With Hanukkah coming soon (the first night begins Sunday, December 21, 2008 at sundown!), here are the dreidel game rules.
How do you play the dreidel game?
Here are basic instructions for the dreidel game, a traditional Jewish Hanukkah party game. Each player starts with the same number of pieces of gelt (chocolate coins); we suggest 10. In a pinch, pennies also work, but then you can't eat your winnings!
The game begins with each player anteing one piece of gelt into the pot. Going around the circle clockwise, each player takes turns spinning the dreidel. If it lands on:
...the player takes all the gelt in the pot.
...the player takes half the gelt in the pot (round up for odd numbers -- if there are 5 pieces of gelt in the pot, take 3).
...the player receives nothing; next player spins the dreidel.
...the player puts one piece of gelt into the pot.
Each time the pot is emptied out, each player puts in a piece of gelt, and the dreidel game continues.
If a player has no gelt as a result of spinning a Shin or anteing, he or she is eliminated from the dreidel game. The game continues until only one player remains; or at a set time, the players total up their counters, and whoever has the most gelt wins. Enjoy eating your gelt! You can even conveniently remind your friends of the dreidel game rules in card form.
What is a dreidel?
A dreidel, or in Hebrew svivon, is a traditional Jewish four-sided top. When you spin it, the dreidel falls over, and whichever side is up is your dreidel spin.
What do the dreidel symbols mean?
The Hebrew letters Nun, Gimel, Hay, and Shin stand for Nes Gadol Haya Sham, "A great miracle happened there." In Israel, where the miracle of Hanukkah happened to the Jewish people, the dreidel letters stand for Nes Gadol Haya Po, "A great miracle happened here." You can read more about the Hanukkah story.
How can I make the dreidel game even more fun?
Try No Limit Texas Dreidel, the game that combines dreidel with No Limit Texas Hold'em poker! It uses the same Hebrew letters as the dreidel game, then adds betting, bluffing, and folding.