Results tagged “dreidel game”

Dreidel isn't just a little kids game!  At its core, dreidel is a gambling game - and so its not surprising that the latest in dreidel game variations is Texas Hold'em Dreidel:

Take Dreidel, combine it with poker, and you've got a new dreidel experience that is truly fun. You'll check, bet, raise, or fold depending on the strength of your dreidel hand (or how much you like to bluff).

There are also few gambling games that are very similar to a dreidel such as Put and Take a popular bar game around the world.  Here is a list of many Put and Take variations from around the world.

Hanukkah fairs and Hanukkah parties are sometimes not the best place for a traditional dreidel game - particularly for younger kids.  Human Dreidel and Dreidel Musical Chairs are great alternative versions that use the traditional dreidel top as an integral game element.

Human Dreidel has a few variations:

Version 1: 

  1. Create a mat decorated with the 4 hebrew letters of the dreidel - one to a corner
  2. Participants are blindfolded and must spin in the center of the mat.
  3. After each spint they take off the blindfold and see where they are facing.  If its not a gimel then they can spin again.  If its a gimel then they get a prize.

Version 2:

  1. All participants starts spinning at the same time.
  2. The last participant standing is the winner and receives a prize.

Version 3:

  1. The game leader spins a real dreidel
  2. The participant needs to see if they can spin - and remain standing - longer than the dreidel spins.  If they do - they can play another round.  (For most, each round gets progressively harder as they get more and more dizzy.)

For very young kids a good dreidel variation is pass the dreidel.

There are a couple nice "mashup" versions of dreidel for grade schoolers including dreidel roulette and dreidel poker.  Here are rules for Dreidel baseball.

"Call a letter out then take three 'swings' (spins).  If a letter appears once out of three, it's a single!  Twice -- double!  All three times -- triple!  After a triple or a double you receive an extra turn to spin one more time.  Guess the outcome exactly and its a home run."

This last variation is from the book A Different Light, and originally from an article by Larry Bush and Susan Griss - which describes a few more variations including Prophetic Dreidel, Dreidel Yahtzee, Dreidl Huff 'n' Puff race track game, Chai Score blackjack-based game, Dreidl Olympics and Stack the Latkes, a musical chairs game:

"Players march (skip, hop, go backwards, twirl) in a circle around the chairs while the dreidl is spinning (a veteran spinner should do the spinning). When dreidl stops, everyone finds a chair or a lap! Unlike in the classical game, no one is "out," but one chair is removed with each round until, by game's end, the players are stacked up on the last remaining (sturdy!) chair."

For Hanukkah parties with older kids try a traditional game of dreidel - or better yet a competitive dreidel tournament.  For teen or adult hanukkah parties try these additional variations.

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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