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Topic: Questions about Mem Deck
Message: Posted by: mightytimbo (Apr 16, 2021 10:51AM)
As a relatively new card magician I haven't gotten into Mem Deck stuff yet, but I'm hearing a lot about it and I know it's a really big deal.

People talk about it as being able to major magician stunning miracles.

Obviously the definitive work on it right now is Mnemonica by Tamariz.

For those of you who are familiar with that system, is there anything particularly advantageous to Tamariz' Stack over Stebbins?

Are there particular advantages you see of one over the other?

Can I presume that Mnemonica's Principles apply to The Stebbins stack?

Looking forward to your insight!
Message: Posted by: Tortuga (Apr 16, 2021 11:14AM)
I will try to give you some reasonable answers to your questions. Bear in mind they are coming from my perspective, not necessarily the "popular" one.

Memorized decks are something which seems to be growing in popularity. Before deciding, I think it would be helpful to read some of the thoughts on memorized decks put out by Doug Dyment and Simon Aronson. They will give you things to think about when making a final decision.

Three mem-decks seem to be getting a lot of the attention and those are Tamariz, Aronson and Redford. Then there are many others, but I don't see nearly as much written about them. That doesn't mean they don't have merit.

You can find info which compares/contrasts the various stacks. You can probably find them just by searching, but hopefully some helpful folks will give you references and/or links.

As far as which to choose, that depends on a lot of factors. The first may or may not be something you want to hear, but I will say it anyway because I believe it, and that is as a newcomer are you sure you want to invest time in learning a memorized stack at all? Aren't there a lot of other things you should learn first? Many if not most card magicians never used a memorized deck and they got by just fine. It is a tool and not a necessary one in my opinion. Nice to have, but not necessary.

If you insist on proceeding, I would suggest you begin with Si Stebbins and study some of the work Woody Aragon has put into using that helpful stack. By the way, you can memorize Stebbins if you want, it isn't limited to its cyclic properties.

Just like anything in magic, there is no "best", but I do think there might be a best approach and that is to continue pursuing card mastery as a whole. When you've done that, then add mem-deck work to it. Just my opinion. Feel free to disagree and many will.
Message: Posted by: mightytimbo (Apr 16, 2021 11:22AM)
This is great feedback. Don't misunderstand, one of the reasons I haven't gotten into it yet is because I've been fully focused on my fundamentals and I still have a lot to develop in that area. But of course I've been interested in the buzz around it.

Perhaps someone may also be able to clarify if there is a significant difference between what's considered a "Mem deck" and stack like stebbins. I understand what the stebbins stack is, but not really getting into one of the mem deck systems I'm not really sure what the significance might be in the difference.

Loving the feedback!
Message: Posted by: Tortuga (Apr 16, 2021 11:35AM)
Any deck in a known order is considered a stacked deck, at least in my book. Then there is a memorized deck, which is in a known order and committed to memory. There are also stacks which can be calculated, an example would be the John Cornelius system.

Si Stebbins is a cyclical stack and that means the cards are in an order which is repeated. In the original, the colors alternate red/black all the way through, but there are at least two published solutions to that which render the pattern indecipherable.

Some stacks also have the added benefit of having cards in an order that makes them useful for effects such as poker deals or spelling effects. So keep that in mind also. That may or may not appeal to you.
Message: Posted by: Tortuga (Apr 16, 2021 11:55AM)
Here is another helpful primer on memorized and stacked decks. But I recommend you seek out the two others I mentioned as well.

Message: Posted by: ddyment (Apr 16, 2021 03:37PM)
You'll find detailed answers to many of your questions in my [url=https://www.deceptionary.com/aboutstacks.html]free online essay about full-deck stacks[/url].
Message: Posted by: JBSmith1978 (Apr 17, 2021 06:20AM)
Stebbins is way more accessible in some respects than Mnemonica.
Stebbins probably has more functional characteristics than Mnemonica due to its regular arithmetic and simple suit progression.
Stebbins greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. Some effects simply can’t be done because of its simple pattern.
Stebbins of course can be fully memorized to greater effect. Special mention to Doug Dyments work esp quickerstack.

Mnemonica is for the most part all or nothing. You memorize the entire boat(one could just memorize the sequence I suppose to lesser effect).
Woody reccomends learning the first half of his stack first before the entire stack. I’d like to reinforce this notion. It’s a great way to distinguish the halves later on for help with split deck effects and sorting procedures. Perhaps more importantly it acclimates one to halfstack work which can be incredibly freeing, powerful and disarming.

Some stacks that are good to familiarize oneself with.
All of Doug’s.
Aronson. Bound to Please is the place to start.
Woody’s stack incorporates one of Aronsons killer features(imho) can morph to USA.Mnemonica and USA.NDO.F4
Osterlinds BCS
Redfords (can quite quickly morph to many useful arrangements(Stebbins, red/black etc.)
Eight Kings
Joyal has a great introduction in his book. I’d recommend Joyal, Simon’s essay(think Vanishing Inc. has this available for free and Doug’s essay together as a solid primer for tackling memdeck work.

