Memorized deck systems

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Guest » 06/25/05 03:00 PM

Who can compare and contrast the leading memorized deck stacking systems? Specifically I'm interested in how the Osterlind Breakthrough system compares to Tamariz's Mnemonica. I really admire just about everything of Tamariz, but I've also heard good things about the Osterlind system. I'm gearing up to putting the time into a system like this and I'd like to (at least at first) just pick the one best book and system. Are there other systems out there that are worth considering over these two?
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Postby Bill Wheeler » 06/25/05 03:21 PM

Scorch--

Doug Dyment has a very good essay describing full deck stacks here:

http://www.deceptionary.com/aboutstacks.html

I ultimately memorized the Aronson stack, which is fully described in his book "Bound to Please".
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Postby Guest » 06/26/05 04:55 AM

With all due respect to Simon and Juan...

I like Steven Youell's approach;
Memorizing the Si-Stebbins stack. ("the Hacker Stack" as Youell refers to it) I believe this is described in his 'Weapons of Mass Destruction" notes... though, He had offered a free manuscript online , but that offer is apparently defunt (someone prove me wrong.. where is that link?!?)

There are MANY great published effects using Stebbins (the least of which is Trost's excellent lie speller) and the Ortiz system (Si Stebbins Secret) for getting into the stack from new deck order makes it doubly useful.

Magi might be concerned about their peers noticing the stebbins stack... if that's a concern, you have bigger problems that deciding which stack to use ;)

Speaking of Stebbins be sure to check out some of Jim Swain's excellent effects using said system...
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Postby Brian Marks » 06/26/05 07:22 AM

Originally posted by Bill Wheeler:
Scorch--

Doug Dyment has a very good essay describing full deck stacks here:

http://www.deceptionary.com/aboutstacks.html

I ultimately memorized the Aronson stack, which is fully described in his book "Bound to Please".
according to this link, David Roth has a memoriztion course?

"Another useful playing-card-specific mnemonic code can be found in lesson seven of David Roths venerable Memory Course."
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Postby Jason England » 06/26/05 10:46 AM

Not the same David Roth as the famous coin magician.

The Roth Memory Course was originally sold in several (perhaps 6) separate volumes in 1919.

The system is similar to the system sold later by Harry Lorayne.

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Postby NCMarsh » 06/26/05 02:30 PM

Scorch,

First, Osterlind's Breakthrough System is not a memorized deck. It is a mathematical system that allows the user to calculate the next card in the stack (it functions like any other mathematical cyclical stack (i.e. si stebbins) it simply provides a completely random appearance to the order of the cards). In a memorized stack the performer has memorized the stack position of every card in the dark.

I am in a fairly unique position as I performed for about six months with a mathematical cyclical stack (the Osterlind System)and I now perform with a memorized deck. The memorized deck is, far and away, superior to any mathematical cylclical stack.

1. Every effect possible with a mathematical cyclical stack is possible with memdeck. But memdeck offers a wide range of EXTRAORDINARY effects that are not possible with a m.c.s.

2.No matter how far you get with the cyclical stack, you still have to do the same amount of work to divine the target card. No matter how far you get with it, you can still screw up your calculations (which you are making on the spot) and it still takes time to make the calculation. With the memdeck I immediately know the target card -- and I can instantly go in both directions (i.e. if it is more convenient to peek the card below than target than above I can use that card as my key). In fact, I know the position of any card in the deck by glimpsing any other card. This is VERY powerful.

As far as which memorized stack is best, there is no unqualified answer. It depends on what you want to do.

I have not studied Aronson's stack. That said, I understand that there are some strong effects built into the stack. I know that there are some EXTREMELY powerful routines built into the Mnemonica stack and Mnemonica posseses an interesting structure: one can go from new deck order to stay stack to a memorized sequence that appears ABSOLUTELY random (http://www.hermeticpress.com/Books/MnemonicaStack.html) back to stay stack and then back to new deck (which constitutes a POWERFUL climax to an extended set of card magic (i.e. 45min-1hr)

Before going further, check out Simon Aronson's free introduction to memdeck work "Memories are Made of This" at his website: http://www.simonaronson.com/Memories%20 ... 20This.pdf

Must study works on this topic:
Tamariz Mnemonica
Close Workers 5
Close Closely Guarded Secrets
I have not read any of the Aronson material and so I cannot reccomend specific titles...but I know that many who I have tremendous respect for have found tremendous value in his work.

