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Topic: Mnemonica study guide?
Message: Posted by: rapmr (Nov 21, 2015 11:38AM)
Hello Folks,

I am new to the Café, and I think this is an outstanding resource. I live in a small town and there is no monthly magician's meetings as in most big cities, so I appreciate the fact that I can meet magicians here and benefit from their combined knowledge and willingness to help out less experienced ones like me.

I have ordered a Mnemonica book and it should arrive next week. I have memorized the stack in the meantime, and I can't wait to start studying it. I anticipate that it will take me years to study the book thoroughly, but I wanted to know if someone has come up with a study guide of sorts (maybe somebody has done something similar to Opie Houston's RRTCM study guide for Mnemonica, or for memdeck work in general). If not, I would appreciate some ideas on where to start. I'd like to go through the whole book eventually, but I just want to be efficient about studying it. I am not asking what's the easiest stuff to do, but maybe what are the most valuable chapters for a beginner to build skills systematically.

Thanks in advance
Message: Posted by: pnielan (Nov 21, 2015 03:14PM)
(1) For me, memorizing the stack using mnemonics or any other technique was the first step only. Memorizing it allows you to review it and practice it any time and place without reference to paper or phone. That's invaluable. You can practice in line, at airports, during boring work meetings, while driving (license plates to cards).

(2) A standard drill is this. With a deck in memdeck order: Pick a card at random in your mind. Look at the bottom card. Try to cut the first card to the top. Glimpse the bottom card to see if you are off. If so, correct by moving cards from top to bottom or vice versa. Repeat. (I work through each suit or through each value.)

(3) Another drill. Divide the deck into two halves. 1-26 27-52. Shuffle both halves. Move a card (without looking) from one half to another. And shuffle again. Now go through the receiving half and try to find the odd card. Does it take you 10 second, 1 minute, 2 minutes? I assure you that 5-10 seconds is often possible. But this will takes months of familiarity with your stack.

(4) Tamariz emphasizes performing the "essential" memdeck routines before learning the complicated ones. Very simple (to you) divinations and weighing the cards. Perform with it.

(5) Even in these simple performances, think about creating the perception of disorder. Even if you can't do a false shuffle, leave the jokers in the deck. Bring the deck out of the box, look through face up for the jokers, throw the cards on to the table as you remove each joker, making it look disordered, but ending up with the deck in the stack order. To make this work, you have to start with the deck slightly out of order, but you'll figure that out. With two jokers, the cards are divided into three groups. Since the cards are face up, the spectators see the apparently random order without you commenting on it.
Message: Posted by: rapmr (Nov 21, 2015 04:01PM)
This is great advice! I am doing pretty good with the memorization part, and I do try to recall a card when I see it on a sign in the street, etc.

I will begin right away with (2) and (3). Thank you!
Message: Posted by: sgtgrey (Nov 21, 2015 05:39PM)
The advice above is spot on. I would also add some of the following:

1) look at your current card repertoire and try to discover which tricks you know that do not disturb the order of the deck. Some simple examples maybe be most triumphs and any four ace trick, such as twisting the aces. These can be intermixed with memorized deck magic, and the ones that are really golden are ones where the stack looks shuffled during the routine - such as the case of doing Christ Aces with the deck.

2) In a similar vein, I recommend Denis Behr's books, especially for the Finding the Way home concept. This teaches you how to do tricks that do change the order of the pack, yet leave you in stack order (sorry for being cryptic, but I'm trying not to give too much away here).

3) I also recommend studying in-depth the sections in Mnemonica about setting up parts of the stack during other routines, and also how to restore the stack after a spectator shuffle. One of my favorites is doing Pit Hartling's drop stack concept after an overhand shuffle.

4) as mentioned, learn some false cuts and shuffles. The Charlier and chain shuffles are examples of really easy ones that give the impression of a mixed deck. I'd also recommend checking out a false faro or two -Michael Close teaches an awesome one in one of his videos.

Some other fine points: don't be afraid of moving cards within the stack as you perform. Eric Richardsons trilogy of Aronson stack books are good at teaching this. Also, I would highly recommend studying other sources on memorized deck magic, especially Michael Close's Workers and Simon Aronson's books.

Lastly, I would recommend creating a "practice set" to perform. This would start with a trick that requires estimation with the stack (personally I love Darwin Ortiz's Test Your Luck for this as your estimation doesn't have to be super precise. Then perhaps another effect that requires some mental calculation (again, a good one would be Zen Master or Remote Control by Darwin Ortiz). Finally, a blockbuster effect that is worth destroying the stack (such as Ehler's 3 card location, Shuffle Bored, etc).

Doing this routine will give you a variety of memorized deck concepts to work on. During the routine, do some false cuts and shuffles but don't overdo it - don't run when not chased.

Sorry if this is a bit of a ramble, but that's my 2 cents at the moment. I hope it gives you something to consider.
Message: Posted by: sgtgrey (Nov 21, 2015 05:48PM)
I forgot to mention, a good practice tool is to find ways to give yourself random numbers and cards to work with. I personally use an iPhone app called RNG (Random Number Generator +) for this. Another option would be using a second shuffled deck of cards to pick out the "thought of" or named card.

My wife really appreciated this tip! ;-)
Message: Posted by: rapmr (Nov 22, 2015 01:50AM)
Thanks for all the great info! I'll work on interspersing non memdeck effects with memdeck ones. I currently do not own any of the books you mentioned, but I am putting them on my wish list. Where do I buy the Behr books?
Does the Michael Close book about Faro contain the false faro, or is it a separate material?
Message: Posted by: sgtgrey (Nov 22, 2015 08:00AM)
Denis' books are available at pretty much any of your favorite magic dealers - I see Penguin Magic has it. I ordered mine direct from Denis here:


The false faro was shown on his Workers DVDs I believe, but it is actually Homer Liwag's FFF, which he teaches on this download from Theory 11:


I believe it is also in an old Genii somewhere, but I forget which volume.

I would also recommend the full Workers by Michael Close, but for memorized deck work in particular check out book 5. You can get an ebook version of it here:


I hope this helps!
Message: Posted by: rapmr (Nov 22, 2015 09:11AM)
Thanks for pointing me in the right direction!
Message: Posted by: rapmr (Nov 24, 2015 09:00AM)
I got the book yesterday morning! I am practicing the drills suggested by both of you, but even before using these, I began doing the simple divinations to some friends and students right away, and they are completely amazed! I follow the ideas outlined by Tamariz in the divinations section. I also laughed very hard when he states that you should stop reading after that section, and in the next section he expresses his disappointment that you are still reading on!
Message: Posted by: ThomasJ (Nov 24, 2015 05:01PM)
Make sure you're practicing recognizing the card when you know the number as much as recognizing the number when you know the card. These should be symmetrical. If you get the card easily from the number, but it takes you longer to determine the number when you have the card, you'll need to work on the latter so you are proficient at both.

I used hyperbolic imagery to marry the two pieces of info to the same image. The number and card would create the same weird visual in my head. Eventually the visual isn't needed as the connections become the byproduct.

The 8 of clubs is on top. What card is 2nd from top and what is the number corresponding to card on bottom? How long did it take you to answer those?

Good luck,
Message: Posted by: rapmr (Nov 24, 2015 09:04PM)

You are right, I have the deck by memory, but I am better at saying "4 the 3 of clubs" than the other way around. I'll drill it both ways.

Message: Posted by: ThomasJ (Nov 24, 2015 09:25PM)
Definitely been there. Good luck!
Message: Posted by: Zipposrsa (Nov 29, 2015 03:06PM)

I am late on this thread, but there is an Android app called "Mnemonicosi",what I really liked is the ACCAN trainer. The drills it has are very good. I would also highly recommend ACAAN by Asi Wind it is (to me) one of the most amazing effect with a stack.
Message: Posted by: rapmr (Nov 29, 2015 10:40PM)

Thanks for the tip. I looked for an app by the name "Mnemonicosi" but could not find it. I did find one called "Mnemonica Study App." It seems to fit your description though. I am wondering if the developer changed the name?

Incidentally, I have been using the divination to astonishing results. A spectator recently told me that she couldn't even begin to realize how I could know her card. She even told me that she knew for sure I shuffled the deck thoroughly (I blind shuffled it very badly), and I couldn't be relying on memory since I wasn't even looking at the cards (thanks to the nice glimpses Tamariz outlines). I did the little routine suggested by Tamariz, it works amazingly!

Now I want to get to the point I can do the ACAAN confidently, maybe this app will help (if it's the correct one).
Message: Posted by: Nick Pudar (Nov 30, 2015 07:27PM)
Another great way to learn your memdeck "cold" is with a flash-card deck. Use a deck that you are willing to dedicate to the flash cards. On the back of each card, write that card's stack value twice -- once on each end. In other words, with the back facing you, write the stack value at the top end of the card. Then, rotate the card 180 degrees, and write the same stack value at the new top end of the card. This way, whichever orientation the card is, it is showing you the stack value. I write the numbers in a bold marker.

