Deck stacks, pros and cons?

Discussion in 'Magic Forum' started by Deadlyapples, Sep 29, 2017.

  1. so I am looking at having a go at using a stack but I am not sure what the pros and cons of each stack are and was hoping people could post what stacks they know and what they like about them, how they compare to others, what useful features they have and how applicable they are to situations. Thins like ease of setup, variety of use, memorisation, mathematical uses and cyclical look. I have searched for a while and want to know what are worth learning and what aren't.

    I would also like people's opinion of Temporarily out of order deck stack and if that is worth learning. I haven't learned a stack yet but figured if I at least get a good place to start it is worth me spening a few mins a day memorising the deck while I develop my other controls and tricks.

    Cheers guys.
  2. First off, there is the major Con when using Deck Stacks: The fact that you have to carry around a deck in stack. Now, you could just carry around a single deck that is in the stack, but then you wouldn't be able to use it for effects requiring people to take a card, you couldn't have it signed, the deck couldn't be shuffled, if you drop them your left with a problem, etc. (without doing some extra moves to compensate for all of these). If you carry around 2 decks, you have to switch one in, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it is another thing to carry around with you.

    The Pros to it is that there are a ton of effects that are only possible/significantly easier to do whilst using a stack. Furthermore, once you have it memorized, you can use a stacked deck as an out for almost anything. Further more, it is still a regular deck, no gimmicks/gaffs are involved. Pair one with a marked deck, you know the position of any card in the deck, or you instantly know the value of a card they take simply by cutting the deck and peaking the bottom card. The whole deck is a key card system. There are so many things you can do with it. Plus, a lot of work has been done on them, and they are pretty easy to start a creative flood with.

    That being said, I can move into some more info. There are essentially 2 branches of stacks, as far as I am aware, and here I can break down some major points to help you get an idea between the 2:

    Mathematical - These stacks rely on a mathematical formula, principal, or equation that keeps the whole deck together. The Most Notable (and the one you should start with) is Si Stebbins Stack. It takes just a few minutes to set up, and requires no memorization, apart from a few formulas. You can use it to find what card they picked instantly, you could use it to find how far in a card is, you can use it with some other principals to instantly cut to a card, the possibilities are huge. Si Stebbins Published a few effects he does with them in a little pamphlet, which is currently available on the public domain. I can PM you and get it to you if you want, and am willing to help you with it (I love SSS) as some of the wording is near impossible to understand.

    Mathematical Stacks are super easy to customize, and are really good outlets to work into as you can essentially have a blank canvas to which you can apply anything. For Example, With SSS, You can easily pair other things with the effect, and you can start creating your own ideas based on it fairly quickly.

    • They are Utilities allowing you to do a ton of effects
    • No memorizing cards, just couple of base ideas,
    • Easily customizable
    • Easily used as a blank canvas
    • Easy to get into and learn
    • Easily paired with other principals

    • The deck is still using a pattern, so there is a VERY SLIM chance that someone will notice it (though I have had people scrutinize SSS and not find anything.
    • You have to keep the cards in stack perfectly to use some principals
    • More limited than memorized stacks, though they aren't really limited at all.

    Memorized - These stacks use a memorized system. The entire order of the Deck is memorized, and looks completely Random to someone else. They generally rely on a system of Mnemonics to help you remember. They are generally easy to get into, but not without a ton of practice (and sometimes they are 100% random, so you have to put everything in order by hand).

    There are 3 major systems out there that people generally use: The Mnemonica/Tamariz Stack, the Aronson Stack, and the Nikola System. All 3 take a considerable time to memorize fully learn and understand. The Learning curve is pretty high, since you are essentially giving mnemonics to initial chaos. Furthermore, they take a bit more understanding to accomplish some effects. Luckily, you can buy the books to help you understand (Mnemonica by Juan Tamariz is huge and filled with info, "A Stack To Remember" By Simon Aronson is a pamphlet with a lot of info, and the Nikola System was Published in the Encyclopedia of Card Tricks. The latter is obviously the most well rounded buy, as you get the entire Encyclopedia for about $10, or at your library. The Aronson Stack is a bit harder to find, but you can definitely find it (I believe Simon himself released it on the public domain. Not sure though). Mnemonica will set you back $60, but has the most info.

