Tournament play in a large multi-table tournament is much different from table play in poker, and even the specific type and set up of the tournament will dictate what kind of a strategy a player should take. While every table demands a different strategy, one of the few tournament strategies that can generally consistently works for a large series of players is the survive and thrive strategy. Survive and thrive is exactly that: you thrive in the tournament and make the money not by playing wildly and doubling up ten times, but by avoiding playing as often as possible, playing extremely conservatively, and then playing hard only when you have a strong advantage.
The true “survive and thrive” strategy is difficult for many players because it does require such a conservative approach that even goes beyond what a conservative table player would play. In a re-buy tournament you can consider going all in with pocket 7’s or 8’s, but in a regular tournament if there is a giant raise and several callers, you need to think really hard about whether your hand can outlast three other people, and that even means occasionally throwing away some pocket pairs. Losing even a few minor hands early will have you feeling Casino Extra the squeeze of the blinds, and may force you into a situation of going all in on a hand that you really do not want to push all your chips in with.
Survive and thrive does not mean to play timid, however. When you get pocket A’s, you should push all in. Same with pocket K’s. The reason for this strong aggression is that since you don’t play many hands, you want to cash in when you do. These are hands that start you out as a huge favorite. This is an incredible advantage, and it you double up once or twice, then you can sit out even more hands—even throwing away pocket 10’s or 9’s when there are a lot of scary pre or post flop raises ahead of you, and you think someone might have you beat. Why risk money on a coin flip hand Casino Extra or worse, when you can wait until you are a 4 to 1 favorite?
Basically with a survive and thrive strategy, you are letting other players take the chances and knock each other out, and with each disaster you avoid, you keep crawling nearer and nearer to the paid places. Not only to the raising blinds knock players out, but you will notice as the blinds get higher and higher players seem to go nuts right before another raise. Players especially tend to get really wild and excessive as the blinds go up. If you can steal an occasional blind, do so. The advantage of survive and thrive is that if you only play hands worth going all in on, then when you go all in to steal blinds no one is going to want to call you, so you can keep yourself afloat since even blind stealing becomes safer when you use this strategy.
Keep to surviving, and then once you hit the paid spots switch gears and look for the double up hands. This is the best strategy over the long term. Best of luck.