Shut up for a second and listen to me. You’re cocky. You’re arrogant. You think you know how to handle a genie if you find one. You don’t. A genie could trick you in five seconds. Compared to a genie you’re a child.

The best advice anyone can give you is STAY AWAY FROM GENIES. They’re the pranksters of the magic world and their sense of humor is really messed up. They think it’s hilarious if your life is ruined and they’ll try to sandbag you every chance they get.

That being said, if you insist on messing around with lamp-hermits at least arm yourself with this basic rundown of genie game theory.

1) Do not wish to be the sexiest person on earth

This is Genie 101, people. It’s a quick way to have everyone on earth (except you) turned into a rock. Genies thrive on this kind of ambiguity, they are like if a wizard was a lawyer.

2) Do not wish to be able to fly

Again, this is too open for interpretation. You’re going to have to waste another wish on the power to land. You need to be specific with these swindlers or you’ll end up in space.

3) Avoid all homonyms

Asking to be “rich” can mean a lot of things, and it is (excuse the pun) a recipe for having your body turn into cheesecake. Or some accountant in Philadelphia. You gotta think these things through very carefully, the bottle-monster who is granting your wishes has spent the last 1000 years thinking of ways to destroy you.

4) Never rush your wishes

Using wishes is like buying a car, if you drag it out as long as you can you’re going to get a better deal. Genies have quotas and they need to get you off their books so they can move on to the next sucker. Use this leverage whenever you can. Remember, you can walk away at any time, the genie has no choice but to negotiate.

5) Find your loophole

There are some very clear guidelines that genies have to work under. This means that you can’t wish for more wishes, but it also means that if you find a logical flaw in their rules they have to respect it. Try wishing for a machine that makes genies, or for the number 3 to now mean 1,000,000. Throw some crazy ideas out there and you might end up beating the system.

6) Lie to your genie

This isn’t church, this is the real world, lying to a genie is totally ok. Convince your genie that you’re friends and, if it cooperates, you might consider using your third wish to free it from servitude. Of course you’d never waste a precious precious wish on an ungrateful jug-troll but your genie doesn’t need to know that.

Using these tips may help you survive an encounter with a genie but if you have any brains in your head you’ll throw that lamp back in the basement or crypt or whatever and pretend you never saw it.