Dan Bilzerian – Is He the Wealthiest Poker Player in the World or A Scam?
Dan Bilzerian is certainly one of the most controversial figures to frequent the world of high stakes poker.
Known to take a seat in some of the biggest games around, the self-proclaimed “King of Instagram” has undoubtedly played some big pots along the way. And, given the nature of the game, he must have won some of them as well.
However, Bilzerian has hit the nerve with the poker public time and time again, claiming his wealth has mainly originated from poker.
Dan Bilzerian net worth is estimated to be around $200 million, so could he actually build that playing poker?
While he states his poker winnings range in dozens of millions, no one could confirm this because, conveniently, Dan won all this money playing poker in super-private, super-secret games.
Who Is Dan Bilzerian, Really?
Bilzerian has spent a lot of time and money building his internet persona, with his Instagram page showing his lavish, excessive lifestyle filled with beautiful girls, expensive cars, and guns, which seem to be quite a fascination for the internet playboy.
On the surface, he’s living the life so many out there wish for.
The question is, how did Dan Bilzerian make his money to pay for all of it? While he clearly has some cash to throw around, Bilzerian hasn’t actually been known for much else than spending.
He doesn’t have any notable business successes, and he didn’t come up with any earth-shattering ideas. If you ask Dan, a lot of that money came from playing poker, but there are some cracks in his story.
Millions Unaccounted For
Dan was born in Tampa, Florida, to Terri Steffen and Paul Bilzerian. His father was a takeover specialist who set up trust funds for both Dan and his brother Adam.
Paul Bilzerian eventually ended up in prison for unethical business practices and was ordered to pay a $1.5 million fine and return more than $60 million.
Over the period of several decades, Paul had only returned a fraction of what was requested while the rest of the money simply vanished into thin air.
So, it is definitely not too much of a stretch to believe his son ended up with at least some of it. In fact, Dan Bilzerian openly admitted he’s benefited from the trust fund his father set up in his name.
However, he never wanted to disclose exact figures, which is quite understandable when all things are considered.
Dan Bilzerian’s Poker Career: Truth & Myth
Bilzerian’s poker story begins in 2007, when he arrived at a Lake Tahoe casino with a suitcase full of cash, looking for a game. According to The Wall Street Journal, he was quickly dubbed a “suitcase guy,” a nickname which Dan confirms was justified at the time.
There is no doubt that Bilzerian took a liking for the game of Texas Hold’em, and he quickly moved through the ranks, finding himself in some of the highest stakes games around.
Whether or not he had skills, the Instagram celebrity certainly had the bankroll to take the swings these games entailed.
In line with his over-the-board personality, it didn’t take long for Bilzerian to start sharing moments from his poker endeavors all over his Instagram and Twitter pages.
As expected, some hard-to-believe statements were often accompanied, which simply didn’t fit the bill and were often challenged by his followers and numerous professional players.
Crazy Profits & Obscenely High Limits
In some of his latest public statements, Dan Bilzerian made came out, saying he made around $50,000,000 playing poker. Not surprisingly, there is no way to either confirm or refute his story.
The only official information we have about his poker success is his Hendon Mob page, which has him cashing in just a single tournament in his life.
The 2009 WSOP Main Event, in which he placed 180th, banking $36,626. But official numbers aren’t something you should consider too much, at least if you believe what Dan Bilzerian is saying.
After trying his hand against professionals, Dan claims to have retired from these tough cash games and gotten involved with private games instead, playing against various businessmen and celebrities.
His best and biggest session in these private games netted him a profit of around $12 million, and the stakes were $10,000/$25,000. Well, that’s what he says, at least.
We’ve certainly never seen a game like that, where a normal buy-in would be $2.5 million, and a $5,000,000 pot would probably take place at least once every hour or so.
Yes, it is an obscene amount of money, but if Bilzerian’s stories were true, $2.5 million is just 100 big blinds, so it doesn’t take that much for the money to find its way to the middle.
There are many poker hands that could easily create that. A nut flush draw against two pairs maybe? Or even a top pair / top kicker against an aggressive player?
Although Bilzerian has been called out time and time again, he’s sticking to his guns. Whether people believe what he’s saying or not seems to be of little concern to the “King of Instagram.”
He is quick to dismiss any naysayers as jealous of his achievements and adopts a devil-may-care attitude that is so characteristic for him all around.
How Good is Dan Bilzerian at Poker?
Usually, money won is a pretty good indicator of someone’s poker prowess. The problem with Dan Bilzerian’s story is that there is absolutely no evidence of his poker earnings apart from taking his word for it.
