Jonathan Little ended the first day of the World Poker Tour's Season 6 Mirage Poker Showdown with $4,800 in chips, peanuts compared to chipleader David Matthew's rollicking $156,625.
Little wrote in his blog that night that he was considering writing off the tournament and not showing up for Day 2, but it's a good thing he changed his mind - the young pro managed to navigate a field of poker's very best to final table the event, and then personally put Phil Ivey and Richard Kirsch to bed before defeating Cory Carroll heads-up to take down the event.
I talked to Jon minutes after his thrilling victory.
Jon, you're the newest WPT millionaire. How are you feeling?
I'm feeling great! I'm very ecstatic.
How did you think the final table went down for you? It was pretty stacked to begin with.
It was a tough final table, but everything went my way. Every time I was bluffing I didn't get called. Usually when I wanted to get called, I'd get called, and whenever I got in with the worst hand, I won.
Were you happy to see Phil Ivey get knocked out as quickly as he did?
Yeah, I was glad to see Phil Ivey get out of there pretty early.
What was your assessment of the heads-up match between you and Cory Carroll?
Cory was outplaying me after the flop when the blinds were low, so I decided to just hang out and not do a whole lot until the blinds got high, and then just get in with my decent hands.
How did this final table differ with your last WPT final table at Atlantis?
In Atlantis everything went wrong, but at this one everything went right.
At the end of Day 1 of this event you were extremely low on chips, but you managed to fight through it and gain a lot of ground. Can you take us through your Day 2?
I started very low on Day 2; I started with $5,000 in chips, and I got pocket kings on the very first hand and doubled up. On the very next orbit I got nines and doubled up, and from there I just kept winning all of the hands.
You also did very well in the $5,000 Heads-Up tournament just before the $10,000 Main Event at the Mirage. Can you take us through that tournament?
I took third in the heads-up tournament (for $18,624) behind David Pham and Eric Froehlich, and we were actually all together at the same table in the final 27 of this tournament, and I ended up outlasting all of them, so it was great.
How are you going to celebrate tonight?
I'm going to go to sleep, seriously. I'm tired.
Do you have any impulse purchases you're going to spend the money on?
I might go buy a nice watch. Probably a Jacob & Co. watch.
So listen, where are the Shipitholla Ballas at? We've heard no cries of "Ship It!" during this entire event!
The Shipitholla Ballas are all over the place. Half of them are at home, half of them are in Europe. They're getting ready for the World Series, so they're preparing.
I noticed you were wearing an "SNG Icons" hat yesterday. Is that a new project of yours?
I own a training site called SNGIcons.com. We try to help people become better at playing sit-and-goes, and this was basically a sit-and-go, what I played tonight. I think I played it pretty well. I don't think I could have done anything much different.
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Despite being a member of the Shipitholla Ballas, one of the more notorious crews in poker, Jonathan Little is a quiet-spoken and relatively unknown regular on the tournament circuit who happens to make a habit of cashing in just about every major event he plays. With this performance, Little has put an exclamation point on his abilities and should garner a little more recognition both at the table and from the public after this event - if not because of his demeanor, then at least because of his new diamond-studded watch.