i think you have to be aware of the payout structure, it's nice to say "oh, i'll just play my game and hope for the best", but if the money is meaningful to you then you have to know when the payout jumps ... let's face it, if you are close to the final table, then do you really want to mix it up with the chip leader?
having said that, knowing the payout structure can help you exploit situations ... obv. stealing becomes easier when it's bubble play or near the final table where the payouts jump
my biggest MTT cash was around $250 on pokerstars
, so i'm certainly no expert ... came 2nd and was very disappointed in my HU play ... i think i was too happy with 2nd and should have put my game face on and started to grind at HU