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I recently created a partner portal and I'm now trying to figure out how to use this thing. Salesforce isn't much help and their documentation makes little sense to me.

Let's start with something basic. I want to limit my partner's exposure to our Opportunities. I want them to be able to create opportunities themselves and manage their own opportunities but I don't want them to be able to look at our org's opportunities, look at our pipeline, revenue, etc.

What combination of Profiles, Roles, Permission Sets, Sharing Rules, Page Layouts, Groups, Field Accessibility, etc. do I need to configure to make this work?

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This is something that requires quite some planning. I went through the same grind when I had to set up a customer portal recently which I think must be similar to the partner portal.

Please go through these two links to get a better idea about setting up security for your portal: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/10489939/salesforce-is-it-a-good-idea-to-use-soql-to-enforce-security-and-limit-record-a

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/10237277/salesforce-apex-based-sharing-am-i-in-the-right-direction

I ended up using High volume portal user licenses as they come with the ability to enforce security such that every user can only see the records belonging to his account for the object you give him/her access to.

Also the org wide security default should be private and you will need to create a profile for these users to limit them access for the object/objects that you need to expose in the portal along with the access level (CRUD).

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