This is something I've been thinking about for quite some time.
In the gambling world amongst poker players and all types of bettors, degen is tossed around as a term of affection for action junkies. Some online forums even have their own "degen index."
Degen is a shortened form of degenerate. It doesn't matter if you're talking about degenerative gamblers or degenerative diseases. Degenerate implies that something declines or deteriorates.
I've never considered myself a degen and I'm slightly offended when someone calls me that.
I've been involved in gambling/gaming semi-professionally for a few years. In most of my disciplines I've grown to play bigger stakes. Does that make me a degen? Hell, no. In fact, it's quite the opposite.
My poker experiences trained me to be a bankroll nit. What this means (for you non-gamblers) is that I protected myself from going broke. I experienced some swings up and down. When I was losing I jumped down in stakes to ensure I always had funds to keep going.
That experience allowed me to nurse my cumulative bankroll to it's current state, where I can play the highest stakes in fantasy contests.
Any sports investing (horses, sports betting, fantasy) requires enough bankroll to withstand variance. It also requires willpower to get your money in at the right times. Betting only horses with value. Avoiding high juice/vig. Avoiding high rake in fantasy tournaments. No chasing losses.
Basically, anyone calling me a degen is trying to tell me I don't know what I'm doing. While I certainly don't know everything - to quote Jay-Z, "I know a 'lil bit".
I do think there are some areas of my life where I might be considered a true "degen". Probably my declining health at least. I've definitely taken risks there. I guess that makes Steve Jobs a degen too.