I started playing online a couple of years ago. In phase one of my plan, I set myself the goal of winning $1 million in play chips before putting any money in. It took over a year but I did it. I realised however that real money makes people play different (people like me for instance).
I'm still in phase two which is I put in $25/$50 and play until it's gone keeping track of how long I can make it last playing micro no-limit ring games and $5 no-limit SNG's. That way there's a limit on how much damge I can do myself on tilt.
I'm an intense and passionate person and no-limit texas hold'em is pretty exciting (and some of the players are annoying) causing me to sometimes get my head up where the sun don't shine and crap out.
I find limit annoying because it seems I get sucked out too often. People will stay in with the darnedest hands and then get lucky. Also I've developed a good sense of when I can take the pot even when I don't have the cards. While that's still a work in progress it's almost as much fun as taking down a big pot. Anyone can win with good cards.
Being able to build the stack with stolen chips has kept me alive in many an SNG allowing me to get into position to take someone out for large amounts. On the other hand it increases the risk factor and has backfired catastrophically several times.
My most recent deposit at Full Tilt saw $50 last 11 days. I got it up to $107 at one point and was down to around $10 three times before building it back up to $50 each time. This most recent run saw me play through 3 days of getting slaughtered no matter what I did and coming back from that which felt like a huge victory. I'm definitely learning how to adjust my play to the table I'm on.
I just started playing on FTP and people there are very timid pre-flop, especially in the ring games. My flop rate gets really high as I rake in blinds both pre and post flop. You can't tell if you're actually in a hand until the turn most of the time.
In order to not get too emotional or break the pattern when I do I've started placing limits in how long I can play in one session and generally go for a flop rate of 30% or less. One thing I've noticed is that winning is almost as dangerous emotionally as losing a bad beat to some lucky moron. I try not to bet immediately after a big win
I've gotten to the point where I win 50% of the flops I see. The current weakness I'm working on is not laying it down when pot-committed which has caused me some big losses. Last night in a micro ring game on FTP I worked my $10 starting stack up to almost $40 in about 90 minutes and was just about to uncheck Auto-Post-Blind and bank my profits at the next blind when I lost with two pair twice in a row and the stack was gone just like that. I think it took less than 90 seconds.
I lost a couple of SNG's after that and then this morning took the last of the bank roll into two .05/.10 rings games and watched it dwindle away. I couldn't do anything right today it seemed. I played over 50 flops and won 4 times.
One of the last hands I gave up and threw the last chips into the pot on a high ISD (something I never bet on) and it hit. I felt like I'd gone through the looking glass to Bizarro World where everything's backwards, upside down and inside out however I've learned that the cards will come back and I have to develop even more discipline and patience to get me through the rough spots.
That brings up one of the biggest insights I've gotten from playing poker. It's an excellent way to learn about yourself and become a better person. Both success and failure at the tables highlights personal strengths and weaknesses giving me more confidence and showing me where I need to work on myself.
Maybe I wasn't gifted with incredible skills but I can make up for that with hard work, persistence and discipline. All qualities that will help me away from the tables as well.
One day I hope to be able to play for big money at least once in a while but until then I'll play within my limits both personally and financially.
So far I've only found one thing in Texas Hold 'em that is 100% for sure. If I fold, I may not lose but I certainly won't win.