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Games of risk

Over the years, I've been called a lot of outrageous names by a lot of outrageous people (schoolyard bullies, foreign diplomats, my parents), but nobody has ever called me a "risk taker." Of course, nobody has ever called me the "greatest deep-sea diver since Jacques Cousteau," either. But while I actually am the "greatest deep-sea diver since Jacques Cousteau," I'm definitely not a "risk taker."

Indeed, I've been known to avoid taking a risk even when not taking a risk is a bigger risk than taking a risk. For instance, rather than risk burning the house down by cooking my food, I eat everything (by which I mean ground beef and Famous Amos-brand cookie dough) raw - thus running the much greater risk of contracting a gastrointestinal infection that, if left untreated, will cause my insides to melt. And such an infection will almost certainly go left untreated, because I'd rather risk death by E. coli than death by an escaped circus elephant stomping on my car as I drive to the hospital.

But I'm not here to discuss food-borne bacteria or freak accidents involving runaway elephants. I'm here to discuss gambling. In particular, I'm here to discuss how, thanks to my chronic aversion to taking risks, I almost never gamble. The problem with gambling, of course, is that you might lose - and unlike, say, losing spectacularly and consistently at Dungeons & Dragons, which only involves parting with your dignity and self-respect, losing spectacularly and consistently at gambling involves parting with large sums of money. And while certain people might consider running the risk of personal financial ruin seductive and thrilling, I consider it scary and nauseating.

Notice, however, that I didn't say I never gamble - only that I almost never gamble. On rare occasions, when the stars are aligned just so and I'm feeling particularly self-destructive, I'll pull what I call an "Albany." That is, I'll throw restraint and fiscal responsibility to the wind - which, in my case, entails playing a one- or two-dollar scratch-off lottery game.

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