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Question And Answer With Poker Pro Jonathan Little

Two-Time WPT Champ Talks Recent Success, Teaching Tournament Play

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Jonathan Little has made a huge impact on the tournament poker scene over the past eight years. With two World Poker Tour main event titles and more than $5.5 million in career live earnings, his abilities at the table have been demonstrated again and again. In recent years he has also become one of the leading teachers of the game, sharing his insight in a three-volume series of strategy book called Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker. Little has also been teaching poker through live “webinars” (online seminars), and has been giving Card Player readers special deals and free educational content from these events.

Little recently spoke to Card Player about a number of topics, ranging from his solid results in 2013 to his commitment to teaching poker and much more. Check out the full interview below:

Erik Fast: In 2013 you made six live final tables, with 2 wins in European side events and a third place finish in a WSOP $5k event for just under $240,000. What are your thoughts on last year, and how do you feel about your play so far this year?

Jonathan Little: 2013 was a great year for me. I feel like I have developed a solid balance in life, playing poker around 18 days per month on average and working on my various poker businesses and relaxing the other 12 days per month. I am confident that actually wanting to play poker instead of actually having to play poker has played a key role in my recent success.

EF: In recent years you’ve seemed to make a huge commitment to teaching poker in addition to playing it. Can you talk about the experience of writing your books and also how you began doing the live webinars? Do you have any upcoming educational content people should know about?

Jonathan LittleJL: I have made a point to try to teach the future generation of poker players in a way that would make good use of their time and effort. When I first started learning, I read countless poker books and spent loads of time reading and posting on various poker forums. I decided to consolidate all of that info into easy to understand books and training videos so players can learn how to play well without devoting their entire life to poker as I did. I have recently started hosting live webinars online, where I essentially teach a class on a specific subject. The students can ask their questions in real time. I also make a point to have a question and answer segment at the end of each webinar where the students can ask me any and all poker questions. I record the webinars and send all students a copy so they can review it in the future, in case they can’t attend the webinar live or if they have to leave early. These webinars usually last around 4 hours and so far, my students have seemed to love them. My next webinar will be on 3/29/2014 where I will discuss how to increase your levels of aggression in order to increase your profit. My next webinar after that will be on 4/19/2014 although I have not decided on a topic yet. To get more information about the webinars or any of my products, email support@FloatTheTurn.com.

EF: Do you have any specific goals in tournament poker, or is your focus mostly just being profitable? To clarify, do you set certain goals regarding which events you’d like to win or the amount of final tables you’d like to make, a la Daniel Negreanu, or is it more just about picking your schedule of events and then trying to play as well as you can?

JL: I have always thought it is rather silly to try to predict how many final tables you will make or tournaments you will win as you cannot control variance. I have found that, on average, I win around 1.5 tournaments per year. I may win a $10,000 WPT event for $1 million or I may win a $500 tournament for $50,000. I have no control over which I win. If I win a $500 tournament, I will likely have a terrible year and if I win a WPT, I am guaranteed to be a winner even though both will gain me 100 buy-ins. I make a point to not worry about short term variance in live poker as a year of live poker is nothing in the grand scheme of things. I simply make a point to show up to every tournament well rested, prepared, and with a strong desire to win.

Vol. 2 of Little's BookEF: You recently tweeted “When playing poker, focus on things that matter. The number of players who made it through 1a or the prize pool are irrelevant on day 1b.” Do you think a lot of tournament players are wasting mental energy, and if so what are some other things they should stop obsessing over? What should they instead be focusing on?

JL: I constantly see players worried about how many players are in a tournament, how large the prize pool is, how much first place pays, how large the current chip stack is, and numerous other irrelevant ideas. Especially early in a tournament, none of the things listed in the previous sentence matter at all. They should instead be focused on how to maximize their equity at the table. They need to figure out how many big blinds everyone has, who they should look to play pots with, who they should look to bluff, who they should look to mainly value bet against, and other concepts related to technically sound play. I discuss numerous topics that must be considered in my books, Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker.

EF: I also saw on twitter that you recently got engaged and you ran a marathon! Seems like you have plenty going on even outside of playing and teaching poker. How is life away from the game?

JL: Life away from poker has been fantastic for quite some time now. I make a point to have a life outside of poker because poker is filled with variance. I have found that having things going on in life that you can somewhat control and build on allows me to not worry about the standard swings of poker. If your entire identity is controlled by whether or not you win a coin flip, half of the time you will be miserable.