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People often write of "learning a stack." But what does that mean? Does it mean knowing the stack number/stack value combo cold in either direction? Being able to determine within x seconds (x = ?) the previous/next card in the stack? Being able to determine within x seconds how far away a card's mate is? Being able to determine within x seconds the value of a card that is +/- y away from a given card? Etc., etc. When one looks at the stack training apps, one finds tasks that I expect would challenge even experienced stack users. Perhaps the question makes no sense. Perhaps what it means to "know a stack" will depend on the kind of effect one wants to perform with it or the kind of performing environment one is in.

I am just starting to learn a stack and would be interested in hearing views about what constitutes adequate/acceptable/minimal proficiency with a stack - or perhaps views about why the question isn't a good one.


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One Inch Man
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On Sep 24, 2017, AlexanderG wrote:
... Does it mean knowing the stack number/stack value combo cold in either direction?..

I think this is the only thing that really matters when it comes to learning a stack.
The important thing to remember is that you are giving each card a hidden identity. A secret name that happens to be a number from 1 to 52. Everything stems from that.

Think of it this way, if you took a blank deck, wrote the numbers 1 to 52 on the faces and then put them in numerical order, you have created a stack. A stack that, assuming they can count, everyone immediately knows cold.
If you ask what card is in the 12th position it takes no time to figure out it's #12. If you ask where is #39, it takes no time to say "in the 39th position".

On the other hand, how long it will take you to figure out how far away one number is from another, or where a particular number is if you cut another one to the bottom, or whatever, is basically down to how good you are at doing mental arithmetic. It may take a moment to do the necessary calculations in your head, but nobody is going to question your ability to count to 52.

Learning your stack means being able to translate from number to card and back again, without thinking about it. So, when you are doing the necessary mental arithmetic you can, at any point, translate any of those numbers into playing cards. Or alternatively, at the drop of a hat, translate playing cards into numbers in order to do the required mathematics.

In essence, that stack of number cards arranged in numerical order is your stack. It's the super powered secret identity that only you know about. Everyone else just sees a mild mannered pack of playing cards... which is a way more convincing disguise than a pair of glasses and a side parting.
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X = 0.25s or less

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One Inch above covers the main requirements. I would only add this:

Certain effects require you to call off the sequence of your stack in order. So while not always necessary, it's good to practice rattling through your deck as in order well.

When I first learned a stack, I got to the point where I had the card / position and position / card down cold because that's what I always practiced. But when rattling through the order by memory (Histed Heisted), it sounded stilted - not as smooth as it should have.

This is used much less frequently than card / position, but something to maybe work on.
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In case you're looking for tools to help you memorize your stack, this site lists a few which are excellent and free.
Harry Lorayne
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I originally taught how to memorize cards (which is what you need to know in order to memorize a stack) in my very first book - back in 1962. Taught it as time went by in a number of my other books. I - and people who use my systems all over the world - can memorize the position of every card in a shuffled deck in a FEW MINUTES. Amazing to me that people who want to memorize cards - for a stack or whatever - don't know about - or don't mention (as above) my books. You really do have to start reading the good stuff, guys!!
The Perceptionist
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Senor Fabuloso
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Senor Lorayne is right again. Thank you. Can you tell them the name of the book? The younger generation don't want to work hard finding things. They just google and my not find?
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Harry Lorayne
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Just go to, click on "Store" and then on "Memory Products."
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