Other areas to be mindful of are strong FASDIU effects, false shuffles(more useful the more one digs), key card(adjacent/ floating etc), the ins and outs of Faro shuffles and factorial dealing, stay stack and gilbreath concepts.

Highly recommend Road to Riffsville once getting familiar with a full deck stack.
Message: Posted by: Sealegs (Apr 18, 2021 04:00AM)
[quote]On Apr 16, 2021, ddyment wrote:
You'll find detailed answers to many of your questions in my [url=https://www.deceptionary.com/aboutstacks.html]free online essay about full-deck stacks[/url]. [/quote]

This, like everything I've read of Doug's, is excellent.
Message: Posted by: Mr. Mindbender (Apr 20, 2021 01:05AM)
A lot of useful suggestions in this thread -- and as far as the question "Are you sure you want to spend your time memorizing a deck?" -- my answer is absolutely. I enjoy the mental challenge. But that's me. I like to keep my thinking sharp, and regularly keeping a memorized deck fresh in my mind helps me do that. There are a lot of amazing effect that can only be accomplished with a mem deck, on the other hand, there are a lot of amazing effects that can be accomplished with a cyclical stack (Doug's Poker Face is one of those).

Cyclical Stacks are easy to learn, you can get pretty quick with them in 15-20 minutes of work. Obviously, there's a much greater learning curve with a mem deck - but for me, there's a lot of enjoyment in the journey.
Message: Posted by: chappy (Apr 20, 2021 02:52AM)
Hi Mightytimbo,

I put together a small article that offers a handful of thoughts and ideas on the subject, which you might find interesting. It addresses the questions you've posed and I hope you'll find it helpful.

You can read the article here: https://moveunderfire.wixsite.com/aboutcards/single-post/learning-a-stack

Message: Posted by: Nikodemus (Apr 27, 2021 08:16PM)
Hi Mightytimbo,
There is a lot of information already available on this subject. You definitely should read Doug Dyment's overview on his website. Also there is a good free article by Simon Aronson (Memories Are Made of This is the title I think?)
And "Chappy". Plus a lot of useful discussions here on the Café.

"Obviously the definitive work on it right now is Mnemonica by Tamariz."
Not true. Tamariz has made a huge contribution. And his stack is very popular. But it would be a mistake to assume there is any single definitive work on the subject.

The Si Sebbins stack is completely different in its basic concept from a Mem Deck. It is a cyclical stack. You learn the formula, not the whole stack. This is of course much easier. But a mem deck is much more powerful in many many ways.

Personally I disagree with the assumption that learning a mew-deck is only for "advanced" magicians. It's an incredibly powerful tool that is totally invisible. Most spectators would not even conceive you would/could memorise a whole deck of cards - but they will watch your hands like a hawk. I know only fairly rudimentary sleights, but can do effects way beyond what I "should" be able to - because I know a stack. I learnt it at the start of the pandemic to pass the time. I think I took 2-3 months to get pretty good. After that it becomes second nature, I learnt the Joyal stack because I thought it would be easy - which it was. In fact much easier than I expected.

I enjoyed learning a stack - it was a challenge not a chore.
I have also used a couple of geography quiz sites over the last year to learn the 50 US states, all the countries in Europe, Asia & Africa plus quite a lot of other info. If you like doing that sort of thing, learning 52 card positions is not actually a big deal. But if you hate things like that, maybe a men-deck is not for you.
Message: Posted by: Sophocles (May 18, 2021 06:26AM)
Woody Aragon just launched an awesome set of Zoom events in English. I did the first one.
Memorandum is v strong and has some advantages over Tamariz Mnemonica.
Woody has some great principles and is overall just a great guy and v fun to learn from. I’ve done his basic “weighing the cards” many times (see “The Show”).
To get the best use though out of any mem deck you need to incorporate false cuts and false shuffles and also understand how to transition from one effect to the next. Without those tools the mem deck on its own can’t reach its full potential and you will become frustrated.
Message: Posted by: JuanPoop (Sep 20, 2021 10:15PM)
Now that I have gained confidence in Mnemonica - recalling ‘card to number’ and ‘number to card’ instantly, I have more fully realised the massive amount of effects that are available.

It is almost too hard to hone in on a select few.

There is a lot of wonderful material developed by some very smart people, including those mentioned above - and many, many others...

The search will be arduous, but is already bearing fruit.

Loving it!
Message: Posted by: Deckstacker (Sep 23, 2021 09:37AM)
Nikodemus, I wholeheartedly agree that "most spectators would not even conceive you would/could memorise a whole deck of cards - but they will watch your hands like a hawk." IMNSHO, a convincing series of false shuffles, so well practiced that, like riding a bicycle, your brain has farmed the task out to your peripheral nervous system, is the #1 best way to allay suspicions concerning any sort of prearranged card order. Control the focus of your spec's attention where you want it to be--on YOU and the story you have to tell--and all else will fall into place. Trust me. I'm almost 80 years old. I even know how escrow works.