Since most losing players are fully confident of their abilities (even when faced with the evidence to the contrary, such as their recorded losses over a long time), we have to take anything he says with a grain of salt.
Another way to go about it is to look at someone’s game and see their poker strategy's quality.
Once again, this is hard to do with someone who only plays in super-secret games no one seems to know about.
However, Dan has graced the poker public with an insight into his abilities not so long ago, playing online poker on an ACR account of Bill Perkins, another millionaire who enjoys poker.
Putting aside all the multi-accounting considerations for the moment, what Bilzerian shows in terms of his poker skills on the stream is hardly the winning strategy or high-level heads up poker you’d expect from someone who won $50,000,000 playing poker.
Of course, there is always an argument about NL2,000 just being too low for him to care or him just wanting to have some fun, but at some point, you’d expect the great poker mind to come through.
What we do see on the stream is a lot of aggression and a bet, bet, bet style, which works for as long as your opponent is running bad and not catching any cards.
That’s why in the span of few hours, Dan Bilzerian manages to get a lot of money off of ‘SexAndWhiskey’ only to proceed to give it all back and then some the moment his luck runs out.
Usually, it would be hard to criticize the play of someone who earned dozens of millions playing poker. However, this is not the case here.
We have someone who claims to have earned millions playing poker, which doesn’t have much credibility. All we really have is single tournament cash for about $36,000 and a rather poor showing in an NL2,000 heads-up match.
Some Method to All Dan Bilzerian Madness
Despite some outlandish claims about Dan Bilzerian poker winnings and stakes played, there are certain parts of his story that do make sense, and if he weren’t so flashy and over the top, it wouldn’t be so hard to believe him.
One of the things he’s emphasized over and over talking about his poker career is that he never really wanted to be the best poker player out there.
Instead of aiming for the throne, he focused on getting into games with rich guys who are really bad at poker and don’t mind losing.
So, in that sense, he was one of the guys, and if he were better than them, that would be more than enough to rake in some serious winnings.
While his play may be miles away from the GTO and his Texas Holdem play light years behind what is considered solid today, perhaps you don’t need any of that in these games.
It is hard to say for certain. We’ve all been up against people who are really clueless about the game but enjoy hanging around just the same and don’t mind paying for the privilege.
If there are guys and girls like that in smaller stakes games, who’s to say that you couldn’t find the same at the crazy-high limits, provided you had the bankroll and the connections?
Poker Controversy: Just a Tip of the Iceberg
While the poker community may feel like Bilzerian’s poker stories are incredible and even pure fabrications, for the internet playboy, poker seems to be just a small piece in his colorful life.
While he claims he amassed most of his wealth playing the game, Dan certainly spends a lot of time doing everything and anything else.
His Instagram page is worth checking out unless you object nudity and seeing heaps of money spent on expensive drinks, super-fast cars, yachts, and all the other things that come with this lifestyle.
Dan Bilzerian has caused one controversy after another over the years, and he’s definitely not looking to stop any time soon.
Of course, his lifestyle doesn’t come without its downfalls. Several years ago, at the age of 25, he suffered a double heart attack after a seven-day binge that involved sex, drugs, alcohol, and who knows what else.
He’s living the fast life and doesn’t feel the need to justify his actions to anyone, which means that people either love him for it or hate the way he treats money and those around him. That said, let’s move to the big question.
Dan Bilzerian Net Worth
How did Dan Bilzerian get rich, and how much money does he actually have?
According to the celebritynetworth.com site, his wealth is estimated to be around $200 million but with such a lavish lifestyle, is this real Dan Bilzerian net worth?
Let’s start at the beginning and see if it’s possible to answer some of these questions.
Dan Bilzerian Trust Fund
To start answering how Dan Bilzerian made his money, we have to go years back. As mentioned in the introduction, his father, Paul, was a takeover specialist with questionable ethics. He was convicted of fraud and ordered to pay more than $60 million fine, but that never happened.
What did happen is that several trust funds were set up in the name of his son, Dan, and he was given access to these funds when he became of age.
Now, Bilzerian Jr. never denied the existence of these funds, and on one occasion, he even had to take a big chunk out of a Dan Bilzerian trust fund to get his father out of jail.
But there is no information about how much money there is in these trust funds and how big of an influence they had on the overall Dan Bilzerian net worth.
According to some, the Instagram playboy made a lot of money playing poker even before he was given access to these funds.
