All this has been accomplished in a couple short days.
I've been playing low stakes, but stakes. The reason for this is simple, with nothing to lose, players don't "play." They instead go for the biggest crazy bluff, refuse to be pushed out of pots, and play the most insane cards imaginable. There are still people who will do this at a "tiny stakes" table, but it's easy to just switch tables away from them to people more willing to actually engage in the game.
From every bit of advice I've read, heard, and thought about, a limit hold 'em game would be the best to try new tactics, build a "bankroll", and ease yourself into the idea of playing poker with profits in mind. Me being the impulsive fool I am, I picked the poison of no limit hold 'em instead. I've been experimenting and working the advice I've gathered into a playing style on a 5¢/10¢ no limit table. I sit down with $3 and see what works, what doesn't, how effective "imaging" works, and the best ways to portray an image in an online setting.
I had always thought of online poker & real world poker as miles apart due to the perceived idea that psychology, tells, and reads are pretty much nonexistent in an online game. This has turned out to be far from the truth. Tells are still there, they just aren't quite the same as tell from a player sitting in front of you, and you have to pay more attention online for longer to get a tell. Tells online are in the forms of betting patterns, tendencies to fold to large bets, and how often they tend to bet poor cards, etc. They are harder to notice, but most players don't bother adjusting their bets, styles, and tendencies online as much as in real life because they, like I did, don't believe psychology and tells exist online for the most part.
I'll go into setting up images online, how, why, and how effective it is at a later date, after I've had more time to really experiment with it.
At this moment, I've played a total of 4 sessions at an average of around an 1.25 hours each. I have increased my bankroll each time, though by varying degrees. I tripled my $3 initial bankroll earlier today in a 2 hour session. None of the other 3 sessions were near as profitable, but I did profit. I think the totals were 40¢, 75¢, and $1. Profit is profit I suppose. I'm extremely happy with all my sessions so far. if I had been wagering 100 times my amount ($5 / $10), I'd have made a total of $815 in roughly 5 hours of playing poker. Unfortunately, I don't have $300 to sit down and gamble with right now. Plus, I'm sure my margins would be lower due to better quality of players at that level, but even if it was only 25% it would have been roughly $200 in 5 hours or $40/ hour.
Now, I'm not stupid, I know these are crazy margins at the moment and I'm in no way guaranteed to continue like this. In fact, I'm almost guaranteed to go the opposite direction from here. Especially if I bump up levels in blinds. But for now, this is a good way to see what works on average and what doesn't.
So far, I think I'm well ahead of the curve on setting things up to profit online and playing the cards correctly. We'll find out as the adventures continue.