My Memorization System For Playing Cards

For my whole life, I’ve been able to remember almost anything. Not eidetic memory (which would be amazing and a curse), but close. Especially, if I am sitting in a place learning something or reading a book where all of my focus is on that topic.

In May 2017, I was having issues with my memory including severe headaches. I did everything to try to hold on to any new memories. Eventually, it would be found due to stress and medications.

I used to attempt to remember anything; to practice memorizing things. I signed up for Ron White’s Black Belt Memory system. And that’s where I really started to take off with my memory.

My “secret” is to chain events in a fanciful way. For example, I needed to remember three items in 2017 during testing: computer, pickup truck, and hospital. The image I created was a pickup truck carrying a computer crashing into the wall of a hospital. I chain my events in a logical order and they’re dynamic images. So, if I were watching a movie I would see a computer bouncing. Pull back a bit to reveal it’s in the back of a pickup truck. Pull back a little more as it crashes into the bricks of a hospital.

I used memory techniques like pegging and number memory and a mind palace technique I’d used for years.

Pegging is where you have specific items that represent a short list. My list is below:
0 – beach ball
1 tree
2 light switch
3 stool
4 car
5 glove
6 six shooter
7 die rolling snake eyes
8 roller skates
9 cat
10 bowling pins
11 goal post
12 dozen eggs
13 witch
14 ring
15 paycheck
16 candy
17 magazine – sweet 17
18 voting booth
19 golf – 19th hole
20 cigarettes

Number memory is assigning sounds to numbers and locations on your body

1 = Tuh or duh – (T)op of the head
2 = Nuh – (N)ose
3 = Muh – (M)outh
4 = Ruh – (R)ibs
5 = Luh – (L)iver
6 = Juh or shuh – (J)oint (hips)
7 = Kuh or (C kuh sound) or guh – (K)nee – which is weird because the K in knee is silent
8 = Fuh or vuh – (F)oot
9 = Buh or puh – (B)all of foot
0 = Suh or zuh – (S)and/(S)oil

in this way if you want to remember numbers you could give them words. For example, 417 would be the letters R T/D K/G – so RTK, RDK, RTG, RDG – in this case, I chose “redcoat” or “ReDKoat” which probably could also be RDKT which would make more sense. However, for this example, we’ll use “redcoat” – when I need to remember the sequence 417 I see a Revolutionary War Redcoat standing as a sentry with his rifle butt on the ground and his hand at the top of the rifle holding it out. When I see the number 10 I can either remember bowling (ball or pin) or I can remember T/D S/Z (DS, TS, TZ, DZ). In my case, I’d probably use my peg system first up to 20. After 20 then I use the “magic number” system.

Notice I also added body parts to the number system. If I need to remember 10 items I can use my body as a location system similar to mind palace aka method of loci (which I never use this term). I just assign an item I need to remember to one of my body parts listed. This way also helps me remember the numbers in order which will come in handy later when I go over how I memorize decks of cards.

Some people use the PAO (Person Action Object) for remembering cards. That’s where each card is assigned a Person performing an Action with an Object. Such as Elvis dancing on stage with a microphone. Or Michael Jackson moonwalking with a white glove. There’s too much going on with this and coming up with unique identifiers can get tricky. I used people for a while and even then some names sound similar and some actions look the same. This was an incredibly difficult, and IMO, over-complication of memorization especially first starting out because you’d have to have a list to remember. The way I memorize cards if I don’t remember what a card is I can use the number sounds to remember the visual.

Remember, the key is that it’s a fanciful visual you can remember.

I assigned numbers to each suit of the cards in CHaSeD order.
1 – Clubs
2 – Hearts
3 – Spades
4 – Diamonds

now every card 1-13 I can use a magic number system or my peg list. I usually use my peg list for clubs but I also remember the magic number set for them.

