Memorized decks have long been a favorite tool of mine (no surprise to regular Grey Matters readers), but even tools themselves can benefit from having their own toolboxes. Here's the most useful online tools I've found for a memorized deck toolbox. As an added bonus, they're all free!
• An Introduction to Full-Deck Stacks: This is Doug Dyment's essay on the differences and advantages of various full-deck stacks, including the memorized deck. This essay makes sure you're starting off right by letting you know what you can and cannot expect.
• Simon Aronson's Memorized Deck Area: If you've decided that the memorized deck is for you, here is the next step. Simon's PDF, Memories Are Made Of This (this link will open in a new window), should be your first stop here. This is a more detailed look at memorized stacks, including some important terms you'll need to know. The tips and tricks in this section are of great help in memorized deck orientation.
• The Loomis Memorized Deck Page: Dennis Loomis' site is a great store, but for Memorized Deck users, this particular section is a gem. Directly underneath the selection of memorized deck items for sale is a collection of Dennis Loomis' memorized deck articles from the Smoke and Mirrors eZine. If you're just starting out with a memorized deck, his Memorized Deck Mastery article is the first thing you should read. If you truly want to be a master of the memorized deck, Dennis describes exactly what you'll need to do to reach that level.
• Memory Basics: Most stack are memorized via mnemonics, and here's a guide to numerous sites teaching mnemonic techniques for free!
• Online Memory Course Videos: Instead of learning memory techniques by reading, here's where you can learn them via video.
• 52-item Peg List Quiz: This is a flashcard set at Quizlet that will help you get you up and running with mnemonic images for the position numbers from 1 to 52.
• Bob Farmer's Playing Card Mnemonics: Besides needing mnemonic images for positions, you'll also need ones for the cards. Bob Farmer has developed some wonderfully simple and original playing card mnemonics!
• How To Memorize A Deck: Ken Simmons, via the magic talk discussion board, shares his method for learning a memorized deck here.
• How To Memorize A Deck of Playing Cards Video: This video is intended to teach a method that will allow you to memorize a shuffled deck of cards on the spot. However, if you regularly review the associations you've made, there's no reason it couldn't be used to recall a memorized stack, as well.
• Memorized Deck Made Easy: This is a five-part series on learning the memorized deck quickly and effectively, and is posted over at the Magic Café by user MemDeck329. Here are the links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.
• No-Mnemonic Stack Memorization: Here's an approach to learning your chosen stack that doesn't require learning any other mnemonic methods first! All you need for this method is your stack, practice, patience, and review!
• Online Flashcard Programs: There are many online flashcard programs that only require free registration, and will allow you to create flashcards to help you learn your memorized deck. Among these programs are The Amazing Flash Card Machine, cueFlash, FlashcardDB, Flashcard Friends, iFlipr (for your iPhone) Memorizable, Memorize In A Flash, ProProfs, Quizlet (a personal favorite), StudyCell (for your cell phone!), StudyStack, StudyTag, and You Know The Drill.
• Playing Card Clip Art: If you decide to learn your stack with the aid of a flashcard program, and it allows you to use graphics, why not use pictures of playing cards? You can find them for free at FunDraw, Hubpages, jfitz, Wikimedia and Wikipedia.
• Playing Card Systems: This article teaches an excellent array of memory systems geared specifically for remembering playing cards. The site as a whole is an excellent Wiki on Mental Feats, including myriad systems for remembering just about anything you want.
• Remembering a Pack of Cards: This page teaches how to memorize cards using Domonic O'Brien's numeric memory system combined with the Journey Technique. The major advantage of this system is that you can make the needed mnemonic links quicker and easier.
• Aronson Stack Page: Should you choose to memorize Simon Aronson's stack specifically, there is a wealth of information in this section. Besides some excellent stack-specific routines, there's also a Flash-based Arsonson Stack Quizzer. You can show or hide position information, card information, or even card graphics, to make sure your grasp is solid.
• Aronson Stack Viewer: This is the best designed of the Aronson Stack quiz programs. Like many of the others, it is Flash-based. It includes a timer function, so you can develop the speed at which you recall the card or position. The detailed instructions are a very big help here.
• Faro Shuffle Simulator: If you do the Faro Shuffle, this is a great tool for discovering your own new ideas with your chosen stack! The Faro Shuffle is the name for the perfect interlacing of two 26-card halves. The effects of such a shuffle are so mathematically consistent that eight out-faros (as demonstrated in this video) will bring the deck back to its original order (out-faro: The original top card remains as the top card after the shuffle. In-faro: The original top card is becomes the second card from the top after the shuffle)! To try this on the Faro Shuffle Simulator, select New Deck from the pull-down menu, click on the RESET button, then click the Out button (which performs an out-faro). After the first click, you'll note that the deck becomes 26 red cards followed by 26 black cards! A second click on the Out button will result in an alternating red-black arrangement. Click the Out button six more times, and the deck will be back where it started! The Faro Shuffle Simulator is included here because it already includes most stacked and memorized decks in the pull-down menu, allowing you to see what happens with various cuts and Faro Shuffles for those stacks (or even your own custom stacks!).
