Originally Posted by oogadgetoo
I think it all depend on a number of factors.
1) Buy in amount
2) Starting stack
3) Type of players at your table.
But as a general rule of thumb I find the following
With big buy in $1,000+ deep stack tournaments I find that most players start out very tight passive. Lot of limping for the first hour or two and not many show downs. In these tournaments I come out with guns blazing and small ball fast and furious. You can pick up allot of small pots early and double up easily. at around hour two or when I see the table loosening up and my image getting no respect I will tighten up and play tight aggressive. Then switch it up as the table changes back.
With small buy in small starting stack tournaments I normally just play tight aggressive and aim to double up as early as I can with a good hand. Small ball does not seem to work as well with small starting stacks in the early faze as most players are donks and will just call with anything. I normally start small balling close to the bubble or once antis are introduced but not until then.
These are just generalisation. Overall the key is flexibility. Change your style to suite your environment. and conditions
^^This. (btw gadget - welcome to the forum!)
Originally I tried playing both ways, and like you mentioned, with mixed results. Then I noticed there were certain tourneys I preferred playing and started noticing that the table flavor pretty much made up my mind on how I would start the tourney. Observe a few hands, see who I could come out firing against for some small ball, who was a LAG, who are the TAG's, calling stations, donks, etc; Early on there do seem to be more donks which are easier to trap and near the bubble there are many more opportunitys to steal. Once your players stop folding to your blazing saddles, tighten back up a bit, once they think they can push you around, start firing again. Of course since you often move around a lot in mtt's you'll have to be very observant to pick up the flavor of your new table. Whenever I get moved the first thing I do is fold any non premium hand and review previous hands played at that table. You usually can see about the last 4 or 5 and that will help you pick up on the flavor of your new table.