How to Play Dreidel

Dreidel can be played by anyone as long as they are old enough to know not to eat the dreidel.  At least two players are needed.  There is no upper limit to how many people can play.  The dreidel game can be as long or short as desired - as the winner is simply the person with the most tokens when the game ends.

The materials needed to play are the dreidel, a collection of tokens (for example pennies, chocolate coins, candies, nuts) a flat surface to spin the dreidel, and a surface or container for the "pot".

1. Divide the tokens so that each player has an equal number.

2. Choose the player who will take their turn first.

3. At the start of each round all players put a token into the pot as an ante.  A new round starts each time all the players have taken a turn.

4. A turn goes like this:
 - The player spins the dreidel
 - The player acts according to the Hebrew letter which is facing up when the dreidel comes to a stop. 
נ - Nun means the player does nothing.
ג - Gimel means the player collects all the tokens from the pot.
ה - Hey means the player takes half of the tokens from the pot.
ש - Shin means the player puts one token into the pot.

5. Proceed with each player taking a turn until one player has all the tokens, or the players decide to end the game. 

6. At any point that a player has no tokens they are out of the game.

Variations in the Basic Rules

  • A common variation in the basic dreidel rules involves an ante of one token any time the pot empties instead of at the start of each round.  With this rule, the game starts with each player putting a token in the pot.
  • In another common variation, players ante both at the start of a round and when the pot empties.
  • Yet another ante variation has players ante if the value of the pot is less than or equal to the total ante value.
  • The game duration can be shortened by having players lose an amount equal to the current pot when a Shin is spun and put one token in when Nun appears.
  • The length of the game can be extended by allowing any player who runs out of tokens to take a loan of tokens from another player.
  • Edible tokens are a nice game variation (e.g. chocolate coins): eat the winnings when the game ends
Learn more about:
Dreidel Party Games for Young Kids
Dreidel Games for Older Kids

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