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The Ultimate Guide to Winning Any Argument with Rock, Paper, Scissors

By Edited May 8, 2016 9 26

Credit: Courtesy of rockpaperscissorslove.com

How to Get Everything You Want (Sort Of)

Rock, Paper, Scissors (RPS) appears to be an extremely simple game of chance on the surface. RPS has been used to solve arguments since 18th century Japan when it was known as Jan-ken-pon (though it originated even earlier than that in China between 206 BCE and 220 CE!). As such, it's hardly surprising that in the centuries it has been solving bar disputes and family feuds the game has developed some strategic depth. Nowadays there is even an annual RPS world championship with a top prize of $50k! 

Once you know how to win RPS over the average person it's up to you how you use it. Maybe you challenge your mates to a game of RPS over the last piece of pizza? Or maybe you play a game to decide who has dibs on that girl that just walked into the bar? Perhaps, RPS helps you decide who gets that last pair of  Sergio Rossi shoes that are on sale for 50% off? As you can see being a RPS master can get you many things in life. 

This guide will start off by explaining some basic RPS strategy and tactics and then will move on to the ultimate RPS strategy - only for RPS players with nerves of steel.

Move Beyond Basic RPS

Basic Strategy Guide

Males Love Rock - Amateur male RPS players open with rock more often than paper or scissors. Opening with paper in the first round against a male is a good option.

People are Afraid of Predictability - People don't like to be predictable and wont throw the same move three times in a row very often. If your opponent throws the same move twice expect them to change in the next round.

Nervous People Copy Winners - If your opponent is looking nervous they will be more likely to copy the move that just beat them. If you are playing for something your opponent really wants try to pick up on if they are nervous, if you know them well this shouldn't be too hard. If you beat your opponent with scissors in round 2 expect them to throw scissors in round three.

Watch Their Hands - Lot's of inexperienced RPS players have tells in their hand for what move they will do next. If their knuckles are very tight expect rock, if their fingers are all relaxed expect paper and if their bottom two knuckles are tight but the top two loose then expect scissors.

The Paper Metagame - Experienced players will anticipate that you will choose rock if you're male. Metagame them and throw scissors. The unexpected throw is also likely to make them nervous - which you can then play off of.

Call Your Moves Out - Calling your moves out and actually doing them can catch people off guard. There are no RPS tournament rules against talking to your opponent during rounds, what is actually thrown is considered the official move. In a friendly match, however, this technique may make you quite unpopular!

Smack Talk - Smack talk is also permissible in official RPS rules so have at it! Classics such as "Oh, scissors… how very beginner of you." and "why don't you think before your next throw?" are sure to make your opponent throw rock out of anger.

Know Your Opponent - By far the biggest advantage you can have is knowing your opponents tendencies and favourite move combinations. Watch them play other people and pay attention to their style. Do they like to open up with scissors to scare off paper and then go for a double rock? Know their strategy as best you can!


The Ultimate Rock, Paper, Scissors Strategy

Warning! To successfully employ this strategy you will need nerves of steel and the strength of will to lose many small things that you may want. If that doesn't describe you I highly recommend sticking with the basic strategy guide!

The ultimate RPS strategy transcends the single throw, it even transcends the RPS best of three. This strategy can take a long time to execute properly, possibly even more than 1-2 years. Again, if you are feeling nervous I suggest you direct your eyes back to the basic strategy guide.

Now for those still reading, here is how you execute the ultimate RPS strategy.

Lose. A lot. 

As I said, this strategy is not for the faint of heart. You have to be the most predictable RPS player that people have ever seen. Predictable to the point where your RPS playing is a joke amongst everyone you know. 

You must throw rock every time. Every. Time.

The trick to making it believable that you are 100% genuinely bad at RPS is that you have to lose a lot of arguments that you want to win. You must give up every last piece of pizza, every dibs and every pair of reduced Sergio Rossi heels for a minimum of 1 year.

Once you have people laughing at your inability to win a game of RPS and you have their full belief that you don't even realise what your doing wrong you wait.

And then you strike.

Wait until something you really, really want comes along. Something that is worth the year of sacrifices and humiliation you have gone through. At this point I will tell the story of how I found out about the ultimate RPS strategy so you will understand what I am talking about. 

