My poker network from college all migrated to on-line play at about the same time. We all deposited between 50 to 100 dollars and were on our way to poker stardom. There was the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly among us.
The Good were conservative to a fault, but made money. After a week of ups and downs they profited maybe $25. After two, about $75. The Bad just weren't at the skill level to profit on-line. After a week, those who hadn't lost all their original investment, cashed out what they had left and returned to the proverbial drawing board. The real tragedy is what happened to the Ugly. The best of us, myself included, played our best game at low to mid level stakes, and won. We won a lot. After near constant play during week one, some of us had accounts over a thousand dollars. But in week two we were over-confident and punch-drunk with our earnings, landing us in high-stakes games and playing looser than before. I was lucky enough to stop myself just before I fell below my original $50. All of us lost our brief fortunes.
The Party was Over
The problem was in how we viewed the stakes. With Internet gambling you never see the chips and never hold the cash—it's all digital. As broke college students we would have never dreamed of sitting at a $5/$10 cash game or entering a $250 tournament, but on-line we didn't see the money as real or useful for anything but poker. It was just credits, like tokens at the arcade.
The lesson here isn't to never play high stakes games. If you are a good enough player and have built a bankroll to afford it, then go for it. The lesson here is to never disconnect with the money in your account. Keep it real by cashing out some profit after a good week. Not only cash out, but spend it. Reward yourself for good play, you deserve it.