What's the best memorized deck?

Discussions of new films, books, television shows, and media indirectly related to magic and magicians. For example, there may be a book on mnemonics or theatrical technique we should know or at least know about.

Postby Marc Rehula » 04/25/06 11:02 AM

I'm looking into exploring the joys (ahem) of the memorized deck. Could someone recomemnd a book or DVD that would help me out? I've looking at the following books, but I don't know which would be best:

Bound to Please by Aronson
Mnemonica by Tamariz
Six Hour Memorized Deck by Joyal
Does Aronson's Try the Impossibe explain his stack or does it just talk about tricks WITH a memorized deck?
Any other books? DVDs?

I'd really appreciate any advice as to the best way to approach deck memorization.

Thanks
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Postby Guest » 04/25/06 11:58 AM

Hello,

Mnemonica by Juan Tamariz and all the work by Simon Aronson are very recomended to all the ones who want to study works with a memorized deck. The Aronson's stack is described in Bound to Please. The effects described in Try the Impossible can have been done with any stack.

Welcome in this wonderfull world of memorized decks !... ;)

Very cordially,
---
Frantz
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Postby Guest » 04/25/06 01:49 PM

Steven Youell has the real work on this. His highly original, inspirational, lyrically profound thinking is so earth shatteringly ground breaking it's not real!
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Postby Guest » 04/25/06 02:02 PM

The Hacker Stack? Yo!
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Postby NCMarsh » 04/25/06 03:50 PM

Mnemonica is a must read, as is Michael Close's Worker's 5. I have not read the Aronson material, so I can't comment on them, but have viewed his recent DVD on the memorized deck ("Sessions With Simon" Volume 3), and read his complimentary notes on memdeck work ("Memories are Made of This").

My first step would be to download and read Simon's free notes from his site (www.simonaronson.com). He lays out the basic principles of memdeck work very well.

My second step would be to take a look at the Aronson DVD. The Aronson DVD is not a "must have," but I would highly recommend it for the memdeck beginner. You'll walk away with a thorough understanding of the basic concepts and the material selected does an excellent job of illustrating how the basic principles of memdeck work get applied.

I would then dig into Mnemonica, Workers 5, and -- I'm sure -- the printed Aronson material (which others are in a better position to comment on.

As for learning the stack, I found the methods in Mnemonica to be extremely efficient and extremely effective. I highly recommend them.

If I were on a limited budget and could only purchase a single resource on memdeck magic at this time, it would be Mnemonica.

Best,

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Postby Guest » 04/26/06 09:23 AM

I remember Bound to Please actually talking about the Aronson stack in more detail and I think it had tips on memorization. Try the Impossible touches on the stack, but doesn't really teach it like Simon's Bound to Please (I hope my memory is serving me here). Try the Impossible does have some nice effects with the stack and they are for the most part stack independant. I have not seen the new DVD but it may be a good way to start as suggested. If you are also into stay-stack work you may want to further investigate the Tamariz stack. With my limited knowledge of the Aronson stack I don't think it allows one to get to stay-stack order but I could be wrong. For some of these applications and mem-deck work in general you could probably also start studying faro shuffles if you don't already do them. Have fun!
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Postby Guest » 04/27/06 06:41 AM

This simple ruse has worked for me countless times.
Ready? Please everybody - don't go shouting at me...........
NEW DECK ORDER.
Take new deck from case. False shuffle and cut.
Voila.
Or have I missed something?
Peace,
Darren.
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Postby Guest » 04/27/06 08:53 AM

you -have- missed something. although new deck order is great for certain tricks, it cant compare to the number of great effects that are possible with a memorized deck. you miss out on a lot of opportunities that a memorized deck gives you.
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Postby NCMarsh » 04/27/06 12:41 PM

Originally posted by Darren Lawbuary:

