I know everyone's dying to know the secret. Well, I'm sorry to say, there is none. I've been incredibly lucky over the past few days and I caught just enough cards to get by. I think I played pretty good poker, but the cards certainly helped. If you'd like to know the strategy of this particular hack, here are my 10 rules for cashing in a MTT.
1. Play premium hands strong, get paid off.
2. Lay down hands when you're pretty sure you're beat.
3. Don't slow play unless you're positive that next card won't hurt you.
4. Avoid dumb plays (Fancy Play Syndrome is generally wrong).
5. Suckout at least once.
6. Survive a suckout at least once.
7. Win a couple coin flips.
8. Avoid big stacks late.
9. Avoid desperate stacks late unless you have a strong idea you can bust them.
10. Get lucky.
I don't think I'm breaking any new ground here. Tonight I played in four MTT's and didn't cash in any. And I busted out of all of them in similar fashion. One time, I decided to believe a player didn't have a Q with two on the board. I had plenty of chips to work with at that point. Another, I miraculously tripled up late with AA and then donked everything away a few hands later when I get married to A9s and called a raise for all my chips. I called a raise with A9s. Naturally, he turned over AKs and flushed. I had plenty of chips to wait for a better spot, but didn't
I played anxious and impatient tonight, and it cost me. I think a losing night after some remarkable days helps bring into focus what I was doing right.
Tournaments are about the long term (in a short term sense). It's about folding a lot and selective aggression. I think I read that somewhere. You have to get paid off on your big hands. You have to steal a few pots when your premium hands miss the pot. You have to steal a few blinds.
Oh, and another thing, table image doesn't matter. Really, 99% of the players in the tournaments are spending absolutely no time thinking about how I played that big hand last time. They probably don't know that I generally raise between 3 and 4.5 times the big blind. They don't know because they aren't worried about my table image. The tournament moves quickly and players are bounced around enough that table image is highly overrated in online tournaments.
Addendum: Sometimes you just lose. You don't play bad. You just lose. Sometimes, KK runs into AA. Sometimes AA runs into KK and a K on the flop. Sometimes your flush gets rivered by a boat. Sometimes your boat gets rivered by quads. Unless you decided to never get into a pot against a stack bigger than yours, these things are going to happen. That's just the way it is.
So, take it for what it's worth. This is just the poker blogosphere's resident luckbox speaking. Thoughts from a professional sucker outer. Of course, until you can master that, you should probably ignore the rest of my advice.
Coming soon: CJ's Guide to Sucking Out.