
See how we didn’t change any of the ‘PAO’ stuff—we just combined it in different ways.
So we were able to distill a whole new stack into 17 images, without ‘overlapping’ the other stack.
In fact, there are almost limitless ways to combine the cards in a deck, so each time we memorize a stack, the images will be very distinct from each other.
That means you can keep on reusing this ONE list to memorize as many stacks as you like. Once you put the work in one, it really does repay you over and over again!
This is what makes the Babylon Secret the best method for memorizing a deck—rather than learning some complex system that enables you to remember ONE deck, you can put the same amount of work in and get a potentially UNLIMITED number of decks memorized.
It’s no contest!
Now, here’s another note: I’ve used the list I gave you as an example here. In the Live Session, I use the second list (my personal one). However, there’s nothing stopping you from creating your OWN list, if you feel it would be helpful. I just figured I’d do the work for you 🙂
Already you might be starting to realise how much easier this stuff is to remember than 52 abstract playing cards—but it gets even easier…
Let me introduce you to your ‘Memory Palace,’ the next piece of the puzzle.
The Memory Palace Myth:
Now that you have our 17 images, you’re going to store each image at a location within a ‘memory palace’.
Again, this might sound intimidating (“isn’t that what Sherlock uses?”) but it’s actually far simpler than it seems.
In fact, I’m willing to bet you ALREADY have a memory palace ready to use:
Chances are, unless you’ve only just moved to a new house, you know your home like the back of your hand. You can close your eyes and walk through your house in your mind without any difficulty.
If you can…
You now have a bona fide Memory Palace.
All you need to do is divide that memory palace (your house) into 17 different ‘stops.’
For example, the front door might be stop #1. As you open the door, you might see a shoe rack. That shoe rack would be #2.
Next there might be a long entry hall. That’s #3.
Keep going until you find yourself at stop #17. The stops should progress logically (for example, a journey from the front door to your room).
You’re ready to use both the list and the memory palace to memorise a deck of cards.
(see how quick that was? I told you Memory Palaces were nothing to be afraid of…)
First, get the stack in your hand so you can see where each card is supposed to go. Next, close your eyes and start by positioning yourself at location #1 in your memory palace.
For example, your bed.
Now, you’re going to take this location and ‘place’ your first PAO (person, action, object) combination onto it.
For example, if the cards were 4C, 2H, and 7D, you’d imagine Djokovic (P) whistling (A) through a deck of cards (O) while in your bed.
See how this image is easy to remember?
We then continue through our memory palace, ‘dropping’ each image into each stop.
By the time we’re done, we’ll have memorized the stack—without even realising it!
(that’s exactly what happens to Jacob in the Live Session.)
In fact, once you’re familiar with the list, you can run through this process and have the deck memorized in under 20 minutes!
(that’s exactly what happened to me the first time I used this apporach. I had the deck memorized in just over 16 minutes!)
But here comes the important part: knowing the exact numerical position of each card we’ve just memorized…
Now, some of these will be obvious. If someone were to ask us which card is the third card of our stack, we’d think of the last card (the Object) in our location #1 – in this case, the deck of cards. Since we know the deck of cards belongs to the 7D, we know that the third card is the 7 of Diamonds.
But what about figuring out which card is at position, say, 12?
Well, let’s think it through:
Each location is made up of 3 cards (1 for person, 1 for action and 1 for object).
Image 1: cards 1, 2, 3
Image 2: cards 4, 5, 6
Image 3: cards 7, 8. 9
Image 4: cards 10, 11, 12
Image 5: cards 13, 14, 15
Image 6: cards 16, 17, 18
Image 7: cards 19, 20, 21
Image 8: cards 22, 23, 24
Image 9: cards 25, 26, 27
Image 10: cards 28, 29, 30
Image 11: cards 31, 32, 33
Image 12: cards 34, 35, 36
Image 13: cards 37, 38, 39
Image 14: cards 40, 41, 42
Image 15: cards 43, 44, 45
Image 16: cards 46, 47, 48
Image 17: cards 49, 50, 51
(of course, leaving us with card 52 as the leftover card.)
You might have noticed something already:
The image number (i.e Image 3) multiplied by 3, tells you the number of the last card in that combination.
Don’t worry if that doesn’t make sense.
Let’s break it down:
Let’s say we wanted to know what card was at position 12.
There’s two ways to approach this.
The first is to check if the number is divisible by 3. In our case, it is.
We divide 12 by 3 to get 4.
That means the card in position 12 is the last card in our 4th image.
Go look at the chart I drew up above, and you’ll soon see that, yep, the last card in our 4th image is the 12th card of the stack.
(and in our Mnemonica stack, the last card of our 4th image is the 3D—which is, of course, the 12th card.)
Now, that covers you for 17 of the cards.
But what about the others?
That’s where the second method comes in…
Let’s say we wanted to know what card was at position 28.
I can’t divide 28 by 3.
But I CAN divide 27 by 3.
