Take a deep, deep breath. Five seconds in, ten seconds out…
I love magic, I really do, but I totally understand the feeling of being so overwhelmed by the lack of structure and organisation the internet brings to this hobby, from learning sleight of hand, to mastering memorised deck work it can all seem so complicated!
While the memorised deck, is relativity unchartered territory in the world of magic (and pretty ninja level stuff), it is my hope to make this guide as simple, and straight-forward and easy to understand as possible! If your stuck, with anything just leave a comment below and I will get back to you!
First things, first…
What is a card stack?
In card magic, a card stack simply means a deck of playing cards that has been arranged in a specific order predetermined by a magician (usually a master)!
Unlike a regular deck where the cards are shuffled and the order is random, a stacked deck is carefully set up so that the magician knows the position of each card in advance (through the process of memorisation)!
This allows us to perform tricks that seem impossible, such as predicting a card that a spectator will choose or locating a card in the deck without looking!
If you’d like some examples of all the insane tricks you can do with a stacked deck click the link below…
The key to using a stacked deck effectively is for the magician to remember the order of the cards and to handle the deck in a way that doesn’t disturb this order, without giving the impression that you care about the cards!
It’s a fun game to play!
The two types of card stacks…
The first type of card stacks is sequential meaning the stack follows a set sequence over and over again.
This can also be referred to as ‘cyclic’ for the same reason; the stack follows a cycle. Sequential card stacks are generally easier to learn.
A few examples of this are the Si Stebbins (a numeric progression of cards) and Eight Kings (a rhyming mnemonic progression of cards). The purpose of a sequential stack is providing an effective compromise between the ease of determining the next – and previous – cards in the stack while at the same time having the stack appear to be a random assortment of cards.
Put it this way, (I struggled to grasp the meaning of sequential, when it was first mentioned to me) let’s use the Si Stebbins stack (one of the oldest and most popular card stacks, as an example. In this stack, cards are arranged in a repeating pattern of suit and value.
For instance, the sequence might be:
- Clubs, Hearts, Spades, Diamonds (suit sequence)
- Each card is three values higher than the previous one (value sequence)
Let’s say the top card is the 4 of Clubs. In the Si Stebbins stack, you know the next suit will be Hearts and the value will be three steps higher. So, the next card will be the 7 of Hearts.
It’s a pretty cool way of learning a card stack but there are more cons to this type of stack then the next one I’m about to mention…
The second type of card stack is a memorized stack.
A memorized stack or otherwise known as a memorized deck is one in which you simply know the position of every card and the numerical name of the card at any location. These decks are more randomised and they don’t really follow a set pattern or ‘cycle’. However, memorized decks enable you to perform a larger quantity of tricks than sequential stacks.
Ok so now that we have learned a little more about card stacks, you may be asking…
What is the best card stack?
What are the best stacked decks?
If you’re new to memorised deck magic, you’re probably wondering what the best-stacked decks are.
Don’t worry—that’s the one question that EVERYONE asks when they first get started with the memorised deck. (You’re in good company!)
Our four favourite card stacks are…
1: Mnemonica stack – This stack was created by Juan Tamariz, and it is perhaps the most famous of all the memorized decks. Tamariz has been using this stack to absolutely FRY the minds of everyone he meets for decades—and once he published it, magicians instantly started to recognise its potential and power. One cool thing about the mnemonica stack is that it can be reached from new deck order (and you can transition in and out of NDO while using it.) (by the way, that’s a big deal – and another reason this stack is often ranked higher than others!)
2: Aronson stack – The Aronson stack is one of the most iconic stacks ever created—devised by one of the most creative, innovative minds to ever grace magic. Simon Aronson is a legend in the magic community, and this stack is just as legendary. For many years, it was the ‘go to’ stack of choice for magicians (and for some, still is!) The biggest benefit of being able to use Simon Aronson’s incredible material. Simon Aronson wrote a LOT of magic books and memorized deck training, and since the Aronson stack is his stack, you’ll be able to perform his effects without worrying whether they’ll fit your stack of choice. Secondly, a lot of other clever magicians (including Michael Close) have published some excellent work using the Aronson stack.