Hearts go from 21-29 then 210, 211, 212, 213.
Spades 31-39, 310, 311, 312, 313.
Diamonds 41-49 then 410, 411, 412, and 413

These are the magic numbers and the words – I have changed some of these so they were easier to remember visually.
T/D T/D 11 – Dot
T/D N 12 – Tin (can)
T/D M 13 – Dime
T/D R 14 – Tire
T/D L 15 – Tile
T/D J/SH 16 – Dish
T/D K/G 17 – Tack
T/D F/V 18 – Dove
T/D B/P 19 – Top
T/D T/D S/Z 110 – Tights
T/D T/D T/D 111 – Dotted
T/D T/D N 112 – Titanic
T/D T/D M 113 – Totem (pole)

N T/D 21 – Net
N N 22 – Nun
N M 23 – Name
N R 24 – Nero
N L 25 – Nail
N J/SH 26 – Notch
N K/G 27 – Neck
N F/V 28 – Knife
N B/P 29 – Nap
N T/D S/Z 210 – Nudist
N T/D T/D 211 – Noted/Handout
N T/D N 212 – Antenna
N T/D M 213 – Ointment

M T/D 31 – Mat
M N 32 – Moon
M M 33 – Mom
M R 34 – Mare
M L 35 – Mall
M J/SH 36 – Match
M K/G 37 – Mug
M F/V 38 – Muff
M B/P 39 – Mop
M T/D S/Z 310 – Maids
M T/D T/D 311 – Matador
M T/D N 312 – Mitten
M T/D M 313 – Modem/Madam

R T/D 41 – Rat
R N 42 – Rain
R M 43 – Ram
R R 44 – Rear
R L 45 – Roll
R J/SH 46 – Rash
R K/G 47 – Rock
R F/V 48 – Roof
R B/P 49 – Rope
R T/D S/Z 410 – Roots/Roadster
R T/D T/D 411 – Reddit/Redhead
R T/D N 412 – Rodan/Red nose
R T/D M 413 – Radioman

I thought I had come up a unique way of doing this until I read the book “How to Memorize a Randomized Deck of Cards” by Anthony Metivier just a couple of days ago. He does something similar assigning numbers and words except his numbers are a little different based on how he lists the cards and the suit order is different. The other thing he does isn’t to create a story like I do, but assign the cards to individual locations in his selected memory palace.

I like my way a bit better. I am a very visual and imaginative person. So when I’m remembering cards with the visual for each card I create a story. Let’s take the five top cards I have in front of me: 4D,9C,KH,4S,AH

4D = RR = Rear or Rawr (roar)
9C = 19 or just 9 = TP or just peg 9 = Cat or Top
KH = 213 = NTM = Ointment
4S = 34 = MR = Mare
AH = 21 = NT = Net

So I would construct my story like this visually… Zoom in on a cat’s rear with tail in the air, pull out a little to show the cat, then a bit more showing someone putting ointment on the cat, a little more out showing the mares on the moon (dark parts of the moon – the seas) and a net covering everything.

if I didn’t remember the King of Hearts I could break that down to the 2nd suit = Hearts and it’s the 13th card. 2 = N, 1 = T, 3 = M… which equals NTM = ointment.

When I visualize these and they’re complete I see them as a whole painting. A canvas where those are the only things going on and I give them, usually, a fitting background. In this case, a space background.

I still remember many card decks from long ago. With a little practice, you can get to the point where you look at a card and see the object instead of doing the translation from suit and number to numbers to picture. As I said, the big win for this over PAO is that if I forget the Ace of Hearts I can remember that it’s 21 and Net. With PAO I’d have to remember someone specifically doing something with something. To me, that’s just more abstract things to memorize. This is why also for clubs I use my peg list over the number list most of the time. I’m already using 13 numbers in the peg list that have visuals. Why not just cut down out one-quarter of your work and use them memorizing only 3 other suits?

Below is the number list that Patrick Jane has to memorize in Season 7 Episode 3 of The Mentalist. Just know that using a mind palace and images for numbers you can memorize all of these and a deck of cards.

This is my system and I love how it works for me. I memorize a lot of information any more. It didn’t take me 5 years to learn how to do all of this. It took less than a week of steady training and I went from being unable to remember what I needed to do for the day to memorizing decks of cards, chess openings, and many list items.

Until next time. Dodadagohvi. ᏙᏓᏓᎪᎲᎢ.

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