“That would make you a mathochist,” said Alf.
I had to write that down.
“Okay then, Charlie,” I said. “Since you are the world’s first, it falls upon you to tell us what a mathochist is.”
“I can do that.” Charlie puffed up. “A mathochist is one who always knows which segments of his history will fulfill his need to feel victimized.”
“I can do that too. Month one, I lose $5,000. Month two, I win $4,000. If you ask me at the end of month two how poker is going, I will never say that I just won $4,000. I would tell you that I lost $5,000 last month, and I’m just now climbing out of the hole.”
“Because that’s the story you tell yourself,” I said.
Alf said, “And if you win consistently for a year? How do you lament then?”
“I just shorten the time frame as needed,” Charlie said. “If I’m ahead for the month, but I’m behind for the week, then I think of the week. If I win for ten days straight, but I lost yesterday, I think only of yesterday. If I win for ten days straight, including yesterday, but I’m stuck for the last hour, then I stew on the last hour. I might be the only person in the world who makes steady money at poker year after year while feeling like a loser the whole time. It’s a special talent I have, to create pain based on data.”
“Data-based pain,” Alf said.
I clapped my hands four times at half-second intervals. Then wrote it down.
“Aha!” said Sonny. “What about right after you win a pot that puts your net worth at an all-time high?”
“You mean like before I’ve even put up my blind for the next hand?” said Charlie.
That stopped Charlie cold. “In that case, you’re right, I’m pickled. There’s no bad news to be had.”