This paper presents an analysis of the self-focusing of a rippled Gaussian laser beam in a plasma when the nonlinear part of the effective dielectric constant is arbitrarily large. Considering the nonlinearity to arise from ponderomotive, collisional or thermal-conduction phenomena and following the approach of Akhmanov, Sukhorukov and Khokhlov (which is based on the WKB and paraxial-ray approximation) the phenomenon of self-focusing of rippled laser beams is studied for arbitrary magnitude of nonlinearity. For ponderomotive and collisional nonlinearities, the present theory leads to two values of the critical power for self-focusing of the beam, Pcrl and Pcr2, which depend on the amplitudes and phase difference of the main beam and the ripple. When the beam power P lies between the two critical values (i.e. Pcr1 < P < Pcr2), the medium behaves as an oscillatory waveguide; the beam first converges and then diverges, again converges, and so on. For P < Pcr2, the beam first diverges, then converges, then diverges, and so on. When thermal conduction is the dominant mechanism of nonlinearity of the dielectric constant, only one value of the threshold critical power Pcr for self-focusing of the beam exists. When the beam power P < Pcr, the medium behaves as an oscillatory waveguide.