One of the first things that you need to do if you want to get good at online poker tournaments is recognize what your tournament type happens to be. In the online poker tournament world there are many different types of tournaments from sit and go tournaments to conventional scheduled tournaments and many exotic types like re-buy and shootout tournaments as well. Each comes with a different playing style that is favored and your first goal should be to recognize your strongest playing style and then primarily play the type of tournament that caters to that style.
Where an online cash game is really a chess game in many different ways, an online poker tournament has much more in common with a war of attrition than a game of chess. With the blinds gradually increasing and people being forced to put in their two blinds with each round of the table, people are going to be killed off in this war of attrition regardless of what anyone does. This means that it is essentially a race between you and the other players in order to see who is left standing the longest. Therefore, part of your strategy in any online poker tournament should be to take this war of attrition metaphor to heart and configure at least the early part of your strategy to one of survival.
Go Big or Go Home:
In online poker tournaments, it is quite common for the people winning the tournament to be people that only won one or two different hands throughout the tournament, but one thousands of chips in each of those hands. Online poker more than any other form of poker encourages a go big or go home mentality, forcing you to put it all on the line if you want to catapult yourself to the glory of victory. Combining this tip with the above tip should give you a general idea of the strategy that you need to employ. Concentrate on surviving early on and then when you have made it into the money concentrate on going big in order to try and get the highest prizes available within the tournament.
Keep the Fundamentals Strong:
Finally, while there is a different strategy involved in playing online poker tournaments, that strategy does not preclude you from playing sound poker. Understand that the fundamentals of playing good poker still apply to online poker tournaments and apply those fundamentals in all of the decisions that you make.