Love him or hate him, you can’t be neutral about Dan Bilzerian. Even if you hate him, there is some part of everyone that wishes they could be him – just for a moment. Just to see what life could be like in his Playboy lifestyle. As the self-proclaimed “King of Instagram”, every picture is perfectly curated to reflect a life of glamour, riches and hedonistic abundance. If you think fast cars, gorgeous girls and flashy yachts, you think Dan Bilzerian.
Is this the real life?
Nobody is quite sure how much of Dan’s life is real, and how much is fake. Based purely on his Instagram feed, it’s pretty easy to imagine that many out there would refer to him as a fraud. Life cannot be that perfect – even for this enigma.
Where it all started
Daniel Brandon Bilzerian was born with several silver spoons in his mouth in December 1980 in Tampa Florida. His father, Paul Bilzerian had made his wealth in a slew of corporate takeovers – some of them quite hostile. Nevertheless, this wealth came at a cost as Paul wasn’t home much for his sons Daniel and Adam. To Paul Bilzerian, it was all about working hard and building up his fortune.
Things went from bad to worse for Dan when his father was sent to prison for over a year on conviction of security and tax fraud. That was seemingly the end of Paul’s fortune, who had to declare insolvency soon after his prison sentence.
A bad role model
Even though Paul Bilzerian assumedly lost all his wealth by paying back over $30m to the SEC, he nevertheless enabled his two sons to maintain their trust funds. Nobody is quite sure how those trust funds remained untouched, especially after Paul was convicted of fraud – but it is not a great leap to make that this did not set a great life example for Dan growing up.
Even though his father was convicted of wrongdoing, Dan nevertheless had his future assured with his trust fund, so he did not see that there were any ramifications in committing fraud. After all, he was still rich!
A turbulent childhood
Dan seemed to spiral out of control after his father’s conviction. Not only was he expelled from school after numerous physical altercations, he even had to complete his final year being home schooled after he brought an assault rifle to school.
The troubles continue
This self-destructive behaviour continued after school when Dan signed up for the Navy with the hopes of being a SEAL. His ambition was on track until he was once again kicked out for a physical fight with a superior officer.
He then spent 4 years at University of Florida studying business and most ironically, criminology. Once again, nobody is quite sure if Dan Bilzerian graduated or not, adding more fire to the debate of whether he is a fraud or a genius – but while in school his trust fund dried up and Dan had to find a new way to pay his way through life.
The rise of the player
After selling his fast collection of firearms, that money ran out too. Dan then turned to poker to earn an income while at school. This is truly where the enigma started.
The curious thing about Dan is that his supposed winnings are in the tens of millions – but his name hardly ever appears in the public poker tournaments. When he did enter WSOP back in 2009, he finished a very modest 180th, earning a measly $36k – not quite the vast sums of cash that explain his Instagram photos.
However, there is one thing to be said about Bilzerian. His gambling escapades are legendary. Not your typical slot gambler, he seems to punt himself as an underground poker player. In one instance, he claims to have won over $10m in a private game in 2013. In another murky story, he claims to have won $180k in a single cash game from just a $750 buy-in. In another instance, he allegedly lost over $2m on a single coin toss. These stories have never been verified by any reputable source – yet have added to the halo around Dan’s lavish lifestyle.
A reputation that pays
Even though there is very little evidence that Dan’s wealth is above board, he is still a highly sought-after personality. In 2009, even after he finished at the back end of WSOP, Victory Poker supposedly paid him $1m to wear their logo for any tournament he participated in. Dan claims to have a fortune in excess of $200m, of which only ¼ of that is from poker, with the rest coming from ‘business ventures’. His LA mansion alone, dubbed “The Most Expensive House in the USA” in 2017 is worth a whopping $65m.
A healthy lifestyle?
Although only just having entered his 40s, Dan has already suffered three heart attacks – probably due to a life of excess partying. He has admitted that a healthy lifestyle is not on his list of priorities and that it’s not easy to maintain a healthy lifestyle in Vegas. From online videos of Dan throwing a porn star off a roof in 2014, to a high stakes poker game involving the likes of Ben Afleck and Matt Damon, where one of the players, Bradley Ruderman paid his losses with stolen money – the questionable lifestyle of Dan Bilzerian continues unabated.
Where to next?
If this life wasn’t enough for Dan, he now has ambitions to run for president of the USA in 2024. But how do we know if this is even a real plan or just another fake announcement to get him the media and fan attention that he seems to so desperately thrive on. The political sceptics among us would say that being the President of the USA would be the perfect cover to continue his life and fraud and to move tons of money around unnoticed.
Are these accusations fair? Who knows? It’s really hard to tell with Dan what is real and what is fraudulent, but that’s probably what keeps us going back to check up on his life and see what he is up to now.