Pick 3 Lottery Strategy Basics

This is a more indepth look at Pick 3, Cash 3, and Play 3 lottery strategy basics. We go into lotto odds, number grouping, lottery pattern breakdowns and more.  The lotto basics are crucial to understanding later strategies.

Lottery Strategy Basics

Pick 3, Play 3, Cash 3 Lottery Fundamentals


We are going over the basic fundamentals of games such as Pick 3, Play 3, Cash 3.  These basic foundations will help you become a better strategy player by helping you understand the core basics that you can apply to any lottery strategy. Going forward to make things easier, we are labeling all games like Pick 3, Cash 3 and Play 3 as “Pick 3” so it is easier to follow along.


At its most basic level games like Pick 3 are made up 3 balls or digits that come from numbers 0-9 (in most cases). An example would be: 236.  Typically, there are roughly 1000 possible lottery combinations


There are multiple ways within the total combinations to group numbers to help you identify patterns.  Here are some of the ways to group potential numbers:



6-Way Numbers Grouping


Three unique digits in each column, as in the example 236. It is called the 6-way because it can appear as 236, 263, 362, 326, 632, 623.

You can play 6-way numbers two ways:

First you can play a BOX way in which one bet covers all possible combinations that the 6-way number generates. So, for example, if you purchased a ticket 236 with a BOX or ANY options, you would win (in most states).

Another way to play is STRAIGHT, where one bet only wins if the numbers hit in the specific way you chose. So, if you chose 326 straight when buying your ticket, you would only win if 326 hits straight (in most states).


Quick Math Note:

The 6 way numbers hit typically 70% of the time.



3-Way Numbers & Double Numbers Grouping


When two of the three digits are the same, but the third digit is different, this is a called a 3-Way or a Double Number.  For example, using 144, it could appear as 144, 441, 414.

These types of numbers can be played as a Box (where one bet covers all possible number combinations as above), and Straight (Where one bet covers an exact match).

Box One bet covers all of the 3 possible ways the number can come up

Straight One bet covers an exact match for the one of the 3 possible combinations.

Quick Math Note:

The 3-way or double numbers typically hits about 2-3 in every 10 draws.


1-Way Numbers & Triple Numbers Grouping

The last grouping option is probably the easiest to follow.  This is when all three of the digits are the same, for example, 555. When playing this number, it only makes sense (in most cases), to play it straight because you would have the highest payout.

Quick Math Note:

The chance of this groping hitting is roughly 1.4%.


Grouping Numbers & Patterns


There are multiple ways to categorize or group Pick 3, Play 3, Cash 3 numbers including but not limited to the following below:


High (H) / Low (L)

Low Numbers – 0, 1, 2, 3, 4

High Numbers – 5, 6, 7, 8, 9


Even (E) / Odd (O)

Odd Numbers – 1, 3, 5, 7, 9

Even Numbers – 0, 2, 4, 6, 8


High/Low & Odd/Even Combination

HE Numbers are (HighEven) – 6, 8

HO Numbers are (HighOdd) – 5, 7, 9

LE Numbers are (LowEven) – 0, 2, 4

LO Numbers are ( LowOdd) – 1, 3


Pick, Play, & Cash 3 Sums & Their Importance



Pick 3 Sums

The SUM of a pick 3, play 3, or cash 3 number is used frequently in multiple strategies, so it is important for you to understand what the ‘sum’ of a number means and how to get it. Using 268 as an example, you would add 2 + 6 + 8, your final sum would be 16.

However, there are different types of ‘sums’ that lottery players use, which are detailed.



Pick 3 Base Sum

The base sum is the last digit in a set of numbers.  If there is only one digit in the sum then that digit equals the base sum.


Sum = 5; Base Sum = 5

Sum = 23; Base Sum = 3

Sum = 19; Base Sum = 9


Pick 3 Root Sums

Pick 3, Play 3, & Cash 3 (as well as other games) lottery players also use what is called a ROOT SUM.  The Root Sum is a little bit different, it is typically only a single digit number. Please not that Root Sum is different than Total Sum We break it down below wit examples.

Example – 224

The SUM is 4+1+8 = 8 Total SUM, since 8 is a single digit, 8 is also the ROOT SUM.

Example – 248

The SUM is 2+4+8 = 16 Total SUM.  To get the ROOT SUM you then add 1+6 to get ROOT SUM 7

Example – 158

The SUM is 1+5+8 = 14 Total SUM, Then add 1+4 = 5, 5 = Root Sum


Date Sum

Determined by adding the month and day together and dropping the first number.


12/19 = 12+19 = 31; drop the 3 and your Date Sum = 1


01/5 = 1+5 = 6; Date Sum = 6


07/8 = 7+8 = 15; drop the 1 and your Date Sum = 5


Spilt Sum

The sum of the first and last numbers in a set.


249 = 2 +9 = Split Sum of 11

135 = 1+5 = Spit Sum of 6


Front Pair Sum

The sum of the first two digits of a winning number.


Winning numbers 278 = 2+7 = Front Pair Sum of 9


Lottery Math

Lottery math when it comes to Pick 3, Play 3, & Cash 3 games is very different than your typical math that you are familiar with in your daily life.  We break it down a little more below:

Pick 3, Play 3, Cash 3 Lottery Math – Basically, the rule for using lottery math, when adding or subtracting numbers never to carry or borrow numbers like you typically would. Check out the examples below:

Normal Math: 5 + 9 = 14

Lottery Math = 5 + 9 = 4 (remember you never carry the ‘1’)

Still confused? Check out the easy to follow lottery math tables below:



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