For everyone thinking about competing in the Rock, Paper, Scissors invitational at Dick’s Last Resort Las Vegas next Wednesday May 9th. It would behoove you to read up on the Psychology of it all below.
Registration is between 8 and 9 p.m. $20 registration fee. Bottomless Miller Lite Drafts for ALL contestants. 1st prize is a Dick’s Championship Belt and $250 Cash. Runner up receives $50 in Dick’s apparel and $100 Bar Comp.
Your study guide is below, once you feel have the basics nailed down, open this NY Times App and test your skills.
Rock-Lead: Full-aggression throw. The hard, weapon-like character of Rock can make it a subconscious choice when wanting to crush the opponent. It may also be chosen when the player feels backed against the wall or otherwise in imminent danger of losing. This is a fighting-back throw that tries to demonstrate brute force over tactical choices.
Paper-Lead: Low-aggression throw. Paper is a subtle throw that can turn an opponents aggression against them. However, it is the least attacking throw to the human mind, which sometimes may judge it to be a weak defensive maneuver. This view can cause it to be discarded if facing defeat or when the player feels a need to counter-attack more decisively.
Scissors-Lead: Half-aggression throw. The sleek and cutting nature of the Scissors throw utilizes a refined aggression. In comparison to the heavy-handed force of the Rock, this throw may be subconsciously viewed as a subtle finesse which is still aggressive but somewhat tempered by modern tact. A surgical strike that can accent an existing lead.
Males, especially inexperienced ones, are most likely to throw rock first. Rock is strong. Rock is manly — from the hardcore action movie “The Rock”… to former pro wrestler and beefy tooth fairy Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson… to the most badass lullaby about child death ever, “Rock-a-Bye Baby”. Deep down, rock feels more powerful… like if we weren’t playing a children’s hand game and were actually fighting, I’d want to be armed with a rock. Cavemen knew this, and deep down, men still have plenty in common with cavemen.
Females, especially inexperienced ones, are most likely to throw paper first. There’s some deep gender stuff here about men solving problems with head-on with rocks and women solving problems passive-aggressively by taking out pieces of paper and writing anonymous gossip. And no one solves problems with scissors. Except Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, but who’s going to look to him for guidance.
If someone has time to think about it, they’ll probably throw scissors first. If you say “Let’s settle this with rock, paper, scissors. Ready? One, two, three, shoot!” then people will go to their instincts — rock for males, paper for females. But if they have time, they’ll take the middle ground. Even though all three options in the game have equal pros and cons, mental constructs say rock feels too aggressive and paper feels too passive. Scissors feels clever.
And that’s what happens when your brain has too much time to think about something. It’s exactly why isolated people go crazy and start believing that aliens have taken over the bodies of the members of the government.
Paper is the least common throw statistically across populations. People with more time than me — actually, let me rephrase, I have all the time in the world. People with more effective data collection teams than me have run statistically-significant studies that found paper is the least-common throw, at just under 30 percent (rock and scissors are basically equal at 35 percent). Which makes rock most effective over a long, long, long game. In a best-of-three, that might not help. If you can talk someone into a best of 101, then, yeah, rock rules. Although the pizza guy is going to be PISSED standing there for 101 throws waiting to see who pays the tip.
If someone’s losing, they’ll throw rock. This goes back to the “rock is strong” school of thought. If you’re losing, your instinct is to do something strong… to start throwing haymakers to get baby out of the corner… and rock feels like just the solution.
If someone’s winning, they’ll throw scissors. Scissors is a sign of confidence and cockiness. It feels a little bit strange and unpredictable. So when you throw scissors, you’re telling your opponent you’re in their head. (This also applies when you literally throw scissors at someone’s head.
After someone throws the same thing twice in a row, play the odds. Three is a pattern. It’s used all the time in comedy. Like if I was writing, say, a TSA joke, I might talk about bans on liquids, then bans on shoes, then bans on something ridiculous because the brain has been lulled into thinking it’s seeing a pattern.
In RPS, this means people often won’t want to throw the same thing three times in a row — because then they’ve established a beatable, predictable pattern. So, if someone throws rock twice in a row, it’s worth betting they won’t throw it again… meaning scissors is your play. Maybe you push, maybe you win against paper… or maybe they’re like Bart Simpson and think nothing beats good old rock. Even so, be proud you went with the textbook and assume, like in blackjack, sticking to the rules will pay off over time.
People will often throw whatever just beat them. If you beat someone with paper, it sends a temporary, fleeting message that paper is dominant. Meaning there’s more of a chance they’ll throw paper next.
And yes, it’s subconscious — and it’s a weak, reactive way of playing that’s doomed to failure. It’s like different TSA bans — and equally ineffective. Someone sneaks explosive liquids past so liquids become banned. Someone tries to light their shoe bomb on fire so you have to take your shoes off. Someone tries to wear an exploding tampon so now they hire special security bears to sniff for menstruation (pending).
If a throw works, there’s a better chance you’re going to see it again. He throws scissors and wins… the odds go up that he’ll throw scissors again next. He throws scissors and loses… the odds drop dramatically that scissors is coming next. By recognizing that habit, you know how to bring the pain.
If you’re struggling, throw something random. The best way to get control away from someone who’s got you reeling is to take the psychology out of the game and make it random. It’s tough to be legitimately random — our brains make choices, even in split seconds, so this takes concentration. As you’re counting “1, 2, 3″ don’t think of anything. At the last possible moment, throw the first thing that comes into your head. By going as random as humanly possible, you can right the ship.