Dan Bilzerian was born on December 7, 1980, in Tampa, Florida.

This man is a figure who has become synonymous with everything lavish and hedonistic. His reputation is shrouded in just as much mystery and controversy as glamor. He is the son of corporate takeover specialist Paul Bilzerian and Terri Steffen. Dan's early life was marked by wealth and privilege, but also instability due to his father's legal troubles.

Paul Bilzerian was convicted of securities and tax fraud, which led to a significant loss of the family's wealth and a trust fund for Dan and his brother Adam.

Despite these early challenges, Dan carved out a path for himself that was anything but ordinary. He attended the University of Florida, majoring in Business and Criminology, but never completed his degree, choosing instead to pursue poker and other ventures.

His foray into the Navy SEAL training program ended with a discharge due to a safety violation, despite completing two Hell Weeks and enduring a broken leg. His attention turned to other things, including poker.

Poker Pro or Poker Pantomime?

Dan's poker career began in earnest during his college years. He claims to have funded his education with a disability allowance from the Navy and later turned to poker tables to sustain himself financially.

His first notable poker appearance was at a Lake Tahoe casino, where he was dubbed "the suitcase guy" due to his cash-filled suitcase.

Despite skepticism about the origins of his poker bankroll, Dan insists that he made his fortune through the game, although many believe that a trust fund from his father played a significant role. When he appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience, he elaborated a bit more.

"Everybody just thought that I was a rich trust fund idiot and my parents gave me all my money, so that actually allowed me to get into a lot of these poker games."

And then later in the podcast, Dan talked to Joe about his multi-tabling days:

"I would play in college and I played 10 tables at a time and you would see about a hundred hands an hour.

(at each table, we assume)

He estimates he saw about 10,000 hands an hour. But now, he says online poker isn't for him and he "can't compete with these kids" anymore.

On the Graham Bensinger show, Dan claimed to have played in a game with $10,000/$25,000 blinds. His stack size? About $18 million dollars. The other thing is, Dan claims that the villain at the table always had him covered, meaning there was at around $40 million on the table, if we are to believe him.

That's a pretty big game – but the stories got even more unbelievable.

Dan also told Graham that he played in a game where his rich opponent didn't look at his cards for an hour. And then, there was an opponent who chose to bet Ferraris and Mercedes, instead of chips.

Chance Kornuth (3x WSOP Braclet winner) coached Dan to play in a massive heads-up game, sometime around 2014. In the match, Bilzerian claims to have won about $40-50 million from his opponent, billionaire Alec Gores. Apparently, he was able to win millions and millions of dollars in each hand.

Dan claims that he never sought to be the best, but just wanted to be in the best games.

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God of Game Selection?

Rather than duking it out with the most brilliant poker minds, Dan Bilzerian says he liked to maintain his splashy, fishy image to enter the most lucrative games.

A host asked him, "How do you find out about the high-stakes games?"

Without missing a beat, Dan answered.

"So that was kind of my thing about poker.

I never want to be the best poker player I just wanted to play against like super rich guys that weren't very good. So, a lot of these guys coming up they wanted to be known as the best player. I didn't like ever really care about being known as the best player. For me, I didn't mind people thinking that I was a rich trust fund kid and that helped me get into really good games."

Even Daniel Negreanu agrees, saying that this strategy is probably a big earner for Dan.

"He's not a top level player, like these guys you see on TV, but he probably makes more money than they do because he plays with people that are far below his skill level."

Bilzerian's buddy, Bill Perkins, had the same thing to say.

"It's true. Dan is NOT a good poker player, I would destroy Dan, but he just played people worse and richer than him."

So, Is Dan Bilzerian a Good Player?

At first, a lot of mystery surrounded Dan. Nobody knew if he really was as good as he said he was – or if it was all a facade.

Then, we actually got the chance to see him play poker, once a Bill Perkin stream in 2017, and more recently on Poker After Dark. While playing with Perkins and Alan Keating, there was some serious button-clicking going down. It didn't look like a skilled professional who'd become a multi-millionaire from reading his opponents.

Now, it's unlikely anyone will apply a solver to Dan's play and check his GTO strategies, but you can draw conclusions from watching him play online poker, or televised games.

Then on Poker After Dark, he played against Bill and Lara Perkins, Steve Aoki, and several other amateurs. The blinds were $50/$100, plus a $100 ante.

Honestly, this might be another example of good game selection! At the table, Dan sat with a musician, a producer, a boxer and a DJ, with nobody except Bill having much poker experience.

It wasn't a stunning performance from Dan, with plenty of limping, random bet sizes, and pretty average play.

Dan's poker achievements include a 180th place finish in the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event, earning him $36,000, and a subsequent sponsorship from Victory Poker.

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Anyway, Dan was Never Famous for Poker

However, his poker success is often overshadowed by his social media persona, where he showcases a playboy lifestyle filled with luxury, women, and high-stakes gambling.

Dan's poker story might be a coverup or a marketing plan, and we are unlikely to know the truth (or care). The world has largely moved on from the Bilzerian boom times and it seems we are less captivated these days.

Bilzerian's Instagram fame, with over 16 million followers, is a testament to his ability to market a lifestyle that many find both alluring and problematic. His posts often feature exotic locations, sports cars, yachts, and a constant presence of models, which has led to criticism.

Despite his controversial image, Dan has ventured into business with his company Ignite International Brands Ltd., dealing in products like CBD oil and e-cigarettes. That venture posted a $50 million loss, with a lot of fingers pointed at Dan. His lavish lifestyle was apparently being funded by the company.

An SEC investigation caused Ignite to restructure and the company went from publicly traded into the private sector. In 2021, they pulled out of the Canadian market, but the website is still up and running. Despite all of the negative press, Bilzerian's beard still graces the homepage.

One of the executives, Curtis Heffernan, was fired after flagging some purchases, such as:

  • A $60,000 Star Wars gun set.
  • $75,000 for a paintball field.
  • A $40,000 rock climbing wall.
  • A $50,000 bed frame.
  • $88,000 paid for a vault.
  • And even a $15,000 ping pong table.

Dan Bilzerian has also made appearances in films such as "Olympus Has Fallen" and "Lone Survivor," although his claims of investing in these films for more screen time have been disputed.

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