How To Memorize A Deck Of Cards
In my post "Discover Your Mind Palace" I shared a simple method that allowed you to remember a short list of 10 items through a mnemonic technique called the Number Rhyme System. These mnemonics are the basic principles to the following techniques that will enable you to memorize a shuffled full deck of 52 cards. If you haven't checked out the my previous post, please check that out first before continuing here.
For those of you who are already familiar with the Number Rhyme System and have given it some practice, this new technique will come to you a bit easier. That being said, this mnemonic technique may seem daunting, but will still be a fun challenge to master. It will take some time and definitely a lot of practice, but fun nonetheless. Enjoy learning!
First, check out this video...
That was my son, Simon (10 years old) demonstrating his skills on memorizing a deck of cards. I shared this video in my previous post, but I'm sharing it again to show you Simon's key techniques. We shall come back to this video a little bit later to reveal more details. Lets talk about the mnemonics.
UPDATE: The video below is an update to Simon's progress. Check out how he's developed...
PAO - Person / Action / Object
So how did Simon memorize the deck of cards? Well, much like in the Number Rhyme System, Simon encoded each card. That is to say, that each card has a mnemonic picture, but not just one picture - THREE pictures!
Each card represents three different images - a person, an action and an object. Usually the action and object are related to the person in some way. For example...
Categorize Your Suits
In my own mnemonic system, I've categorized the four suits accordingly:
Hearts = Family members
Spades = Magicians
Diamonds = Comic book or movie characters
Clubs = Famous people
These categories can be anything you want as long as it easily aids you in your mnemonics.
Categorize Your Cards
Along with categorizing the suits I've also categorized the cards to make it even easier for me to remember. You do not have to do this, but I find this helps me a lot when learning the mnemonics...
Create Your Mnemonics
When I first started creating my mnemonic system for the cards, I first created four columns and listed the cards by suits. For example:
Again, these PAOs can be anyone and anything you want, but it should be people you can easily remember. After writing down this list and completing the entire deck, I proceeded to create PowerPoint slides for each card with the card image and the PAO images as well. Once I've created all 52 slides, I can now study each card with its corresponding images.
When you are familiar with the PAOs of each card, you can now proceed to actual memorization. As a simple exercise, take three random cards from the deck and place them next to each other. The first card on the left represents the Person of that card, the middle card will represent the Action of that card and the third card will represent the object of that card.
For example, if we use my list of cards above and selected 5 of Clubs, 2 of Clubs and 8 of Clubs, this group of cards would be - Sherlock Holmes ballet dancing with a medicine ball. Imagine this image vividly, make it as outrageous as possible and remember the scene. When you remember the scene you will be able to decipher what cards build that scene together. It is important to try to not be too literal in your imagery. Try to make these funny images as exaggerated and outrageous as possible using the PAOs.
The benefit of this process is that it will allow you to memorize 17 groups of cards instead of 52 individual cards. Look back at Simon's video and you will see how he separates the cards by groups of threes and then memorizes them in order.
Enter Your Mind Palace
If you have read my "Discover Your Mind Palace" post, you will know how to create your own Mind Palace and for this explanation I will assume you've created one already.
Once you are familiar with your Mind Palace and you have walked through it several times in a specific flow and order, you can now begin to memorize your deck of cards. The importance of the Mind Palace is to create a flow in which you can easily remember the order of the cards at any given point of the deck.
Take your first three cards from the deck and create a vivid image of the PAO of this grouping. Once you have done this, place this image at the starting point of your Mind Palace. Then take the next three cards from the deck and do the same, except that you will now place this new image in the second spot in your Mind Palace. Keep going by taking cards three at a time and creating images throughout your Mind Palace.
It is important to create very vivid, funny or outrageous images and to plant them in their respective locations of your Mind Palace. By doing so, you can recall any card at any position of the deck order.
There will be 16 groups of three cards while the 17th group of cards will be four cards. The last four cards can be PAOP or PAOO depending on how the images work together.
The Key To Mnemonic Success
What I've shared with you is my method to memorizing a deck of cards, but there are many ways to approach and develop this skill. I invite you to explore other methods and to find your own style to ensure mnemonic success.
This is only the beginning into the world of mnemonics and the skills that you develop from this post are the basic foundations to building a strong memory. In a word - IMAGINATION is the key to a successful memory. Using vivid imagery and the Mind Palace are skills that you can use to remember anything and in future posts I will discuss in more detail how we can apply the same skills to remembering people's faces and names, long digit numbers and even technical information from school subjects.
Learning mnemonics and encoding information is much like learning how to read. You read each word one by one trying to comprehend its meaning. Once you fully understand and recognize the meanings of each word you then start to comprehend groups of words and understand the correlation of each word with the next until you eventually understand a full sentence or paragraph and make those connections with other sentences and paragraphs.
Memorizing a deck of cards and many other things are learned the same way. When you get used to reading cards as a mnemonic code it gets easier and you get faster at memorizing them. When Simon and I first started practicing mnemonics, we would take over 30 minutes to read the cards and memorize them. But as we got used to the mnemonic code of each card, we got faster at reading it, memorizing it and recalling the information.
It is important to understand the paradigm shift in how you must look at things and encode them in such a way in order for you to memorize them. Remember that this is a real skill you are developing and with all skills (easy or difficult) it takes practice, dedication and patience to master.
I wish you the best of luck in your journey into the world of mnemonics. Make it fun and everything becomes easier!
"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines everything we know and understand, imagination points to everything we have yet to discover" - Albert Einstein