Originally posted by cmsMaster
It took me a while to be accustomed to the Dragon though - and that might be my favorite opening now.
To expand on what I said earlier...
First off, don't do a set game, you must play those 5-8 moves in order start remembering them. 3 whites and 3 blacks is just enough to give you an idea if you want to learn the opening. Once you key in on openings you like, start trying more of the variations. If you still like it, play more games with it, but let your partner choose the variation. For instance if you choose Kings gambit, Require that 1. e4 e5 f4 be played, but your partner can choose to play exf and g5 or he might decline with Bc4. Since the point is to learn, continue to play both sides and try not to repeat the same variation too often.
It is best to double check the book after each game to see where they reccomend you play differentely. The sharper the system, the more important it is to get the moves in the right order.
After all that work, you should know it well enough to play it over the board.
As a simple alternative, play lots of correspondence games, and think up your move, but before playing it, check it against a book/database of your favorite players games. (don't use something like the Chessbase Big database which has lots of games from club players in simuls as well as Kasparov/Karpov/Kramnik games). If you understand why they did what they did, play thier move, if not, play your move. Review your losses, you may start understanding why masters avoid your lines.