Talked about a vague title for a post, eh? I had quite a tough time in mid 2008-mid 2009 working through some rough patches, and creating repeatable success. But much of it came down to how I was changing how I played hands based on M. And these adjustments were killing me.
I now enjoy much more success in terms of MTT and some of that success it directly in relation to my adjustments (and somewhat getting away from) in how I address M.
For example: I have an M of 20. Does this mean I can play small-ball? I used to think the answer was YES. But its not. Far from it. What I want to know is, if I raise 3xBB (or call 3xBB from position), is that 5% or less of my stack? So, if blinds are 100/200/25 and thus a rotation at a full table is 500, I would need 10k for an M of 20. and if I raise it to 3xBB, I am making it 600. This is MORE than 5%. You see? For ME personally, the so called Green zone is where my M is 30+. Then I am going to play comfortable small-ball (i.e. 15k).
From an M of 30 down to 20, I can maybe play some small-ball hands from position, but I am going to have to give them up on the turn (because of chips) if I get played back at. I am sticking to suited 1 gaps and unsuited connectors at worst. I can also play baby pairs safely.
When my M is between 20 and 10, I am playing long-ball, but perhaps with open ranges.
When my M is below 10, I am not only playing ONLY long-ball, and now also willing to RACE.
When my M is 7.5 or less, I am usually looking to make all-in bets pre-flop depending on the size of the antes, because I feel the pressure is the BEST way to get the job done. You just lack the chips to maneuver post flop and when picking up the blinds is 10%+ of your stack, you should want to do that without a clash as many times as possible. So at 100/200/25 again (500 a rotation), if my stack is 3500 or less, and shoving is going to net me 500 in chips, I am not looking to "see a flop". I would rather add the chips and move forward. This, of course, assumes that I can either be first in there or hold a top 10 hand. I will ESPECIALLY open my range to make this move if there are Limpers in front of me! (Limpers ask to be punished!)
I have a mantra I use now at the table when I hit an lower inflection point. "The time for small-ball is over." I say it as I fold 56s or JT or even 88.
I have also learned recently that it is a pretty big mistake to worry about Q. I have just 1 test involving Q. If my Q is .25 or lower, I wont fold AK pre-flop.
I am pretty happy with this formula and as I move forward in experience, I am looking to maximize how well I play in the M 30+ green zone, where the widest array of decisions come into play post-flop.