How to Play Dreidel

Co-authored by wikiHow Staff

Updated: January 5, 2020

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Dreidel is a traditional game of chance, and one of the most well-known symbols of Hanukkah.[1] The dreidel is a four-sided top with a different Hebrew letter on each side. The game dates back at least to the time when the Greek King Antiochus IV (175 BCE)[2] had outlawed Jewish worship. Jews who gathered to study the Torah would play dreidel to fool soldiers into thinking they were just gambling.[3] Now, it's usually played to see who can win the most gelt (chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil). With a dreidel and some tokens, you can take part in this holiday tradition, too. We'll show you how!


  1. 1
    Get a dreidel. The dreidel you will get will depend on where you live. Outside of Israel, the four letters on the sides of the dreidel are Nun, Gimmel, Hay, and Shin, which stand for "A Great Miracle Happened There,"[4] referring to the miracle of the oil. In Israel, where the miracle happened, the dreidel has the letters Nun, Gimmel, Hay, and Pey, which means "A Great Miracle Happened Here."
  2. 2
    Gather friends. You can play with as few as two, but the more the merrier!
    • Distribute tokens evenly among all of the players. The tokens can be any little thing: pennies, nuts, raisins, matchsticks, etc. A lot of people use gelt.
  3. 3
    Ante up. Before each spin, players put one token in the middle of the circle to create "the pot."
    • Every time the pot is emptied, or there's only one token left, every player should put a token in the pot.
  4. 4
    Take turns spinning the dreidel. When it's your turn, spin the dreidel once. The letter which comes up once it stops spinning determines whether you win, lose, or draw. According to the letter appearing, the player should perform the following action:[5]
  5. 5
    Pass the dreidel on to the next player.
  6. 6
    Keep playing until someone wins by collecting all the tokens.

Community Q&A

Add New Question
  • Question
    If I get gimmel and take all the coins from the pot, do I have to put a token back in because the pot is empty?
    Lil\' Bea
    Community Answer
    No, once all of the tokens in the pot are collected, the next person to play will then put in another token. In some versions of this game, all players will put in one of their tokens.
  • Question
    Can I put in more than one token when the pot is empty?
    Community Answer
    Yes, you can.
  • Question
    How many tokens do I need to start with?
    Community Answer
    Split the amount of tokens you have evenly among the players. Deal it like you would deal out a deck of cards.
  • Question
    Does the dreidel have to be a certain kind of dreidel?
    Community Answer
    It only has to have all four sides, which are the nun, gimmel, hay and shin. If the dreidel has all of the sides, then you should be good to go.
  • Question
    Where can I buy a dreidel?
    Community Answer
    You can buy a dreidel at Party City, eBay, or Amazon.
  • Question
    How many players are needed to play dreidel?
    Community Answer
    At least two because it's not fun to play by yourself. Even numbers are best.
  • Question
    What are the least amount of tokens you can have? What's the most?
    Community Answer
    You need at least 3 for each player, so if you had 5 players, you'd need 15 in all. There is no limit for the largest number of tokens, as long as you have plenty of time. You just need the number of tokens to be divisible by the number of players.
  • Question
    Do players start with tokens?
    Community Answer
    Yes, each player starts with tokens.
  • Question
    What happens when the pit is empty?
    Community Answer
    When the pit or pot is empty, everyone puts one of their tokens (or what you're using) in the pit or pot.
  • Question
    When I get a gimbal and the pot is empty, who puts the back in to refill the pieces?
    Community Answer
    You take a "loan" form the token bank. So basically just use someone else's token. This can happen once and then you're out.
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    • In one variation of the game, you may match the pot when Shin appears, and put one token in when Nun appears.
    • In a popular variation of the game, any player whose dreidel lands on Nun loses and is out of the game.
    • A fun variation is to use chocolate instead of coins, so you can eat your winnings when the game ends.
    • If there are no tokens in the pot, everyone puts one in.
    • Don't have a dreidel? Download the pattern and make one for yourself![6] Many websites offer free patterns you can print out and use to make your own dreidel.
    • If a player runs out of tokens, he either leaves the game or takes a loan of tokens from another player.
    • In Israel, the letter shin is usually replaced with the letter peh for the word "poh" to create the phrase "a great miracle happened here."[7]
    • In Yiddish, the dreidel is also called "fargle" and "varfl." In Israel, the Hebrew term "sevivon" (from the root meaning "turn around or spin") is used.

    Things You'll Need

    • Dreidel
    • A few dozen tokens: buttons, coins, or small candies
    • You can also use a bunch of gelt (chocolate coins)

    Article Info


    This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness. Together, they cited information from 7 references.

    Categories: Featured Articles | Hanukkah Chanukah

    In other languages:

    Português: Jogar Dreidel, Espa?ol: jugar al Dreidel, Italiano: Giocare a Dreidel, Русский: играть в дрейдел

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