Or have I missed something?
Peace,
Darren.
Here's some of what you're missing:
  • many of the wonderful memdeck effects that require dealing (Berglas effect, the zen master, everybody's lazy) are made to hold stack by dealing face up. You can't do this with NDO, so -- for instance -- you can do only one phase of the zen master. Or, you get a separation as you reassemble the talons and go through a potentially LONG run of singles. Not high fun for you or your audience.
  • Anytime you're doing a divination sequence (which i've found to be a very strong use of memdeck), the spectators want to see the cards. You need to be able to spread them out so that they can see that the cards are all different and that they're well shuffled.
  • You need mathematics to simply establish the position of a named card. With the deck face down, where is the nine of spades? Well, we know that the spades are the last suit from top to bottom. We would be tempted to take 9 + 39 (13 * 3). We would be wrong -- as the order of spades and diamonds is opposite that of clubs and hearts. Just to know the position of the card in the deck in base order, we need to say 13 - 9 + 1 = 5 + 39 = 44. In memdeck, whenever someone says "nine of spades" I immediately think "9."
    NDO becomes potentially even more complicated when you're not in 1-52 (i.e. "the four of clubs is on the face of the deck, where is the king of hearts?") because you have to calculate both positions in base order before calculating the current position of the target card.
    I know from six months of using the Osterlind system, prior to going to memdeck, that calculations under pressure are occasionally going to fail where memory does not.
    This is not, however, simply an issue of your ease in using the deck as an open index; it is also about the deceptiveness and entertainment value of your material to a lay audience.
  • Some effects are no longer workable because the method becomes completely transparent (i.e. Canasta/Osterlind's "Card Calling," Aronson's "Shuffle Tracking" and "Four Way Stop") Many more become much less convincing because you have to be "tight" with your stack and cannot display the cards openly face-up.

This may be a decent way to get your toes in the water and experiment with some of the things possible with a memdeck before learning a stack. But it is not a serious solution.

Best,

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Postby Guest » 05/02/06 06:53 AM

Does anybody have information on the tetradistic stack (hope I spelled that correctly)? I think Allan Ackerman uses this kind of arrangement, but I have never found it described anywhere and dont know much detail about it.

Anybody hear of Si Stebbins Secret from Darwin Ortizs book At the Card Table? If you work from NDO you may want to check that out. While Si Stebbins has its limits too, it may serve better for something than simply NDO.
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Postby Guest » 05/02/06 07:52 AM

At some point, you may want to create your own stack in order to put in tricks you like and make it easier to remember. I decided to do just that since gambling routines aren't my cup of tea.

Essentially I started with alternating reds and blacks (to end with OOTW), faroed a couple of times put 4 aces under the top card and also set up for Daryl's Double Dazzling Triumph. After faroing some more I added some spelling-type tricks and a 10 card poker deal, then adjusted the stack with as many Joyal-type memoriztion rules as I could. A shuffle calculator really is helpful during the whole process.

There are tons of stack-independent tricks out there too, so you need not be limited by the stack you've chosen (or made).


- Frank
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Postby Guest » 05/03/06 12:23 PM

There is a VERY clever and useful memorized stack by magician Federico Luduena.

I think he calls it "Noom" and is in the process of writing up all the details for release in a manuscript.

If he ever actually puts this out it is a must buy and a must learn.

You heard it here first.
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Postby Guest » 05/04/06 03:47 PM

I've used the Nikola stack for about 30 years. It comes in quite handy.
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Postby Guest » 05/04/06 08:03 PM

The "best" memorized deck is the one you learn thoroughly and use repeatedly and successfully. If you flit from one to another, constantly looking for the "best," you'll be frustrated because you'll never spend enough time squeezing out everything you can from the one you learn.

I would suggest the approach used by people years ago when they went out to buy a computer: find the software you need to do the job or jobs you want and then buy the computer that will run that software.

In the case of memorized deck, research the effects you want to perform, find the stack or memorization system that does the effects you want and learn it thoroughly.

Like Bill, I have a friend who has used Nikola for 20+ years, used it continuously and successfully and has never seen a need to move to something "better." He's a working pro and has used Nikola to make him a better entertainer. It has served him well and was, to him, worth the time to learn it.
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Postby Guest » 05/05/06 03:34 PM

When I learned Nikola, there was no BCS, no Aronson stack, none of that. So I went with what was available.
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Postby Guest » 05/06/06 12:13 AM

I'm no expert, but it does seem that the best technique for memorizing a deck is in Mnemonica, and it works exactly the same on any stack. So my one piece of advice, aside from suggesting that you follow David Alexander's advice, when you're choosing a stack, ignore any factors relating to ease of memorization.
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Postby Guest » 05/06/06 11:33 AM

Id like to offer three suggestions.

First, it's always a bad trade-off to sacrifice long term, permanent benefits for some short-term, temporary payoff and that sometimes happens with people starting out in memorized deck magic.

