How To Win At Rock–Paper–Scissors

We all know the rules of rock-paper-scissors, right? Three simple choices: rock crushes scissors, scissors beats paper and paper covers rock. Be definition, each one loses once and wins once so it seems that there’s no strategy that you can follow to increase your chances of winning.

Well, if indeed your opponent’s decisions were made randomly, as if you were playing a computer, that would be correct as each strategy would give you equal probability of winning. However, humans are quite predictable when they play this game and that is something you can exploit.

A 2014 study by Chinese scientists, had 360 students of Zhejiang University play rock–paper–scissors for 300 rounds (90-150 minutes) and their findings will give you two huge tips that will increase your chances of winning. Here they are. (the article continues after the ad)


What that means: More often than not, people who won on the last round will most likely repeat their strategy. For example, if someone won by playing rock, there is a high chance that he or she will play rock again on this round.

How to take advantage of it: If you lost by someone who played rock on the last round and chances are he’ll play rock again, your best bet is to play the strategy that wins rock: paper.


What that means: People who lost on the last round will change their strategy. So, let’s say your opponent just lost on scissors. That means that on the next round they’ll either play rock or paper.

How to take advantage of it: Knowing that helps you choose the strategy that will ensure that you won’t lose – in this case it’s paper. By playing paper, you’ll win rock or draw paper. (the article continues after the ad)


Because your opponent knows that it’s in your best interest to play paper, they should instead play scissors. An easy way to remember that is to play what the last round’s loser just played. This game theory can go on and on but you get the point – always choose your strategy by keeping in mind that winners will most likely stick to their previous strategy and losers will change.

So, now you know! Hopefully these tips will increase your chances of winning the next time you’ll play rock-paper-scissors. And if you do so, don’t forget to give I’m A Useless Info Junkie a shout-out.

If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: The Monty Hall Problem: Why Swapping Your Original Choice Doubles The Chance Of Winning The Car 

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Main Article Photo:  Peter Griffin / Public Domain Pictures
Photoshop: I’m A Useless Info Junkie
Sources: Social cycling and conditional responses in the Rock-Paper-Scissors game

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