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J-L Sparrow
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Profile of J-L Sparrow
Up until recently, whenever I read literature regarding memorized decks (such as books written by Simon Aronson), and I came across a trick that was dependent on the Aronson stack (or on any other stack), I would skip that trick and move on to the next. Since the Aronson stack was not my memorized memdeck, I figured that there was no point in learning a trick that I couldn't perform -- not without learning another stack, that is.

Recently I decided to do some dabbling with the Aronson stack and go back to those tricks I skipped, wanting to see what I was missing. So I opened Simon Aronson's Bound to Please volume to "A Stack to Remember" and read through its stack-dependent tricks, which are:

  1. Draw Poker Deal
  2. Stud Poker Deal
  3. Ten Card Poker Deal
  4. Poker Routines
  5. Perfect Bridge Hand
  6. Spelling
  7. Any Poker Hand Called For

As I was reading through these tricks, I realized that, although they were all dependent on the Aronson stack, none of these tricks required memorization of the Aronson stack. I'll admit, however, that with some of the tricks (like Spelling which uses a six-card subset of the stack, and Any Poker Hand Called For which calls for a specific number of cards to be cut off), the performer is definitely helped out with partial knowledge of the Aronson stack, but memorization of the stack is not actually required for any of these tricks.

Please don't get me wrong; I'm not trying to put down the Aronson stack or its stack-dependent tricks. I'm just trying to say that, before a few days ago, I was under the mistaken impression that almost all stack-dependent tricks required the performer to memorize the whole stack. But having read through the tricks explained in A Stack to Remember, I now realize that many (or most? or all?) stack-dependent tricks require little to no actual memorization of their stack.

(I'll admit that memorizing the stack really helps in assembling the deck so that it's ready for its stack-dependent tricks, but during the tricks themselves a full knowledge or memorization of the stack is not needed.)

To be honest, I wish I knew earlier that these stack-dependent tricks did not require memorization of the Aronson stack, as I would have enjoyed even more of Aronson's work instead of automatically dismissing them.

So my questions are:

  • Are there any tricks out there dependent on the Aronson stack that require full memorization of the Aronson stack?
  • What about with other stack-dependent tricks, such as those dependent on Juan Tamariz's Mnemonica stack? (I know there are tricks that are dependent on the Mnemonica stack, but how many of them require full memorization of that stack?)
  • As a general rule, do stack-dependent tricks not require you to memorize their stack? (If that's the case, then I can abandon my tendency to steer clear of stack-dependent tricks altogether.)

Thanks very much in advance!
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Profile of sgtgrey
That is a good question. I think Simon explains very clearly that there is a difference between stacked vs. memorized deck magic, although sometimes the stack-dependent effect can use a stack that is commonly memorized, it doesn't mean the trick is a "memorized deck" trick. I think this is an important distinction in this discussion since this means that a trick would have to use both properties - the stack itself, as well as the cards' "second" identity (stack position in a memorized deck).

Based on that, and being a fellow Mnemonica worker, I have read both Simon's books on the Aronson stack as well as Eric Richardson's trilogy of Aronson stack-dependent tricks (in addition to, obviously, Mnemonica and many stack-independent writings and effects). What I've found is this: 1) it seems most effects that require a specific stack do not also rely on the use of memorized positions, 2) almost all stack-dependent tricks can be adapted to another stack, and 3) the best tricks are usually stack independent anyway.

There are exceptions to the second point, such as Eric Richardson's Tsunami Sevens which I like but have yet to find a satisfying variant in Mnemonica (the stack just isn't built for it), and there are some tricks which rely on specific stack properties like those that require a cyclic tetradistic stack (e.g. Max Maven's Mockingbird, Woody Aragon's Si Fry, etc.).

However, despite all this I have yet to find a stack-dependent trick that truly requires you to also memorize the deck. This doesn't mean one doesn't exist or couldn't be created, but I don't know of any in particular off the top of my head.
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Profile of alicauchy
The rule-of-thumb seems to be that effects requiring a full-deck memorization (say Mnemonicosis) are not stack-dependent.
So much to do, so little time . . .
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Profile of captainsmiffy
If you use Up The Ante then you make your own stack, which can be different everytime, with no memorisation required whatsoever. And a high impact effect into the bargain....
Have you tried 'Up The Ante' yet?? The ultimate gambling demo....a self-working wonder! See the reviews here on the cafe.
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Profile of lcwright1964
That is a fascinating question indeed! I don't know the general answer. I DO know that the many stack-dependent effects in TTI (the various four-of-a-kind productions and such) do NOT require memorization. Likewise with the Christ-Aronson Aces and The Aronson Stack Makes Good from Art Decko.

