Aug 11, 2019
Dan Bilzerian Discusses Rise to Poker Success and “Pioneering” LAG
By RTR Dennis
Dan Bilzerian has achieved plenty of fame thanks to his Instagram following and playboy lifestyle. But long before his mainstream notoriety, he was grinding in underground poker games.
Appearing on the True Geordie podcast, Bilzerian brought up some new tidbits about his poker career that weren’t previously reported. Actually, these new pieces of information border on outrageous and have caused many to question if they’re true.
That said, I’m going to cover some of the poker-related highlights from the podcast along with Bilzerian’s controversial claims.
Bilzerian Feels Like Rounders Perfectly Documents His Life
Poker comes up as a subject for the first time when Bilzerian mentions showing a girl Rounders. He himself has seen the film “like 200 times.”
“It resonates so strongly with me because that was kind of like my poker career,” he says. “Going broke, putting it all on the line, going into underground things, the whole thing.”
Bilzerian is referencing all of the underground cash games he’s played over the years. For example, he was part of the infamous Hollywood poker ring that included actors Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Toney Maguire.
Keeping His Poker Skills a Secret
Dan Bilzerian’s poker career is poorly documented. After all, very little of his play took place in the public eye.
His only live tournament cash includes a 180th-place finish in the 2009 WSOP Main Event ($36,626). According to the interview, this is exactly how he preferred things as a poker pro.
“I never wanted to be the guy showing everybody on TV how good I was,” Bilzerian explains. “I wanted to be the guy that people thought sucked so that I could play with the rich guys.
“For me, it was like the one thing in my life that wasn’t about ego. It was about bank account.
“You know, so I just let people think that I had a big trust fund. That’s how I got all my money, because that allowed me to get into all of those really good games. And that’s the scoreboard in poker.”
Poker Helped Launch Bilzerian’s Instagram Success
These days, ‘Blitz’ is far better known for his Instagram account than poker. But a little-known fact is that poker helped form the foundation for his social media success.
“That was actually one of the drivers for my Instagram was showing these guys how much f**king money I had, or hanging out with hot p***y, I’m doing all this dope sh*t.
Portraying this high-roller lifestyle got Bilzerian into some very lucrative poker games.
“[My image] made them want to play poker with me more. Because people don’t want to play poker with somebody who doesn’t have a lot of money. Because A – you can’t win a lot, and B – they’re less likely to be gamble and be fun,” he explains.
“They want to interact with you. They want to meet you. It was multi-faceted. It wasn’t just about the girls. I mean, that’s how it started, but there were other benefits for sure.”
Bilzerian Doesn’t Care About What the Poker Community Thinks of Him
When asked about poker YouTubers (e.g. Doug Polk) who say disparaging things about him, Bilzerian doesn’t really seem to care.
“I don’t give a f*ck. I don’t hang out with those motherf***ers. I could care less. I had friends who played poker, but I didn’t really get into that crowd that much.
“I wasn’t trying to be a grinder. I did like grinding in college and played online and did all that sh*t. But I kind of moved on from that.
“For me, it was about getting into the games with the celebrities, producers, the hedge fund guys. I didn’t even want to be associated with poker players. I didn’t want to hang out with them, I didn’t want to be seen with them.”
Bilzerian adds that he didn’t avoid hanging out with poker players because he thought they were uncool. Rather, he just didn’t want these relationships to tarnish the amateur image he’d created.
“I wanted to be the rich idiot. I didn’t want to be the guy who hung out with poker players. I didn’t want people to think I was good. These guys [other pros] were ego-driven, they wanted everybody to think they were good.”
Outrageous Claim on Being One of First to Use LAG
Loose-aggressive (LAG) poker is certainly nothing new in the game. But Bilzerian claims that he was one of the first to adopt this style during his career, which spanned from the late 2000s to mid-2010s.
“When I started playing poker, I was one of the first guys who started playing loose aggressive. And that’s kind of like the adapted style nowadays. I was one of the first people who kind of pioneered that.”
Bilzerian continues explaining his use of LAG and how it benefited him.
“It was good for me because A – I played more hands and gave more action, and B – it allowed me to get into more pots with the bad players. And I had more chances to exploit them, have more chances to get paid off on big hands, be less predictable.
“My success is not an accident. Like, ‘Oh, it just happened.’ This stuff was just proper planning. Just the same as getting laid, as making money, it’s a clear path.”
The podcasters received blowback for not pressing Bilzerian further on his claims – especially the one about pioneering LAG. They even did a follow-up regarding the criticisms they received.
That said, Bilzerian remains one of the most-controversial figures in poker and beyond. He definitely furthered this reputation with his profanity and stories during the True Geordie podcast.