Jonathan Little Interview
This is part of this interview series:
Cardschat Interviews - Online US Poker Players Who Have Re-located
His beginnings in poker resemble many others, as Jonathan Little learned the game in college with friends and improved his skills enough to parlay it into a career. His game speaks for itself at the tables, with more than $5.2 million in live tournament earnings and nearly $300K in online poker winnings as "FieryJustice." But even further, he has furthered his love for poker through participating in and creating his own online poker training site, as well as through the development of a training app for mobile devices, partnerships with poker companies like Blue Shark Optics, and authoring three popular tournament poker books ("Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker, Volumes 1, 2, and 3). Most recently, he signed on as a representative of Ultimate Poker, the first legal online poker site launched in the United States.
CardsChat (CC): When did you move from the US?
Jonathan Little (JL): I got a residence in Canada when the World Poker Tour traveled to Montreal recently, in the spring of this year.
CC: To where did you move and why?
JL: I've only been out of the country once so far, though. I was always slow to do it because I was hoping America would get its act together, and as soon as I did move out of the country, America did offer something in Nevada with online poker.
I was going to Canada for a poker tournament, and it seemed easy enough to set up a residence there.
CC: What did your family and/or friends say about the move?
JL: They weren't too worried about it. I've been splitting my time between New York City and Las Vegas anyway, so I'm always traveling a good amount. Canada is now just one more place I have to go.
CC: How much online poker do you play on a given day?
JL: I play a ton of poker. I'm there to work, not to party or have fun. I'm there to grind as much poker as I can, so I'll wake up for the tournament starts and play pretty much all day. If the games start at 10am, I'll get up at 9:00, have breakfast, and play poker until I'm done, usually around 2am.
CC: What games (tournaments and/or cash) and stakes do you play?
JL: I play mostly high-stakes tournaments. There are cash games that are significantly bigger, but I play most of the big tournaments that run on PokerStars. I play No Limit Hold'em for the most part but will play some Limit Hold'em or PLO if it makes sense. For simplicity, though, it makes sense to stick to one game when I'm playing a bunch of tables.
CC: What kind of online poker setup do you have?
JL: I have no problem playing 24 tables on a laptop. I'm pretty good at that. It's never been necessary for me to have an elaborate setup. I've used my laptop with no problems.
CC: Do you practice or study in any way to improve your game?
JL: I constantly watch videos and read all of the new books that come out. I talk to a lot of friends about hands and poker in general. I'm a student of the game, for the most part, and I constantly try to improve. If you're always studying and seeing what other players are doing that you can take advantage of, you'll end up doing pretty well.
It's always nice to sit down and write out what I'm thinking, which happened with my books. When I do that, I occasionally find things in my game that are not ideal. When trying to develop some sort of giant decision tree, finding a few decisions that are incorrect or questionable allows the opportunity to do some math and examine that strategy. Coaching other players helps me as well because I see how other players play, and I can tell them how they can fix their leaks, in my opinion. Just talking to other players about things I'm not used to thinking about is very beneficial.
CC: How do you cope with swings?
JL: I don't really worry about the swings. I've never been one to really care what happens in poker as long as I'm doing my best and playing pretty well. I guess I realized long ago that when you play poker, you're going to have swings, and that's part of the game. If you know it's going to happen, it shouldn't bother you when it does. I know that I'm going to have downswings, and I know I'm going to have wins, so I don't get too excited or sad.
CC: How did it feel to have to leave the US to play poker?
JL: I did it a little late compared to most people, so I already recognized that I was going to have to do it. I just did it but didn't think too much of it. Whenever you really don't have much of a choice in something, you can't really get to upset about it. It was just something I had to do.
But then the Ultimate Poker situation came up. I knew a few of the guys there, and they liked all of the stuff I put out, so they asked me if I wanted to be on the team. Since I'm based in Vegas part time anyway, they thought I'd be a good fit. They know I play a lot online, and I've been playing a lot of their games since the site got up and running. Even today, I'm going to be playing on Ultimate Poker for the rest of the night.
CC: How does this change the frequency of visiting Canada to play?
JL: I'm probably only going to play on the sites that don't allow Americans to play when I'm in Canada. It'll probably only happen when I'm going to be out of the country for live poker anyway. There are a few European Poker Tour events I may play this year and the PCA in the Bahamas in January, so it's good to be set up in general so I can play online when I'm out of the country.
CC: What would you say to others who are considering a move for online poker?
JL: If you have to play online poker, you should probably move out of the country. There are certainly ways to make money playing live poker in America currently. The live cash games are very nice, so I don't think it's mandatory by any means. But if you're an online grinder and haven't gotten out yet, you're probably not going to leave. But if you want to do it, do it if there's nothing holding you back. But if you have a family and life in America, you should probably just stay here and do what you've been doing.
CC: Do you believe the US will offer online poker that will entice you to stay to America?
JL: I've never really had to leave the country in the first place because I don't have to leave America to make a ton of money; it's more so something to do to grind it out. I was fine without playing online poker for three years after Black Friday. It's a matter of having everything set up so you can make the most of your time wherever you're at. If I go out of the country and can't do anything, that's a waste of utility and doesn't accomplish what I want to. If I leave the US to play poker, I want to play all the time and not just in the live events.
CC: What do you see happening with online poker in America?
JL: Hopefully, it will be legalized in a lot of states and those states decide to work together. If they don't, there are going to be a bunch of small online poker sites that are not big enough for tournaments or cash games. If the states work together, like Nevada is prepared to do but New Jersey is not, it can be pretty good. If the sites allow most people in America to play, that's certainly a good thing.
-Interview by Jennifer Newell