Given that, once memorized, you plan on using your stack for a long time, and you intend to carry that stacked deck around with you often, its only sensible that your stack ought to have as many features and benefits and flexibility built into it as possible (consistent with still keeping its random appearance).

It is simply short-sighted to sacrifice such benefits by choosing a stack that might be slightly easier to initially learn (because it was intentionally structured to incorporate some helpful guideline, rule or formula) as opposed to a stack that was structured to contain the most magical impact.

Second, it can be tempting to include a zillion neat features into your stack, but they often wind up being of theoretical use only. The key question is: which features will you really use, in your own practical performances? If some component feature is something youll really do frequently, or even only occasionally, then thats a plus. But Ive seen a number of stacks which theoretically can do something (e.g, transform into new deck order, or red-black order, or stay-stack, etc) but in practice they would be rarely (or maybe never) used. Why? Sometimes because the necessary procedures to get there are cumbersome or un-wieldy: extensive shuffling runs, or too many faros, or multiple rounds of dealing in practice they deaden the pace, and lose the build up of excitement that the preceding memorized deck effects have already created. Or sometimes the feature is only theoretical because one hasnt fully thought through what youll do once you get there, or what prior effects have preceded it, or where in the routine it will come. If your memorized deck routines build, with each effect being successively stronger, then some other effect (based on a built-in feature) may not be able to follow it, purely from a presentational perspective. And then, of course, theres the trade off the more extensive a feature is (especially full deck features) the harder it is to also include other useful features. So, my suggestion: look at your own personal performances: how long your sets are, what procedures youre willing to go through, what specific kinds of effects you like to perform and then pick a stack that gives you something that you will actually use.

Third, theres way too much emphasis on being concerned over how difficult or easy it is to memorize a stack. People worry, and chat about, and research how to best memorize something and all the time, theyre not doing it. The short, candid answer is, practically all stacks will take about the same time to learn proficiently, i.e., well enough to use in practice. Even when theres a minor short term benefit of a rule, guideline or formula, it only matters during the initial few days of learning, because after that youre going to be relying on your own real, instantaneous recall (i.e., direct memory, without a crutch of any formula, rule, mnemonic image, or the like).

I dont know of many people who have seriously made a concerted effort to memorize a deck but still couldnt do it. The only people who talk extensively about the difficulty of memorizing a deck are the ones who are postponing trying. And its a red herring to worry about HOW to memorize it. Juans methods, or the mnemonic systems outlined in my books, or straight rote memory all work and theyre not mutually exclusive. You can start using one method and, if it doesnt work well for you, you can switch over to another method for the same stack, without any confusion or backsliding. You can combine these approaches you might wind up having memorized some cards because of theyre visual mnemonic images, and other cards because of their sing-song tunes or visual colors a la Juan, and other cards simply because they stuck in your memory from the start. The end result will be the same and completely usable: youll have memorized all 52 cards. So, go out there and do it.

And, while I dont want to plug my own stuff too much, I think theres lot of information and illustrations on Volume 3 of my new DVD set that will help you think about and answer many of the issues raised in this post. And you can download for free my Introduction to Memorized Deck magic Memories Are Made of This all at www.simonaronson.com. All of this information is totally independent of which particular stack you ultimately choose.

Good luck.

Simon
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Postby Marc Rehula » 05/11/06 07:54 AM

Thank you everyone for your input. (I'm the one who posted the question, by the way.) I appreciate the comments and advice since I've consciously avoided any thought of memorizing a deck before. But after seeing an Ortiz routine that required a memorized deck -- which knocked me out -- I decided to make the jump.

Well, after all this valuable advice, I'm sure that you all are holding your breath in anticipation of my reactions and decisions.

[crickets] [cough]

I visited www.simonaronson.com and downloaded Simon's introduction to his 'Stack to Remember'. The introduction sold me on memorized decks, and his stack in particular. I'm grateful to have so much helpful information available to me online (take note, magicians with websites). Plus, I was able to begin the memorization process immediately. (Sadly, I chose rote memorization.)

As someone who spends WAY too much money on magic (especially for an ameteur hobbiest!) I decided to buy BOTH Mnemonica and Try the Impossible. I got Mnemonica first. It contains wonderfully creative methods for memorization, but frankly I was thrown off (actually, terrified and intimidated) by all the faro talk (what's an 'anti' faro? a shuffle that mixes NONE of the cards?!?). I considered switching to the Tamariz stack, but I was already intrigued by the many possibilities of the Aronstack. (I mistyped 'Aronson stack', but 'Aronstack' has a ring to it, don't you think?)

