The Master’s Guide to Rock, Paper & Scissors defines the term gambit as:

“A series of three successive moves made with strategic intention.”

The use of Gambits in competitive RPS has been one of the greatest and most enduring breakthroughs in RPS strategy. Selecting throws in advance helps prevent unconscious patterns from forming and can sometimes reduce the subconscious signals that give away the next throw, often called “tells”. Gambits are the focal point of beginner strategy and form the basis of many advanced strategies.

The Great Eight Gambits

The mathematically inclined will quickly realize that there are only twenty-seven possible Gambits. All of them have been used and documented in tournament play. Each has several names from a variety of locales. There is no such thing as a “new” Gambit.
The Great Eight Gambits are the eight deemed to be the most historically significant and widely employed. They also happen to be the only eight Gambits where there is near unanimous consent upon the names.



A subtle, yet aggressive Gambit. It was the first of the Triple Gambits developed in the early 1890s. The Avalanche is a relentless and devastating offensive maneuver, which requires bravado bordering on recklessness to execute


The Bureaucrat Gambit

Formerly known as Confetti, the deadpan delivery of three successive Papers is the ultimate in passive-aggressive play.


The Crescendo Gambit

The slow-building nature of this Gambit makes it a very elegant opening series. The devastating Rock is the coup de grâce that gives the Gambit its name.


The Denouement Gambit

The Dénouement is the mirror of the Crescendo and uses a cooling-down approach. When used in tandem with the Crescendo the result is often a baffled opponent.


The Fistfull O' Dollars Gambit

This move took the 1967 RPS World Championships by surprise and is arguably still one of the great surprise offensive moves. The rapid switch from offensive to defensive play can force an opponent into a vulnerable spot.


The Paper Dolls Gambit

The complexity of this series is belied by its apparent simplicity. Paper levels the playing field and is followed by a couple of quick and sneaky Scissors, which makes it an extremely effective Gambit against the unwary.


The Scissor Sandwich Gambit

An invasive and devious Gambit. While not the most offensive of the Gambits its main purpose is to unsettle the opponent through use of the concealed Scissors.


The Toolbox Gambit

Effective use of the Toolbox requires steady hands and steely nerves. Given the puerile popularity of Rock, this Gambit is not suggested for use against beginners.