My brother-in-law was known for years to be someone who only ever threw rock, and people took advantage of him because of it. What they didn't know was that he was actually just biding his time. Then, one day he met the woman that he knew he wanted to marry. When it came down to an argument between my brother-in-law and his friend over who would accompany this woman on a trip he knew his time had come. He challenged his friend to a game of RPS to settle the dispute. Knowing that it was a sure-win his friend accepted. 

Well, you know how this story ends. He threw scissors for the first time and ended up marrying her. 

So if you are willing to go through more than a year of humiliation for the chance at the ultimate win it's time to get losing!


Happy rocking and thanks for reading! Remember to hit the like, stumble or tweet buttons below if you enjoyed this article.



Feb 3, 2012 5:46am
The greatest How To Guide Ever!!! This is a fantastic idea for an article!
Feb 3, 2012 5:50am
Haha, Thanks Ernie. I had a lot of fun writing it!
Feb 3, 2012 4:27pm
Love it! Going to have to pass the link around my family.
Feb 3, 2012 6:27pm
Glad you enjoyed it Deb. Thanks heaps for sharing the link!
Feb 3, 2012 7:38pm
Very creative ZiggyD. I really enjoyed reading this guide and I am going to share it.
Feb 3, 2012 9:30pm
Thanks Boricua! Shares are really appreciated!
Feb 7, 2012 4:49pm
I hope my co-workers don't read this. I use a lot of what you just talked about to get out of nasty projects.

I find that if I have never RPS'd with someone before, a male chooses rock on the first round almost exclusively. When I RPS a guy for the first time to get out of something, I always do paper. I almost always win.
Feb 7, 2012 9:56pm
Haha, I thought about keeping a lot of this secret for the same reason. You could always use the ultimate RPS strategy to get out of that one REALLY bad project. It takes some cojones to go through with it though - I admire my bro-in-law for that. He's an inspiration.
Feb 7, 2012 4:59pm
Love this article!
Feb 7, 2012 9:56pm
Thanks Mira! I Loved writing it.
Feb 7, 2012 5:11pm
Brilliant...sharing this everywhere I can. I use the Scottish RPS strategy, which is basically playing Rock every time, and when someone shows paper, you just punch them in the face with your rock hand......wins every time.
Feb 7, 2012 9:59pm
That sounds like a ...rock solid strategy. Haha. According to my grandparents the Scottish version isn't RPS but rather Caber, Haggis, Dirk. I choose to believe that story because I love it! Thanks for the shares!
Feb 7, 2012 11:31pm
hahaha quite equivalent to taking extra turns in a tic-tac-toe. If it works use it ;)
Feb 9, 2012 9:22am
This is hilarious. Right one year from now i'm going to win me a whole night of beer - bring on the year of losing rock paper scissors (and also probably trying ot convince my friends to play)
Feb 9, 2012 4:35pm
You can do this, I believe in you!
Feb 9, 2012 10:46am
Nice article. I tried this strategy once but only lasted one night as I REALLY wanted the last beer in the fridge. Thanks anyway.
Feb 9, 2012 4:36pm
It takes nerves of steel and a commitment that most mere mortals cannot handle so don't feel bad!
Feb 9, 2012 4:37pm
Anyway I bet that beer was really good!
Feb 9, 2012 12:31pm
Fabulous article, you are very good!
Feb 9, 2012 4:37pm
Thanks a lot Lyn!
Feb 9, 2012 4:54pm
Unbeliavably insane! And entertaining. And informative. And just plain dumb (but in that fun, spanky way!) Excellent! A big fat, rock-encrusted, paper-cut thumb up to you, Sir!
Feb 10, 2012 12:03am
Thanks Vic! That's a great comment to get from the king of dumb, fun, spanky articles! Haha. Glad you enjoyed it!
Feb 10, 2012 12:18am
Seriously, who knew there was a championship for such a thing (where's that tic-tac-toe tourney??) I wish I HAD written this!!
Mar 13, 2012 9:20pm
Chuckles are great Thanks.
Mar 13, 2012 9:36pm
Awesome Ziggy. I will try it on my hubby.
Mar 14, 2012 7:57am
I'm keeping this little gem hidden so I can win. I'm not letting my kids get the best of me any longer. Rock, Paper, Scissors rules!
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