Try the Impossible blew my mind. (Blows my mind, actually, since I've worked through only a handful of the effects so far. But so far -- wow!) Not only was I able to utilize the Aronson stack immediately, but also I didn't have to wait until I've memorized it. (I'll add that the UnDo Influence effects, that comprise the first part of the book, are jaw droppingly easy AND effective!)

In fact, Try the Impossible contains routines that do not require memorization of the stack. So why was I memorizing it? Yes, I had to purchase Bound to Please as well. (Sigh: more money. Don't tell my wife!) I've just received it yesterday (thanks, Simon) so I haven't worked through much of the routines yet, though I must admit that I'm rather disappointed by the memorization techniques it suggests. But I'm looking forward to working through the routines.

And I'm looking forward to finally learning that dang Ortiz routine too.

Thanks again to everyone for helping me out and thanks for reading THIS too!

P.S. I've only memorized half the deck so far, but, hey, give me a break, I've got a job and a two year old! I'll have it down eventually!
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Postby NCMarsh » 05/11/06 08:45 AM

The "Anti-Faro" in Tamariz' context (there is a very difficult move that goes by the same name but accomplishes something very different) is a way of getting the result of the faro shuffle (or multiple faro shuffles) without a weave (by dealing various piles and picking them up in a particular order)...it is taught in the appendix to Mnemonica and more deeply in Sonata...It is designed, in part, so that the performer who has not mastered faro shuffles can use them in certain contexts -- though it requires tremendous presentational skills to make the process engaging...

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Postby Guest » 05/11/06 09:16 AM

mrehula, is the ortiz routine in scams and fantasies with cards? ... oh and having a job and a 2 year old is no excuse for taking a long time learning the stack... no no, im kidding of course. im sure having a 2 year old is like having a second job.

so, you like the Aaronson stack better huh?
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Postby Guest » 05/11/06 12:04 PM

I'm glad Simon posted. The main thing is that in order to use a memorized stack, no matter what it is, you must pick one and learn it.

The Aronson stack is very useful, and I would probably recommend it over Nikola for someone who didn't already know one.

Before you learn a memorized stack that uses a peg system, learn a mnemonic system that is compatible with it. I had already learned the Roth system from Harry Lorayne before I started into the Nikola stack, so I had to rewrite all the pegs to make them compatible with the Roth pegs.

It took me about 30 minutes to do that. Afterwards, it took me about a week of hourly practice to really be fluid with the system.

If I don't use it for a while, I have to rehearse with it a bit to get it back into shape, but I do use it.
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Postby Mark Collier » 05/11/06 12:56 PM

I use the Aronson Stack and what Simon has posted should read again and again. The method of memorization doesn't matter. Do whatever works for you. The ultimate goal is to have a card be synonymous with its stack number w/o resorting to calculations of any kind.

I found that many short practice sessions to be more productive than a long protracted session. As you learn the stack, you don't even need the cards to practice. I found Simon's suggestions to recite the stack frontward and backwards and reciting the various suits in order frontward and backwards to be very helpful.

In addition to immediately knowing the stack number, I have developed a spatial understanding of where each card is in relation to each other. That means that if the stack is in order, the deck can be given a series of straight cuts so that a random card is on top (but the stack is retained) and after glimpsing either the top or bottom card, I know where to cut the deck to get to any card w/o even thinking about the stack numbers. This can be done face-up or facedown. I don't think about how many cards are between the top card and the target card, I just estimate about how far it is. This enables me to do a pass or a blind cut w/o ever looking at the deck. I can then do a glimpse and make an adjustment if needed.

I highly recommend all of Simon's books but you don't need them all now. As you get comfortable with the stack you will find yourself looking for new ways to use it. You will also find yourself applying sleights in new ways to maintain and/or restore the stack.

