I would suggest you play some online freerolls to get the feel for online poker. If you can deposit (not sure based on the US rules) then I would deposit as much as you are comfortable losing. Dont deposit $200 if you can only really afford $75 for example. Then you need to stick to some strict Bankroll Management.
With regards to books, there are hundreds of books out there that you could learn from. The ones that always crop up are the Harrington on Holdem. There are 3 of them and they are a bit dated, but they will give you a good solid foundation to build upon.
I would also suggest you watch youtube strategy videos and any live poker you can to pick up tips. Then you just need to put in some volume and learn as you go along.
One thing to note is that online play and live play are totally different, you may be really good at live poker but not to good at online, or vice versa. Only you can decide when you are ready in my opinion.
I could write all day giving you things to research to help you improve but you would be better off just reading poker forums such as Two Plus Two and Pocket Fives and of course browsing through this site.
There is a lot of tracking software out there. The two most popular are
- Holdem Manager 2
- PokerTracker 4
I have only used HEM2 so cannot comment on PokerTracker.
HEM2 will track all cash and tournaments on certain sites, you will have to check if its compatible with any site you decide to play on. It will also give you a HUD on each table that shows you each players stats which helps you to make decisions based on what kind of player they are. HEM2 also has several addons available such as:
- Sit and Go Wizard
- Leak Buster
- Note Caddy
- Table Ninja
The top two can be used to help you analyse your own hands and see where you are leaking chips and help you to learn places where you should be getting your chips in to try and pick up good sized pots.
Again i could write a lot more about software, but its probably best that you look into each one yourself. They are not free, but you can quite often get special deals through sites like the ones i mentioned above.
Tracking other players
There are a couple of good websites that will allow you to track other players to see if they are profitable players or losing players. I recommend the following:
- Official Poker Rankings
They dont cover all sites, but the main ones are covered.
Hope this helps. Gareth