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Postby Denis Behr » 06/26/05 03:06 PM

Originally posted by Nathan Coe Marsh:
I have not read any of the Aronson material and so I cannot reccomend specific titles...
I'd recommend them in chronological order. Start with "Bound To Please" which has a wide range of effects and methods and go from there if the material is your cup of tea.
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Postby Guest » 06/27/05 12:19 PM

Originally posted by Nathan Coe Marsh:

...1. Every effect possible with a mathematical cyclical stack is possible with memdeck. But memdeck offers a wide range of EXTRAORDINARY effects that are not possible with a m.c.s....
So then the memorized decks' primary disadvantage would only be the effort required to memorize and maintain the skill? It sounds like a no-brainer if you don't mind putting in the work (and you're not smoking a lot of pot, which thankfully I gave up decades ago).
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Postby Brian Morton » 06/27/05 12:40 PM

So then the memorized decks' primary disadvantage would only be the effort required to memorize and maintain the skill?
I would think that it would be very advantageous to know a good in-the-hands false shuffle (Hollingworth, Heinstein or Eric Anderson's shuffle in the Harkey/Anderson book "Ah-Ha!") if one were going to use a memorized deck.

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Postby NCMarsh » 06/28/05 03:29 PM

So then the memorized decks' primary disadvantage would only be the effort required to memorize and maintain the skill?
Between you and me, it is FAR easier to memorize a deck than many suspect. Tamariz says that the methods for memorization taught in Mnemonica take 2-3 hours..I went slow in an effort to really lock everything in and it took me about 6 hours -- granted, it was a very intense six hours...but applying Tamariz' methods you could know a stack nearly cold tommorow...

the fundamental skills for use with a memdeck are estimation (again, not as difficult as its reputation) and, as Brian mentioned, false mixing (I use Eddie Tullock's false riffle shuffle (again, the key is relaxation (particularly in the shoulders) and nonchalance) and Bob King's version of the Erdnase pick-up shuffle as my overhand blind (published in The Annotated Erdnase)...read the books previously mentioned and you will do fine...

I do also want to say that, while the memdeck is superior for use in performance, there is certainly value in studying and performing (some) with a cyclical system.

A few months ago I was in a group dining with a major, internationally known, performer who is an expert with the memdeck. This performer was discussing the show he had presented that night with another well known mentalist. The performer had featured a version of Chan Canasta's two pocket divination sequence in his show that evening. At this particular show the audience member had handed the deck to the performer face up, sparing him the need to execute a move. At this point, the discussion became about whether or not a participant could ruin the divination by turning the deck over while it was behind his back. We reached a consensus that, as long as the two selections were taken from the same side, it didn't matter if the spectator turned the deck over. If, however, he took one from the top and one from the bottom the effect would be ruined.

We all nodded knowingly, instinctively grasping this "truth."

Noah Levine, a very capable thinker and technician who was also at the dinner (and who also contributes to this board), piped in claiming that it didn't matter if one selection was taken from the top and one from the bottom. We all balked and resisted him -- until one by one we each had a "oh yeah!" moment...

Of the people at that table, at least four had experience performing with memdeck. One, the performer, is an absolute expert whose work with this material is at a VERY high level. Only one of us, the youngest there, immediately saw our fallacy. What was different about the way that Noah was looking at the deck?