To give you an idea of how useful this tool can be, I'll assume you're familiar with Simon Aronson's classic routine Shuffle-bored, and show you some set-ups for this routine. Simon Aronson describes an easy set-up in his Prediction Shuffle-bored article. To see what will happen when you follow that set-up procedure, go to the Faro Shuffle Simulator and select Aronson from the pull-down menu. Click on the Nine of Diamonds (9D, the bottom card), then click the up-arrow once, followed by two clicks on the left-arrow. If you did this correctly, the 9D will now be between the Jack of Diamonds (JD) and Four of Spades (4S). Next, click on the 4S and click Cut to bring the 4S to the top, and the 9D back to the bottom. Looking at the cards from the 4S to the 6C (Six of Clubs, where you break the deck to start Shuffle-bored), you should be able to see that Simon's prediction, as described in the previous link, will prove accurate after performing Shuffle-bored.
Perhaps you use the Tamariz Stack, and would like to use that as a starting point for Shuffle-bored? In this case, your predictions will read:
1) There will be 21 cards face-up.
2) The face-up pile will contain 13 red cards.
3) All the black cards are clubs . . .
. . . except for the King of Spades!
Select Tamariz from the pull-down menu. Click the In button (effectively giving the deck an in-faro), click on the 10 of Diamonds (10D, in the bottom row, 6th card from the left), and then click the Cut button. At this point, you break the deck at the Eight of Clubs (8C, in the second row, 6th card from the right) to begin the Shuffle-bored trick, and the predictions above will prove accurate.
Alternatively (Select RESET to follow this, making sure you're still on Tamariz), try clicking on the Six of Hearts (6H, second row, 4th card from the right), clicking the Cut button, finishing by clicking the Out button (effectively performing an out-faro). Just as before, if you set up the above predictions, perform this second set-up, and cut at the 8C, the trick will still work!
• Memorized Stack Trainer: Most of the memorized stack quiz programs on here are limited to a particular stack. Not this one! You can enter any stack you like (the default stack is the Tamariz/Mnemonica stack) into it, and instantly be quizzed on it!
• MemoryEffects.PDF: Once you have a memorized deck mastered, you'll need some routines in which you can use it. In this list I keep updated semi-regularly, you'll learn where to look to find many memorized deck routines in the Covert Use of Memory section. There are even some resources you'll find online for free!
• Random.org: Instead of being randomly quizzed by computers generating pseudorandom numbers, you can get a truly random quiz (what's the difference?) at random.org. You can set up their Random Integer Generator to give you a stack position from 1-52, and set up their Playing Card Shuffler (where playing cards can be shown as images or text) to generate a random playing card. To verify your answers when quizzing yourself on this site, I recommend using a deck of cards with each card having its respective stack position written on the back.
• StackView Musings Blog: Nick Pudar's blog could actually fit in any of the categories, as it features memorization tutorials, original effects, and many other tips! It also covers many aspects of Nick Pudar's incredible free deck-manipulation program, StackView (Windows executable only. Intel Mac users can run it under Darwine or WineBottler, and Linux users can run it under Wine). If you tried and liked the Faro Shuffle Simulator above, picture that on steroids, and you've got a rough idea of StackView's power. A quick look at the StackView user guide (PDF, will open in a new window) will give you a better sense of what it does.
• Tamariz Memorized Stack (Mnemonica) Trainer: No, Tamariz Stack fans, the online quiz makers have not forgotten you! This is a spreadsheet-based quizzer that you can learn to remember cards by their position and vice-versa. As a bonus, there's even an Any Card At Any Number quiz included. It's easily altered to work with other stacks, as well. A version of this file set up for the Aronson stack is available here.
• Tamariz Stack Quizzer: The good people at Card Shark offer this Flash-based quiz. You simply click either the number or the card to make this disappear (another click will make them reappear), and then click the R button to generate some a random new card and/or position. You can even limit the range of cards on which you're quizzed (setting the range in the Von and Bis boxes), give yourself a timed quiz (setting the interval time in seconds in the Intervall box, then clicking on the large play/stop button to its right), or even quiz yourself on the cards immediately before and after the random card (using the left and right buttons)!
• Universal Stack Viewer: Concerned about whether the stack you're using appears random? Use the Universal Stack Viewer, and get an idea of how the deck appears to the casual observer. You can enter any stack, full or partial, and then see the results with one click.