With all 52 cards marked on their backs, shuffle the deck thoroughly. Then turn over half of the deck and again shuffle the cards thoroughly. Now the deck is mixed up with half the cards face up and half face down, in a random order.

Take the deck, and look at the upper surface of the top card. If it is the face of a card, quickly say the stack value; if it is the back of a card, look at the number and say the corresponding card value. Then turn the card over onto the table to check if you are correct. Do the same for each successive card. When you have finished all 52 cards, then pick up the deck and shuffle it again, but do not reverse any of the cards. You will go through all 52 cards again, but this time you will be looking at the opposite sides than the first round. This approach will ensure that in each practice session you will go from each stack value to card value, and also from each card value to stack value.

When you are finished with the two rounds, then cut off half of the cards, reverse them and shuffle them into the other half. You are now ready for your next practice session.

Once you get good with your stack knowledge, you will not really need to verify if you are correct when you turn over the cards -- you will just know that you are right, and then it will be a matter of how fast you can go. Once you get to the point when you can do the two full rounds in less than a minute, you can say that you know your stack "cold".

Message: Posted by: rapmr (Nov 30, 2015 10:59PM)

Ok, I'm going to decide wich deck to retire and repurpose to flash cards. I think it will take me a while before I have it cold and at lightning speed, but I am getting there one way or another!
Message: Posted by: rapmr (Dec 2, 2015 11:21PM)
So I got down the acaan formula, but the hardest thing is to find the correct bottom card without appearing to do it. I definitely need more work on pnielan idea no. 2.
Message: Posted by: rapmr (Dec 6, 2015 04:08PM)
I've been working on most of these ideas all of you kindly mentioned, and my recall of the stack is getting better each day. I am using the ACAAN trainer Zipposrsa mentioned, but I don't do it unless I have a deck with me and I can actually practice the whole process. I found that the math in itself isn't hard, but doing everything all at once (the techniques involved) can be still overwhelming for me. My son as a practice spectator (he is 7 years old and very much into card magic too).
I found an interesting study guide in the Mnemonica book itself, as I was looking through the book, In p. 364, Tamariz gives a great outline of what a good Mnemonician should strive to perfect in terms of technique. I realize I do not have the fortune to do everything we suggests every day, but I can devote two or three hours on weekends, and some week nights. Does anybody include in their practice routine what Tamariz describes in p. 364?
Message: Posted by: pnielan (Dec 6, 2015 10:21PM)
(Tamariz on 364 is more about the sleights that go with a memorized deck, rather than mastering the memorized deck order itself. Would love to have all those sleights at my command; but not yet.)

Mastering a memorized deck to the level of interesting and entertaining performances is not something that you get to easily and without continual effort. It's sort a like being in good physical condition; you have to keep working out and you have to keep varying your workouts.

In some ways, the title "Mnemonica" is unfortunate; it (the English interpretation) implies that mnemonic memory methods are the key to mastering a memorized deck. But they are not; they only get you to the first step, the ability to know the stack enough to practice (sometimes) without reference to a crib or flash cards. That only 10% or less of the journey.

By the way, Nick's work on the memorized deck concept is excellent and it's great when he posts; there's always something to learn. Our community misses Dennis Loomis, who was always willing to help.
Message: Posted by: rapmr (Dec 7, 2015 08:31AM)
Pnielan, you are right, Tamariz talks about technique in his study guide, and I am at a beginner stage with respect to some sleights he mentions. However, it's nice to have such an outline. After reading said passage in Tamariz book, I picked up my ECT book and started working on a sleight that is very ingenious and I didn't about.
Thankfully, I came to the realization about the discrepancy of the title and its real meaning early on. I never really used a mnemonic technique to memorize it, and I am glad I didn't. I have the stack by memory but speed and instant recall are not still there 100%. It took me about two weeks to have it down correctly, and I don't know how long it will take me to have it down cold, as Nick mentions.
Tamariz uses the name Mnemonica as a homage to Mnemosyne, a sort of Greek goddess or muse of memory. Of course, we define mnemonics as a technique or method of memorization, when the roots of yhe word allude to memory itself.
Message: Posted by: Magic1 (May 7, 2018 12:15PM)
Here’s a great Mnemonica learning solution that’s a bit of a game as well.

It’s one of the best I’ve seen in that it trains cards/numbers (and importantly - which cards come before and after each other) very comprehensively.

Learn Mnemonica by Cube MG LLC
(Also called “The Ultimate Mnemonica Trainer” by designer and magician Sam Gherman)