The start of the home game came control of the stakes, and more importantly for me control of the players. My friends from the dorm days were always welcome, along with the guys I hit it off with traveling the "Athens Poker Circuit." My roommates at the time were also welcome...mostly because that was out of my control. My roommates did welcome the chance to play more live poker as a substitute to Party Poker and Intertops sports betting.
For the first time in a while it was more important to me to play casually with people I like, rather than to play competitively with strangers. We stuck with Texas Hold'em as the game of choice with relatively low-stakes and unlimited re-buys. One of my friends made it a practice to use the unlimited re-buys to its fullest until he had all of our original stacks, or, more often, he was completely broke.
Concurrently with our weekly home games, my friends and I started playing at the newly formed Athens' Chapter of the National Pub Poker League. It was a free game that played every night at different bars. Although not profitable, it was a good outlet to be competitive within my group to see who could make it farthest in a large field. Funny enough, the very first time I played I finished first of about 15 tables. The NPPL kept track of points which kept our interest for a while.
It was hard to make it to the final table on a regular basis with the NPPL. It takes some luck to make it through a field that big when the players have nothing substantial at risk, but I had some luck. My favorite memory is a throwback to the game mentioned in the out-of-towner's post. It was myself; an opponent of mine who I butted-heads with and I had not seen since playing in Watkinsville; and my friend, who with myself put said game out of business, at the final table. The three of us had overcome a field of over a hundred to get here, and it wasn't until we were the last three in the game that I realized who I was playing against.
It had been a long time and he had shaved his beard and was wearing a hoodie, but once he took it off I recognized him. It is my favorite memory mostly because after he eliminated my friend, I took him out to win the tournament. I never saw him again, but it was nice closure to the out-of-towners that thought they were so good.