    The great thing is, most effects are apply-able trans-stack. Furthermore, stacks like the Redford stack (from Temporarily Out of Order), have been developed to get into each stack and transfer from one to the next.

    • A utility to use for many things
    • Virtually undetectable
    • Pure Memory, so it is always in your head
    • Large works on the subjects, A lot more options

    • Very easy to start making your own effects based on them
    • Easy to combine with other effects
    • Immediately know everything about the deck
    • Always have an out

    • Very steep learning curve
    • Pure Memory - you will need to remember everything
    • Virtually undetectable - you wont immediately notice a mistake
    • Long time to memorize fluently

    In the long run, Memorized stacks will give you more options & possibilities than Mathematical ones. However, Mathematical ones are significantly easier to learn and use.

    Since you are just starting out, I would Learn Si Stebbins first. It literally will take you minutes to learn, and it has a lot of potential power. pm me, and I can find you that public domain pdf and help you out with some of the effects!
  3. Yeah, learn the Si Stebbins first. If you like it move on to a new one that's a bit more advanced.
    Antonio Diavolo and Maaz Hasan like this.
  4. The Temporarily Out of Order stack is based on, but different from, Si Stebbins so learning Si Stebbins will get you on your way toward Temporarily Out of Order.

    How do you intend to use it? What is most important to you? Mnemonica can stand up to closer inspection than Temporarily Out of Order for example. If you won't be using the stack for the same people frequently it's not a problem, but eventually your friends would be more likely to notice certain card groupings. It depends if they're like that or not.

    Returning it to new deck order is also a (30 step) process. But if you won't be needing to do that then it's not an issue either.

    Other than that it seems like a lovely stack and it looks like it has a number of good poker deals, if that's what you are looking for.
    Maaz Hasan likes this.
  5. I'm not familiar with the Temporarily Out Of Order stack but as it comes to stacked decks in general I don't mind them if the effect is strong enough. A trick that I feel that uses a stack is Fractal something or other by Lennart Green. But it sounds like you'd like to use the stack as a utility sort of thing, which I'm personally opposed to. Mostly because the cons out weigh the pros when there are simpler ways to perform things that you can do with a Si Stebbins sort of stack.

    Good luck and even though I don't see any point, don't let that discourage you from trying and forming your own opinion.
  6. I disagree. A deck stack is one of the most powerful utility one can have if you actually bother using it. For someone who doesn't want to use and study one, it is pointless. But if someone really puts in the time to learn and use it, the possibilities are in-numerous. The pros out way the cons by a lot. People can and have built their entire careers on deck stacks. Sure, you are entitled to your opinion, but that doesn't mean it's right for everyone.
    Antonio Diavolo likes this.
  7. Other than one off effects, which I acknowledged I'd personally make exceptions such as for the effect Fractal Harmony and Two Head Dragon. Both use full stacked decks. But I'm interested in the in-numerous possibilities, could you explain as best as you can what possibilities can be done with a stack that basics sleights can't achieve?

    I doubt careers are built on the back of a card stack, there are many other elements to a career than that. But I understand what you mean and I'd like to hear what exactly can be accomplished, effect wise not method. Also again I encourage anyone to test out anything and form their own opinion.
    Maaz Hasan likes this.
  8. 1st off, I never said there were an in-numerous number of effects only accomplishable with a stacked deck. I said that there were a lot of possibilities. This includes enhancing and perfecting a performance, making things look cleaner, immediately resting for specific effects, being able to do things otherwise requiring a few gimmicks. All of this helps a performer out. T

    That being said, I'm unaware of the method for the 2 effects you have labeled but here are 6 off the top of my head:

    Have the spectator cut the deck (or shuffle and switch a stacked one in), have them hold it in their hands, and without touching it have them name any card, and know exactly how far down it is.

    Have them look at any freely chosen card from a deck they have been holding in their hands the whole time, and have them take it out of the deck, and know exactly what card it was.