I can think of some stack dependent effects that do require some memorization at least--The Three Hours in Mnemonica and the Aronson version in Eric Richardson's work are cases in point. But even then, one really need only master the partial stack used so the fishing is easier to navigate.

Frankly, I am really not big on dealing any poker hand called for or producing suits or that sort of thing, so all of my memdeck favourites are stack independent. As for spelling tricks, most don't require a stack at all, much less a memorized one. (The exception here is Worker Bees in Aronson's TTI, but that is a specialized, non-memorized stack.)

I do agree that the best tricks seem to be stack independent. The stack-dependent chapters in Mnemonica get the least attention from me.

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Inner circle
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Profile of magicfish
The answer to your questions are in Aronson's books. Read them from cover to cover and all will be revealed. In doing so, you'll discover some of the strongest card magic ever created- both stack dependant and memory dependent and both.
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Spokane, WA
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Profile of Atom3339
^ Yes. This is the answer. Right on, 'fish.

Occupy Your Dream
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Mississauga, On
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Profile of Remillard
Coincidentally, I'm currently reading the pertinent section of Aronson'sTry the Impossible. Pulled out a deck and put it in Aronson stack to try out one of the effects. (Spelling to the four aces.) With zero knowledge of the stack, (I memorized Mnomonica,) the effect was easy. As stated earlier, these stack dependent tricks are not memorized deck work per se. Having said that, knowledge of the stack would make doing these tricks much easier if only to help with knowing where to cut the deck.
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Profile of Cohiba
On Jan 5, 2015, magicfish wrote:
The answer to your questions are in Aronson's books. Read them from cover to cover and all will be revealed. In doing so, you'll discover some of the strongest card magic ever created- both stack dependant and memory dependent and both.

Agreed. Read all of Aronson's stuff.

In Aronson's writings and on this forum there is quite a bit of material about this.

Here are some generalities that I think many of the MD crowd will agree with:

1 - The best MD effects are stack independent - they can be done with any memorized stack.

2 - Stack dependent effects (effects based on a stack's unique order) rarely require memorization, although memorization / familiarity can definitely make things easier, as you note.

3a - Stack dependent effects are typically not nearly as strong as memorized effects - their main benefit is in adding trick variety and secretly preserving the stack for a later memorized effect.

3b - I agree with sgtgrey that the vast majority of stack dependent effects can be duplicated with any stack. This requires looking through your stack and working it out, but this is a fun and rewarding process.

3c - Stack dependent effects (in general) are not as strong as FASDIU effects (they are a means to an end as outlined in 3a). By stacking a few cards in a FASDIU routine, I think you can accomplish better things than stacking an entire deck (into Aronson stack for example, assuming you don't have it memorized) for a couple of stack dependent effects.

4 - Because of the points made in 3a-3c, there are several threads in this forum that discuss what I think is a key point: The best MD is one that has an amazing effect built into it (stack dependent) which cannot be duplicated FASDIU (or in any way without a lot of effort).

If you are memorizing an order of your choosing, you might as well build in something great, since your stack will automatically have:
- the ok stuff (regular stack dependent effects found in any stack), and
- the primary stuff (the most important, stack independent / memorized) stuff.
The difference is in the one great kicker effect built-in to YOUR stack. For Aronson users, the kicker is the Any Poker Hand Called For. For Mnemonica, it's showing the stack in NDO (although Juan also has a version of Any Hand Called For).

Some of us on this forum went with variations on a 4 or 5 faro stack from "almost" NDO. The benefits of these stacks are:

1 - You can get to it from NDO more easily than Mnemonica (especially for us Americans). Therefore, you can get back to NDO more easily as well for your kicker.

2 - You can get to / from StayStack more easily. (Another powerful tool that cannot be duplicated.)

3 - Because of the similarities to Juan's StayStack, the material in Mnemonica pertaining to StayStack can be easily adapted.

I see two potential negatives of these stacks:

1 - There isn't as much published on them, so the stack dependent effects need to be worked out on your own. (Something I enjoy.)

2 - They maybe sacrifice a minimal amount of randomization - although this shouldn't be a problem.

Hopefully this helps and gives some food for thought.
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Profile of sgtgrey
Great post, Cohiba. One more thing I'd like to add to that, although a minor point, is that is also would be a good idea to look at the FASDIU tricks you know, and see which ones also preserve the stack or can be adapted to preserve a stack. I keep a list of tricks I would normally do FASDIU that I also can do with a stacked deck with minor or no alterations. It's surprising just how many you can do...
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Profile of Cohiba
That is a good point - and reminds me that one time I had worked out a 2nd Ambitious routine that preserved the deck order, but I've not used it in a long time and forgot about it. I'll have to look it up again.
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