In standard cash tournaments or free poker typically the top 8-10% make the money and even then only a useful make more than twice their buy in.
The great chunk of money goes to those close to the final table. In double or nothing tournaments, half the participants win twice the buy-in.
For example, if there are 100 players with a buy in of $ 10 the top 50 win $ 20, the bottom 50 get nothing.
In this free learn how to play poker lesson lets assume 100 players in a double or nothing poker tournament.
At the start, when blinds are small, play unambitious, steady poker.
Do the mainstream moves. Move all-in with AA or KK and hope someone with a weaker hand will call. If you have a Pair, hope to flop a Set. Build your stack size by 50% or more.
You can also try "small-ball" poker. While the blinds are low, call with hands that have great pot odds when involved in multi-player pots, like with 8-7, A-5 fitted.
If you hit hard on the Flop, say Straight or Flush, knock out someone or double up someone who has a Pair. If you do not hit, fold, and wait for the time you will hit.
This is how you should play until you're about 5 away from the money places
Now, you are one of 55 players left. And lets say you are 55th, what's the best thing to do?
Because 50th place gets just the same as 1st place, there is not much sense moving all-in, except the blinds are eating you.
Play patient and steady. What usually happens is that those from 40th place below get impatient and move all-in because the blinds are eating them, too.
When they get impatient they'll kill themselves off fast, patience, in poker, always wins in the end!
Now lets say your are 48th of 55 and get AA, what to do, move all in or call and all in?
In a normal poker tournament, if top 30 win money and you are 27th with 33 players left, you can move all-in with AA because your callers will be AK, AQ or KK and you are a significant favorite. You can move up from 27th to say, 15th to 20th, and you can win more money later.
But in double or nothing, Ask yourself: What if you have 9000 chips and win $ 10 when you could win $ 10 with just 4500 chips? It will be unnecessary. 50th place is the same as any place above it.
What about calling an all-in with someone who has 3000 chips? Will you do it? It depends on what player we are, but I would not do it.
The larger stacks can collaborate on knocking the smaller ones out. Stay out of the way.
If you are on top, say you have five times your starting stack or better, consider it your responsibility to knock the smaller stacks out if you have the opportunity.
Do not overdo it, however. In this instance, I would rather snooze away from the table and let the more adventurous big stacks eat the smaller ones.
If you have, say, just thrice your starting stack, do not call all-ins unless you have nuts or a strong hand close to nuts. I did this once in a Flop with A-5-8 and I have A-10. I have 3200 chips (about 1.5 times my starting stack) and someone moved all-in 920 chips.
One player between us folded (If he called he may have Ax, and I do not know what x is, so if we get involved in a pot he might push me and I would not be able to continue with my A-10 ) so I called. The player who moved all-in bluffed with 9-2. If you are on top, you can just wait. If you are near the bottom, just have more patience and do not knock yourself out like the others who have less patience do. Because once you reach 50th place in our 100-person tournament, you will feel just like a champion.