My bankroll in December 2004 was not impressive. In fact, if I had the same amount now, I wouldn't call it a bankroll. I would pinch it on the cheek and say, "You are so cute. I could just eat you up!"
But it's what I carried with me across the moving walkway from the Luxor with Badblood. He'd just cashed in the tournament (an event that cost real $20 bills to enter). I hadn't made any money and felt broke.
And then we walked into the Excalibur poker room and I didn't care. There sat the rowdiest crowd of malcontents in one of the ugliest poker rooms I'd ever seen.
If you haven't heard by now, the Excalibur poker room has fired all its dealers and is preparing to turn into an all digital poker room. That's right. The place where I cut my teeth on $2-$6 spread limit is turning into a live-online poker room. No old school dealers. No cranky floor people. No dirty chips. The Castle is crumbling.
I knew my old friend was dying the night we Stormed the Castle with about 40 people. It started fine when we greased the floor guy to open a table just for us. By the end of the night, though, we had turned the room upside down and I was sarcastically apologizing to the floor for having too much fun.
Over the next few years, watching the Excalibur Hospice Experience just got to be depressing. The room changed locations and dispatched with the big screen TV. The spread limit games disappeared in favor of more standard white-chip games. The floor people became increasingly cranky and no longer appreciated our business. It stopped being a fun place more than a year ago. In just a few days, it will be no more.
It's as easy admission to concede The Castle had become a novelty item for most of the old crew. If we wanted to play serious poker, we went to MGM, the Venetian, or Caesars. The Excalibur is where we landed late night for irresponsible chip slinging and debauchery.
Still, like the high school girl who first taught us how to be bad, the Castle maintained a hold on a nostalgic corner of our dirty memories. From my brother, Dr. Jeff, leading a room full of cowboys in the scream of "Monkey!" every time Whiplash the dog came on the big screen to G-Rob falling on his knees in yet another lost wheel spin prop, I had more laughs in that poker room than any other.
My Castle Highlights
* Getting a guy from Albania to talk like Teddy KGB while simultaneously singing the Albania song from Cheers.
* Whiplash the Monkey
* Meeting Iggy for the first time
* Eating horrible not-gumbo with Al from the player buffet while Felicia Lee picked off every one of my tells.
* Losing multiple prop bets to Wheaton on the wheen spin wagers and introducing Michael Craig to Storming the Castle
Ugly Otis doesn't appear as often as he used to. Still, I'm now going to have to find somewhere else to be a bad boy.
This December, I will walk into the Excalibur room for what may be the last time. I will sit down at one of those foresaken machines and I will play my final session at the Excalibur poker room. I will drink myself silly. I will spin an imaginary wheel. I will tip whoever is available with giant stacks of white chips whenver I win a virtual pot. I will tip a virtual 40 to the death of an old friend.
That's right. I will Storm the Castle for one last time. And when I leave, the Castle will stand no more.
I invite you to join me for the fifth year of the invasion.