Rock Paper Scissors Official Rules

The Basics

  • It is the responsibility of the Player to be at the designated competition area when called by the presiding official. Any violation results in automatic disqualification.
  • For those new to the game, the only acceptable throws are Rock, Paper and Scissors. Any use of Dynamite, Bird, Well, Spock, Water, Match, Fire, God, Lightning, Bomb, Texas Longhorn, or other non-sanctioned throws, will result in automatic disqualification.
  • Three prime shoot (i.e., 1,2,3, then deliver your throw on 4).
  • All participating players will be bound to the Official Rules of RPS Play – 2012 Endorsed Tournament Edition, available below.
  • Players in transgression of the rules of play may (at the discretion of the presiding official) be required to withdraw from the competition and will be ineligible for titles or prizes.
  • Tournament format will consist of a 32 team, single-elimination, tournament-style bracket.
  • Street Play will be in effect throughout the night between spectators and players. Learn more about Street Play.


  • The PBR Indy City Championship is open to any person at least 21 years of age or older.
  • Interested players must pre-register via our registration page. Registration is $30 per team and you must be able to compete with a full 3-4 person team on Saturday July 20.
  • One entry per person (i.e., no player may register twice, compete on multiple teams, or transfer their entry to another).
  • Players do not need to be members of the World RPS Society or have any official status within the RPS Community to be eligible to play.
  • It is the competitor’s responsibility to be ready and to appear as scheduled, or when called by the presiding official.
  • Players who have not pre-registered and do not check in on the day of the event before their official event start time will not be eligible to compete.
  • Rock Paper Scissors Indy Championship, MOKB Presents, PBR and associated title sponsors (in addition to The World RPS Society) reserve the right to publish the name, photograph and film of any competitor. The 2019 Indy Championship winner name and photo will be released to the news media and may be used in the World RPS Society advertising or promotion. Winner may also be required to do interviews with the media.


  • Teams will compete in a traditional “bracket style” tournament.
  • Teams will consist of exactly three members per team. The tournament will use the RPS standard “best of three” format.
  • Each preliminary round will consist of a “best of three” head to head competition of each team member (3 head to head individual battles, best of three each). Each individual winner will score one point for his/her team. First team to win two points wins the match and advances to the next round. This means that if you lose two head to head battles in a row, your third player will not be able to throw. Structure your team order accordingly.
  • The Final Match will use the “best of three of five” format, meaning that the first team to earn 3 points (one point awarded for each individual who wins a “best three of five” battle) will garner one point and require three points to take the match.


  • No verbal or written prompting or assistance (hand signals are permitted) may be rendered by trainers or spectators during the competition. Failure to comply could result in disqualification.
  • Communication outside of the match context with the presiding officials—either by competitors, trainers or other interested parties—during a match is prohibited.
  • The decision of the presiding official in all matters relating to the match, shall be considered final.


These general rules apply to all Rock Paper Scissors (RPS) matches, its tripartite variants known in any permutation and/or combination of the following Scissors, Paper, Rock/Stone and by any other name that is currently known or unknown to the World RPS Society including Roshambo, Janken, or JanKenPo.


RPS is a decision making game of wits, speed, dexterity and strategy between players who are unable to reach a decision using other means. The result of a match is considered a binding agreement between the players. In the case of professional or tournament play the decision is replaced by honor points toward a championship title. RPS is a game played by honorable people and therefore every effort should be made to commit to the outcome. The game is played by substituting the elements of: Rock, Paper and Scissors with standard hand signals.


These rules are governed, maintained, published, updated, authorized and approved by the World RPS Society under the guidance and authority of the World RPS Steering Committee. Any changes are in strict violation of the World RPS Society’s Responsibility Code. Any changes to the rules require a seven-eighths majority ruling by the World RPS Steering Committee, unless a temporary waiving or amendment is agreed upon by the players prior to play commencing (no temporary waiving of rules are permitted for championship matches). All temporary amendments are considered ephemeral unless otherwise agreed upon, but must not include any variant throws beyond the basic trinity such as, but not limited to, dynamite, bird, well, spock, god, water, lightning, bomb, matchstick, and/or Texas longhorn.


