Wow, I will play differently depending on different things.
with tons of people...
For example, if there are like 5 starting around the same time, I will enter them all, and really play some wacky stuff as I dont want to multi that many, but I want to get an advantage in one of the lesser ones. The one or two main ones I am most interested in I will play tons different then the others. The others I will play pretty much anything and if I get decent or good flop I will go for it.
I am the dude that your calling an idiot for playing 72o limping in on a $25 touney and getting lucky on a great flop for me and doubling, tripling up right off. Mainly because I have several that I either need to get in and get an advantage or I need to get out to concentrate more on the more interesting ones the the less interesting ones I have managed to get really lucky on. Since I do this on the lower level ones, which start more often, I can right back into a different one and do it all over again.
If its a higher paying one, In EP I play exremely tight, top 10 hands only, even folding great hands if too many people are in it and raising-reraising since several will be doing what I do in the lower ones and I dont want to get knocked out, or my stack size hurting because someone else got lucky. MP I will loosen up a little, and if LP loosen up a bit more, but not too much. I find I can almost at least double up early on in them by waiting until I get a monster hand from the people trying to get lucky. Then again, if its a family pot, and I can limp in late with qx suited or such, its a coin flip (or rather do I feel lucky ) if I will play it or not since the reward will be so much compared to the risk of losing a bb. Of course if I do play, its hit and run with it (flop the flush, set or two pair at least), or fold right off. Also if I do get lucky people will see the trash I managed to get paid off for playing, then when I am playing tight someone will pay me off again thinking I am a donky.
If its not a freeroll, or a freeroll with a much smaller field its totally different. I will wait it out and pick my best spots as I can usually get doubled up every hand I hit really good, and it dont take many to into the payouts. It also depends on if I just want to survive to get into the payout, or if I actually want to try to win it. Hard to explain that but hopefully you get what I mean. Like if its a sat where the top 10 go to the next, I dont care about anything except coming in at least 10th so getting there with a large enough stack to have a good chance of winning doesnt matter as long as I have one chip to get there with, and once there, if the tourney dont stop I will just get up, or go crazy to either win it outright quickly or get out and give some lucky person my chips as I dont care after that.
Really there are so many variables involved... I will adjust slightly accordingly to the other players, but thats the basic outline I go into it with.