The Ultimate Guide to Rock-Paper-Scissors

If you thought rock-paper-scissors (RPS) was just a fixture of the school playground, then think again. There are RPS championships all over the world, including one in the UK on April 16th, where eccentrically-dressed RPS athletes come together to determine who is the best of the best. As Ladbrokes online casino has its own rock-paper-scissors game, we decided to put together the ultimate guide to this ancient sport.

The Origins of Rock, Paper, Scissors

The original version of RPS is thought to have been created in ancient China with a hand game called ‘shoushiling', which literally means ‘hand command'. From there, the game spread to Japan where it was called mush-ken, where instead of the rock-paper-scissors we're familiar with, the game used slug, frog and snake, denoted by different finger and thumb positions. It was only later that the Japanese created Jan-ken, which is where the rock, paper and scissors signs were first used.

It wasn't until the turn of the 20th century that the game made its way to Europe, where it would become the most efficient way of deciding who got the last slice of pizza for decades to come.

Advanced Techniques

You might think that RPS is all about luck, and perhaps if you're playing online it is. But when you're facing an opponent, there are various advanced techniques you can use to give yourself the upper hand.

Play the probabilities: Did you know that rock is the most commonly played hand in the game? Rock tends to be played by novices who are drawn to its strength and ability to conquer scissors, the least common hand.

Gamers are also more likely to play the hand that previously beat them, so you have a better likelihood of winning if you play the hand that would beat the last hand you played.

Play the player: RPS is a game of psychological warfare. Much like poker, it's just as important to know your opponent as it is to play the right hand. If you're facing a man, they're probably going to lead with rock, so hit them with your paper for a taste of sweet victory. Likewise, women are more likely to open with scissors, so playing rock would be the wise choice. You can always try to psyche out your opponent by telling them the next hand you're going to throw, forcing them to second-guess themselves.

False "tells": This is one that needs a lot of practise. Like in a game of poker, people have ‘tells' that show what they might be playing. A false tell is where you intentionally broadcast that you're going to throw a certain hand, but quickly change to an alternate one.


Now you know how to read your opponent and play the odds, it's time to get into the strategy of the gambit. A gambit is a pre-selected series of throws that helps reduce tells and gets the player out of the habit of forming predictable patterns with their throws.

While there are 27 possible gambits, the best players in the world have discovered that the ‘Great Eight' are some of the best to use in a competition environment. These include the following: Avalanche (RRR), Toolbox (SSS), Bureaucrat (PPP), Crescendo (PSR), Dénouement (RSP), Fistful o' Dollars (RPP), Paper Dolls (PSS) and Scissor Sandwich (PSP).

The Champions of RPS

Like in any high-level sport, RPS has its own hall-of-famers who have taken the game to the next level.

Master Roshambollah: One of the most well-known and enigmatic players in the game, ‘Rosh' is known wearing conical bamboo hat and suits when he plays. There are few players that can match his strategy and athleticism – although sadly he has now retired from competition play.

Bob "The Rock" Cooper: The World RPS Champion of 2006, Bob Cooper is the most talented player to come out of the UK. He even ran a campaign to be included in the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year. It's a crime he never got it.

C. Urbanus: The Philadelphia native is a fixture in RPS tournaments, a highly influential strategist and creator of the ‘Urbanus Defence'.