Prior to play commencing the players must agree upon what decision is to be made (and considered binding) as a result of the match. If nothing can be agreed upon and the players wish to continue play, the match automatically defaults to an”honor” match. This is the case for tournaments, festivals and Championship matches.

1.1 Players must agree to the number of primes to be used prior to the approach. Two and three primes are most commonly used in professional level play. The Three Prime Shoot is required for Championship matches.

1.1.1 The decision-makers must stand opposite each other with one outstretched fist at waist height with a distance between their fists of no less than 1 cubit and no more than 2 cubits.

1.2 The players also must establish the number of games and sets to be played before the match is concluded. If no agreement can be reached, the match defaults to a best of three games format. Qualifying rounds for the World Championships use the best of three of three format (best of three games = one set, best of three sets = match). Semi-Finals and the Final match use a best of three of five format (best of three games = one set, best of five sets = match).

2.0 A “call for prime” is issued by one player (or the referee) to his/her opponent(s) in a recognizable audible tone (RAT).

2.1 A RAT, is defined as an utterance that can be heard by the opponent and/or referee. Using the word “ready” is considered good form.

2.1.1 In the case of match between or with hearing impaired players or in situations where it is critical that silence must be maintained, a mutually agreement upon Recognizable Visual Signal can replace the standard RAT. In this case, a nod of the head while looking directly into the eyes of the other player is considered standard form.

2.2 A “return of the call” is then issued by the opposing player who thus acknowledges the “call for prime”, also in a RAT (or RVS).

2.3 Once the “return of the call” has been established, players are considered to be “at ready”.

2.3.1 Play may commence anytime after the players are established and recognized as being “at ready”.

2.4 The game is considered to be “in play” after any player “breaks ready” and thus “initiates the prime”.

3.0 The vertical prime is performed by retracting the outstretched fist back towards the player’s shoulder (players must face each other and perform the prime with arms parallel). The vertical prime is required for Championship matches.

3.0.1 The fist should be retracted towards the player’s own body rather than your opponent’s to avoid possible contact. Contact between players during a tournament may result in faults and/or disqualification at the discretion of the referee presiding.

3.1.0 As soon as one player has “broken ready” and initiated the first prime, it is the responsibility and obligation of the opponent to also begin priming and to “catch” or “synch” the prime with the first player so they can establish an approach and delivery in unison.

3.1.1 The player who has initiated the prime is under the strict obligation to maintain a constant priming speed so as to give his opponent every opportunity to “catch the prime”.

3.2 The fist must remain in the closed position until the delivery of the final prime. The fist is the only acceptable hand position during the prime.

3.2.1 The fist must remain in full view of the opposing player and may not come in contact with any outside influences that inhibit the opponent’s view.

3.2.2 One or both players may, at their own discretion, opt to use their non-priming hand held flat with palm upwards as a “level gauge” or “platform”. This is sometimes referred to as “one hand clapping” and is used to ensure the player does not prime past 90-degrees.

3.3 Prior to the delivery of the final prime, the game may be called off for the following reasons only: rule clarification, decision clarification, or injury.

4.0 Once the fist has reached the highest point of the final throw of the last prime, the delivery of the throw is considered to be “in approach”. At any time during the approach of this final prime, the hand may be released in any of the following manners:

Rock: Is represented by a closed fist with the thumb resting at least at the same height as the topmost finger of the hand. The thumb must not be concealed by the fingers. Note: To accommodate different throwing styles, it is considered legal for the tip of the thumb to point downward.

Scissors: Is delivered in the same manner as Rock with the exception that the index and middle fingers are fully extended toward the opposing player. It is considered good form to angle the topmost finger upwards and the lower finger downwards in order to create a roughly 30–45 degree angle between the two digits and thus mimic a pair of scissors (wiggling fingers in a scissor-like motion or making “snipping” sounds is considered bad form).

Paper: Is also delivered in the same manner as Rock with the exception that all fingers including the thumb are fully extended and horizontal with the points of the fingers facing the opposing player. Use of the “vertical Paper” (sometimes referred to as “the handshake”) is considered exceptionally bad form. Throws must be delivered prior to the completion of the approach.

