Marina Benjamin writes on how she rolled the dice to find out whether or not gambling was a latent, hereditary addiction.

Gamblers get into trouble, not least vortices of debt, because they cannot help pitting themselves against fate. They know that luck is capricious, evasive, flighty, which is part of its dangerous appeal; but they’re also convinced that they can somehow divine it.

Those who study the phenomenon of loss aversion point out that what someone is willing to lose is always related to a reference point, and usually that reference point is the status quo: most people will put up with some degree of loss if it doesn’t upset their world too much. But if the point of reference is less stable the logic shifts. If you believe, as my father did, that you were born to have riches beyond compare then you will risk much more to lessen the gap between reality and expectation. If like me, however, the bar of your expectations is set differently, calibrated for reality, then your approach to risk is more calculated.

I wish that I could go back and tell my younger self that the world is kinder than I knew, or believed it to be. That opportunity did sometimes come knocking out of the blue. That emotional precarity is a state that one might gird oneself to wait out instead of put to the test, while expecting to fail. But I guess there are always some things one needs to learn the hard way. That cannot be learned in any displaced arena, or field of play, or even a funhouse palace, however defanged or neutered to protect against real loss.