Simon Aronson has made invaluable contributions to magic and anyone who reads his books will be a better magician even if they never work with a memorized deck (or any deck of cards for that matter).
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Postby Marc Rehula » 05/12/06 06:58 AM

rage1, the Ortiz effect I saw was The Last Laugh which I saw on the first volume of Scams and Fantasies DVD. It made me realize the power you have once you've memorized a deck.
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Postby Guest » 05/12/06 03:32 PM

Nobody mentioned this but I liked the Harding

Stack. It is a mathematical based stack that

allows you to know how many cards are cut off,

at what position from the top or bottom any card

is at. I think it is English, I got it second hand

from another magician.......Mike
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Postby Guest » 05/15/06 07:49 AM

Brian -

Allan Ackerman has an effect with and a description of the Tetradistic Stack in "Las Vegas Kardma"
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Postby Guest » 05/16/06 07:53 PM

Mrehula,

Congratulations--great start to your mem work library!

Currently my favorites effects in each of those books are:

Mneumonica--All Of A Kind
Try The Impossible--Twice As Hard
Bound To Please--Histed Heisted

Simply Simon is also great--it contains a great effect called Everybody's Lazy.

Have fun!!!!!!

Cesar
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Postby Bob Klase » 05/18/06 09:46 PM

Plus, I was able to begin the memorization process immediately. (Sadly, I chose rote memorization.)
You're looking at it the wrong way. There's nothing wrong with rote memorization. I put off learning a memorized deck for over 10 years- mostly because everything I read on mem decks spent the vast majority of the time discussing how to memorize a deck instead of how to use one.

Michael Close's ideas in Workers 5 finally gave me enough incentive to actually learn one. So, after deciding which one to learn (actually came up with my own), I took a deck of cards and wrote the stack number on the back of each card. Then I spent the next 4-5 months learning the stack.

It's great if you can use any of the 'systems' or memory aids to learn a memorized deck in a week, or 2 days. But it it takes you 6 months instead of 6 hours to learn a deck, so what? Once you learn it you'll have it for years to come.
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Postby Mark Collier » 05/18/06 10:30 PM

I started out trying to learn with the mnemonic system but soon abandoned it in favor of rote memorization. After 4 days I could recite the stack frontward and backwards but it took a while longer to become fluent. I'm not saying rote memorization is the best method but it was for me.

It takes commitment. Once you decide to learn a stack and commit to it, do whatever works for you. The real key is persistence.
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Postby Marc Rehula » 05/19/06 07:26 AM

Rote memorization seems to be working out for me, actually. It's the most direct method as I see it. It's weird sometimes: some cards stick in my head firmly after one try, while I'm still having trouble with some numbers and cards. And once in awhile I still get brain cramps on the simplest cards: 'Six? Can I seriously not remember the card at SIX?!?' I've just got to say to myself, Keep at it. There IS a reward for the hard work.
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Postby Guest » 05/25/06 10:10 AM

Just so im clear, Sonota is the first volume of Tamariz' memorized deck work, and Mnemonica is the second.

If this is right, does Mnemonica teach the stack? Does it give tips on how to memorize the stack? And how different are the two books, besides the routines being different?

Im planning on buying Mnemonica, but i want to be sure on what im getting.

thanks.
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 05/25/06 11:42 AM

No, Mnemonica is the only volume of Tamariz's memorized deck work. Sonata may include some memdeck work (I'm not certain as I don't own it), but Mnemonica contains everything on the Tamariz stack -- the setup, techniques for memorization, and tons of effects/principles that utilize the stack. If Tamariz's memdeck work is what you're interested in, Mnemonica will cover everything.

-Jim
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Postby Guest » 05/25/06 11:54 AM

Oh okay, thanks Jim.
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Postby Guest » 06/10/06 05:20 PM

Ive since bought Mnemonica. Its a great book.

As far as memorizing the stack, his techniques are pretty good.

so far ive remembered exactly half the deck in about three hours.

i cant wait until i can recite the stack in my sleep, i cant wait to use this powerful tool.
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Postby Guest » 06/11/06 05:39 AM

Lot of useful info about memo stacks:
http://www.joyalstack.com/Pages/Memoriz ... Stack.html
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Postby Guest » 06/20/06 09:47 PM

Someone asked about what the tetradistic stack is.

Its where you take thirteen cards running A-k and shuffle these thirteen cards well. Once you have a random mixture of the thirteen, you arrange the rest of the deck in the same sequence. Suits dont necessarily matter.

Just a thought, wouldnt it be nice if Simon Aronson compiled all of his memorized deck magic into one hardbound book.

I would buy that right up. what do you think?
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