On the Button: Q&A with Jonathan Little

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Jonathan Little has nearly $5 million in tournament earnings, two World Poker Tour titles and a WPT Player of the Year crown. We’re proud he has joined Ante Up as a strategy columnist. He chatted with Ante Up’s Chris Cosenza about his career, his teaching
endeavors and his disdain for playing abroad.

Recently you had your best overall World Series (five cashes), won the $5K Festa al Lago for $152K, and, of course, you own a pair of WPT titles and were WPT Player of the Year in Season 6. What is your greatest poker moment? I don’t really know. I don’t think I’ve had it yet. I try my best every time I show up and I don’t really look back at stuff and say ‘Wow, I did good here; that was my greatest thing ever,” because I hope to do better in the future. If I had to pick one I guess I’d say the first WPT I won at Mirage, but every win is special. I try to look forward more so than back.

Given all of your remarkable success, what would winning a WSOP bracelet mean to you? That would not mean as much as winning a WPT title, in my opinion. … There’s like a thousand of bracelets out there, but there’s only a hundred-something WPT titles. Those are clearly worth more. The general public views a bracelet as more valuable, though, which doesn’t really make sense. It’s kind of a factor of ESPN marketing the brand very well. So I think it’s necessary to get a bracelet, but I wouldn’t really view it that highly personally. But if I got the main-event bracelet that’d be like the best thing you can do, so I guess I’d have to look back at that point. (laughs)

Does it bother you that you haven’t cashed in the $10K WSOP main event? No, not really. To me it’s kinda just like any big $10K event, and in any $10K event you have to run a little bit hot to get in the money. And, you know, I don’t really play to cash so I’m not too concerned with just getting in the money. I’m more so concerned with getting a decent amount of chips and having a good chance to win. So if I min-cash in the main event it’s not really going to mean that much to me.

Being from Pensacola, have the recent limit changes in Florida meant anything to you? Not to me personally. My parents have been playing at the local dog track. There’s only one place to play in Pensacola right now. I don’t really live in Pensacola, and I think the biggest game they really run is $2-$5 no-limit, and I usually play like $10-$20 or $25-$50, so I wouldn’t really make it out there to play ever. But I hope it’ll be good for the game.

Why don’t you play overseas? ’Cause it’s kind of a pain to go overseas. (laughs) I know the tournaments are great over there; every time I went over there I did pretty well. But it’s just really a pain to get there. Actually, now that I think about it, I’ve been there three times and won money every time, so maybe I should go there. (laughs) … If I ever get three free months I might go over there for a while. But there’s enough events in America to keep me pretty busy.

You seem to have your hands in a lot of business ventures these days. Tell me about them, especially Floattheturn.com. Well, Float the Turn is a training site geared more toward online poker players who kinda have a decent amount of experience already. We have like 500 videos. It’s mostly a tournament and sit-n-go site, but I’m branching out now to where we’ll be getting some cash-game players. … I also have 
jonathanlittlesecrets.com, which has been a huge success (and) is more so geared toward players that are playing live poker trying to transition to online. I’m also working on a project called BankrollBuilderSeries.com (see his column on Page 40 for more on this). I started with $300 and I’m playing $.05-$.10 no-limit online and grind it up. It’s pretty swingy because I only have 30 buy-ins, so you’re going to have pretty big swings like that. But it’s going OK. … I’m also writing two books, they’re called the Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker. … Those should be out next year some time.

How much do you enjoy teaching poker? I like teaching poker. It lets me give back. I know I got a lot of help when I was coming up in poker (and) probably spent $10,000 on coaching. The best way to get good at poker is by having someone who’s better than you tell you what you’re doing wrong. … If I could help someone else improve their quality of life that’s great. I’ve taught a decent amount of people in Europe that were kinda living at the poverty level. Now they’re earning a lot more money than most people where they live. It lets guys live a lot better and I don’t see a problem with that.

How would Harry Reid’s now-dead bill have affected you? I guess I would have started playing live a little bit more. … I probably would have produced more coaching videos whenever I was not at a tournament stop. And my tournament stop would probably be slightly longer, that way I could play more cash games there. … I really don’t think it would change stuff too much. It probably would make me be able to chill out a little bit more. So maybe it’s a bad thing it didn’t pass. (laughs)

Do you have any leaks outside of poker? I used to be bad at sports-betting. I would sport-bet degenerately from time to time. That’s about it. … Whether you’re winning or losing at sports-betting, whenever you’re playing a tournament you don’t need to be like sweating a football game or something. You need to be paying attention to poker. I was thinking about this: It’s probably really profitable to play in spots where they have the TVs on, if you’re not into the sport games. … My ROI probably goes up like 10 percent when I’m not facing a TV. (laughs)

And finally, something that’s sure to be on our readers’ minds: Do you get a lot of Robin Hood cracks?
Occasionally. Yeah, it gets old, (but) you gotta make people happy. If something that makes me a negative-1 in happiness but them a plus-5, I’m fine with that. (laughs)