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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Shuffled not Stirred » » Learning multiple stacks (9 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Poof-Daddy
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Is there a massive disadvantage (or a real advantage) to learning multiple stacks? I am referring less to stacks like "8 Kings" or "Si Stebbins" and more toward "Aronson" or "Mnemonica" stacks. Yes, I know there are several more, some newer, some older but I am just giving a general category that makes sense to me where "type of stack" is concerned.

I use Si Stebbins for some "run of the mill" simple effects occasionally and do enjoy what the stack is capable of. I also do not really worry about the red black layout as I have never had a layperson mention it in 20+ years. I have been working (very off and on) for about a year on memorizing the Aronson stack and am very confident of the first half, so so on the next 13 and still struggling on the last end. I imagine if I could get my scattered brain to settle down and grind at it without other distractions, I could get the rest down proficiently.

Now that I am getting better with the stack and realizing the "hows and whys" of the design, I am looking forward to doing some of the many effects that are possible. BUT... like with everything, now I start seeing all these cool things you can do with Mnemonica. I already knew you could, I just picked Aronson at the start of all this because I had seen so many more books and such on it.

My questions then become -

Should I learn both?
Would it hurt or help me?
Is there a large ratio of effects that are actually "stack dependent" as opposed to "stack independent"?

Just a few ideas to start the conversation with. Thanks in advance. Smile
Cancer Sux - It is time to find a Cure

Don't spend so much time trying not to die that you forget how to live - H's wife to H on CSI Miami (paraphrased).






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sgtgrey
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My experience has been that the stack independent effects are the most useful, unless the stack has built-in a specific trick you want to always have handy. That's the reason the stacks have these built-in effects in the first place - because they are important to the creator of the stack and therefore they put them in the stack. That said, the much larger ratio of effects are stack independent, or easily adapted to different stacks if not completely independent.

There are other stack properties that can be useful, however, such as how you can get into the stack. Methods exist to shuffle into Aronson, but they are cumbersome, whereas you can shuffle into Mnemonica or Si Stebbins (and by extension, the Redford Stack or Woody Aragon's stack). Ability to transform into other stacks is also helpful (Redford can get to Si Stebbins easily, as well as stay stack, and Mnemonica can easily transform into stay stack). While each other stack has a variety of features, they only ultimately matter if you will end up using those features.

Even though you've already learned part of Aronson, you're still new enough into the process that changing your mind and memorizing a new stack wouldn't be a big deal. I would suggest you find the stack with the features you'll find most useful, or potentially useful, at the moment and memorize that (and remember, the real truth is ANY stack is better than no stack - don't be caught up in analysis paralysis!) A brief read-though of each stack's properties should give you a good idea what you want out of a stack and what features are not useful to you. While you are aware of Aronson, and also Mnemonica, I'd also suggest checking out the Redford stack, which to be honest if I didn't already have so much experience with Mnemonica might very well be the stack I would choose if I was starting anew today. I can't say much on Woody Aragon's as I have not yet had the chance to thoroughly study his new book.

As for learning multiples - I wouldn't recommend it. There's no problem with learning a second stack later if you decide you prefer that stack over another, but I think you'll get much more out of it if you focus on using a single stack at a time, whatever that may be.
goochelen
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@Poof-Daddy,
I am in a similar situation as yours but my "kind of mastered stack to some extent" is Mnemonica (mastery of 1st half OK, but mastery of 2nd half so-so at best).
The question I am currently asking is, should I learn both Mnemonica and Redford or master only one.

@sgtgrey,
You have answered my question perfectl well. Thanks for the clear response and reasoning that allowed me decide.
As I am at the low-end "skill level" of Mnemonica, it makes sense to decide to switch to Redford (many here and elsewhere have written why the Redford stack is more of an engine that allows many things and more books will be published in the future - i.e. the best is still to come).
I was wondering if I should learn 2 stacks at the same time, but now I have made up my mind : I will learn Redford and stick to that one.
sgtgrey
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@Goochelen - if you are seriously considering Redford vs Mnemonica, you may want to compare what Bobby Forbes and I each wrote about it in a little more detail on pg 2 of this thread: https://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/view......art=20#3
goochelen
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@sgtgrey,

Thanks for pointing me to that discussion thread.

I have been going back and forth between Mnemonica and Redford for the last few days: "should I stay or should I go ?"

Taken everything into consideration I finally decided to stick to Mnemonica, as I have vested already time to learn it.

