Rules for Tournament Dreidel

World Series of Dreidel®

Chai Stakes Dreidel Tournament

Official Rules of Tournament Dreidel



You are welcome to use these rules for a charitable or non-profit fundraising event, provided you let us know about the event and who you are, and include the following citation with the rules:

From  © 2003-2007 D. Bergman / World Series of Dreidel.


We also suggest that you distribute a set of quick reference rules for players' convenience, and also run a small tournament with three to four participants prior to running an actual event, to help you understand the nuances and work out the idiosyncracies of Tournament Dreidel.  Enjoy, and please email us your questions and experiences!


Rules are subject to change. 


  1. A valid spin constitutes a spin of the dreidel that spins for at least 3 seconds without wobbling, in order to ensure a random outcome.  A spin that wobbles immediately is not valid.  The spin may hit objects on the table, but must land on the table without human interference to be valid.  Upside-down spins are acceptable provided they meet the other conditions.  There is no penalty for invalid spins, but the spinner must re-spin until her spin is valid.  If a player has a difficult time meeting these requirements, she may nominate another person to spin on her behalf. 
  2. Each player is given an initial stack of 18 units of gelt (represented by poker chips).   People begin by sitting five or six to a table, or up to ten if necessary, based on the ratio of players to tables. 
  3. Each table is given a dish with three dreidels.  A spinner may spin their choice of the three dreidels provided.  The dreidels will be replaced and rotated among tables periodically during the tournament to ensure fairness.
  4. Determine the First Spinner:  At the specified time, the tournament begins and any player spins the dreidel.  The person to whom the bottom of the dreidel points after it stops is the first spinner.
  5. The initial ante is one unit of gelt (one poker chip).
  6. Each player puts the ante into the pot.  This is known as an “All Ante.”
  7. Play: 
    1. The spinner selects a dreidel from the dish of 3 dreidels and spins it. 
    2. After the dreidel stops, it will land on one of the following four letters face up:

i.                     If the dreidel has Nun face up, the spinner does nothing. 

ii.                   If the dreidel has Gimel face up, the spinner takes the entire pot.

iii.                  If the dreidel has Hey face up, the spinner takes half the pot, rounding up if there is an odd number of chips in the pot.

iv.                 If the dreidel has Shin face up, the spinner adds one ante into the pot.

    1. If the value of the pot is less than or equal to the ante, each player contributes another ante (All-Ante) into the pot.
    2. The spinner replaces the dreidel in the dish with the other dreidels.  Play continues to the next player on the left with step (7a).
    3. If a player needs to leave the table, she will miss her turn to spin, but must leave her gelt stack and will still be subject to All-Antes.  Another player must take chips for All-Antes from her gelt stack on her behalf.




  1. Depleted gelt stack:
    1. If a player’s gelt is depleted or nearly depleted, she may rebuy one or more times, depending on the rules established for the specific tournament, only by paying the tournament at-the-door entry fee ($20) and getting a new complete stack of 18 units of gelt.  The rebuy is at the player’s option; she may also choose to risk elimination.  In order to rebuy, the player should be prepared with either cash, check or credit card, raise her hand, and shout “Rebuy!”  One of the tournament officials will come to her table with a stack of chips and accept her payment.
    2. Whenever a player is required to post an ante – either as a table ante or from a spin that lands on the shin -- but cannot afford to do so, she is out of the tournament and becomes a “non-winner”.  If she has a partial ante left in her stack she must surrender it to the pot.  For example, if she has one unit of gelt but is required to post a two-gelt ante, she is out and must leave her one unit in the pot.
    3. As long as a player can post the required ante, she remains in the tournament, even if she is all-in.  For example, if she must post a two-gelt ante and has only two units of gelt in her stack, she can post that ante and remain in the tournament as long as she is not required to post an additional ante.


  1. Increasing Antes: 
    1. The ante will increment by one or two units of gelt every three minutes, or faster if necessary to speed up eliminations in the tournament, at tournament officials’ discretion.  An official timekeeper will track the ante increments and will announce accordingly. 
    2. The next spinner after the current spinner at the time of announcement will start with the new increment. 
    3. In the case that the ante is increased causing the pot to be less than the new ante (but greater than the previous ante), players need not contribute an All-Ante until the next time an ante is required.
  1. Combining Tables:  As players are eliminated, they may be moved to other tables to consolidate the tournament.  Ultimately there will be a final table of approximately six players. 
  2. Tournament Championship:  The last eliminated player will be named champion, and  is entitled to the Championship Trophy and the prize of her choice.  Runner ups will select prizes from the prize pool in the opposite order of which they were eliminated.
  3. Rules subject to refinement:  In the case of inconsistencies or ambiguities, the tournament officials reserve the right to refine the rules during the course of the tournament, with an intent of fairness.  In the event a rule is refined, it will be announced publicly to the tournament.


Tournament Options:  The following options may be used at the tournament management's discretion, and are recommended only for tournaments with at least 12 people (three tables).


  •  Wild-Card Final Table Qualification:  A random drawing for eliminated tournament participants is held prior to the convening of the final 8 players of the tournament. The winner of the drawing is given a ninth seat at the final table, and is endowed with a gelt stack the size of the ante at the time when the final table convenes.  This gives someone who was previously eliminated one last improbable chance to come back and win the tournament.

  • Celebrity Spins:  A celebrity or prominent member of the community, such as the Rabbi, offers to spin dreidels on behalf of players for a specified fee (such as $10) for the benefit of the host organization.  The "Celebrity" must use the same set of dreidels as in use at the table and must provide a proper spin, as explained in item 1.



You are welcome to use these rules for a charitable non-profit fundraising event, subject to our discretion, provided you let us know about the event and who you are, and include the following citation with the rules:

From  © 2003-2009 D. Bergman / World Series of Dreidel.