While I was winning in my out-of-town game, I started finding new places to play. Coincidentally, they were all on the city limits of Athens. It became known to my friends that if I didn't answer the phone, I was out at a game. Not because I didn't want to interrupt play as much as I never had reception.
I played at one house that had a decommissioned fraternity feel. The field was all college students or the recently graduated. I only knew a handful of the 30 to 40 usually in attendance, in addition to guy I traveled with. I still felt I was better than the majority, but there a few that, in retrospect, could out-play me. My difficulty winning here was also due to the wide range of styles played. There were some maniacs, some conservatives, and some solid and very aggressive players.
They played a five or more table tournament once a week. I usually went out near the bubble. I only remember placing in the money on one occasion, which is why my friend had a more profitable experience by going out early in the tournament before cleaning up at the subsequent ring games. There was nearly always more cash circling the ring tables than in the tournament pool itself.
It was an exciting time when we knew every game it a poker-addicted town. We would get knocked out of one game at 10:30 to jet across town to win another by two in the morning. Poker was at its highest popularity then, everyone played whether they knew how to or not.
The original crew I played with were never out of the picture. They would join me from time to time when they could afford a buy-in. Once the games I attended started to die-down in attendance, or shift to a crowd I wasn't fond of, I decided to bring it back to basics. I started a home game.