My next steps will be:
1) Mastering Mnemonica really well (the latest Smartphone app "Stack Master" will be of great use for reaching this 1st goal)
2) Getting proficient with a few good (killer) tricks (from e.g. Mnemonica and Pitt Hartling's "In Order to Amaze")
3) Once I am at that level of expertise and experience, I will see if I need to reconsider adapting to another stack.

My gut feeling tells me that sticking with Mnemonica is really not a bad idea at all.

Thanks again for helping me clarifying my next steps Smile
sgtgrey
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Glad I could help. The good thing is you've made the decision, regardless of which stack, to learn more about memorized deck magic. I sincerely think memorizing Mnemonica has drastically transformed and improved the magic I perform, and is probably the best thing I ever did for my card magic. Good luck with the learning and discovery, and whatever you do don't give up!
Waterloophai
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90% is stack independent and 10% is stack dependent. (Aronson and Mnemonica)
From those 10% dependent, 95% are gambling or poker routines. (or spelling routines)
From the other 5%, maybe 1 or 2% are very good.
Poof-Daddy
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I know most of what the Aronson stack contains from the "Sessions with Simon" 3 vol download / dvd set from L&L. I knew it was specifically set up for some spelling and a ten card poker deal... I also have several e-books that center on the Aronson stack and know there are several great books available. I would venture to guess there is a lot of material out there specific to Mnemonica. I just am not as aware of them as I am all the Aronson stuff I already own. I guess I should stick to what I am working with for now anyway then possibly learning Mnemonica some time in the future.

I think it is like buying a car, you don't seem to see many of a certain model until you buy one, then you notice how many others are out there. Then, one day you see a different one you like (but you are vested in this one) and you see even more of them and start having those second thoughts for no real reason. I have just been noticing a lot of Mnemonica stuff lately. Nothing super special, but little things like the Penguin Marked Cards coming prestacked out of the box in that stack (which I don't hardly ever use bikes anyway). The Phoenix Cards I use come in a different NDO than bikes (which is supposed to help you get into Mnemonica in a few shuffles (I guess). So, I just got to wondering if I made the right decision when I started. Hearing this info so far and with those stats on dependent vs independent, I am going to assume I made a solid decision and will press on with this last 1/3rd or so of the deck.

I guess the hard part for me is wrapping my head around the idea of "independent stack work". It is hard to imagine an effect that will work with more than one stack. I can easily visualize how to get into a spelling trick built into two different stacks in two different places or a 10 card deal from two different places but it seems like science fiction that anything other than those type effects can be done with totally different orders in the cards. Hopefully, once I learn it well and start to really tackle the books (I have held off on since I still don't know the full stack), it will start to make sense to me.

I have an Aronson trainer app on my phone and I have the Aronson Edition Memory Arts Book from Vanishing Inc. I made two sets of flash cards (one for card to position and one for position to card). Plus a few different books written on the Aronson stack so my guns seem fully loaded.

Great info so far. looks like it would help someone new in deciding which one to start with too. Simple as flipping a coin or as complicated as buying a car. Smile
Cancer Sux - It is time to find a Cure

Don't spend so much time trying not to die that you forget how to live - H's wife to H on CSI Miami (paraphrased).






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One Inch Man
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Quote:
On Aug 23, 2017, Poof-Daddy wrote:
I guess the hard part for me is wrapping my head around the idea of "independent stack work". It is hard to imagine an effect that will work with more than one stack. I can easily visualize how to get into a spelling trick built into two different stacks in two different places or a 10 card deal from two different places but it seems like science fiction that anything other than those type effects can be done with totally different orders in the cards. Hopefully, once I learn it well and start to really tackle the books (I have held off on since I still don't know the full stack), it will start to make sense to me.

I have an Aronson trainer app on my phone and I have the Aronson Edition Memory Arts Book from Vanishing Inc. I made two sets of flash cards (one for card to position and one for position to card). Plus a few different books written on the Aronson stack so my guns seem fully loaded.

Great info so far. looks like it would help someone new in deciding which one to start with too. Simple as flipping a coin or as complicated as buying a car. Smile


If you have not done so already, I highly recommend downloading and (immediately) reading Simon's essay 'Memories Are Made of This'.

