In most of my first online poker tournaments, my best finishes were just in the money. The way most online poker rooms structure their tournaments, this pays you just over what you paid to get into the tournament. Even though playing poker is always fun, there is something quite frustrating about playing for 2 or 3 hours to get your money back.
This is why tournaments can be tough on tight-aggressive players, who, in my opinion, are best suited for cash games. I would wait until I would get strong cards and raise them. Unfortunately, you don’t always get action on your good hands, especially if you aren’t playing very much. Unless you consistently get hit over the head with the deck throughout the tournament, tight players don’t usually end up with the top prize.
If you tend to play a tight game, you might want to loosen up a bit and become more aggressive as the tournament continues. I recommend staying out of the action early on since the blinds are so low and you can afford to play tight. But if you’re not getting any hands and the blinds are creeping up, you probably should consider playing more hands than you normally would. If you can get in cheap, try playing any pocket pair and go for the double-up if you hit a set.
Also, if your table is short-handed (less than 7 players), you definitely should play more hands and raise more pre-flop. Playing more aggressively can cost you bigger pots and might bust you out earlier, but I would rather have a better shot at winning the tourney than making my money back.
Why play if you’re not going to play to win?