Takeaways from the Astral Ursa Major Week 40 promotion

This last week, I decided to focus on the Astral Major promotion. I played almost exclusively in the Astral Major, trying to maximize my tournament points.

Over the week, I played a total of 49 9-seat Astral Major SNGs, which is a lot of poker. It’s basically all I did this whole week, other than working, like a 2nd full-time job. I wouldn’t recommend doing this on a regular basis, but this was my experiment for the week, and I committed myself to it.

By one measure, I did alright; by two others, I did poorly.

First, and most important, is the overall chip winnings. I started the week with my bankroll at 2.3M chips, and ended down at 1.785M chips. Once the promotional reward chips have been factored in, I’ll be at around 2.0M, for a net loss of about 300K on the week.

The second measure is the “First 20” leaderboard, where I finished out ranked 30th overall, which yielded me no promotional bonus chips. I put in my first 20 by the end of Tuesday. I had started off with a very good Sunday – 2 x 1st place and 1 x 2nd place finish. But over the following two days, Mon and Tues, I had the abysmal slide where I placed no higher than 4th place until late Tuesday when I finally managed a 2nd-place finish. But mostly I finished 5th-8th place during the skid.

The third measure is the “Best 20” leader board. I took first place here, which is something to be proud of.
Because I played so much the entire week, I racked up 8 Wins, 4 second place finishes, 3 third-place finishes, 1 fourth-place finish, and 4 fifth-place finishes.

The reward for this wasn’t worth the effort, though. For winning 240,000 bonus chips, I lost about 500,000 from my bankroll. I sacrificed bankroll in order to play as many games as I could fit into my schedule in order to get my “Best 20” leaderboard position. In order to do better in terms of bankroll, I need to control the skids. I expect the way to do this is simply to not play so many games, and to make those games that I do play in my best efforts, not try to play through skids. I can also try to win more promotional bonuses by not focusing exclusively on Astral Ursa Major, and try for some of the bonuses at the other levels.

I did some analysis of my performance over the week, and one interesting thing that I noticed is that in a 9-seat SNG, if I can avoid being eliminated 5th or worse, I have a pretty good chance at finishing in the money, and if I finish in the money, I usually win the whole thing. I think that’s interesting, but I’m not sure what to make of it.

I finished 7th or worse in 20/49 games, so I’m in the top 3 ~30% of the time, and in the bottom 3 ~40% of the time, leaving the remaining ~30% for finishes in the middle.


As much as I love reading your posts puggy, I’m finding it difficult to keep track of all of them because you start a new thread for each post LOL.
Maybe try to create a thread called puggywug’s diaries and update it with a new post every time? :joy:
It would make it easier for your readers (well, at least for me :blush:) to go back to your posts without having to search the whole forum :wink:


That’s an interesting suggestion. I think I’m using the forums as-intended by separating out posts by topic. I think if I put everything under one topic, it would quickly become a mess for anyone to follow.
On the other hand, I did use the forums a lot this week (in part because I’ve been playing constantly) and I don’t intend to dominate the forums with my posts, but I could see others might look at my post frequency and think that’s what I’m doing, whether I intend to or not. I’m not intending to continue posting with such frequency forever at any rate. It’d have to be a paid gig for all the time I’m putting in to it, lol. Maybe I should get a job working for Replay and then they can give me my own subforum. Lol.
I think I’d only take up your suggestion if the forum moderators suggested that, or if there were wide support among the users.
What’s everyone think?

It was just a friendly suggestion from someone who always reads your posts. I don’t see the need for forum moderators and public polls to consider a friendly suggestion. If you don’t like it or don’t think it suits you just ignore it, it’s no big deal.
I just don’t think that you’re separating threads by topic, as most of them are under the same topic: your personal experience in different situations: Today I won my first MTT - Today I won my 2nd MTT - Today I placed in a freeroll - Today my aces got beaten by 72 - Today my 72 won against the aces - These are my takeaways from this week’s promotion. Apart from other unrelated topics you created, these could all come under the same thread: puggy’s diaries.
If however you think that they need to be each in a separate thread, it’s completely up to you. No need to seek moderators’ feedback and wide support to make your own decisions.
Again, it was a friendly suggestion, something I would have personally done if I was posting the same experiences, nothing more. :slight_smile:

Well, fair enough, then, and thanks for the suggestion. I do think it’s best for the Hand Review posts to each have their own thread, as that’s the point of that subforum, which was created in response to the original “post your hands to review here” thread growing too unwieldy.
But possibly some of the other posts could be grouped together. An ongoing “puggywug diary” thread that I add new entries to as comments might be less clutter for the forum overall, and I can see some merit in the idea. I’m not trying to clutter up the forum, so I will think about it.
Since I’ll be taking a break next week, there’s time for other people to weigh in with their opinion as well. I’d prefer the comments in this thread be kept on topic, but if anyone wants to message me, I will be happy to read suggestions. I think in order to send messages we have to be friends, which I like that too, so please send me a friend request if you want to! That goes for everyone. Thanks! :hugs:


@puggywug ,

Well … :zipper_mouth_face: . I think you mighta over did it a lil bit on volume (in general), yet content… luv it, luv it, luv it … Especially when you thought beyond 1 SnG to LB strategy. I like’d the little spreadsheet thingy-ma-bobber, (good to see you can even see the box, let alone think outside it), seems rare trait around here … Keep stuff separate, so its easier to find…

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I’m sure I’ll be less active on the forums in proportion to my activity in the game, so my post volume should hopefully not be an issue in a more normal week.

Back on topic, thinking about my early finishes, I have a few additional takeaways that came to me after I posted:

  1. In the games where I finished 8th or 9th, it was almost always a bad beat on a premium hand in the first orbit or so of the game. I’ve posted quite a bit about bad outcomes with premium cards in other threads, so no need to re-hash it, but that’s going to be a thing that I can definitely improve on.
  2. In the first couple of games in my Mon-Tue skid, I had managed a big pot win on an early hand, was on my way to a good run, so I thought, and then ran into trouble on the river of a big pot, which led to my getting knocked out of the tournament a few hands later. It seems if I make a big blunder on just one hand, that will end my run. If I double up, then get chopped in half again, it’s not the end of the world even though it might feel in the moment like it is. Comebacks after a big loss are certainly possible, but it’s difficult to survive when short-stacked. I have some thoughts on how to maximize your chances on making a comeback from having your back to the wall, or close to it, but it’s still not a high-percentage prospect, and I doubt it ever could be. But one thing I can say is, just giving up and throwing away the last of your chips to get out of a table isn’t it. Although, if your time is more valuable than maximizing your chances of finishing in the chips on every table, that may still be better than lingering on for a long time and then getting eliminated.
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Did you change your strategy when you decided to compete on the leaderboard or did you play them the same way you did without the board? I just had my little adventure with these games/boards so I’m interested in what you experienced.

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I played my usual strategy for 9-seat SNG. I tried to play my best each game, but there were definitely periods where I was playing poorly compared to my better performance. Other times I just had a bad beat early in a tournament and couldn’t recover.


Oh, come off it, Maya! Puggywug is contributing a lot of free copy to the site that deals with common situations that tournament and sitn’go players encounter all the time. Of course they are based on personal experience, but the subsequent analysis and discussion is helpful to anyone who is trying to improve their game and win more chips.

A few months ago when I joined the site in September, these forums seemed to be pretty much moribund, but now they are full of lively discussion that one can look at in between hands or in one’s spare time.

Considering that you yourself have been actively contributing to the “talk in song titles” thread, you are hardly in a position to address anyone else about posts that actually deal with how to play poker.

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Thanks @MekonKing for your kind words.
Unfortunately, they cannot be more irrelevant to what I was suggesting to Puggy.
My contributions in other posts have nothing to do with my suggestion here. I contribute in all threads that I find interesting, and so do you, and puggy, and all of us. This is of no relevance whatsoever to what I am saying here.
Puggywug himself agreed that there is merit to my suggestion, so I have no idea what you’re on about.

I haven’t said otherwise. I love his contributions. You are just twisting my words and I don’t appreciate that.

I suggested in the friendliest and most positive manner that he groups his very interesting and much appreciated posts that discuss his experiences in one thread, and I was very clear that I personally think it would make it much easier for me, as one of his readers, to follow his posts in one place, instead of having them spread over multiple threads.

I don’t appreciate you trying to spin a positive and friendly recommendation into something negative, and I don’t see the relevance of your example about other threads in this subject.

But anyway, puggy asked that we stay on topic here so I’m not gonna engage in unrelated arguments. As puggy said, if you wish to discuss anything with me please feel free to add me as a friend and we can talk privately about this misunderstanding.

All the best…

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Try to imagine if all of us opened daily a single thread for every MTT or SnG tournament we win or we don’t win, about how often we lose with trips to a straight, or with AA to 72 etc., the Forums would overflow, and it would be the absolute chaos, in my opinion.
There is no better place than the Forums to share personal poker experiences, successes or failures at the tables and discuss them with others, but Maya’s proposal to group them in one separate topic seems very reasonable to me. If you think otherwise, so be it!
May I say that I find your «despising» tone about other threads inappropriate? There are many people here who can play poker already (or at least think so :grinning:), and don’t often read what newbies experience at the tables, so prefer to have fun with other things, not necessarily poker related.
I might answer in the same tone and say, who cares if you won a MTT, I’ve won hundreds of them! But I won’t, of course, I am not that rude.
And by the way, Maya is one of the most active Forum contributors.

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Sounds like someone (or really, a few someones) has a case of the Mondays…

Back to the topic at hand, @puggywug, thanks for sharing your observations. I’m sorry to hear you won’t be posting as much, as I’ve enjoyed reading the commentary your posts have produced. Some thoughts, in no particular order:

  1. I was interested to see the distribution of how you placed. It’s actually where you DON’T want to be as an online tournament player. I’d much rather place last 60% of the time and cash 40% (with a healthy chunk of 1st place finishes) than invest 40% of my chips in tourneys where I place in the middle of the pack but don’t cash. Rather than focus on where you placed poorly, see if you can take bigger risks (calculated, of course!) to set yourself up to cash, or quickly bust out so you’re not wasting time along with your chips.

  2. I like that you’re recognizing how rarely you come back from a big beat, and how often it cascades into a quick exit. Avoiding tilt is tough! What can you do to mentally prevent that? Sometimes it takes clicking the “Sit Out Next Hand” button and taking a moment to breathe, recognize what (if anything) you could have done better, and steeling yourself for some more action before jumping back into the fray.

  3. It appears you’re a slightly losing player at these stakes - not a judgment, but an observation. On average, therefore, other players have better strategies than you. Are you picking up insights based on their playing styles to make the losses worth it? I’d love to see what you’ve observed from other players that you would like to incorporate into your game.

Thank you for your openness and willingness to share your hands, results, and thoughts. I hope you’re still having fun, and look forward to seeing you continue to grow as a player.


Addressing the meta-topic chatter in 1 response:

@Maya & @MekongKing, let’s everyone take a neutral corner, please. I’m glad you’re both enjoying my posts, but let’s keep the discussion on-topic, and the disagreements as friendly as possible.

@WannabeCoder: I’m sure I’ll continue posting regularly on the forums, have no fear, but realistically I can only spend so much time writing, and in a more typical week it’s unlikely I’m going to play 6+ SNG games a day, 7 days/week.

I’ll strive to keep the quality of my posts high, and the volume, er, tolerable. I’m a bit self-conscious that I post a lot, and not just a lot of posts, but a lot of words. I’m a writer, so it’s kindof in my blood.

It’s probably also a good idea for my bankroll not to give it all away in the forums. I have to keep a few secrets. At present, I don’t think my poker skills are good enough to keep secret, though. Knowing how I think and how I play will probably give players who study my writing a leg up in beating me, but at the same time I don’t think I’m giving away too much valuable insight into the game to help anyone become great. But probably it’ll help beginner players. I’m sure there’s quite a bit of bad advice as well. If you really want to play better, studying the play of a real professional would be much better.

Hopefully this will be entertaining enough and maybe occasionally insightful enough to be worthwhile for most people to read. I don’t want to post here if people end up hating me or sick of me. I’m really glad to hear that for the most part people have been enjoying the posts. I’m open to suggestions for how to make my use of the forums better, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to agree with or follow every suggestion. But I do welcome them. Better in a private message than as a comment in-thread, though. The less said about writing style and forum usage in-forum, the better, I think.

Of course if a moderator has a suggestion or requirement for me, that’s different – I’ll heed what you tell me I must do, although at times I may push back a bit with things to consider if I feel I have a point to make.

@miri123 I don’t know if a lot of active users on the forum would result in chaos. Maybe, maybe not. I think larger forums can still be well organized. I haven’t really thought about how forums scale with the number of users. I think it has more to do with user conduct, and as long as people aren’t being toxic, it can be great to have more users actively participating. It also has a lot to do with the forum software and how it’s administered.

Currently it feels like <0.1% of RPP players are using the forums. I certainly don’t want to take over and make the Forums into The Puggywug Show. In short – I’d like, no, love, to see more players posting high quality content, longer form.


Well… yes. Yes it is not where I want to be. I want to be +EV and grow my chip stack through SNG and MTT play. Obviously. And last week, I wasn’t. I lost about 500K chips pursuing the #1 “Top 20 Best” prize, and even including the prize chips, I still lost about 300K. That’s not sustainable at all.

That said, that’s just one week of my performance. Some weeks I’m up, some weeks I’m down.

I first signed up for my account in 2016, and hadn’t been active in a long time, but I started playing daily on this site again back in September, with about 1.2M chips that I’d accumulated previously.

In my first month of play, I first grew my stack about +200K, then dropped -800K in the first month or so, bottomed out around to about 550K, and in the course of losing those chips, I learned a few things and turned it around, recovered, and grew back to about 1.2M.

Then I bounced up and down, trying different styles of play, different strategies, and just having good nights and bad nights, and playing against players who had my number and beating up on players who didn’t. I went up to 1.5M, then back down to 800K, then back up to 1.2M, then continued winning up to 1.8M, then lost chips for a bit back down to 1.5M, then did great for a week when I really had figured out a few things, and got up to 2.3M, then last week I played marathon Astral SNG every night and didn’t do so good.

But overall tor me to be at 2.0M, up from 1.2M after 3 months of playing close to daily, is not bad.

But yeah, last week was pretty bad.

If you throw out my Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday afternoon skids, my week was really pretty decent (for me). Of course, you can’t just throw out those skids. But normally when I’ve been playing, if I was getting knocked out of 2-3 SNG in a row, I’d quit playing for the night and come back fresh the next day. This time, I pressed on through my poor play, and probably that was a bad idea.

If I’d shut down Mon and Tues early at 3 losses, my stats on the week would have been:

  • 36 total Astral SNG
  • 8 wins (22%)
  • 14 money finishes (39%)
  • 22 no-money finishes (61%)
  • 13 worse than 6th (36%)

That’s considerably better. Still not 100% wins, tho, so I gotta work on my game :slight_smile:

Tilt for me can be triggered by a single hand, but it doesn’t usually manifest in 1-2 hands and then go away.

I also tend to think that tilt is something that you don’t recognize in the moment. If I know I’m playing poorly, that’s good. I can stop, or I can change how I’m playing. But if I’m playing poorly and don’t recognize it, or don’t know what I’m not doing right, and that can go on for hours, or days. That’s really where it hurts me. I tried playing through it, thinking I could figure it out, or that I could use the law of averages to counteract the bad beats that started my Monday skid, but it didn’t work.

