The Secret of a Super Memory

How did I learn to memorise a deck of cards?
The first stage

The secret of a super memory is about to be unfolded to you.  Like so many other things, it is about organisation, planning and a little effort.

Memory is the primary and fundamental power without which there could be no other intellectual operation – Samuel Johnson

Super Memory

How did I learn to memorise a deck of cards?  A complete deck of 52 cards, that is. 

You have probably seen memory champions in competitions remember several decks of cards quite quickly and then call them out in order. 

In order to do that, they have trained hard – just like a successful sportsman or athlete would – but with some concentration and practice you, like I did, can learn to memorise a complete pack of playing cards.


The memory works best by association and, as I have written elsewhere, the more ludicrous and exaggerated the association the better.

There are two stages to memorising a deck of cards.  The first is to create 52 pegs which you will need to remember in order. 

When those 52 pegs have been created, you have something to associate the cards with. 

Probably the easiest, best and most popular way of creating those pegs is to use a walk which is familiar to you, or to create a walk and memorise the various points. 

It is very simple to do.  Memory champions will use several such walks.

To give you an example, a walk that I use is from my London apartment around the centre of London.  No 1 is outside the elevator on the fourth floor;  No 2 is the lobby;  No 3 is a nearby roundabout known as the rotunda; 

No 4 is the dry cleaners at the end of the road where I launder my shirts;  No 5 is the bus stop for the number 521 bus;  No 6 is City Thames Link station;  No 7 is Old Bailey;  No 8 is Holborn Circus; 

No 9 is the news vendor at Holborn Underground Station;  No 10 is the Aldwych, and so it goes on until I have circled back to my apartment and reached number 52.

The Secret of a Super Memory - taking the walk

The beauty of this simple system is that in order to memorise the numbers you simply have to take the walk.  I suggest that first of all you write down the 52 points. 

Run through the walk in your mind a few times.  Then I suggest you circle numbers 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 in red ink, and remember those particular points specifically. 

After that highlight 5, 15, 25, 35 and 45 with a yellow highlighter and remember those.  Why?  Because they become solid anchor points for your memory. 

If, for example, when I am memorising my walk I discover that number 15 appears to be Admiralty Arch I know that is wrong and I have missed one out, because number 15 on my walk is Trafalgar Square.

It also enables you to demonstrate a few more tricks.  You could invite a friend to call out the position of any particular card in the pack and you will tell them what that card is. 

Let us say he asks me to recall the 38th card in the pack.  I instantly remember that number 40 is the Hercules Pillars Public House. 

Two back from that is number 38 which is the Royal Opera House.  The more you practice, of course, the quicker you become.

You will have realised by now that one you have created your first walk and have it firmly established in your mind, you can use the walk for any number of items you may wish to remember.

If you need to remember 60 or 70 items, for example, just lengthen one of your walks.

The next step is to associate each of the items on your list with the numbered places on your walk and you do that by making a silly association and exaggerating or diminishing the size of the object you wish to remember. 

If you can make the association sexual, so much the better because those associations are even easier to remember.   You will find more about that if you read The Secret of Memory.

Now, once you have your walk firmly in mind you are set.  It is great fun planning walks in this way, there is a great sense of achievement in doing it, and the very act of doing learning the walk is exercising your mind and improving your memory.

You are now ready to learn about memorising a deck of cards. 

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