The first time I played a live 1\2 cash game was at Choctaw Casino in Durant, Oklahoma. I bought in for $200 and settled down for an 8-10 hour roller coaster ride, during which I was down to $60 at one point. I cashed out for $195, and broke dead even after finding a $5 bill at my feet that someone dropped and no one else claimed. I was thrilled to survive the session.
I watched a man with a $1000 stack get whittled down to $200 by playing back at a loose-aggressive player to his right. The guy on my left repeatedly busted out and rebought, while declaring every n00b mistake I made. A good-looking girl beamed with joy after building a $500 stack, only to walk away disappointed with only $100.
I was just happy not to lose my buyin.
Although my cash game graph shows me nearly breaking even, I am actually positive. Today my account is at $505 ($300 buyin, $80 referral bonus, $50 in new player bonus, $75 earned). That's 25% that I've earned myself. Perhaps a poker angel is watching over me; I hope she looks like Lynn Gilmartin of pokernews.com. :)