It's free on his website and it provides an excellent overview of memorized deck magic. Of particular value to you, I believe, will be the second section in which he briefly explains just 5 of the many things made possible by memorizing any deck.
While it barely scratches the surface of what is possible, it can really whet one's appetite - and provide a great deal of motivation when it comes to actually memorizing your chosen stack - as it illustrates just how powerful the simple act of secretly associating a number from 1 to 52 to each card can be.

And that's all memorized deck work really is.

The built in spelling tricks and poker deals, the ability to shuffle in or out of NDO and what not, while useful, are not memorized deck magic in and of themselves. The real, unique power of memdeck work comes solely from knowing which card belongs to which number and vice versa... and all of that is stack independent.

http://www.simonaronson.com/Memories%20A......This.pdf
Waterloophai
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Quote:
On Aug 23, 2017, One Inch Man wrote:
The built in spelling tricks and poker deals, the ability to shuffle in or out of NDO and what not, while useful, are not memorized deck magic in and of themselves. The real, unique power of memdeck work comes solely from knowing which card belongs to which number and vice versa... and all of that is stack independent.


100% agree and all the rest is hype.
RickDangerous
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I've also been playing with the idea of memorizing a second stack (mnemonica user, interested in redford) but after my inner hype cooled down I realized it's just not worth it (yet).
"Reality is what you can get away with."
Robert A. Wilson

"Think for yourself and question authority."
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Tom G
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I'd be happy to memorize just one. I can get to about the 30 mark, and then downhill from there. Guess I'll be going with a stack using banks. As for the Redford stack, a lot of the effects in the book don't require the stacked deck to be memorized.
James F
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Everyone has pretty much answered this but I'll chime in anyway. Most tricks are stack independent for sure. I don't do any tricks with Mnemonica that are stack dependent. As far as learning both, I think that would be very hard. If you only have 26 down, you can certainly switch at this point. I switched over to Mnemonica after I was at card 36 in Aronson. If you find Mnemonica to be more suited to you, just bite the bullet and switch. Download "The Ultimate Mnemonica Trainer" and, if you have an android phone, "Mnemonicosis" to help you. I tried so many times to memorize a stack, those 2 apps are what made the difference. Took about 2 weeks by rote memory using the apps daily.

One last thing, the second half of the deck is definitely harder than the first. Like, noticeably harder. When you start adding a third suit it gets confusing. Just take the second half slower. Take mental notes of cards that are tripping you up or that you are swapping and work on them separately before adding them back into your bank. I always tell people it's a marathon, not a race. Don't stress over getting it done. Just work on it a little every day without the pressure to get it memorized. It will happen eventually.
sgtgrey
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I second what James suggests in regards to how to memorize - and it really is a marathon, not a race! I had so many false starts at first, but it was when I started using those apps and flashcards for rote memory and just set aside 5 minutes every day and didn't try to set a deadline for when I would be ready, I found myself rapidly memorizing the stack. Mnemonic aids and other such methods are great backup tools, but I ultimately believe that for any stack to be useable in the real world, recall of the card suit/value or number when given one or the other ought to be instantaneous, or close to it. That only comes from rote memorization. Sure, you could use mnemonics, memorize it in a day, and then try to start using it and hope that eventually through use it'll get there, but I think that apps or learning/testing by rote will get you there much faster. It certainly was worth the effort for me.
pnielan
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My personal opinion is that the gain in access to (perhaps) more effects by using two memorized deck stacks is not nearly worth the loss in speed and accuracy of recall under fire that could occur due to even very slight confusion. Read Aronson's essay in The Aronson Approach on the value of knowing your stack cold if you use the subtler advantages of a memorized stack. He points out that "visible thinking' in a memdeck effect are like "exposed sleights" in ones that rely mostly on sleight of hand. Ruins the illusion. I learned Tamariz 10 years ago and I still drill it and look for new ways to drill it. Saw an essay and/or video clip by Michael Close on thinking of your stack as a "town" and using that concept to understand where certain cards sit relative to each other. After all these years,actually doing that really helped. He talks about metronome drills for practicing your stack in various ways. For each card in the stack, I know cold the position, the mnemonic I originally used to learn the stack (which is no longer needed), its stay stack complement and more. I don't just think of the KC as 18, but as a card in the 1st half of the deck, 2nd quarter of the deck. When you can sort a shuffled deck into 1-26 and 27-52 almost as fast as you can sort it into red and black, you know you are close.
Harry Lorayne
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Sgtgrey: I, and of course anyone who uses my trained-memory systems, can recall the card number, suit - ANYTHING - instantaneously. Since I've been doing it for about 80 years - teaching it for about 60 years - the assumption has to be that I know what I'm talking about.

