Have been on a terrrible run lately with several finishes not even on the final table, mainly due, I think to loss of concentration. But came back to win a 1-million-chipper tonight after a long, long struggle up to 2 1/2 hours.
Over the last couple of days I played a couple of low entry tournaments on RP, and did fairly well until I had to leave for an appointment. The thing to remember in the cheap entry tournaments is that no one really knows anything about position, chip size, blind size, bet sizing, pot odds or anything like that. Most of the players just want to play their cards and see what they flop. A player with 22 or 33 will happily call off half their stack preflop and probably shove when they miss.
The best strategy here is just to play your best starting hands, forget about preflop raises as no one will ever fold, and then continue strongly post flop if you think you have the best hand or the draw to the nuts.
The million-chip tourneys are not a lot better, but the players can be more deceptive. Some will shove their whole stack if they flop the nuts, but some will slow play their hand and try to suck you in.
Also some of the players have some understanding of blind sizes. In the early rounds you can play drawing hands like suited connectors, but after the first hour the blinds rapidly escalate and post flop play is invariably stack-fatal.
When you get into high-altitude blinds territory all that counts is high card strength and an ace is goldust, especially if it has a kicker 9 or better, because small stacks will make Hail Mary preflop shoves with almost any ace or king, so if you start out ahead, or better still dominate them, things will tend to go your way.
Obviously you cannot win a tournament without some luck, because if every small stack won on the river, tournaments would never end.
However the key to finishing first and not just making the final table comes down to never calling a raise unless you have no choice, have the opponent heavily outstacked, or you are going to shove yourself. Opponents are always going to make continuation bets and two times out of three the flop will miss your unpaired cards and you will put your whole stack at risk if you continue.
Raising preflop yourself is much better, because a lot of the time you will pick up the blinds unopposed, and if you do get a call, then the flop may still hit you even with the lousiest of hands. If your raise with rags and someone comes over the top, then you can always fold and try again on the next hand, but the good thing is that you will win a lot of hands with rags, and be able to save your good hands for really special occasions, like attacking the table chip leader (if it is not you), or wiping out small stacks if you have a bigger stack.
I would not bother too much with calling obvious bluffs early in the tournament, because many players on RP shove the flop when they have the nuts on the flop or the river, instead of trying to get paid for their best hands, hoping that they will still get called by draws on the flop or top pairs on the river. Admittedly this sometimes succeeds.
But subtle play is out the window.
One special tip that I find invaluable is that AK is not that great a hand in early play in tournaments, because players who want to play their hands may call any preflop raise and shove pocket pairs at any flop. Obviously if you do get into a flop with AK and flop top pair, then you can evaluate your options and probably win some chips. AK suited is better because of flush possibilities, but remember that you cannot flop an open ended straight draw with AK and that A or K on the turn that gives you top pair may be giving someone else a straight if there are two cards in the Queen to nine range on the flop.