Episode 243: Jamal Hanson

Jamal Hanson introduces us to a high-stakes poker game we knew nothing about… because it’s played behind bars. Jamal, who graduated college at 16 but ultimately landed him in prison for selling crack cocaine, talks about learning to play, landing a whale, winning the tacit approval of the warden, and sorting out the logistics of payments and game integrity. He also explains how he studied law in prison, wrote and filed many of his own briefs, sued the government, and ultimately got his sentence commuted. It’s a revealing look at a fascinating corner of the poker world.

The Washington Post ran a story about Jamal shortly after his commutation.


0:30 – Hello & Welcome
5:50 – Strategy
35:35 – Interview: Jamal Hanson


This is 2-3 NLH game (9 handed). There is a $6 straddle for this hand. It’s folded to me in middle position and I raise to $17 with the KdQh. The button calls and the straddle calls. Effective stacks are $300.

Flop: KhJc6d

Straddler checks, I bet $30 into the $50 pot. Button calls and the straddler folds.

Turn: KhJc6d 9d

I check The button quickly bets $60 into $110. I call.

River: KhJc6d 9d 10s


11 thoughts on “Episode 243: Jamal Hanson

  1. Hey guys,

    I’ve been listening to your podcast for years, and found it to usually be one of the best and informative show around.

    However i’ve noticed that the last 7 or 8 episodes at least are no longer playing through my podcast player – Podkicker with the error message being playback error null

    Not sure if it’s on your end or not, but it does seem to be the only podcast i can’t listen to.

    Hope you can fix it, so I can listen to your show each week.


  2. Another reason to raise bigger when there is a live straddle: Players who post live straddles don’t do it with the intention of folding. So, you can raise bigger, knock out players behind you who will have position against you, and still get calls from relatively weak ranges from the straddle.

  3. You mentioned about the rate and review thing to get more people to see the podcast.

    On the same topic, when I got my new phone last year I reinstalled the Acast podcast player, but got the “New” version and found I was no longer able to add your podcast based on the RSS feed alone. It only lets you add podcasts from a pre-existing list and it suggested various other poker podcasts, including ones which I perceive as being “smaller” or less professional than yours, so it’s probably not to onerous (and probably free) to get listed there.

    Obviously I changed player immediately but it might be worth asking Acast if you can get on the list.

  4. Thanks for another great episode guys. I just read the Washington Post article and was both inspired and empathized with the losses Jamal endured. He didn’t touch upon the loss of his siblings but I can understand that it must be a tough subject to discuss. I finally signed up for TPE and am going to be serious about improving my game this year.

    • Thanks! I gave him my condolences when I spoke to him in advance of the interview. He said “We all play the hand we’re dealt” or some similar poker analogy.

  5. Excellent interview guys – so much drama and I agree this would make an amazing poker and drama film – before, during and after prison – poetic, hard hitting, bit of poker strategy and psychology along with the social justice angles. Paging Brian Koppelman

  6. I love this podcast so much. My first child was born around the same time as Nate’s son. Needless to say, I now have very little time to go play live poker between work and family obligations (typically this translates to 4-5 sessions per month).

    Your show helps me feel connected to the poker community and satiates my hunger for poker-related discussion. Thank you both for continuing to deliver quality poker content and thought provoking interviews. Keep up the great work!

    P.S. Andrew, I’d love to find out more about arranging a coaching session. Where can I get more information?

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