4.1 The approach is considered complete when the forearm is at a 90-degree angle to the upper body. Any throw not delivered prior to the hand crossing the 90-degree mark shall be considered a throw of Rock. Use of throws other than Rock, Paper and Scissors in a championship match is grounds for disqualification.

5.0 Participants must exercise extreme dexterity, caution and care to not initiate contact between the opposing fists during any point of the priming phase. The direct contact of the fists can cause scraping, chaffing, or rapping of the knuckles. Make sure any onlookers are aware of the intentions of the players as the swinging of closed fists can be mistaken as a sign of a potentially combative situation.

5.0.1 Should direct contact occur, players should stop play immediately and assess any personal injuries before restarting the prime and replaying the game.

5.1 After players have revealed their throws play must stop until an agreement can be reached as to a winner or whether a stalemate situation has arisen.

6.0 Player has the full range of throws to play, as follows:

6.0.1 Rock: wins against Scissors, loses to Paper and stalemates against itself

6.0.2 Paper wins against Rock, loses to Scissors and stalemates against itself

6.0.3 Scissors wins against Paper, loses to Rock and stalemates against itself

6.1 Players may use any combination of these throws at any time throughout the match. Any throw that does not conform to the standard hand positions (outlined above) shall be considered to be an illegal throw and is thus forbidden in tournament play. Should a player execute an illegal throw, the opposing player has the right (but not the obligation) to claim immediate victory over the match. Alternatively, the infringed upon player has the right (but not the obligation) to replay the current game if he/she so chooses. In Championship play, the offending player may be disqualified or the game replayed at the sole discretion of the presiding official.

6.2 The winner of the game is dictated by the player’s throw which beats that of their opponent’s throw. Under no circumstances can a losing throw ever beat a winning throw, nor may an illegal throw beat a legal throw.

6.3 In the case of a stalemate where players reveal the same throw the game must be replayed. There are no limits to the number of stalemates which may occur in any given match. Should players find themselves in a continuous stalemate situation, also known as “Mirror Play”, a good approach can be to take a short “timeout” to rethink strategy.

7.0 There is no limit to the number of games, sets, or matches that can be played in RPS. The games may continue until any and all decisions are reached at the discretion of the players involved. Matches for honor can be substituted at any point after the conclusion of a match if agreed upon by all players involved before the beginning of the next match. Championship matches are mandated as a best of three of three format, with the option of best of three of five matches for the Semi, and Final round matches.

Note: At the conclusion of the match after the winner has been determined, some players will offer a vertical Paper throw or “handshake”. While this gesture is seen in other circles as good manners to thank your opponent for the match, it is important to note that this action should not be expected or required in RPS, due to the fact that in general a “handshake” is used as “deal sealer” between two parties. Since the results of an RPS match are considered to be binding, the “handshake” can be considered a redundancy since, in effect, the ” deal” has already been “sealed” with the outcome of the match.


The World RPS Society does not take any responsibility, legal or otherwise, as a result of any actions or inactions performed as a result of a decision made or changed via the use of the game. In addition, the World RPS Society does not govern, manage, police, or endorse any non-honor activity resulting from a decision made via RPS. It is the sole responsibility of the players involved to govern the outcomes of any matches. The World RPS Society does not encourage, endorse, or promote the use of RPS in illegal, immoral, and/or life threatening situations. RPS should only be used in situations where the two parties cannot reach agreement via other means, competitive play or in order to make the decision making process more enjoyable. An offer of using RPS to determine an outcome of a previously decided upon event is in strict violation of the World RPS Society’s Players Responsibility Code and will not be considered binding even if one of the players was unaware of the previous decision. All players assume any and all risks associated with playing the sport. It is not recommended that novices attempt to use the physical versions of the RPS elements as they can cause serious harm or injury if not played properly.

If any further information is required please consult the World RPS Society’s pamphlet “It’s your life: When not use RPS as a decision making vehicle”.

These rules are considered full and complete and cannot be deviated from or altered unless specifically noted to the contrary in the game rules.