How to Play Dreidel

by Emma W.R. on December 9, 2016

drei

I always thought a dreidel was just a toy, but as it turns out it’s actually an old children’s game that is traditionally played during Hanukkah. A dreidel is a four-sided spinning top and each side of it displays a letter from the Hebrew alphabet. The letters (Nun, Shin, Gimel and Hay) stand for the words “Nothing, Put In, All and Half”.

Very little is required to play this game. You will need a dreidel (of course!) and you also need something to trade (gelt), like nuts, chocolate, pennies or candies. Each player should have the same amount, about 10-15 pieces will do.

Dreidel is essentially a simple gambling game and the rules are easy to learn.  At the beginning of each round every player puts a piece of gelt in the center (“the pot”). Every time it’s your turn you spin the dreidel once, depending on the outcome you give to or get pieces from the pot. If you get “Nun” then you do nothing. If you get “Gimel” then you get the entire pot. If you get “Hay” then you get half the pot. If you get “Shin” it means add a piece to the pot.

If you have no game pieces left, then you’re out. You may ask another player for a “loan” if you wish, but once one person has the entire pot the game is over!

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Sammie May 8, 2018 at 11:54 am

You learn something new every day…

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Ajanaye Fleming September 14, 2017 at 12:37 pm

This is such an amazing traditional game and it’s easy to learn and fun, especially when candies are involved.

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Lindsay February 13, 2017 at 8:11 am

This simple traditional game is so fun. Everyone gets really riled up over their turns. It’s also simple enough for very small children to join in!

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Eli January 31, 2017 at 12:24 pm

I played the dreidel game once and, having lost my gelt pretty quickly, asked one of the players for a loan. I ended up losing that as well. I’m not lucky at gambling!

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Brenda January 23, 2017 at 12:21 pm

I have been learning all these traditions from my husband and his family. It has been so nice to add to my holidays!

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Alisha January 16, 2017 at 9:54 am

I taught my friends the dreidel game growing up. They all really enjoyed it. One of my favorite holidays traditions.

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Grayson January 10, 2017 at 9:14 am

It sounds like a nice tradition. With a lot of rules!

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Danica January 9, 2017 at 2:52 pm

Who knew there was so much to this seemingly easy game?

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Amelia January 9, 2017 at 12:35 pm

Although I celebrate Christmas, I learned about the dreidel game from friends. I always liked playing it when I was growing up.

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Colleen January 9, 2017 at 10:03 am

You know I never did know how the game was played. Never thought to question it! Interesting read!

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Addie December 9, 2016 at 2:51 pm

That’s great. I didn’t know this, I may try playing one day.

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