The Surprising Math Behind a 3-Card Tarot Reading

A tarot reading can be a fun way to get some insight into your life and consider what the future may hold. However, many people don’t realize that there is a lot of math involved in a tarot reading. Mathematical odds of a tarot card reading resulting in certain card combinations can tell you a lot about the reading.

What is a 3-card reading?

A three-card reading is a tarot spread in which only three cards are drawn from the deck. As a result, his spread is also known as a line, row, or triad. The three-card reading is one of the simplest spreads to use and can be very helpful in providing guidance for a specific question or issue. The images on the cards themselves are usually assigned meanings and/or contain symbols that are considered archetypal of events in our lives. The images on the three cards are interpreted in order to tell a story, linking those symbols to an individual’s question.

An Example:

Three cards are drawn from a deck based on the question presented. The combination of these three cards is: Page of Wands, Knight of Cups and King of Swords. A good question to ask here is what do these cards mean together? These three cards can imply that you are 1. about to make a new start in your life, 2. There is a caring person in your life currently that will play a part in this new journey, and 3. There is an intelligent businessperson coming in the near future to advise or guide you toward achieving your goals. This result was dependent on the question the seeker was asking. The question is also random and can be considered another variable in the mathematical probabilities.

The Mathematics

How does the math work with a deck of 78 tarot cards? With 78 cards there are 8,064 possible combinations. A three-card reading will incorporate only one of these possibilities. Therefore, the reader is looking at less than 1 percent of all possible readings when using this number of cards.

If you draw three cards randomly from a 78-card tarot deck, the odds of repeating that same draw are staggering. The calculation to determine the odds is as follows:

Basically, It is the same as a lottery with 76076 numbers and you only win when the chosen number is the one in your hand.

This calculation is sourced from this article:

In conclusion

Events that seem random happen around us all the time, maybe they aren’t as haphazard as we think. We can often see that our path is by design. So, If the cards are so random, how do they tell a story that addresses a personal question with clarity. If you use five, seven, or even twelve cards the mathematical odds are even greater. Perhaps things are less random than we have considered.

Read more about tarot on this blog: