When I was trying to bid for an item I used ebay's own automatic bid mechanism. You put the highest bid you will pay and it will bid for you. If you place the same amount as someone else the person who placed that amount first will get the bid.
I was hugely irritated that I lost on several different occasions when someone placed a bid after the warning appeared on my screen that not enough time remained for me to place a higher bid, should someone outbid me. I followed the "history" of the person who outbid me, and it appeared he/she was quite adept at placing bids in the last minute of an auction. And it also appeared he/she was a collector. Later I found out that one tactic was to have a split screen, with one screen refreshing on the progress of the auction, and the other screen set with a bid that could be updated as needed.
I finally "won" when the item I was looking for came up with a "buy it now" option. I jumped on it and avoided the circus.
Now I have a beeeeeuuuuuuuteeeeeeful Rainsong guitar at about 3/4 of what they sell for retail. Pays to be patient, even if you can't win the auction thingy.