tournament structures are designed to get the whole
thing over with quickly. Most players think this means
that they have to gamble it up right away to try to
build a big stack early. As a result, you can expect
about half the field to bust out quickly. This translates
into a general principle that you should tend to play
carefully and fairly tight in the early stages of
But in the first hour or so of the event, you do need
to be aware of opportunities to catch someone overplaying
his hand. In most small tournaments, you'll find plenty
of such opportunities. Other than that, you want to
generally play tight in the early rounds. Just be
selective about it. Don't play so tight that you pass
up opportunities to add to your stack when others
are offering those opportunities.
In some ways, strategy is driven by structure. But
not as much as some tournament pros seem to think.
Most tournament pros will refer to tournaments with
slowly increasing blinds as a tournament "with
a lot of play" meaning that the ratio of blinds
to stack sizes starts out fairly small and rises slowly.
It's that blind-to-stack ratio that drives strategy,
not the speed in which the ratio rises. It doesn't
really matter much whether you have a low blind-to-stack
ratio because of the tournament structure or because
you got lucky and tripled up the first hand. The ratio
matters, but how you arrived there doesn't.