So I’ll forget about the fact I need to know the 28th card, and simply focus on the 27th card.
27 divided by 3 is 9. Therefore, the last card of the 9th image is card #27.
Now, it’s a very simple matter to work out card #28. Since #27 was the LAST card of location 9, #28 must be the FIRST card of location 10!
If I wanted to work out #29, I would do the same thing. 27/3 tells me that 27 is the last card of the 9th image…which means #29 is the SECOND card of the 10th image.
(which it is indeed.)
Once we get to #30, we’ve hit another of our ‘easy’ options. Just divide 30 by 3 and we get 10—which tells us that #30 is the last card of the 10th image.
We can also do this the other way around—from any card to its number.
Let’s say we’re working with the King of Clubs. The KC is ‘Muhammed Ali punching a punch bag.’ The moment I think about that, I recall the image of Ed Marlo building a punch bag, which is the 6th image in our memory palace.
The punch bag, aka the KC, is the last card in this image (the Object).
I know that 6 multiplied by 3 tells me the number of that card.
Well, we already established that:
“The image number (i.e Image 3) multiplied by 3, tells you the number of the last card in that combination.”
So if we do the image number 6 multiplied by 3, we get 18. That tells us the number of the last card in the combination.
Since the KC is the last card in the combination, we know that the KC is card #18.
But what about a card that isn’t the last card? (i.e the card that’s the person, or action)
That’s actually surprisingly easy too.
Let’s say we’re working with the 5 of Spades.
The 5S is the ‘person’ for the 6th image.
What we do in this scenario is the same as before: 6 multiplied by 3. That tells us the last card (the Object) is 18.
We can just work backward from here.
If the Object is 18, that means the Action is 17.
Which means the Person…
…has to be #16!
See how simple that is?
(Don’t worry if you occasionally get stuck on the exact number of each location in your memory palace. Over time, you’ll just know them. But if you get stuck, you can simply ‘walk’ there in your mind.)
But let me make abundantly clear:
You should NEVER do what I just did above during a performance. This system is for LEARNING only, not performance.
That’s actually a huge benefit. We don’t have to worry about getting super fast, because we’re just using it in our practice sessions, while we ‘hone’ it until it’s intuitive enough to use in performance.
Well then, I hear you ask…how DO we get it intuitive enough to use in performance?
That, dear reader, is where Part 2 comes in…
Part 2: Cashing In (get your stack ‘lightning fast’ with this simple drill…)
Don’t worry. There’s really no extra work here. All you’re going to do is take the work you’ve ALREADY done and simply ‘hone’ it, using this simple drill:
First, visit this site:
Set the stack you want to learn (or input your own) and put the time delay to 60 seconds.
This way, a card will flash up and you’ll have a full 60 seconds to find it within your memory palace, work out the number, and recall it.
Because we’ve learned the PAO system and embedded the images in our memory palace, we have all the time in the world to work out the card at that number (or vice versa) using the process I described above. That’s why it doesn’t matter that the process isn’t ‘instant’. We don’t need it to be! Over time, by doing this drill, we’ll get it to that point, but for now…who cares?
(additionally, if 60 seconds is too fast, feel free to set your starting length to longer.)
After you’ve done this for a good length of time, I’d bump the time down to 45 seconds.
Now, before we press forward, let’s talk about the benefits of this system and why it works so well:
Our memories are built to remember two things VERY well. Images and location.
By using this method, you’re directly tapping into BOTH of those things via memorable images that are placed on a very familiar location.
Are you starting to see why this is so much more effective than just ‘brute forcing’ it?
Furthermore, another benefit built into this system is that it helps you easily recall the spatial distances between two cards. If one card is in your bed and the other in the kitchen, you intuitively know they’re further apart than the one in the bathroom.
I hear Mike Close talk a lot about ‘Aronson Town’ and how his skill with the stack really became proficient when he started thinking about his stack in terms of knowing the distances between cards—as if they were part of a town. This time it really is like that, since we’ve purposely embedded cards at specific locations.
After you create images for each card and deposit each card at a position in your memory palace, you’ll be able to walk away from the whole thing—and then, whenever you like, the images will be ‘instantly accessible’ just by mentally picturing your memory palace. It’s an astonishing thing, and it really FEELS like magic when you do it the first time.
If any of the above is still raising any questions for you, we’re about to move into the Live Session where I walk Jacob through this entire system LIVE on camera. We get into exactly how it works for close to 2 hours.
I know some of the stuff in here might SEEM complex, but you’ll soon discover it’s far easier than that when you actually put it into action—as you’ll soon see in the Live Session.
NOTE: We mention the Stack Trainer App in this video, that was a bonus we offered on the initial launch of a different product and not part of the ‘Memorized Deck Starter Pack.’
NOTE: In the Live Session, I use the second ‘list’ in the document I shared with you. However, the beauty of this system is that it works exactly the same way—no matter which images you choose to use!
Okay, stack learnt? Well then…