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These are the USA-RPS League rules. Please note that they are modified from International Rules. 


The Basics

Rock Paper Scissors is played between two players. No equipment is necessary. Throwing gloves are permitted for comfort as well as intimidation. All you need is an arm, and a wrist, and fingers. It is best to wear loose fitting clothes, and pre-game stretching and manicures are encouraged.


The Throws

There are three permissible "throws" in RPS: Rock, Paper and Scissors. Rock crushes scissors, scissors cuts paper, and paper covers rock. There are NO exceptions. When two players "shoot" the same throw, it is a stalemate and they must throw again.


A player who makes an illegal throw – including but not limited to “Dynamite,” "Hang Loose," "Westsiide," "Fire," "Water," "The Bird," "The Fonz," “Lizard,” "Spock’s Live Long and Prosper," "Texas Longhorn," "This Big," or "I’ve Got Your Nose" – will lose a point and may be disqualified.


Rock can be thrown any way as long as the fist is clenched.


Scissors is formed with your index finger and middle finger extended and shaped like a "V". It can be thrown horizontally or vertically (Please note that international rules differ).


Paper is formed by extending all your fingers out, as if you’re about to slap your little brother. It is always delivered horizontally. Never vertically. Paper is traditionally thrown palm down, but may be delivered palm up, which is called "The Subpoena." Serving the subpoena is considered arrogant, but can be very effective when used properly.


The Action

The "Pump" consists of closing a fist, holding it out in front of your body with elbow bent at a 45 degree angle, and thrusting it up and down three times. This must be done IN SYNC with the opposing player. Players are allowed to chant "RO-SHAM-BO" or “ROCK-PAPER-SCISSORS” or “1-2-3” to help get in sync..

The "Shoot" is when a player actually delivers the throw. It comes after the first three pumps. Players may follow shouting "RO-SHAM-BO" with "SHOOT." The delivery of the shoot must be in sync with the opponent. If the shoot or the pump is not in sync at any time, the referee may declare the action dead, or penalize the player at fault. The point is: be in sync. Seriously.


Each "engagement" begins with a referee raising his hand vertically between the two opponents and saying the word "engage!" (Please note: in international play, this is commonly stated as "en garde") The referee’s call cues the players to "pump." If for some reason you don’t have a referee, it is up to the players to cue the action.


The Gameplay

Each throw is considered an "engagement." The best of three "engagements" is a "bout." The best of three "bouts" is a "match."

All referees’ calls are final. Instant replay has not yet been instituted in RPS. There is no post-match arbitration.



Bout: The best of three engagements is a bout.

Cradling the Pump: The throwing technique where players position their off-hand horizontally and pound their throwing hand into it with each pumping thrust.

Engage: Word spoken by the referee to cue players to pump.

Engagement: Each throw is considered one.

Faux pump:  A shady maneuver used to rattle your opponent by intentionally throwing on the second pump instead of the third. This maneuver is highly illegal.

Fist: Term for a hand clenched like a ball.

Left for Dead: When right-handers make a well-timed left-handed throw to throw off their opponent.

Match: The best of three bouts is a match.

Paper: One of three permissible throws. Must always be delivered horizontally. It is traditionally thrown palm down, but may be delivered palm up.

Peace Out Dude (POD): When a player wins with scissors, they may shift their wrist into a "peace sign" and arrogantly exclaim "Peace out, Dude."

Pump: Action consisting of closing a fist, holding it out in front of you, and thrusting it up and down three times

Rock: One of three permissible throws. Can be delivered any way as long as fist is clenched.

Roshambo: Nickname for RPS. Named for the great Count de Rochambeau of England, who rumor has it, defeated General Lord Cornwallis of Britain at Yorktown with an epic game of Rock Paper Scissors and forcing Cornwallis' surrender to General Washington.

RPS: Hip acronym for "Rock Paper Scissors."

Scissors: One of three permissible throws. Can be delivered horizontally or vertically.

Shoot: The action in which a player delivers rock, paper or scissors. See "Throw."

Speed-pumping: When you increase the velocity of your pumping to put your opponent in a momentary panic attack. All their strategy will go out the window, and they will often settle with rock because rock is already formed to begin with, and takes no extra brainpower to throw.

Stalemate: A tie. Rock against rock. Scissors against scissors. Paper against paper. You get the point.

Subpoena: The term for paper delivered palm up. It is considered cocky to serve a subpoena.

Throw: The action in which a player delivers rock, paper or scissors. See "Shoot."

Throwing Gloves: Custom fingerless gloves designed for Rock Paper Scissors athletes.

USARPS League: America's official Rock Paper Scissors League.