Noah, though he performs and studies with memdeck, was at that time experimenting quite a bit with Si Stebbins. We all knew, intellectually, that the deck is a closed circle and that the top and bottom cards of the deck are really next to each other, with the bottom card "above" the top. But we had also memorized a linear order that "begins" with 1 and "ends" with 52. We knew it was a closed loop, but -- at least as long as we thought that somehow the trick would be ruined by taking one from the top and one from the bottom -- we were seeing the deck as being a finite linear sequence, without any connection between the begining and end.

This is a long way of saying that I think you would be benefited by studying, and performing with, a cyclical system before advancing to memdeck because it will give you a healthy fundamental understanding of the way that a stack "works." The better your understanding of your tools, the better your use of them...

Best,

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Postby Brian Morton » 06/28/05 03:58 PM

Nathan,

Stop it. You're just one day closer to the day I have to kill you. ;)

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Postby NCMarsh » 06/28/05 04:38 PM

lol..thanks man...

on a small world note: I have an audition for a long-term gig in Sarasota -- of all places -- in the next week or two...so I'll be sure to look up your buddy Chris

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Postby Guest » 06/28/05 05:10 PM

Originally posted by scorch: So then the memorized decks' primary disadvantage would only be the effort required to memorize and maintain the skill? [/QB]
I beg to differ.

I considerd memorzing a deck for the past couple years, and have decided against it. When I do strolling and restaurant work, a memdeck requires that you set aside a poket spedifically for a stacked deck. Then, wen that deck loes its order, it's just a regular deck, and is a duplicate of another deck hat I have in my pocket. Pocket real estate is precious.

In addition, how long does it takes to set up a memdeck? At least five minutes reset, I would guess, on a dry, flat surface.

And finally, memory fades. If you don't perform with a memdeck for a couple weeks, you gonna lose it. I remember being backstage with JIS, a famous reviewer, and seeing him go hrough his deck card by card, try to sharpen his fading memorization of the deck. How often do you have to do that? Periodically, I'm sure, for the rest of your life.

I want to be a worker, not a technician. Sounds like a lot of work with definite drawbacks.
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Postby Guest » 06/28/05 05:21 PM

I think scorch meant that that was the only disadvantage,compared to a system.
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Postby NCMarsh » 06/28/05 05:40 PM

I like seeing these misconceptions spread about memdeck because it means that fewer people are going to be performing this material.

nonetheless, I can't help myself:

Then, wen that deck loes its order, it's just a regular deck, and is a duplicate of another deck hat I have in my pocket.
Obviously, when performing walkaround, you perform memdeck material that maintains the stack (as virtually all of the best memdeck material does). No reset.

Personally, when I leave for a gig, the ONLY deck in my pocket is in memorized order.

And finally, memory fades. If you don't perform with a memdeck for a couple weeks, you gonna lose it. I remember being backstage with JIS, a famous reviewer, and seeing him go hrough his deck card by card, try to sharpen his fading memorization of the deck. How often do you have to do that? Periodically, I'm sure, for the rest of your life.
How did you know that he was "try[ing] to sharpen his fading memorization of the deck?" Did he say that this is what he was doing? I've certainly been known to look over the order of the deck to make sure that all of the cards are in place before going on.

To quote Tamariz, who -- unlike you -- has actually done this material for decades "Even if you don't use it for twenty years, you won't forget the stack. You will be able to perform again the day you choose for your comeback."

I want to be a worker, not a technician.
Bert Allerton, David Berglas, Michael Close, Jamy Ian Swiss, Tim Conover, Eric Mead...not workers?

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Postby Brian Marks » 06/29/05 08:55 AM

Juan Tamariz, also a worker.
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Postby NCMarsh » 06/29/05 11:11 AM

Brian,

Absolutely! I thought I had included him on the list and was really surprised to see that I missed it...

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Postby Brian Marks » 06/29/05 11:59 AM

its not hard to do a trick walkaround that only displaces 1 or 2 cards. They take less than a minute to replace.
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Postby Jeff Eline » 06/29/05 12:43 PM

Originally posted by hoo monkey:
If you don't perform with a memdeck for a couple weeks, you gonna lose it.
This argument can also be made for almost every sleight: Retension vanish, pass, culling, fans, flousishes, etc...
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Postby David Alexander » 07/11/05 02:09 PM

A good friend, a full-time pro, learned Nikola years ago...has it down and reviews it every morning when he jogs, working it over like a mantra as he does his excercise. It is a working tool that he keeps well-sharpened, not bothering to flit from one faddish thing to another.

