Player of the Month!  Yep, that's me.  I was the big winner at our monthly poker soiree and earned the title - and the traveling trophy.  I'm a member of the 7-11 Poker Club and we meet the third Friday of the month from (you guessed it) 7pm to 11pm.  (Full disclosure: Since many of us are in our dotage, it's actually from 6:30 to a little after 10 when we get sleepy, but that doesn't have such a ring to it).  As the BIG winner, I came away with $11.  You see, third Friday's are mostly about camaraderie and eating - poker is at least tertiary.

Most people think about gambling as a money related endeavor, but the truth is that we gamble every day.  Gambling is all about risk vs. reward.  It's basically a cost/benefit calculation. We do it all the time, mostly without even realizing it. Driving a car is a series of gambles, but we manage and mitigate those risks on the fly.

The benefits are usually clear.  I'll rake in some money, win a pony, not die.  The problem is that we're horrible at calculating risk. We tend to focus more on the benefits than the risks - that's why we have criminals.  Risks are the rare event - seldom experienced but often life changing.

Take this:  I almost blew up my house recently - and I wasn't even cooking meth. I didn't turn off the gas all the way after breakfast.  An hour later, I came up from the basement and the kitchen was all rotten egg smelly - good thing I wasn't juggling my fire sticks.  Risks can be hard to calculate.  How many houses blew up in St. Charles County last week?  Maybe zero.  

Life is full of risks; some known and some unknown.  Of course, a prudent person (and perhaps many of you) will mitigate against the obvious risks, but you can't live your life in a bubble.  Insurance is basically risk aversion.  You can cover 80% of your risk at a reasonable cost, but to eliminate that last 20% is often prohibitively expensive.  

On the other hand, many of the joys of life come from ignoring risk.  I married my wife after knowing her only six months - now that was a gamble.  Thirty-five years later, we're still married and on speaking terms.  

Sometimes, taking a risk is worth it. Have you ever felt pure exhilaration?  You probably weren't doing something safe.  I ride a motorcycle, got married and occasionally eat at McDonalds. These things bring me happiness. Just as you can't totally eliminate risks and hazards in life, don't let fear and trepidation deprive you of joy.

I'll leave you with the philosophy of Mike Rowe - the Dirty Jobs guy:  Safety Third.