The Story of a Dreidel Tournament ... For Grown-Ups! And Teens Too!

A few years ago, some of us noticed that many synagogues and organizations started to host poker tournaments, and others have hosted bingo ever since we were kids.  It occurred to us that we have had our own gambling game for the last thousand years, but it was being monopolized by children playing for toothpicks and raisins.  We took matters into our own hands and began playing dreidel in our living room when we were in school, first for quarters.  Then, after moving to Sacramento, we had a few Hanukkah parties and developed a format for an actual tournament.  We wanted to share it with the Congregation as a Hanukkah-themed fund raising event, and the Brotherhood offered to sponsor and provide support.  The rest is yet to make history.

How Do We Play?

We will begin by seating people at tables of five to seven.  Each person gets a stack of 18 chips.  After everyone at a table antes (initially one chip), someone spins, and wins or loses just like you remember:  Nun = nothing; Gimel = win the pot; Hey = win half the pot; and Shin = add an ante to the pot.  When the pot is less than or equal to the ante value, everyone at the table must ante again.

As time progresses, the ante is raised, to two chips, then four, and so on.  This will make the game more expensive as some players' chip stacks get depleted.  Eventually, those who have the misfortune of spinning lots of Shins and Nuns will find that they can no longer post the ante, and at that point are out of the tournament.  We will consolidate the survivors and eventually a champion will emerge!  For details, please see the rules.

What If I Lose Early?

In this tournament, you will be allowed to make one "Rebuy" if you wish.  In other words, if you are about to run out of chips and cannot post an ante, you have the option of staying in the tournament by making an additional $20 donation and receiving another 18 chips.  You may only do this once.  Alternatively, you may make an exit as graceful as you please.

We will also have a second consolation tournament for non-winners.  Details of this tournament will be announced at the event.

If you are the first out of the tournament and your spouse lasts to the final table, what should you do?  After you grow hoarse shouting "GIIIMMMELLLL!!!" on your spouse's behalf, you can retire to some of the other activities such as movies and shmoozing going on at the Temple.

Did Someone Say Food?

There will be nosherei on hand courtesy of Ettore's European Bakery and Restaurant.  We will be serving desserts, wine, and cheese.  You won't spin hungry.

What About the Kids?

Bring them!  Teens will have their own tournament, and we all know that's where the real competition will be.  We will also have professional child care for kids up to 12, in younger and older groups.  They will be able to play dreidel, watch movies, and work on hanukkah-themed arts and crafts. 

Sounds Great!

What should you do next?  Register Now!