Nikola works just find for him.

Nate Leipzig's brother was an expert with a stacked/memorized deck.
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Postby Brian Marks » 07/11/05 07:09 PM

that seems like alot of work. I use the Joyal stack and have little trouble retaining the stack over long periods of disuse, usually a month or two.
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Postby Guest » 07/11/05 10:50 PM

There seems to be some disgreement abot whether memdecks can be easily retained.
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Postby Guest » 07/11/05 11:37 PM

Yo can read some interesting articles at the bottom of this page:
http://www.loomismagic.com/memdeckindex.html
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Postby Brian Marks » 07/12/05 06:21 AM

Some stacks are more retainable than others but many times they rely on the person memorizing them.

If you convince yourself you can't memorize a deck of cards, you usually don't put the work in needed to do so. Its a shame because its such a powerful weapon.
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Postby Guest » 07/12/05 06:47 AM

Originally posted by hoo monkey:
There seems to be some disgreement abot whether memdecks can be easily retained.
I wonder if, to some extent, that difference isn't merely between those people who do use memdecks and know that they aren't hard to retain, and those who have merely avoided using them out of fear of the supposed difficulty. Most people who have actually used them seem to endorse them wholeheartedly.
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Postby NCMarsh » 07/17/05 06:17 PM

didn't see this til now or would have replied sooner...

There seems to be some disgreement abot whether memdecks can be easily retained.
Keep in mind that Juan Tamariz' methods for learning the stack are radically different than the traditional mnemonic alphabet and rote approachs.

The jogger who recites Nikola every morning would have used one of these earlier approaches. We know that the Tamariz approach results in MUCH faster knowledge of the stack (an afternoon instead of a month), it isn't hard to imagine that it goes in more quickly because its going in more deeply (this makes a lot more sense if you're familiar with Juan's approach)....

it's very similar to hearing the music to a song you haven't heard in 30 years and immediately remembering the lyrics...

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Postby Guest » 08/07/05 02:59 PM

As a regular mem-deck worker, I can tell you that it takes a VERY small amount of time to stay on top of the stack, once you have mastered it. And, you can do it almost anywhere without even having a deck with you. I have two or three different drills I can run through while driving, standing in any line, exercising, etc.

When I do walk-around, I maintain space for two decks of cards in my pockets. Both are in Aronson stack order when I begin. Most of the mem-decks effects I do will maintain the stack. But, there are some killer routines I'll hold back for important groups (Company President, Guy that hired me, etc.) that will destroy the stack. Once I disarrange one of the decks, I still have one left. And, there are several ways to reset your stack in the course of performing! One is the Encyclopedia of Card Tricks by Jean Hugard... it's the last trick in the book, in the section on the Nikola Stack... called A Subtle Game. Tamariz has several such approaches in Mnemonica as well.

Failing that, resetting is not difficult. I just grabbed a shuffled deck and put it into Aronson Stack order, working only in my hands. I clocked it at 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Starting with a new deck would be even faster.

I certainly agree that the guys that stress how much work it is to learn and maintain are the guys that haven't done it.

There are lots of tricks in the articles on my website which do not disarrange the stack. Thanks to Kjellstrom for plugging it earlier.

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Postby Lee » 08/20/05 11:07 AM

i never thought I would do the work necessary to memorize a deck, but last week I said, what the hell.

I used the Juan Tamariz method (and his stack, too, but the memorization method is the cool part).

It might seem stupid. Too bad, do it just the way it is described.

After about 6 hours, I have it pretty much down.

Mnemonica (his book) is full of amazing routines for every taste.

