Dan Bilzerian Claims His Fortune Came from Poker

Dan Bilzerian, the self-styled King of Instagram, has audaciously claimed that he made all of his fortune playing poker. In an interview with sports journalist Graham Bensinger, Bilzerian contradicted the popular belief that he is no more than a trust fund baby.


Is it Possible?

Back in the 1980’s Paul Bilzerian, Dan’s father, was an infamous corporate raider on Wall street. He specialised in taking over companies with high-value assets on their books, but maintaining a low share price. This meant that once he controlled 51% of the stock he could force through a sell off netting him huge profits while also collapsing the company as a money-making enterprise, ultimately leading to people losing their jobs.

After dropping out of high school Paul volunteered to serve in the Vietnam War, winning multiple decorations. After his service ended, he went to Stanford University followed by Harvard Business School, where he first felt the urge to let loose his new knowledge in the world of Wall Street.

Sadly, it didn’t end well, because in 1988 the US Securities and Exchange Commission came knocking on his door with accusations of shady behaviour. The result was federal charges related to “parking” stock in somebody else’s name and being less than honest about where his funding came from. The net result was other investors selling their shares well below what they were worth because they were in the dark about the real picture.

The verdict was a four-year prison sentence, of which 13 months were served, and a whopping $62 million in fines. By 2014 only $3.7 million had been paid, with Paul reportedly saying that he would rather starve to death than earn a dollar to eat and have to pay the feds a cent.

So where does Dan come into this? Of course, during all of those years when life was going swimmingly well for the Bilzerian family, the dirty profits were being tied up in a nest of offshore investments. Trust funds were also set up in the children’s names. Now, Dan has long admitted that he was due to receive one of these funds when he turned 30 years old, but has claimed that he gave it to his brother as he simply didn’t want it.


Hidden Away

In 2015 Vice.com reported

“Public records reveal that Dan Bilzerian has been a party to a byzantine network of corporations, companies, and other business formulations designed to protect the assets of his white-collar criminal father Paul Bilzerian from the government, and that the 34-year-old Instagram star has been a beneficiary of trusts established by his old man in the 90s—at a time when dad owed tens of millions of dollars to the feds.”

In 2016 Dan told the Wall Street Journal that he had made $50 million from poker in that year alone, although the majority of the online poker community made it clear they did not believe him. It is possible, of course, that having such a large bankroll to play with, Dan is using ridiculously poor bankroll management, being completely unaware of the risk he is taking. This, at least, makes it possible that he could be winning some huge sums on any given day. What it doesn’t do, is explain how he got his fortune in the first place.


Inspector Polk On the Case

YouTube star, and elite poker player, Doug Polk did some investigating at the start of 2017 to find out just how good Dan Bilzerian is at poker. Polk showed some footage where Bilzerian was streaming with fellow high-stakes player Bill Perkins on TwitchTV. Polk reviewed a selection of hands which were a complete car crash in terms of skill and discipline, ending his video with the verdict

"I think that maybe he can beat some high stakes very soft live games, but on the Internet, he's a fish in the water."

This was being generous. At least Polk was honest enough to say we’ll never know, even if the skills we saw on display were rather poor. This makes it unlikely he ever made so much money from poker without starting his career with an already substantial sum in the bank.

British tabloid The Sun was much less polite in their own version of the story.

“Instagram star Dan Bilzerian is ‘living a lie’ claims poker expert who says the playboy’s card skills were NEVER good enough to net him millions”

Although they did point out one benefit of this story which never goes away.

“He isn't a great player. I don't think a single person who knows the basics of poker thinks that he is a good player.

"But he is a godsend for poker players. The more he promotes poker as an easy vessel to become a millionaire, the better off we all are."

The LadBible called it as they saw it, with the headline

“YouTuber Says Dan Bilzerian Is A 'Big Fake' Who's Shit at Poker”


Does it Matter Now?

It’s 29 long years since the authorities went after Paul Bilzerian, for what many consider to be charges which regularly go unpunished day after day in the confines of Wall Street. All we know for sure is that the money which the US SEC decided was earned illegally is still missing. The entire sum was tied up into so many knots that it’s impossible to say whether or not the Bilzerian children’s trust funds have any connection.

Dan Bilzerian’s Instagram exploits have turned him into an internet star of such magnitude that the whole poker thing and his father’s crimes have paled into the background many moons ago. Social media junkies no doubt prefer the stories with all the girls he is often pictured with. That kind of thing is exactly what he is now all about.

Bilzerian has also indicated he will try his hand at teaching in a classroom. His preferred age range was 10 to 12 years old as they’re more receptive as well as mature enough to understand him. Beginning to mellow in his old age, perhaps?

If he gives up poker and disappears from the scene, we’ll definitely miss the headlines, that’s for sure.