So, How Did Dan Bilzerian Get Rich?
There is a lot of speculation about Bilzerian, but no one seems to have real answers to how the extravagant millionaire actually got his money.
If you ask him, he will tell you that he is playing poker for a living and the bulk of it came from it.
He fell in love with the game during his days at the University of Florida after being discharged from the Navy.
This was before he had access to any of the Dan Bilzerian trust funds, so he must have known what he is doing at that time.
He claims he had to sell some of his possessions, which ended up giving him a bankroll of just $750 after covering other expenses. He then proceeded to turn that $750 into $10,000 and kept on going until he had almost $200,000 to his name.
Bilzerian came back to the university but kept playing poker after classes, making, in his own words, as much as $90,000 in some weeks.
Eventually, he dropped out to devote himself to poker full-time. In 2007, he arrived at Lake Tahoe with a suitcase full of cash, looking to play some poker, and the rest is history.
Dan Bilzerian Poker Winnings
As already explained, Bilzerian was quickly dubbed the “suitcase guy” upon his arrival to Lake Tahoe. A rich guy with $100,000 in cash and looking for high stakes action was a dream come true for professionals.
But according to the accounts of those who were there at the time, Dan wasn’t in the business of giving money away.
How good of a player he was is a hard question to answer, but those who played in the games with him back in 2007 claim he was fairly tight and waiting for others to get out of line.
So it’s not inconceivable that the $100,000 were, in fact, Dan Bilzerian poker winnings and the bankroll he wanted to protect.
After a while, Bilzerian started to play almost exclusively in private games with rich businessmen and Hollywood celebrities. Details of those games are mainly kept very private, so it’s hard to say who the winners are.
It is possible that Dan Bilzerian made his money, or at least some of it, playing poker.
Perhaps later, when he got access to his trust funds, his style had changed, and he became much more reckless with the money.
There is no hard evidence to either confirm or refute Bilzerian’s claims about making heaps of money from poker. His official results are less than impressive, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not doing well for himself in private games.
Dan Bilzerian Net Worth Today
The real question that many want to know the answer to isn’t how did Dan Bilzerian get rich, but how much money does he have today? Is the $200 million estimates correct?
Without more information about Dan Bilzerian trust funds and the amount of money they contain, it’s really hard to say. But what we do know is that 2019 wasn’t kind on the millionaire.
Bilzerian decided to try his hand at running a company and launched a weed company called Ignite Cannabis in 2017.
Dan Bilzerian's company, which is listed on the Canadian stock exchange, reported a massive loss of $50,000,000 in 2019.
According to those in the know, this wasn’t much of a surprise as Bilzerian didn’t use any of the company income to grow the brand and spent the money on traveling and buying “cool” stuff. Funds for the company were acquired through loans and selling shares, so basically did not cost him much.
Although Ignite Cannabis is still holding on, it seems like it’s headed the wrong direction, and unless the company can acquire additional funding, it will likely go under.
So that one was definitely not a massive success the King of Instagram was looking for. But all of it still doesn’t really answer what Dan Bilzerian net worth is today.
I guess the real answer is that we’ll never know for sure.
With so much money unaccounted for (Dan Bilzerian trust fund, private poker games, etc.), it’s impossible to say with any degree of certainty.
What we do know is that he’s still doing quite well, so he clearly still has some money at his disposal. How much and for how long is anyone’s guess.
Dan Bilzerian Is Wealthy, He Plays Poker, So…
To wrap things up and try to answer if Dan Bilzerian is the wealthiest poker players – he certainly seems to be one of the richest guys involved with poker.
This doesn’t say anything about Dan Bilzerian poker skills or that he’s necessarily won anything playing poker, but he’s been around the game, and he’s been playing for very high stakes for over a decade now.
From everything we know, his stories about winning $50,000,000 don’t really add up.
At the same time, given his crazy approach to everything else, who’s to say he didn’t decide to put most of his net worth on the line in some huge game and just happened to run crazy good against other players who perhaps weren’t that good at all?
After all, according to his own account, he won almost $13 million playing against a single billionaire across a few days. The billionaire who was just looking for action and didn’t care if he won or lost.
Against that kind of a person, Dan Bilzerian could have the upper hand, and with a bit of good run, it is conceivable.
We’ll likely never know the full truth about Dan Bilzerian’s poker winnings, and being who he is, he’ll always add a bit extra on top just to make things even more outrageous and scandalous than they are.
Either he is one of the best poker players or just trying to scam the community, how much of what he says you want to believe is entirely up to you.