Q&A with Poker Pro Jonathan Little

Jonathan Little is a two-time World Poker Tour champion who has written a pair of poker books, with a third on the way. PTP talked with him about his books and what he has been up to of late.

Little has won nearly $5 million in live tournament play, and he was the WPT Season VI Player of the Year. He currently has two books on the market: Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker, Volumes 1 and 2.

The paperback books and ebooks are available from leading publishers including Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as from Volume 3 will be available sometime in 2013.

PTP: Since you still live in the United States, do you get a chance to play much online poker?
Jonathan Little: No, not a ton, I pretty much play online to get content for training materials, but no, nothing serious.

PTP: Do you miss it at all?
JL: No, I don’t really miss it. I think in general I am a much happier person without online poker, just because it doesn’t suck away a lot of my time. Sometimes I actually will load up a bunch of games on some random site and I will play and I will end up running bad, and I am like “Why do I do this myself?”

PTP: What else are you up to these days other than live tourneys, and your books? I know you’re coaching a little bit, can you tell me about that and what else you are up to?
JL: Actually this whole week I’ve been doing this coaching session, where everyone basically paid for one hour of coaching with me. I had 15 people sign up for one hour of coaching, and what we would do is they would all be able to watch everyone else’s coaching session and sort of chime in when any of them had any questions themselves. So some of the guys effectively got like 15 hours of coaching for $199. I really like the format, I think makes it more affordable for everyone. It was kind of like a three-day training course, effectively.

I’ve been writing a new book, Volume 3 of the book, Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker. That’s going to be made up of a bunch of hands, and situations I played this summer at the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour main event. So there will be a lot of deep-stack stuff, some short-stack stuff, and that’s taking up a lot of time. I am probably about two-thirds finished with that.

And I have been working on getting an application up for where people will be able to watch my videos and interact on the site through Apple devices.

I’ve been working on a lot of stuff and lots of projects. That’s sort of what being here in New York allows me to do, it allows me to get away from the poker grind, and lets me focus on the business side.

PTP: Can you tell me a little about Volume 2 of the book and what readers can expect?
JL: Volume 1 and Volume 2 were initially written as just one just giant book. I was just sitting around in New York and I wrote for about 2 1/2 weeks or so and I ended up coming up with 550 pages. The publisher said that was too big, so I had to cut it in half. They either wanted me to edit out a lot of it or cut it in half so I decided to cut in half, because it’s all important. I didn’t put any junk in there that’s sort of in a lot of poker books where they restate the same thing over and over. It’s all unique material that I didn’t want to cut out because it’s all necessary to be a professional.

So this section of the book deals with how to play short-handed, when you’re close to the bubble, situations like that, so that’s the poker-playing aspect of it. Also, in the back of the book, there are a ton of hand histories, where I play a bunch of hands and I go through my thought process, and I give some in-game examples of a lot of the stuff I discuss throughout Volume 1 and Volume 2. And then the rest of the book is made up of things I think are necessary for people to know if they want to be a professional, stuff like bankroll management, how to read tells, how to be physically fit without spending a ton of time working out, how to eat healthily when you are traveling, how to travel the circuit without going broke. Just sort of how to make it as a professional. Whereas a lot of poker books they discuss how to play poker, I think a lot of people actually know how to poker, they just don’t know how to put it all together in such a manner that lets them be really successful.

PTP: The part about being fit, eating healthily is probably not something that gets touched on in other poker books.
JL: I think that’s definitely the case, a lot of guys don’t think about that type of thing. It’s important. If you’re not thinking about that kind of stuff, you’re probably going to be overweight and miserable. In the last three or four years, I lost something like 45 pounds, and that’s just because I didn’t think about any of that type of stuff whenever I was first starting. It was a huge life leak. Luckily I somehow woke up and realized it. You know a lot of players never really wake up, and they just keep doing the same thing, where they eat crappy food and sit in a chair all day, and I don’t think that’s any real way to live.

PTP: Can you tell me which player had the biggest impact on you?
JL: I guess it would be David Sklansky, his was one of the first poker books that I read that I thought, huh, this is actually useful information, not “this guy is a mouse, therefore you should attack him.” It was actually mathematically based strategy. It was sort of a cut and dry book. … Everything in it is necessary to learn if you want to play poker, particularly at a high level. And once you learn that stuff, there is so much more to poker, and it took me a while to realize that, but once I realized that, I started doing really well. So I think that book gave me a solid foundation, and I think if you don’t have a good foundation, none of the other stuff really matters.

And that’s sort of what I do with Volume I, I discuss sort of the very basics of poker, like pot odds, implied odds, and I start discussing a standard gameplan that will make you at least some sort of a winner, if you stick to it, as long as you are smart and play well. And then in Volume 2 and Volume 3, I start to talk about how you can really deviate from the basic strategy to become a really big winner. A lot of poker books teach you how to play a tight game, and that will make you a small winner, but that’s not my goal. My goal is to make people big winners.

PTP: If there’s something you would tell players to improve their game, what would you point them to?
JL: I have my training site, there’s a free forum on there where people can get on there and post whatever hand questions they have, and I answer, and I have a lot of other coaches that get on there and answer questions. Also you can sign up for the site, it costs $8 a month, so it’s effectively free, obviously not really free. But I realize that a lot of the other poker training sites out there have pretty equal material, but they charge a whole lot more. I think given the amount of knowledge that’s out there, all I am really doing is making it easier for people to get started and I have no problem with trying to help people get started. I had help when I was coming up, and if I didn’t have any help, I wouldn’t be here. If I can make it easily accessible for most people, while not losing a ton of money on the site myself, I am fine with it.

If you’d like to read Volume II of Little’s book, and if you live in the United States, contact PTP here, and the first five responses will get a free copy. No more copies available. Congrats to the 5 winners.


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