Good luck, and remember, 1 is the 4C...
-- yikes!
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Postby NCMarsh » 08/21/05 03:48 PM

One thing that Dennis doesn't mention is the ease of performing tricks that don't rely on the stack but that maintain full deck order. I perform walkaround most nights and I, like Dennis, use the two deck approach. I have found that there is only one non-memdeck trick in my walkaround repertoire that I have been unable to adjust so that it retains the complete stack -- and this trick only offsets a single card which is VERY simple to quickly correct.

A tip for adjusting non-memdeck routines to hold stack:
To control a selection without altering stack: when the card is selected, take a break at the location of the selection. Cut the cards beneath this break to the top as the spectator is memorizing the selection. Now use a control that only moves the selection (i.e. Kelly Bottom placement, Jenning's Immediate Bottom Placement (aka Convincing Control) Side Steal -- whatever...). Because of the cyclical nature of the stack it doesn't matter whether you control to the top or bottom.

Of course, if you are just going to reveal the selection -- it is often more powerful to have the spec. simply name a card. But there are routines for which I prefer this procedure.

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Postby Lee » 10/18/05 06:42 PM

I thought I would never put in the work to learn a complete stack, but I did. Turns out to be a lot easier than you might think. Tamariz's method works, and it would work just fine for any stack.

So, the real question is which stack to learn?

My advice is to look at the routines that can only be done with the one stack. That is, there are

1. Lots of great tricks that can be done with any stack.

2. Lots of great tricks that can be done with any half-stack (26 cards, instead of 52).

3. Tricks that can only be done with one particular stack.

Frankly, as much as I love Tamariz, none of the tricks that require the Mnemonica stack really interest me, which I only learned after the fact. The routines in category 1 and 2 are mind blowing, though, so I do not really care.

Here is some generic advice. If there are some great routines you like that need pre-arangement (poker deals, whatever), then stack your deck, and then memorize it.
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Postby Guest » 10/18/05 09:18 PM

Nathan,
I didn't mention it here, but I agree completely and have adapted scads of regular tricks to work with the Aronson Stack. There are several on my web site. The link is earlier in this thread. No charge.. 20 articles on memdeck work for free.
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Postby NCMarsh » 10/19/05 12:07 PM

Denny,

Thanks for taking the time to write and publish these -- there is some very good stuff there. I frequently open with a divination sequence and so I was particularly interested in Gene Anderson's ideas.

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Postby Ian Kendall » 10/19/05 12:49 PM

It might be interesting to know that Chris has an electronic version of the Roth memory course over at lybrary.com

And it's only seven bucks...

Take care, Ian

P.S. Insert your favourite 'I forgot the URL' gag here. I couldn't be bothered :)
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Postby Guest » 09/04/07 12:36 PM

A Google search for something brought me back to this thread. I thought I should mention that my web site has been changed a bit. If you click on the link earlier in the thread, you then need to scan the links at the top of the page and click on the one which mentions the memorized deck area. Same thing is you click this link:
http://www.loomismagic.com

There are now a few more articles and they remain free to anyone interested in memdeck work.

Dennis Loomis
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Postby Guest » 09/04/07 03:08 PM

Thank you Dennis. That is an excellent resource.
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Postby Guest » 09/04/07 04:24 PM

I haven't read any of the articles yet but thank you. I look forward to reading them.
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Postby Guest » 09/04/07 07:02 PM

I've read them all. Good stuff there.
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Postby Guest » 09/05/07 12:19 AM

At this point, I have only read a few. I will say it again, thank you very much. I love these articles.
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Postby Geno Munari » 09/05/07 11:22 AM

Does anyone know the history of the Hungry Jack Ass setup that John Mulholland used in one of his books. I have never seen it used or written about or even referenced.
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Postby Guest » 09/15/07 11:54 PM

John used this in his 1944 book Magic for Entertaining. It showed up again, with basically the same supporting material in his Book of Magic, which was published by Scribner's in 1963. He very likely may have made it up himself, to avoid any kind of conflict with people who used or published the eight kings stack.

Similar systems are described fairly early in magic literature.
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