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Dan Bilzerian: From Poker’s Ultimate Bad Boy to Instagram Famous

Written by Jason Frakk. Last updated on
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If the “Most Interesting Man in the World” were an actual title, perhaps the most fitting candidate would be Dan Bilzerian. Blitz is a professional poker player, Instagram personality, a budding actor, and globetrotting playboy. In other words, he is the total modern-day Renaissance Man.

But Bilzerian’s story is bizarre, wild, and full of all the drama of a Hollywood movie. He certainly did not rise to poker prominence and become the “It Guy” of social media overnight.

After overcoming personal issues, Bilzerian enlisted in the Navy SEAL training program in 2000. He was at a crossroads and unsure of what to do with his life at the time.

Although SEAL training typically takes only 24 weeks, Blitz is reported to have undertaken over 500 days’ worth of training, two weeks of which he describes as “hell.” He did not graduate from the SEAL program.

Bilzerian has stated that he learned to play poker while he was in college. He had signed up to study business and criminology at the University of Florida after his career with the Navy failed.

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He funded his early poker career with veteran disability checks that he obtained due to injuries he received while enlisted. However, by his second year at university, Blitz was broke.

He was forced to sell all his possessions, and with the money he made (plus the little he had left), Bilzerian quickly headed to Las Vegas, where he managed to turn the $10,000 he arrived with into $187,000.

In 2007, Bilzerian started to be noticed by the high stakes poker circuit. He played at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe, showing up with a suitcase filled with $100,000.

The game did not go as Dan wished, and he eventually got up and left. His next major game was equally disappointing. He entered with his brother and finished in 180th place, with $36,000 in prize money. These efforts were not in vain since his personality caught the eye of ESPN. Soon Bilzerian started to get significant screen time at televised tournaments and landed a sponsorship deal. His style of betting big and often, also known for playing loose aggressive, thrilled poker fans.

As his poker career took off, Bilzerian developed a reputation for being a humorous and daring player. He frequently appeared at high stakes games in which millions of dollars were being wagered in each round.

If high stakes are your style of play, then understanding Bilzerian’s game philosophy is similar to taking a class at the best poker academy around.

Bilzerian also extended his risk-taking spectacles beyond the felt top by taking on some high profile, risky endeavors, including swimming in shark-infested waters and jumping off a 90-foot high cliff.

In addition to his poker career, Bilzerian is known for his activity on social media, especially Instagram. He currently has 22.6 million followers on Instagram, 12 million likes on Facebook, and 1.45 million followers on Twitter. Bilzerian’s success on social media has been attributed to what got him noticed on the poker circuits: his charisma and personality.

The proclaimed “King of Instagram” bases his success on two things. He nearly always features guns and beautiful women in his posts.

One thing that cannot be disputed is that Blitz knows what his audience wants and how to give it to them.

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