Memorizing via rote memory or via my systems - ACCOMPLISHES THE SAME THING! The only difference is that you do it in MINUTES INSTEAD OF DAYS OR WEEKS! Once you've memorized it via my systems and USE IT - it becomes second nature - that is: KNOWLEDGE!
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sgtgrey
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Harry, I am in no way insinuating that mnemonic systems are a bad idea here! Perhaps I wasn't as careful in my response as I could have been, but I still believe what I was trying to convey has merit. As you yourself stated, it is the USE of a memorized order that causes it to become second nature. Mnemonics are merely a step towards getting you to "second nature" or "system 1" (as Daniel Kahneman would call it) recall a little faster. What I experienced was that despite using mnemonics to memorize a deck of cards, I couldn't get better at instantaneous, "system 1" recall until I used rote practice because I simply wasn't putting it into use (I wanted to perfect through practice before performance, just as I would practice a sleight until it becomes muscle memory before performing with it). The rote practice itself was the "use it" portion of your statement, and by using a flashcard-like test system, I could apply what I had memorized multiple times in a compressed time frame, thus reducing the overall time it took to become second nature. Without some form of rote use, either in live performance or via practice, long-term memory of the memorized deck order will be hampered.

Ultimately, what I would stress is that recall needs to be second nature for it to be of much use. If you are spending any time at all in performance engaging system 2 analytical thought to recall what card should be at a particular position or vice versa, you've already lost too much. While I could claim the ability to use mnemonics to memorize the order of a deck of cards in a few hours and be able to recite that order (which is to say I'm no expert in mnemonics, but I have read the books and applied the material), I would in no way feel confident that I could take that same deck and order a few hours later or even a day later and perform memorized deck magic with it. If you feel confident that you could take a shuffled deck, memorize it in a few hours or less, and go out and perform memorized deck effects with instantaneous recall (e.g someone names a number and you instantly know the suit and value of the card in the newly-memorized deck without any conscious thinking on your part), all the better to you for it! I'm simply not capable of that, and thus despite using mnemonics (including your systems as well as auditory and visual ones) I found I needed some rote practice before I could put the memorized deck into use in real performance. However, I am in no way advocating against the use of mnemonic systems. I would probably suggest to someone to begin with using these systems to memorize, and then practice using the stack via flashcards or an app prior to performing.
Harry Lorayne
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To each his own, of course. But, so far as I'm concerned, when you say "While I could claim the ability to use mnemonics to memorize the order of a deck of cards in a few hours" HOURS?!? Then you're either not using the methods I've taught in quite a few books - OR...You're not applying those methods properly. Because - "minutes" should be there instead of "hours." I've written a few times - in different places - how, when I was 19 years old, and doing table magic at The Little Club in NYC - doing a card memory thing (memorizing a deck spur of moment as actor Victor Jory called off the cards) changed my life.

I have many testimonials from people who are not into magic - and some from people who are - telling me that they can memorize the order of a shuffled deck of cards in minutes. As I've done most of my life - at least when I cared enough to do it --- I don't bother with memorized decks. a)Because I use borrowed decks only - and b) I find that I can perform much stronger impromptu effects/routines with a borrowed deck than can be done with a memorized deck. Anyway...to repeat - to each his own. What works for you...and etc.

Oh, and I AM relaxed!
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Harry Lorayne
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Incidentally, sgtgrey, how's the situation (because of Harvey) in your part of Texas? I hear/see awful things on the news.
[email]harrylorayne@earthlink.net[/email]

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sgtgrey
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Haha absolutely correct - and there's the power of proofreading. Yes, minutes to memorize a deck using a mnemonic system - I'm not great at it, but still less than an hour (likely less than 15 minutes). But that's only memorizing the sequence in order, and certainly not going to stick into my long-term memory, as that isn't what I'd be trying to accomplish! I don't really want to touch the off-topic can of worms re: memorized vs impromptu magic other than to say that absolutely there is powerful and entertaining magic to be had with all skill levels and conditions. A memorized deck is only a tool, just like a sleight or principle, which can be used to astonish and amaze. To each their own as to the tools they use to get there! I'm certainly no stranger to the power of impromptu, borrowed deck miracles - that's all I did for years! But alas, we digress....
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