Memorize Playing Cards

Published on Sunday, June 03, 2012 in , , , , ,

Shreyas Patil's photo of playing cardsIn last Sunday's post, Joshua Foer spoke about the memory palace technique.

It is an amazingly powerful technique, but not just for memorizing speeches. Today, we'll look at a fun side of the technique - memorizing playing cards!

The first important part of memorizing playing cards is, surprisingly, to forget the playing card side of it for now. First, you're going to build the memory palace in which to house your memories.

I've put together a series of videos that can help you better understand the memory palace technique itself. The videos in the playlist range from short and simple to detailed multi-part videos, so you can choose the type of instruction that's best for you.

Out of all the videos in the playlist, only this clip from the TV show The Mentalist brings up how to use it with playing cards.

Once you have a place for your memories, you need to make the playing cards themselves more vivid. You do this by relating each card to a person, either a person you know directly, or a famous person. Celebrities work well for this, as they're often thought of as icons in some particular field, and the better their iconic status in your mind, the quicker and more effective their image will come to mind.

Before you begin putting these two mental constructs together, make sure you have them solidly in your mind. You want to be able to walk through your memory palace easily, without hesitation. When a card is named, you should instantly be able to picture the associated person, and when a person is named, you should immediately be able to name the associated card.

Ron White recently posted an excellent article about using the memory palace technique to memorize playing cards over at The Art of Manliness' blog. This is a great article and walks you through the entire process in a way that's simple to understand.

Videojug also has an instructional video on memorizing playing cards that is clear and very helpful.

Even if you never enter a competition, and just use this to amaze your friends or win the occasional bar bet, the process of actually learning to memorize playing cards is still valuable. It helps expand your sense of what is possible, and you experience an incredible sense of accomplishment the first time you achieve it!

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