Saturday, I really shouldn’t have continued playing in the evening. I’d played a couple games in the early part of the day, won them, and if I’d just stopped there, I could have said I had a great day. But instead, I was concerned that @BOOTKAMP might knock me into 2nd place on the “Best 20” and I kept playing all night hoping to extend my tournament point lead over him and keep him out of reach. In the end, I didn’t add any tournament points to my Best 20, and he still didn’t overtake me. I wasted about 300K chips buy-in trying to outrun him, and I never needed to. And if I hadn’t, when I got my bonus chips for the promotion, I would have been right back up to 2.3M at the end of the week, even with the Mo-Tu skid.

I feel like I’m a slightly winning player at these stakes, but that last week I pressed too hard, and lost a lot.

But as to why I lost, when I was losing. I think I’ve noticed a few things:

  1. Focus, fatigue. I don’t play my best if I’m not focused on the game, and after too many games in a row, I can’t keep that level of focus. So I need to limit the number of games to what I can comfortably handle and remain focused.
  2. Some games are just easy. I get great cards, I take a huge pot early and cruise, I just have a table of opponents I have an easy time beating, or I just have all my focus and judgement working on all cylinders. I win these so easily, I forget how hard I have to work to win most games, and this leads to me playing too loose.
  3. Some games, I feel like I’m losing, losing, losing, and I’m really not. I have a very negative emotional response to the way the game is going, usually because I’m unable to play many hands due to getting dealt a lot of rags, or sometimes because the early play is very aggressive and forces me off hands I’d have liked to play if there wasn’t so much action. Usually in these, I am not doing as poorly as it feels – I’m not in many hands, but I’m also not losing chips because I’m not in many hands. My stack is healthy, and I’m just impatient to get chips in the middle and win a hand. If I try to make something happen, that’s when I lose a lot. If I keep patient and wait for my hand, when it does happen, all that aggression that kept me out of the early stages ends up filling up a big pot for me that I win with that hand that finally came for me, and then suddenly I’m up. Once that turnaround happens, I’m set up for a good end.
  4. I definitely have struggled with playing big pocket pairs effectively, but I think I maybe have worked through that. But getting destroyed holding AA or KK was responsible for a good 3-4 of the losses I had over the week.

And some hypotheses that merit further research:

  1. Does day of the week, or time of day, matter? Are the players playing on Monday and Tuesday the more serious players? Do more fish play on the weekends?
  2. Can I win more promotional prizes by spreading out to play in more Astral SNGs than Ursa Major? If I go for winning in Ursa Minor and Pegasus, will that work or will I win fewer chips because I diluted my efforts across too many different leaderboards?
  3. When I do hit a skid, should I quit playing altogether and return the next day, or should I drop down to lower stakes and try to play through it while losing less chips for as long as I do keep losing?

Definitely! I feel my openness risks people being able to exploit my game, but it’s more fun to talk about the game than it is to not talk about it. And I don’t think my play is that good yet where I need to keep things a secret – I probably improve more by talking about my flawed game and having people point out those flaws than I do by keeping quiet and relying on myself to figure it all out. At least, that’s what I hope.

And I do keep some secrets.


Thanks. From my short time playing these games and shorter time trying the leaderboards, I think there are some strategic changes that can be made depending on which you are going for. If you are looking at leaderboards, then avoiding the early exit has to be one of your primary goals. When playing them without caring about leaderboard points then early exits don’t mean a thing - you cash or you don’t so 9th is the same as 4th. If you are playing the games just for chips and not leaderboards, I think you can exploit the people who are playing the boards. Since they “can’t” go out early, you can pressure them off hands. Also, never let these people see a cheap/free flop. They are trying to prolong their tournament life so you should want to shorten it whenever you have the chance.

I hope you keep having fun with them - I burned myself out on them quickly, in less than 2 months. I like SnG’s in general but I want variety in my diet :slight_smile: Those leaderboard bonuses are sweet though. Good luck.