If you are Jewish then you have likely already heard of Dreidel. But even if you aren’t you might already know what a Dreidel is. But not everyone will know about the Dreidel game rules. You might not even realize that it’s part of a game at all!
The Dreidel game is fun and educational. It’s ideal for children to play together but also makes a great family game as well. If you are looking for a change from card games or board games, give Dreidel a try.
What is Dreidel?
The Dreidel game is named after its key component. A Dreidel is a four-sided spinning top, they come in numerous different designs and colors. But they all have a very similar shape, which makes them noticeably different from a regular spinning top.
Each side of a Dreidel is marked with a letter/ symbol from the Hebrew alphabet. There is a lot of history behind these symbols with some experts believing they represent words/ phrases relating to gambling.
There is debate amongst scholars about their exact meaning. However, we do know what each symbol represents when it comes to the Dreidel game rules. It’s believed Dreidel despite its importance in Jewish culture, actually started out as an Irish or English game.
It’s believed the game as we know it today, was created around the mid to late 1890s. The game is quite simple which makes it ideal for children and families. Players simply spin the Dreidel and the symbol that it lands on will give you certain instructions.
You might end up taking more pieces, losing pieces, or doing nothing at all. Before we take a more in-depth look at the Dreidel game rules, let’s look at what you need to play the game at home.
What You’ll Need
To play Dreidel you will of course need a Dreidel! The good news is this game is popular even outside of Jewish communities which means finding a set to play shouldn’t be overly difficult. For example, this Dreidel set is perfect for 4 players.
Some Dreidel game rules say every player should have their own Dreidel to spin. However, players can also share a Dreidel as well. Since no one will be spinning at the same time. It’s really up to you to decide which method works best.
Dreidels come in many different sizes and designs. However, most will contain the authentic symbols. It can take time to learn what each symbol means so try to find Dreidels that also feature text as well, like these. This will be very helpful for first-time players. Check out some of the products below for some ideas.
The Dreidel features 4 sides each marked with a different Hebrew symbol. The symbols are called Nun, Gimel, Hei, and Shin. After being spun the Dreidel will land on one of these 4 symbols. Each symbol carries a different outcome. We’ll talk more about what each does under traditional Dreidel game rules in the gameplay section below.
To play Dreidel you’ll also need game pieces. These pieces can be anything including coins, chocolates, buttons, raisins, or even pieces from other games. Due to the nature of the game, you won’t often have pieces included in a Dreidel set. So, be creative if you’re struggling to think of something you could just cut out bits of paper to use.
The Dreidel Game Rules and Gameplay
The Aim of The Game
The aim of the Dreidel game is simple, be the player to win all the game pieces. Or be the last player to have at least one game piece left. It sounds simple but Dreidel is a game of luck although there is room for some strategy as well.
The Dreidel game can be played with as few as 2 people. But it does make a great game for larger group play as well. Generally, we find around 4 – 6 people to be the best. To set up, first decide whether each player will be using their own Dreidel. Or whether you’ll all be sharing one.
Then make sure everyone has the same number of game pieces. Under traditional Dreidel game rules, it’s recommended that each player have 10 pieces. However, if you are playing with a larger group you might want to reduce the number a little.
Once everyone is ready to play, decide who goes first. Unlike some games, there is no real advantage (or disadvantage) to going first in Dreidel. Play can continue clockwise or counterclockwise. Just ensure every player only spins the Dreidel once per round.
Spinning The Dreidel
What happens during your turn will all depend on what symbol the Dreidel lands on. To make the Dreidel game rules easier to understand refer to the list below.
- Nun – You do nothing.
- Gimel – You take all the game pieces currently in the pot.
- Hei – You take half the game pieces in the pot. If it’s an odd number then round it to the nearest whole number.
- Shin – You add one of your game pieces to the pot. Some people change this rule to adding 3 pieces to the pot instead.
Now while this is the core gameplay loop, there are some other important things to remember. At the beginning of the game, every player will need to add one game piece to the pot. After each round is over (once all players have spun the Dreidel) all players should add another game piece to the pot.
Finally, if the pot is empty then all players should add a game piece to the pot again. If you lose all your game pieces then you are out of the game. The game is over when one player wins all the pieces or only one player has any pieces remaining.
Dreidel – A Fun, Educational Family Game
So, that’s everything you need to know about the Dreidel game rules. This game is easy to play and sure to be plenty of fun. It might not seem as in-depth as Monopoly or some strategy board games. But its simple gameplay loop is sure to be a highlight of any family game night.