Think Rock, Paper, Scissors is a simple game of chance, with no actual strategy involved? Then you are sadly mistaken. A study from the University of China shows that there are predictable patterns to how people play the game. This means that there are also certain tricks you can use to help you win.
In the study, researchers had 360 students gather in six groups of 60 players, and everyone played 300 rounds of Rock, Paper, Scissors. To ensure the players did their best, they were paid based on how many rounds they won.
However, if you're playing someone who has just thrown scissors and lost, that means they are more likely to throw rock next. Which is why you should throw paper. (Unless, of course, you're playing someone who is only capable of throwing scissors.)
In addition, according to the World Rock Paper Scissors Society, most (non-tournament level) players tend to lead with rock. This is especially true of male players, who may subconsciously view rock as stronger and tougher. So if you're up against a novice male player who's more likely to throw rock, get your paper ready.
But if you're up against a more experienced player, you can try to act like you're inexperienced. In which case, they may assume you'll throw rock, causing them to throw paper, which means you can throw scissors. Unless you think they know you're trying to trick them into throwing paper and that you'll throw scissors, in which case they'll throw rock and you should throw paper. Rock, Paper, Scissors is truly a battle of wits.
Another ploy suggested by the World RPS Society ”” announce what you're going to throw ahead of time, and then actually throw it. If you announce that you're throwing scissors, your opponent will assume you're not actually going to do it, which makes them less likely to throw the rock that would beat your scissors. So there's a greater chance they'll throw either paper (losing to scissors) or scissors (making it a draw).
According to stats from the World RPS Society, scissors only gets thrown 29.6% of the time, below the expected average of 33%. Which means throwing paper makes you less likely to lose (although it only increases your odds of winning by a tiny amount).
Of course, these ploys only work against people who aren't also aware of the ploys. If that's the case, it might be best to throw them off by inventing an entirely new game, like Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock.