EPT10 Prague: Taking note of Jonathan Little
He's a two time World Poker Tour winner, has come close in World Series events and can claim more than $5.4 million in live tournament winnings. To what would he credit all this? Well, in part, it might be down to the relentless notes he takes on every hand he plays.
This is Jonathan Little, WPT winner in Mashantucket and Las Vegas, as well as countless other results that put him in the upper echelons, not just of players, but of poker teachers, passing on their knowledge through online talks, websites and videos. So note-taking has become part of Little's game.
"I write down all the hands that I play," he said, speaking after noting down details of the last hand before the break. "I use it to go back over them after the tournaments over. I also use it to write poker books and to coach poker classes. I do a lot of webinars where people come online and we go through a lot of interesting hands, or an entire tournament history. It's good, especially whenever I'm not playing online a ton. When I used to play not much online I'd use that for content."
Little takes copious notes
In some ways Little's habit is contrary to the accepted wisdom about poker players, that they are able to recall every hand played. Little though was never able to do the same.
"What initially started it was that I'd go home at the end of the day and my friends would ask 'how did you get your chips?' or 'how did you lose your chips?', so I figured I'd start writing it down so I'd remember."
And so for the past five years or so Little has done just that, making it part of his routine at the table and away from it.
"Usually I try to go through them at the end of the day and see what happened and see if there's anything I could possibly have done different and change stuff in the future."
Little admitted that there isn't always something that needs further analysis, but that today a few spots had given him cause for further thought, one hand in particular against Ana Marquez to his left.
"I just had a jack on a jack-six-six-four-ten or something against ace-jack. On the river I bet big because I thought she'd call me fairly wide, because the turn went check-check, but that may or may not be the case. Maybe she's only calling with the jack or better. If that's the case it's a terrible bet. So you have to think about stuff like that."
And Little does, using his own training website to teach players how to improve their games, and gathering the raw material at tournaments such as this. He doesn't even mind the odd comment from curious table mates wondering what it is he's scribbling.
Little stays focused
"People occasionally say something but it doesn't bother me," said Little. "I mean at some point don't care what people think about you too much, you just do your own thing and do your best, and this is what I have to do to do my best."
Little expressed surprise that, amid field so big, he seems to be the only player keeping track of the hands he plays, although it's possible they are able to commit them all to memory as the legend dictates. But for Little it's an essential practice and one he asks of his students too.
"I pretty much require all my students to write down their hands, if they don't they're not going to have any content to talk about, they're just asking general questions and you can't really give good general answers.
"Some people ask 'what do you do with top pair if someone raises the flop?' It depends on a ton of things. So you need to have all the factors written down to make an intelligent decision. And if you don't really remember everything about the hand you're not going to be able to get correct information.
"And if someone's going to be paying me good money to teach them I want to be giving them very good information."
It seems likely that it will be good information. Even better if Little continues to build his stack in the way he has done today, up to 600,000 at the most recent break.
For coverage of Day 3 of the EPT10 Prague Main Event, head to the EPT Prague Main Event page. There's hand-by-hand coverage and chip counts in the top panel, plus feature pieces below the line. All the information about event can be found on the main European Poker Tour website.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.