How to win at paper-scissors-rock

A classic game, one I used to play as a child and one I still see pupils enjoying playing, today.

Paper-scissors-rock or rock-paper-scissors, is a hand game played between two people in which each player simultaneously forms one of three shapes. The shapes are:  rock (a fist), paper (a flat hand) and scissors ( a fist with the index and middle fingers together forming a V shape). Rock crushes scissors, paper wraps rock and scissors cut paper.

Image downloaded from
Image downloaded from

Paper-scissors-rock can be played with a degree of skill by recognising and predicting your opponent’s behaviour. Game theory is the area of mathematics that studies how people interact when they have to make decisions that affect each other.

Zhijian Wang from the Zhejian University in China, studied real players to determine whether an optimal winning strategy, in paper-scissors-rock, exists.  Some interesting findings were made. Read on to find out how you can win at paper-scissors-rock!

Wang noted some interesting statistics which can help you be a winner.

  • Winning players tend to stick with their actions in the next round. Knowing this can help you come up with a winning strategy of your own.
  • If you just won a round, play what your opponent just played because they are likely to think that you will stick to your strategy.
  • Men tend to open with rock.
  • Women tend to open with scissors.

Do you still think the game is just plain luck or could a hidden strategy and knowledge of the above statistics, help you win?

Try it out and let me know! Good luck!

Till next time…

Peppi Orfanogianni

Featured image downloaded from and modified for this post

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