How To Win Rock – Paper – Scissors
(Almost) Every Time

The game rock – paper – scissors is man’s premier problem-solving tool. Instead of relying on luck to win, use these proven techniques.

By Rob Cypher

If you’re relying on rock – paper – scissors to decide something, the consequences for losing are no doubt extraordinarily severe: Riding bitch on a long road trip. Buying the next round. Being the one to tell your buddy that his girlfriend is a horrible person. Hell, back in 2006 a Florida judge even ordered two lawyers to settle a dispute with a game of RPS. (Seriously.)

Yet as simple as the rules may be — rock crushes scissors, paper covers rock, scissors cut paper — winning is usually pure luck. Thing is, it doesn’t have to be if you employ the correct strategy. Do it well, and you’ll always win rock – paper – scissors. Well, almost.

1. Expect a beginner to start with rock
New Scientist magazine conducted a study in 2007 concluding that rock was most commonly played first. Why rock? We assume it’s because it’s a fist, which is undeniably more badass than an open-hand slap (paper) or angry pointing (scissors). So lead off with paper when playing anyone you think isn’t a student of the game.

2. Start with scissors against an expert
Scissors can be a savvy first move when competing against a veteran. He may very well know rock is most common and so throw something else — quite likely paper. If you throw scissors, you win. If he throws scissors, you tie. In cases of a stalemate, throw the same thing the next round.

3. Read your opponent’s mind
After the average player ties or loses, he’s likely to subconsciously throw whatever would have beat his last throw. So if he played paper and lost, expect scissors next. Your play: rock.

4. Play the odds
If someone tosses the same thing twice, don’t expect it again. If, for example, your opponent threw rock twice in a row, your next play should be scissors — at best it wins if he plays paper, at worst it ties if he plays scissors.

5. When in doubt, throw paper
According to the World RPS Society, Scissors gets played only 29.6 percent of the time, not 33.3 percent like you might expect. So with rock being the most popular and scissors being the least popular, paper is your best bet if you have no idea what to throw based on the other tips.

Want to test your RPS skills? Take on a computer that mimics human reasoning.

TAGS: betting, games, paper, rock, scissors


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Thomas Dison (Sat, 18 Jun 2011 23:03:39 +0000): this cant be correct. I tried out your theory. and that program is biased on what you click. it predicted I would throw paper 7 times in a row? started off how you said for the first 9 rounds. but then I went paper and stuck with paper and it picked it 7 times. so whatevs. no science in what your saying. atleast not against that program.
Benjamin Letchford (Sun, 19 Jun 2011 01:11:52 +0000): Interesting :D
Miriam Kenning (Sun, 19 Jun 2011 15:55:54 +0000): Rock, Paper, Scissors Theory of Winning.........
Mary Sharp (Mon, 20 Jun 2011 03:35:50 +0000): News you can use!
Miriam Kenning (Tue, 21 Jun 2011 13:48:55 +0000): Yep. Ask Sydney's friend, Nick. He won a scooter playing R,P,S!!!
Adrian Holguin (Tue, 21 Jun 2011 17:12:58 +0000): March 17th will be here before we know it.
Ruth Goldner (Wed, 22 Jun 2011 05:49:50 +0000): People should be mindful of the dangers of rock paper scissors:
Patrick Armshaw (Wed, 22 Jun 2011 18:31:11 +0000): You will if you do the opposite against people who've read this article and believed it!
Øde Evàns (Mon, 27 Jun 2011 07:14:35 +0000): Interesting I must say!
(Thu, 30 Jun 2011 03:07:48 +0000): In Japan in the school-yard they will play rock paper scissors competitively, usually on a log and the contestants stand on the log. Winner stays after best of 3. Certainly it is no coincidence that some kids are very skilled and stay champ for a long time where as others never stay long at all. No doubt they are subconsciously using these or similar rules. No doubt the kids with the best memories can remember and learn other kids rules, thereby staying on the log longer and becoming even more skilled by repetition and experience.
(Thu, 30 Jun 2011 03:16:09 +0000): Of course, being unpredictable is also part of the game, so even the best player will be beaten, but in the end his winning percentage will be much higher than the average player.
Marcus Ivy (Fri, 01 Jul 2011 11:40:38 +0000): just don't run with scissors.
Christina C Benson (Sun, 03 Jul 2011 21:01:56 +0000): What about rock, paper, scissors... DYNAMITE! I always like to throw a little dynamite into the action to stir things up!
Juan P Alva (Sun, 03 Jul 2011 22:45:18 +0000): Dynamite = disqualification
Shani Komulainen (Sun, 03 Jul 2011 23:26:05 +0000): Unless you can be a best-selling author!
Ron Herout (Thu, 07 Jul 2011 19:36:56 +0000): dynamite=winning
Chris Tsang (Mon, 31 Oct 2011 07:08:04 +0000): No comment
Warner Treuter (Mon, 07 Nov 2011 23:48:07 +0000): Ali the funniest!
Melissa Feindt (Thu, 29 Dec 2011 16:26:27 +0000): Steph Peck and Amy Farmer we should be this for Halloween next year!
Steph Peck (Thu, 29 Dec 2011 16:28:42 +0000): Well, this is pretty much amazing, just like you! I would like to be the ROCK please and thank you :)
Melissa Feindt (Thu, 29 Dec 2011 16:36:52 +0000): I'm kinda diggin the Scissors!!
William Cross St Laurent (Tue, 10 Apr 2012 02:04:27 +0000): I'll never lose a game of RPS again!
Adam Harris (Sat, 28 Jul 2012 18:05:43 +0000): Thought it was Rock/Paper/Scissors/Chuck Norris?
Jennifer Kuzenski (Sun, 19 Aug 2012 02:54:04 +0000): Rock paper scissors lizard Spock
Emily Candelaria Cribbs (Fri, 24 Aug 2012 19:05:50 +0000): Rock, paper, scissors, Spock!
Arielle Liars (Mon, 27 Aug 2012 05:52:05 +0000): I love younger men. I have dated only men at least 5 years younger and as much as 10 years younger than me for many years. I love the energy and a nice tight bod. Older men just aren't the same, different mentality. I seem to have more in common with younger guys. They're actually more fun and are usually more interested in me. I'm flattered. I think younger men like cougars because they have no agenda, don't usually want to get married and are usually very independent and don't need a man to take care of them. I meet younger men on the site named Co ugar loving/co/m.
Bodybuilding Forum (Sun, 14 Jul 2013 02:54:37 +0000): does anyone of 12 still play this game?
Jerry Jones (Thu, 05 Sep 2013 18:56:57 +0000): easy to cheat.
Steroids (Tue, 01 Apr 2014 01:06:25 +0000): perhaps rock is most popular because it is the most natural position for the hand.


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