    Have them freely deal from the top or the bottom (allowing them to switch when they want), and know the exact card they stopped at.

    Have them cut any amount of cards into your hand and know exactly how many there are.

    Have them name any 2 cards and name the amount of cards between those 2 cards.

    "Spring" the deck and immediately separate it into red/black. "Spring" one of the colors and separate it into the 2 suits, and so on, until you are left with a freely selected card.

    And there are a ton more,

    Now yes, some of these are possible if you are holding the deck, but IMO, making something in the hands is a part of that effect. Take a color changing deck. Though the effect is at it's core the same, one that happens in the spectator's hands the entire time generates a different effect from one in the magicians hands. The whole premise of whatever went on in their head gets thrown out the window, because they are left holding the deck. It's difficult to explain, but I think you know what I'm talking about.

    I see what you mean, about how everything is possible with sleight of hand. But you also have to look at the fact that there is some stuff that doesn't make sense to do with pure slights. I completely understand if you don't like it. But I also find it hard to believe that you can see no use for it at all.
    Antonio Diavolo likes this.
  9. Just thought I would ask for some more advice because there are so many and if I am now going to commit to a daily memorization of a stack I want to make sure I am choosing one that will suit me and how I want my card magic to go.

    Personally I am not that familiar with Poker or Bridge but I see the merit regardless of what stack is chosen when performing effects like number of cards, what card at what position and other things and I see that those kind of tricks are available to any stack as it is relating to the cards value and their position however I do really like the idea of learning poker and having a stack which allows poker deal demonstrations. I have also read that some stacks are easier to get into and in some cases can be done whilst performing other tricks.

    Are there are stacks that

    Can be created mid performance or during a performance
    Can be used to demonstrate crazy poker deals
    Can be used to locate aces easily or ace productions (I know you could just strip the aces and do a normal production)
    Can be separated into red and black as part of an effect
  10. deck stacks are quite helpful! In fact unless you have an audience that ardently plays card games, most people dont even know deck stacking is a thing!
    The pros are multiple! I mean, there are differences among stacks, but all of them offer some really cool effects. Personally speaking, I find a Si Stebbins stack the most versatile. Also, I love number stacks, u know, where the cards of a particular value are stacked.
    I absolutely HATE forming a stack in a shuffled deck.
    (Yo! Prizes for being the laziest, right here).
    And well, they do take up some time. And there's always a what if...what if the spectators wanna shuffle?
    All that being said, deck stacks are really great. They are kind of gimmicks you can get rid of in the most natural way possible!
    It might take some hard work memorising a stack...but once you do it, it will stay with you forever. And, I also think it SHOULDN'T be a hard work memorising 52 cards, it's like memorising a bunch of your friend's mobile numbers.
    Use mnemonics!
  11. So generally the deck is always stacked prior to the performance an switched in. There is a such thing as "cold stacking", but that's more so for cheating at card games and isn't super useful outside of a few forces. For a full deck stack you will have to have the deck stacked before the performance an switch it in, or use it throughout the performance.

    Remember this: A Stack will always show you the same information: What card is where, where a specific card is, what card is in a specific location, what cards are next to it, and how far one card is from the other.

    So if you were to take Si Stebbins Stack for example, you know that the entire deck is based on an easy mathematical principal (PM me if you need Si Stebbin's pamphlet, which is on the public domain), and that the deck follows a specific order for the suits. Using that, you can determine what cards are where, and with that, you can do whatever you want with it (all the things you said can be achieved).

    If you take Mnemonica Stack, here, you will have the position of every card memorized. With that, you will always know which cards are where, and can thus deal them out however you want.
  12. This.
    You should just learn this stack to figure out what can be done, then decide to which one you wish to commit. Consider the Redford stack from Temporarily Out of Order, it will do what you want and is based on Si Stebbins.

    I use a variation of Mnemonica, but that's just me. They are all good. Take Josh's advice above and go from there and check back here again.
  13. Cheers guys :) I also hope these topics are helpful to others :D
  14. You can do an ACAAN with a memorized/stacked deck as well.
    Maaz Hasan likes this.

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