3: Memorandum stack – The Memorandum stack was created by Spanish wizard Woody Aragon. It’s packed with clever arrangements of cards and patterns that will enable you to perform a LOT of very fooling effects. Woody Aragon is just so much FUN and that comes across in his work—the book and the stack. If you’re a fan of ‘built-in’ effects, this is probably the stack for you (these tricks usually don’t require intense sleight of hand (although they look like they do), since all the work has been carefully done by whoever devised the stack).
4: Redford stack – This stack was created by a magician who goes by the name of Patrick Redford (hence the name of the stack.) Patrick Redford is one of the more underrated magicians that most people haven’t heard of—but he’s a true genius, and anyone who’s read his work will instantly recognise that! If you’re even somewhat familiar with stacked deck magic, you’ll know that the ‘Si Stebbins’ stack is one of the oldest stacks in the book—full of interesting ‘built-in’ magic. In fact, you might be wondering why Si Stebbins doesn’t feature on this list. Well, here’s the absolutely beautiful reason I haven’t listed Si Stebbins…
The Redford stack can be ‘transformed’ into Si Stebbins in about 20 seconds…and vice versa!
The stack itself is full of great built-in effects AND you can switch back and forth to the Si Stebbins stack at will.
Now, that you understand what a stacked deck is…
(A deck of playing cards that looks completely shuffled but is anything but)!
…and what the best stacked decks are to learn (mnemonica, aronson, memorandum, redford, and si stebbins) I will walk you through, step by step, how to learn a card stack, as a complete beginner!
How to learn these card stacks?
All the best stack decks I’ve mentioned need to be memorised!
Now, usually, when the term ‘memorized deck’ and ‘stack’ come up, magicians start asking all kinds of questions. Questions like:
- Which stack should I learn first?
- Which stack is n1.?
- Which stack does (so and so) use?
Look. I get why people ask that.
But they’re the WRONG questions!
What they should be asking themselves is…
How can I quickly learn ANY number of stacks so that I can perform ANY effect I want to?
Look no further, we’ve got you covered!
Now, we want to give you the chance to get your hands on our ‘Memorized Deck Starter Pack’.
Over the course of this powerful and extremely detailed training video—exactly 2 hours and 51 minutes in runtime—you’ll learn…
* Our complete training on how to memorize the deck—including 3 hours of video training and 6000+ words.
* The ‘holy grail’ of card magic e.g. ‘Any Card at Any Number’
* A 3-part masterclass in the Weighing the Cards routine—including how to perform this effect after the spectator’s have genuinely shuffled the deck
* Our take on Juan Tamariz’s ‘Neither Blind Nor Stupid’
* One of the most powerful effects in card magic—an effect that uses famous T.V family The Simpsons as a ‘failsafe’
Click here to check it out: Memorised Deck Starter Pack
While our training is better than anyone of these books for learning a card stack I’d be a fool not to mention that all of the best stacks mentioned have been written extensively on, and there is an incredibly vast selection of amazing tricks to learn!
1: If you want to learn the tricks in the Mnemonica stack I’d recommend purchasing Mnemonica by Juan Tamariz. Click the link below to secure yourself a copy…
2: If you want to learn the tricks in the Aronson stack I’d recommend purchasing Bound to Please by Simon Aronson. Click the link below to secure yourself a copy…(currently out of stock on Amazon and the Magic Merchants)!
3: If you want to learn the tricks in the Memorandum stack I’d recommend purchasing Memorandum by Woody Aragon. Click the link below to secure yourself a copy…
4: If you want to learn the tricks in the Redford stack I’d recommend purchasing Temporarily Out of Order by Patrick Redford! Click the link below to secure yourself a copy…
BONUS: All Stack Orders (for Stack Learners)
Ok, so I’ve created a BONUS section for all you magicians out there learning your stack! Here’s a comprehensive list of stack orders, including my TOP 2 from this guide!
