How to Win at Rock, Paper, Scissors

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While Rock, Paper, Scissors is commonly thought to be a game of chance, it actually isn’t! Depending on whether you’re playing an inexperienced or experienced player, you can observe the patterns of your opponent, take advantage of statistical tendencies, or mislead your opponent to successfully win at Rock, Paper, Scissors.


EditPlaying a Rookie

  1. Throw paper against a male opponent. Inexperienced males statistically lead with rock most often for their first move in the game. By throwing paper on your first move against them, you’ll likely win.
    Win at Rock, Paper, Scissors Step 1 Version 4.jpg
    • Rock is the statistically most often thrown move at 35.4%.[1]
  2. Throw rock against a female opponent. Most women tend to lead with scissors, so if you throw out a rock on the first play of the game you can beat your opponent.
    Win at Rock, Paper, Scissors Step 2 Version 3.jpg
    • Scissors is the throw that is least often used with only a 29.6% chance of being thrown in a Rock, Paper, Scissors game.[2]
  3. Look for your opponent using the same move twice in a row. If your opponent plays the same move twice in a row, they’re not likely to use it a third time. So, you can assume they won’t throw that move. Put out a move that will give you either a win or stalemate, guaranteeing you won’t lose.
    Win at Rock, Paper, Scissors Step 3 Version 4.jpg
    • For example, if your opponent throws out scissors twice in a row you can assume they won’t play it a third time. They’ll either play rock or paper. You should then throw paper because it will either beat your opponent’s rock or be a stalemate against their paper.[3]
  4. Suggest a throw to your opponent when explaining the game. If your rookie opponent needs a quick review of the rules, use hand gestures to subconsciously suggest to them their first move.
    Win at Rock, Paper, Scissors Step 4 Version 4.jpg
    • For example, when explaining that rock beats scissors, use the scissors gesture to show this (instead of rock), and then use the scissors gesture again when explaining that scissors beats paper. This will have the scissors gesture in your opponent’s mind and they’ll likely subconsciously play it first. Be prepared with a rock move to beat them.[4]

EditPlaying Experienced Opponents

  1. Play scissors or rock in the first round. Experienced players won’t throw a rock for their first move, so you should lead with scissors. This way you can beat their paper or tie if they also lead with scissors.[5]
    Win at Rock, Paper, Scissors Step 5 Version 4.jpg
  2. Switch moves if you lose. If your opponent won a round, they’re likely to use that same move again in the next round. Knowing this, you should change your move that you lost with to one that can beat the move that your opponent had just played.
    Win at Rock, Paper, Scissors Step 6 Version 4.jpg
    • For example, if your opponent just beat you with a rock, you should switch your next move to paper to beat the rock that your opponent will likely use again.[6]
  3. Look for tells. Opponents often have tells in the way they position their hands that will let you know what move they might be thinking about.
    Win at Rock, Paper, Scissors Step 7 Version 4.jpg
    • For example, a tucked thumb in the crook of the index finger suggests that your opponent will throw rock.[7]
    • A loose hand is usually going to result in paper.
    • A hand that has the first two fingers loose is likely going to be scissors.[8]
  4. Announce your throw. Tell your opponent that you’re going to use a rock move. Telling your opponent your next move will have them thinking that you won’t actually throw that move. Then when you do actually throw that move, you’ll have a greater chance of beating them since they weren’t expecting it.
    Win at Rock, Paper, Scissors Step 8 Version 3.jpg
    • For example, tell your opponent you’re going to throw a rock. Since your opponent thinks you won’t actually lead with a rock, they’ll assume you’re going to play paper or scissors. Your opponent will then likely play scissors or rock to beat your paper or scissors. Then when you play rock, you either beat their scissors or draw a stalemate to their rock. In either case, you don’t lose![9]
  5. Watch for your opponent’s frustration. If your opponent is repeatedly losing they’re more likely to throw rock, since this is symbolically a very aggressive option that players rely on when losing.
    Win at Rock, Paper, Scissors Step 9 Version 2.jpg
    • On the other hand, paper is seen as the most passive move so you won’t expect this from an opponent who’s losing.[10]
  6. Go for paper to win by statistics. When you’re at a loss of what to do, throw paper. Because scissors is the statistically least often thrown move, and because rock is the most often thrown move, paper is the best way to go.[11]
    Win at Rock, Paper, Scissors Step 10 Version 2.jpg
    • Paper will beat rock, which is the most commonly thrown move. Scissors can beat paper, but because it’s the least often thrown move the chances of losing are much less likely.

EditLearning the Basic Rules

  1. Find a partner. Rock, paper, scissors is only played with two people. You’ll need to find a partner to play with before you begin.
    Win at Rock, Paper, Scissors Step 11 Version 2.jpg
  2. Decide on the number of rounds. Decide on the amount of odd numbered rounds you want to play for the game. This way, you’ll know going in how many rounds you need to win.
    Win at Rock, Paper, Scissors Step 12 Version 2.jpg
  3. Count to three. Pound your fist on your other open hand three times before shooting your signal. This is usually denoted by saying “rock, paper, scissors, shoot!” You pound your fist on your open hand for the “rock, paper, scissors” and throw your move on “shoot.”[12]
    Win at Rock, Paper, Scissors Step 13.jpg
  4. Learn the moves and how to form them. Understand the three moves of the game: rock, paper, and scissors. Rock is formed by making a fist with your thumb tucked in your index finger. Paper is formed by opening your hand out flat with your palm facing down. Scissors is formed by extending only your forefinger and middle finger in the shape of a “v” with your other fingers curled into your palm.[13]
    Win at Rock, Paper, Scissors Step 14.jpg
  5. Know what each move beats. Rock wins against scissors, paper wins against rock, and scissors wins against paper.
    Win at Rock, Paper, Scissors Step 15.jpg
    • If the same move is thrown by both players, it results in a stalemate.[14]
  6. Play the round over if it’s a stalemate. In case of you and your partner throwing the same move, play the round again until someone wins.[15]
    Win at Rock, Paper, Scissors Step 16.jpg


  • Beware of “shadowing” where the opposing player may pretend that they’re going to make a certain gesture and then rapidly changes it at the last possible moment. This is frowned upon as cheating.

EditRelated wikiHows

  • Play Rock, Paper, Scissors
  • Play Chopsticks
  • Play Marbles
  • Play Tic Tac Toe
  • Win at Dice

EditSources and Citations

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