Funny Feeling Party Game

How to memorize a deck of cards

The Best Way to Memorize Playing Cards

The best way to memorize playing cards combines 3 different techniques:

  • The Major System used to memorize numbers
  • The Person Action Object (PAO) system that is also used to memorize cards
  • The Memory Palace, used to store memories in a specific order

How it works is that each card is assigned three attributes, as shown in the table below, a Person, an Action and an Object, with the three being connected together, i.e. the person is performing the action on the object.

If you're familiar with the Major System, you'll know that it connects each number with a consonant sound and then uses words and sentences to recall strings of numbers.  If you're not, I recommend reading how to remember numbers with the Major System before returning to this page, alternatively you may want to try a simpler method which instead of using the Major System uses simple rhymes to memorize all 52 cards.

A modification of the Major System also lets you memorize cards in games where the suit isn't important.

This system uses the first consonant as the Major System for the value of the card and the Person, Action, Object method for the card itself, with the following table.  Further instructions for the actual memory techniques are shown underneath the table. 

How to memorize playing cards (Word version)  Memorizing a deck of cards PDF 

 To download the card mnemonic in Word or PDF, click one of the icons.

 

1st

HEARTS

Hearts

Disney &
Romance

CLUBS

Memorizing cards using Star Wars

Star
Wars

DIAMONDS

How to remember cards - Diamonds

Lord of
the Rings

SPADES

Memorizing a deck of cards - Spades

Harry
Potter

1
d
t
Ace of hearts

Dash
Dates
Dog

Ace of clubs

Yoda
Dies on
Death star

Ace of diamonds

Treebeard
Trips
Trolls

Ace of Spades

Dumbledore
Dark marks
Dobby

2
n
Hearts

Nemo
Nets
Anchor

Clubs

Anakin
Nukes
Nightclub

Diamonds

Nazgul
Encircles
Ancestors

Spades

Neville
Nuts
Nagini

3
m
Hearts

Mary Poppins
Magnetizes
Mermaid

Clubs

Emperor
Murders
Men

Diamonds

Merry
Melts
Mithral

Spades

McGonagall
Mind-reads
Myrtle

4
r
Hearts

Romeo
Rehearses
Rhyme

Clubs

Robot
Radios
Rebels

Diamonds

Aragorn
Raises
Ring

Spades

Ron
Reducio's
Rat

5
l
Hearts

Leeloo
Laces up
Lingerie

Clubs

Luke
Launches
Lightsaber

Diamonds

Legolas
Lords it over
Lothlórien

Spades

Luna
Lumos
Lucky charm

6
sh
ch
Hearts

Shrek
Shovels
Shit

Clubs

Chewbacka
Chains
Chimp

Diamonds

Shelob
Shaves
Shadowfax

Spades

Cho
Chases
Chocolate frog

7
g
Hearts

Goldilocks
Gifts
Giraffe

Clubs

George Lucas
Guns
Grubs

Diamonds

Gandalf
Goes grey
Gate

Spades

Grawp
Gambles with
Giants

8
f
v
Hearts

Violet
Volunteers for
Valentine

Clubs

Vader
Fights
the Force

Diamonds

Frodo
Farts
Flotsam

Spades

Voldemort
Vanishes
Vampires

9
b
p
Hearts

Beauty
Bandages
Beast

Clubs

Princess
Parades in
Bikini

Diamonds

Boromir
Borrows
Balrog

Spades

Peeves
Pours
Potion

10
s
Hearts

Santa
Sledges on
Snow

Clubs

Stormtrooper
Salutes
Star

Diamonds

Sam
Stings
Sauron

Spades

Snape
Spellotapes
Sorting hat

J
w
How to remember the Jack of Hearts

Juliette
Jazzes up
Jigsaw

Memorizing the Jack of Clubs

Jabba the hut
Jets
Jedi

Memorizing a deck of cards

Éowyn
Wins
Witch

Major System for cards

Weasleys
Wave
Wands

Q
h
Person, Action and Object System

Queen of Hearts
Holds
Hood

PAO memory technique

Han
Handcuffs
Helmet

Remembering a deck of cards

Queen Galadriel
Quacks at
Quicksand

How to memorize playing cards

Hermione
Has howling
Horcrux

K
c
Hearts

Korben Dallas
Kisses
Kitten

Clubs

Kenobi
Kidnaps
C3P0

Diamonds

King Elrond
Kayaks
Cracks of Doom

Spades

Crab
Crucio
King's Cross

 

Memorizing the Joker playing card

The Joker
Jokes with
Clowns

Remembering the Suits

First, we've connected either a genre or a set of books/movies with each suit as follows.  As far as possible the Person, Action and Object all fit the genre.

Hearts - Disney and Romance (Actions are mostly romantic)
Clubs - Star Wars (Actions are mostly fighting terms)
Diamonds - The Lord of the Ring (Some rings have diamonds, some Actions are financial)
Spades - Harry Potter (Actions are mostly magical)

Remembering the Card Values

Next we've paired one or two consonants with the first consonant in each Person, Action and Object to help remember the playing card value.  This is based on the Major System, so that if you've already learned that, it'll be easier to learn this.

To help remember the Person, Action and Object associated with each card, read through the above table and visualise each scene with as many sensory pereceptions as you can and full movement.  How does it look, sound and feel?  Does it have a taste?  Visualise each card in the deck with the associated person, action and object.

Memorizing 3 cards in the deck

If you've got a deck of cards in front of you then choose 3 cards at random.  If not, just pick 3 cards at random by pointing to the table above.  The clever part of the Person, Action, Object method is that you then visualize a different combination based on the cards chosen, for example:

5 Diamonds represents Legloas in PAO6 of Clubs represents Gobbles4 of spades represents a ratLegolas

Chains

Rat

For the above combination of cards you visualize Legolas chaining a rat (in your imagination you might want to use Scabbers in particular, as that will help you connect the rat with Spades for Harry Potter).  'Legolas' gives you the 5 of Diamonds (L for 5, Lord of the Rings for Diamonds), 'Chains' gives you the 6 of Clubs (Ch for 6 and a fighting type action for Clubs) and 'Rat' gives you the 4 of Spades (R for 4 and the Rat from Harry Potter for Spades), however there's only one image you need to remember - Legolas wrapping a chain around that cursed rat!

To memorize all the cards in the deck including both Jokers you have to remember 18 images.  Make them as vivid as possible, picture that rat squeeling as Legolas wraps the chain around it - rude and ridiculous images work best!

If you're not already familiar with the Major System you may want to separate all the Aces, 2's, 3's and 4's from the deck and memorize those 16 cards before moving on to the rest.

Putting the playing cards in order

Each set of 3 cards is naturally stored in your mind in a specific order (Person, Action, Object), however you will obviously want to remember more than 3 cards and that's where a Memory Palace comes in.  Choose a location you know well, it can either be indoors or out, I often find a journey that I do regularly works well.  As you're walking on the journey, picture the image associated with the first 3 cards (e.g. Legolas chaining a rat) at the start of the journey.  Ideally integrate the images into the location in a dynamic way, so Legolas might be chaining the rat to a gate at the end of your garden where you start the journey, for example.

Follow the journey in your mind's eye and put the image for the next 3 cards at the next location in the journey and so on.  To memorize a whole set of cards you'll need 18 locations, the first 17 will have the image you've created with 3 cards at them and the 18th will just have the image of the Person.