Mnemonica stack order…
4C, 2H, 7D, 3C, 4H, 6D, AS, 5H, 9S, 2S, QH, 3D, QC, 8H, 6S, 5S, 9H, KC, 2D, JH, 3S, 8S, 6H, 10C, 5D, KD, 2C, 3H, 8D, 5C, KS, JD, 8C, 10S, KH, JC, 7S, 10H, AD, 4S, 7H, 4D, AC, 9C, JS, QD, 7C, QS, 10D, 6C, AH, 9D
Aronson stack order…
JS, KC, 5C, 2H, 9S, AS, 3H, 6C, 8D, AC, 10S, 5H, 2D, KD, 7D, 8C, 3S, AD, 7S, 5S, QD, AH, 8S, 3D, 7H, QH, 5D, 7C, 4H, KH, 4D, 10D, JC, JH, 10C, JD, 4S, 10H, 6H, 3C, 2S, 9H, KS, 6S, 4C, 8H, 9C, QS, 6D, QC, 2C, 9D
Si Stebbins stack order…
AC, 4H, 7S, 10D, KC, 3H, 6S, 9D, QC, 2H, 5S, 8D, JC, AH, 4S, 7D, 10C, KH, 3S, 6D, 9C, QH, 2S, 5D, 8C, JH, AS, 4D, 7C, 10H, KS, 3D, 6C, 9H, QS, 2D, 5C, 8H, JS, AD, 4C, 7H, 10S, KD, 3C, 6H, 9S, QD, 2C, 5H, 8S, JD
Advanced Si Stebbins stack order…
AC, 4H, 7D, 10C, KS, 3D, 6C, 9S, QD, 2H, 5D, 8C, JS, AD, 4C, 7S, 10D, KH, 3S, 6D, 9H, QS, 2C, 5S, 8D, JH, AS, 4D, 7H, 10S, KC, 3H, 6S, 9C, QH, 2D, 5H, 8S, JC, AH, 4S, 7C, 10H, KD, 3C, 6H, 9D, QC, 2S, 5C, 8H, JC
By the way, speaking of Si Stebbins, you can actually get his book Card Tricks And The Way They Are Performed in our 24 FREE classic magic book collection. Click the link below to secure yourself a copy…
Did you know?
Our method is a very powerful tool that will enable you to memorize any given deck of cards in minutes.
However, to turn the initial memorisation of the deck into a muscle-memory, lightning-fast knowledge of the exact location of any given card, we recommended our customers use a number of fun ‘drills’ and ‘exercises’.
These exercises help you get quicker and quicker at recalling the information you have memorized, until you correctly can name the location and identity of any card in your sleep!
At the time, there was an application in the app store that offered this kind of thing.
Sadly, the app in our opinion was not very good.
It had ZERO customisation and ZERO training on how to get the stack down other than to brute force it into your brain with mind numbing repetition.
It worked decently in collaboration with our training – but it was far from up to our standards of memorized deck material.
So we got ambitious and asked ourselves…what if WE could create an app?
The app would need to be a lot of things, but most of all, it would need to do everything below…
*Within 1 hour you’re able to go through the stack from start to finish with relative ease.
*Practicing stack everyday is as easy as opening your email!
*You can learn any stack you want, with relative ease (no more silly questions about “which stack!?”)
*You have a tool that allows you to practice stack your way (complete customisation!)
*Stack mastery is not a chore – but a leisurely process that you hardly notice is happening!
*You have an easy application for studying your existing stack and making sure it’s always up to scratch! (the stack is a tool that must be properly maintained or it becomes dull very quickly…)
This all sounds a little too good to be true right?
Absolutely not, have a sneak peek…