Two time USA Memory Champion and memory man Ron White shares how to memorize a deck of cards using character, action, object :

One of the biggest breakthroughs for me in the field of memory training in the last 3-5 years has been Character, Action, Object. This concept has been around longer than 3-5 years, however, this is when I first heard about it. If you want to improve your memory retention of cards or numbers I can’t recommend character, action, object highly enough.

After I competed in the 2008 USA Memory Championship and came in 4th place I really set my sights on winning the tournament and began to research how to get faster at memorizing a deck of cards.  At the 2008 tournament I had memorized something like 20 cards in 5 minutes. It was a really pathetic score looking back.

So I began to research and how to get faster and I found Joshua Foer’s article for Slate Magazine in which he introduced me to the concept of Character, Action, Object. It is a system that enables you to memorize cards 3 cards at a time. This was HUGE for me!

First of all you need to understand the concept of the method of loci or memory palace in order to understand how to memorize information. You can research those concepts here on my website just click the links here –

method of loci and memory palace

Once you understand this then you speed up your memorization rate with character, action, object. This is the concept.

Every playing card is assigned a character. This could be a living person, dead person or cartoon/fictional character.  If you need directions on how to assign characters to cards then check out my video:


Lets say you decide the 5 of hearts is Neil Armstrong, 9 of spades is Olympic swimmer Mark Spitz and King of Diamonds is the actor Lee Martin from the old Dirty Dozen movie. These are actually my characters for those cards. Next you need to assign and action and object for each of these cards. This is actually very simple.

What is Neil Armstrong famous for? Walking on the moon. So the character is Neil Armstrong, action is walking and object is the moon.

What is Mark Spitz famous for? Swimming in a pool. So the character is Mark Spitz, the action is walking and the object is a pool.

What is Lee Martin’s character in the Dirty Dozen famous for? Shooting Nazi’s. So the character is Lee Martin, the action is shooting and the object is Nazi’s.

Now let’s say this series of cards is played

King of Diamonds, 5 of Hearts, 9 of Spades. In this sequence of cards you would take the character from the first card, the action from the second card and the object from the third. So this picture would be Lee Martin walking on a pool.

If the cards were in this order:

5 of Hearts, 9 of Spades and King of Diamonds

Neil Armstrong swimming with Nazis

If the cards were in this order

9 of Spades, King of Diamonds and 5 of Hearts

Spitz shooting the moon

There you have it. That is how you use character action action to improve your memory in regards to memorizing a deck of cards. Using this method I went from memorizing about 20 cards in 5 minutes to memorizing an entire deck of playing cards in 1 minute and 27 seconds to set a new US record in 2009 for the fastest to memorize a deck of cards.

In my opinion, character, action, object is a break through in memorizing cards and numbers. Perhaps you will learn the method and become the next USA Memory Champion or World Memory Champion.