After some good luck yesterday (3 tournaments, 3 cashes), disaster today.  I finished in the top 20% at 10 am (20% is about where I figure my break-even is now).  In the 1 pm tournament, I'm on the button with pocket kings.  Two calls from early position weak players.  I raise to 500 (5X BB).  I know at least one will call with ace rag, which is fine with me.  They both call.  The flop is A-J-J and the one who called UTG donk bets.  The other calls, my kings are history & my stack is halved.  Just after we hit 60%, I pick up 5-5 & limp.  A player behind me, in the high 1700's makes it 500, so I know he doesn't have junk.  He hesitated a bit before raising, so I was hoping he had big cards, or maybe a medium pair, he'd fold to a shove.  I pushed, he called with his pocket aces & I coudn't find a 5.  As usual, it's two steps forward & one back.

Now to the clock games.  There is virtually no difference in points awarded between last place in the money & fourth.  Basically, if you cash, you win.  So the size of one's stack is not nearly as important as having a stack.  The antes kick in just after the first hour & the payouts are reached a little over an hour after that - about 5 minutes into the 600/1200 round.

Blinds are not a big factor in the first hour.  There are no antes & it's more important to see lots of flops in the early rounds to try and chip up.  But once the antes start, it's a whole different ball game.  One is probably short-stacked & the blinds & antes are going to eat you alive fast.  But, if you can slow the game down to where you are playing only 5 or 6 hands a level, you have a big advantage over players who are playing 7 or more hands per level.

For example, if you are playing 5 hands per level, you are paying the blinds once every other level.  If you play 7 hands per level, you are paying the blinds three out of four levels & if you play 9 hands per level, you are paying both blinds every level.

The norm seems to be 7 hands per level after the antes start.  So what I do, is calculate how many chips I need so that I will still have chips when the payouts are reached.  Once I have that many chips, I stop playing.  I don't sit out, because it's still important to be at the table, running the clock so that too many hands per level don't start getting played.  But I fold everything - even aces.

The other thing my calculations tell me, is when to take chances & try to double up.  For example, if I have enough chips to reach 20% and stealing the blinds & antes will not give me enough chips to cash, I won't try & steal.  Too much risk, for too little gain.  On the other hand, if I'm in the top 30%, with no hope of cashing & enough chips go into the middle to allow me to cash if I get lucky & win the hand, I'm going to go for it.

The other way to play with the clock, besides using it to slow down the game is this.  Pretty much everone knows to use up their time bank, when planning to shove, to maximize their finishing place if they bust out.  Another neat trick I've seen highly rated players use is to use up their time bank & put most, but not all of their chips in (saving a little more than they need for one more ante).  If they get raised, they get a little more time to run the clock before shoving; if they just get called, again they get at least one more shot at running the clock. And if they happen to lose the hand, they get another hand in which to run the clock and improve their finishing position.