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How (and Why) To Memorize A Deck Of Cards: Training Schedule


In last week’s post, I described the process to learn how to memorize a deck of cards. If you’ve missed the post, or you need to refresh some details, you can find it here:

In this post, I am going to provide you with the exact training schedule I’ve been using to learn to memorize a deck of cards, from beginning to improving my time. To train for this task you should optimally allocate 4-5 sessions per week of 15-30 minutes each. The overall duration of this schedule depends on what your goals are, which can be anywhere from just barely memorizing a whole deck to reducing the time necessary to less than a minute.

Week 1

How to Memorize the Associations: Days 1 and 2

The first step is to commit the associations to memory. Especially if you’ve used a preset matrix, like I have, you need to spend a couple days of training to actually learn the associations.

Day 1: (~30 min)

Separate the deck by suit, resulting in 4 piles of 13 cards each. Choose a suit, to begin with, and then read the three corresponding columns in your matrix to initially have the associations in mind. Start going through the pile and consult the matrix for any cards you don’t remember. Try to read each association as a whole sentence.

Your goal is to go through the pile twice in a row without needing to consult the matrix. As soon as you hit that goal, move on to the next pile. This process should take less than 30 minutes for all 4 piles. As soon as you are done, stop for the day.

Day 2: (~20 min)

Now that you have the associations in mind, it is time to mix them up. Shuffle the whole deck together, and start going through it. Again, feel free to consult the matrix as necessary, as you still are in the learning stage. Spend approximately 20 minutes doing this and then stop for the day.

Learning to Create New Images: Day 3 (~20 min)

It is now time to start training on making combined images from the cards. Once again go through the whole deck, but this time pick up 3 cards at once. Create an image for the set and then start again. The goal today is to get comfortable with creating and visualizing new images, without burdening yourself with memorizing them. Once again, spend approximately 20 minutes on this and stop for the day.

Creating a Memory Palace: Days 4 and 5

For the final sessions of the first and introduction week, you are going to focus on your first (and most important) memory palace. To begin with, after choosing the memory palace itself (e.g. your childhood home), start creating a route inside. It would be best if you sketched the house and the path on paper. While “moving” through the rooms on your path, pick the locations in each room and put them down on the paper as well. As soon as you are done with creating the palace and the route, spend a couple of minutes trying to visualize yourself walking the route and seeing each location in your mind.

Week 1 Conclusion

If you’ve reached this point, congratulations! You have finished the first and most crucial week. Not only are you ready to go on with this process, but you’ve already put valuable practice on the 2 most basic memory techniques.

Week 2 and Onwards

Although you can perfectly train using a physical deck of cards, I’ve found it much easier to use software to train. I am using a program called Memoriad Simulator, and particularly the first mode called “Speed Cards”. Set the settings to 3 simultaneous cards and the KQJ figure system, and you are ready to go.

One particular quirk/feature of this app is that it limits the memorization stage to 5 minutes. Unexpectedly, that helped me a lot, as early on trying to memorize the whole deck was tedious, time-consuming, and plainly boring. This way each day of training was an effort to memorize as many cards as I could in the 5-minute window, at least until I could do the whole deck. After that point, it has been an effort to reduce the time needed for the whole deck.

From this stage forward, I suggest training 4-5 times a week for 1-3 repetitions each day. It won’t be long till you can memorize the whole deck in those 5 minutes, and then you can keep training to reduce the time if you want. Regardless of reducing the time, though, I’d suggest keeping up the practice for a while as training to the 2 memory techniques utilized.

Additional Notes

It can be effective in your effort to set goals for the week ahead of time. At the beginning of each week write down your goal about how many cards you want to be able to memorize by the end of the week or how much time you aim for about memorizing the whole deck. Now you’ve got something to set on achieving.

There also might be some among you that have already developed some of the techniques, like a memory palace. In that case, feel free to start from the point corresponding to your skills. There is no reason to start this training schedule from the beginning unless you are actually new to these techniques.

Call to Action

While going through the training, I’d love to hear from you about your struggles and/or achievements. Post on the Facebook group, or contact me directly at!

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How (and Why) To Memorize A Deck Of Cards: The Process
How (and Why) To Memorize A Deck Of Cards: The Process
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