MTTs are different to ring games, and therefore the strategy for MTTs must be different. In ring (cash) games, every player brings a different stack of money into the table. That makes the difference between the players through the whole tournament. In MTTs, every player has the same amount of chips. For smaller tourneys that is usually 1500 chips, the bigger the tournament the more chip count gets. Great tournament have the starting chip count of 20 000 or so. So, in the early stage, every player has the same amount of chips and the equal opportunity to use them, unlike in cash games, where the player with more money can use it to bluff and manipulate the opponents.
Poker tournaments usually have the growing stakes, which means that, for example a tournament that started with 10/20 blinds grows into 50/100 in the next half hour and by the end of the tournament the blinds can be 10 000 / 20 000 or greater. That information is very useful for you must adjust your game according to the stakes. If you have 5000 chips and the blinds are 1000/2000 (and that situation occurs quite often), there is no point in slowplaying or overthinking. You need to shove your entire stack in order to stay in the tournament. But we’ll get to this part later.
The aim in the tournament is to win it, of course. But in order to do so, you must survive until the final table. To do that you must pass the bubble. So there are several smaller objectives to fulfill in order to reach the greatest one. What you need to do is to concentrate on the first objective to come. And to do that you must know your position at the tournament.
One might say that it is easy, just look at the tournament lobby and see. But it isn’t that simple. You can be first at one moment and end up losing all the chips at the next one.
According to Dan Harrington, what you need to do in order to assess your position in the tournament is to divide your stack by the size of the blinds. In that way you get the number of the rounds you can play without putting in a bet or a raise (M). That information can be used compared to other opponents’ M and especially if you are near the bubble or the final table. If your M is greater than 20 you should try to steal blinds and bluff, if it is one or less just go all in when you see the opportunity. In other cases, you do something in between those two extremes, depending on your M’s size.
Also read MTT strategy part2