In this article on Slate, Ben Blatt calls the classic rules of Dreidel "slow and unfair," citing simulation-based statistical analysis, and proposes his own modified rules to speed up the game.

Given that the rules we have come as a tradition from previous generations, are we required to preserve them, unmodified, and reject reforms such as this one?

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    related: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teetotum Dec 15, 2014 at 15:55
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    Nice article! []
    – Double AA
    Dec 15, 2014 at 15:56
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    There's an old American Mathematical Monthly article called "An Ancient Unfair Game" iirc that proves the game more favorable toward earlier players (so this Slate author reinvented the wheel to some extent). There was a subsequent article (by a different author) called something like "An Ancient Game Made Fair" that suggested specific rule emendations that make the game fair. (Unlike the Slate rules, though, these included turn-taking.)
    – msh210
    Dec 15, 2014 at 16:03
  • עי' חולין דף ז ע"א: אף אני מקום הניחו לי אבותי להתגדר בו מכאן לתלמיד חכם שאמר דבר הלכה שאין מזיחין אותו ...
    – wfb
    Dec 21, 2016 at 17:01

1 Answer 1


I'd say, "mess away!"

While relatively recent Hassidic sources have ascribed all sorts of significance to the dreidel, if I'm not mistaken the earliest sources simply discuss the practice of gambling on Chanukah. (Chavos Yair, if I'm not mistaken.) Dreidel seems to simply be a form of gambling that rabbis originally tolerated at best, that at some point became part of the American commercial thingamajob that everyone observes as Hanukkah -- and that Hassidic Jews assume must have been an iron-clad practice.

  • Gambling on Chanuka far precedes the Chavos Yair. And dreidel precedes (although not by a whole lot) American commercialized Chanukah - the Chasam Sofer felt it was important to spin a dreidel on Chanukah. Dec 20, 2016 at 3:45

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