Official Rules of Rock Paper Scissors

Rock Paper Scissors (RPS) is a zero-sum game, typically played by two people using their hands and no tools. Players make hand shapes, each with a certain degree of power, ultimately leading to an outcome. RPS is popular worldwide, played by children and adults alike, and often used to make decisions where no room for cheating or predicting the other person’s move is allowed.

What are the shapes of Rock Paper Scissors?


The rock is when you place your hand into the form of a simple fist.


The paper is when you place your hand in an outstretched position.


This is when you hold your fist with your index and middle finger pointing outwards in a V shape.

The Purpose of Rock Paper Scissors

Apart from being a fun pastime, RPS is also played in situations where a decision needs to be made, similar to flipping a coin, rolling dice, or drawing straws. The game’s simplicity and unpredictability make it a satisfying way to resolve disputes without the possibility of error or conflict.

The Basic Rules of RPS

Despite its underlying complexity, the game’s rules are straightforward. Players deliver hand signals representing rock, paper, or scissors, with the outcome determined by these three rules:

  1. Rock wins against scissors.
  2. Scissors win against paper.
  3. Paper wins against rock.

The Importance of Hand Signals in RPS

To ensure fair play and avoid confusion, players must use agreed-upon hand signals for every recreational and professional RPS match. The opening move can significantly impact the game’s outcome, so players should pay close attention to their initial hand movements to avoid revealing their intentions. Remember to use the “Rock Paper Scissors Shoot” or “1, 2, 3, Shoot” method for a fair and synchronized start.


The rock is internationally recognized by a closed fist where the thumb is not concealed. It is also one of the most popular opening moves and this is why it is considered to be one of the most popular hand signals. Most players will view using the rock as an opening move to be somehow aggressive but would still use it because it is easy. The rock will beat scissors every time but will be beaten by paper.


Paper is delivered in the same way as the rock except that in this case all the fingers and the thumb are extended in a way that they all face the same direction. The vertical paper or the handshake is strictly forbidden in tournaments of Rock Paper Scissors because it might resemble the scissors which can lead to unnecessary confusion. Paper is one of the most challenging opening moves because there is no indication of what you intend to do next. As a result, many players will be concerned when you use it as an opening move to your game. Paper will beat rock but will be beaten by scissors in no time.


Scissors are thrown in the same way as rock where the hand is clenched into a fist but the index and the middle finger are extended to the front in order to make an angle that is of 30 to 45 degrees in a way that would resemble a pair of scissors. The use of horizontal scissors is strictly forbidden in tournaments because they can resemble the shape of paper. Opening with scissors is not a very smart move because your opponent will be able to guess what your signal is going to be easily and so will be able to come up with a stronger signal.

It is very important to conceal your move and to surprise your opponent if you want to make sure that you will win this game.

To win at RPS, it’s crucial to conceal your move and surprise your opponent. By mastering the official rules and strategies, including the “Rock Paper Scissors Shoot” or “1, 2, 3, Shoot” method, you’ll rank higher in Rock Paper Scissors tournaments and impress fellow RPS enthusiasts.

Related Articles