How to Win at Rock, Paper, Scissors

Three Parts:Observing patternsInfluencing your opponentPlaying the game

Whilst you probably already know how to play "Rock, Paper, Scissors," there can be more to this game than simple chance. This article details some of the strategies used in competitions such as the annual Rock, Paper, Scissors World Championship. By being both observant and unpredictable, you can play like an RPS pro.

Part 1
Observing patterns

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    Watch your opponent play others. Often, they will lean towards one of the choices (for example, rock). If you have a chance to watch them play before they play you, look for an overall pattern.
  2. Image titled Win at Rock, Paper, Scissors Step 2
    Study your opponent. Watch how your opponent plays with other people. See which option they throw most and the pattern they usually throw in.
    • Before your opponent throws, look at their hands. If all fingers are tense, it's likely that they will play rock. If they are all lose, you can guess paper, and if only the top 2 are lose, it's a fair bet that they'll play scissors.
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    Know rookie tendencies.
    • Rookie males tend to lead with rock. If you're playing a spontaneous game against a male rookie, there's an increased chance that his opening throw will be rock, so you'll want to go with paper.
    • If you're playing a female rookie, however, keep in mind that competitive player Jason Simmons claims that women tend to start with scissors, so go with rock.
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    Play scissors or paper against an experienced player. A non-rookie may know that throwing an initial rock is too predictable, because of the tendency for male rookies to do this. They'll probably use scissors or paper. Therefore, you should start off with scissors, as it'll beat their paper or at least tie with their scissors. If your opponent is an experienced woman, she may be familiar with the "scissors" stereotype and will likely throw either rock or paper--your best bet is paper.

Part 2
Influencing your opponent

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    Before the match begins, make it clear how you're going to reveal your choices. Use a script like, "Now are we doing one, two, three, or one, two, three, shoot?"
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    During this seemingly unscripted negotiation, throw down which gesture you want your opponent to choose. For example, on the "three," throw down paper. Then on the "shoot," throw it down again. "Paper" is now in your opponent's subconscious.
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    It doesn't matter which one you throw down or which method you both agree on, all that matters is that you throw down the choice that would beat the one you've been waving in front of their face. They unknowingly pick up on the suggestion you give during your pre-game and usually pick that one as their decision.

Part 3
Playing the game

  1. 1
    Make sure you understand how the game works.
    • Scissors beat paper (as they can cut the paper)
    • Rock beats scissors (as the rock can smash the scissors)
    • Paper beats rock (as the paper can smother it)
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    Look for a double run. If someone makes the same throw twice, they will not want to make that same throw the third time, because they don't want to seem predictable. You can use this information to your advantage. For instance, if someone throws paper twice, they'll probably throw either rock or scissors on their third gesture; use rock so that you can either win or draw.
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    Beat your last move. This only works if you have just won; inexperienced or frustrated players tend to subconsciously throw the move that just beat them, so you should throw a gesture that will beat your own last move. For example, if you just won with rock against their scissors, they might throw rock next, so you should be prepared with paper.
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    Use probability to your advantage. In competition play, it's been statistically observed that scissors is the least common gesture. If you're at a loss for what to throw, using paper will give you a slight advantage, as it's slightly less probable that your opponent will use scissors.
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    Keep your eyes on your opponent's hand just as the gesture is being thrown. Watch what shape they are forming their hand into. If you see them extending into the paper gesture, for instance, you may have a split second within the count to react accordingly with scissors. But, be careful when trying to see what your opponent is doing because it could lead to slow throwing, which is illegal in competitive play.


  • If an inexperienced player asks you to repeat the rules, you can subconsciously influence them to pick a certain gesture by dropping subtle hints. Physically demonstrate the gesture you want them to play more than any other gesture, and make sure it's the last gesture they see as you explain how the game works.
  • If it is allowed in the game or tournament that you play in, take a die, or a random number generator (like a scientific calculator). Set yourself a rule - such as, when rolling the die, 1 or 2 = paper, 3 or 4 = scissors, 5 or 6 = rock. This way, it will be impossible for your opponent to predict your move, and there will be no pattern.
  • Websites. Although you won't be able to study the physical gestures of your opponent, you will be able to observe game play patterns and habits faster online. Practice in the mirror if nothing else works out.
  • There is no substitute for practice. Roshambo "RPS" can be played online in either a tournament or heads-up match setting at various [?].
  • Ask the person what their favorite color is before playing. That person is more likely to throw scissors as a result, so you should throw rock.[citation needed]


  • An experienced pro may use all of these strategies against you. They might fake you out by, using scissors predominantly as their first gesture and then all of a sudden using paper when you least expect it.
  • Beware of "shadowing" where the opposing player may pretend they are going to make a certain gesture and then rapidly change it at the last possible moment. This is frowned upon as cheating.
  • "Cloaking" is when a player delays their gesture as long as possible, so that you will not have a chance to predict their gesture.

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