This weekend we hosted our annual Rock Paper Scissors (RPS) tournament. Â This is a tournament that one of my best friends in college and I started back almost a decade ago. Â Recently, I randomly met some kid who went to the same school five years after me who knew me by name because we stated this awesome tradition. Â It all started when we were on the cross country team and used to play during every run, all year long. Â That is something like 2,000 miles of rock paper scissors. Â Needless to say, we thought we had gotten pretty good. Â So we had a giant party to prove to the world that we were the best. Â The interesting thing was, of the final four players in the 64 person bracket, all were members of our little RPS society. Â Turns out, the simple game which began as a way to settle disputes over whose turn it was to do the dishes, had evolved into an elaborate game with chess-like strategic sophistication. A famous RPS player once said “To the beginner, the choices are few, to the expert, the choices are many.” Here is what we learned through hundreds of thousands of rounds of RPS about how to win:
These tips are for international style best of five matches (3/5 wins) and can be used effectively in 2/3 matches.
Know your first three throws. Â An opening gambit ( for example The Avalance: Rock, Rock, Rock; The Paper Dolls: Paper, Scissors, Scissors; or The Fistful O’dollars: Rock, Paper, Paper) will allow you to focus on reading your opponent’s reactions so that you can adapt your strategy and close out the win. Â At this point it is ok to lose a throw or two.
Read yourÂ opponent. Just as in poker there is a certain amount of reading the other person’s body language that may telegraph their throw preference. Â A Rock player is overbearing,Â aggressive, powerful, and blunt. Â The Paper player is protective, passive, and thoughtful. Â Finally a Scissors player is Devious, Ingenious,Reactive, Sharp. Â You can predict opening throws and safety throws based off the type of player you are going against. Â It doesn’t hurt to observe your future opponents to find patterns in theirÂ preferredÂ opening gambits.
Smooth your tells. Â Work on quick release of your scissors and don’t let your paper have that telltale arc as you drop your hand. Work on making your body language confident andÂ neutral. Â Don’t get a rock jaw prior to throwing rock – breathe through the nose to relax. Â It is also important to not switch your stance or shuffle your feet when switching between throws – wear comfortable shoes to minimize thisÂ unconsciousÂ act.
Exclusion play. Â Try picking just two throws that you will utilize in the match and exclude the third. Â This allows for more rapid decision making and prevents reactionary switching of strategy.
Let me know how these tactics work for you!