Joe Rogan's Podcast feat. Dan Bilzerian3 years ago
Dan Bilzerian, some people love him, some people love to hate him and given the immense popularity of his social media channels a huge number of poker players can be assigned to one of those two groups. Bilzerian is relevant to the poker world because he paints himself as a poker player and claims that he won most of his money at the tables. Dan was recently a guest on a Joe Rogan's podcast where he talked a lot about poker and you can find a quick summary of that conversation below.
While Joe Rogan's podcast is on top of the popularity charts for a reason and the quality of it is really high (provided you keep an open mind or share similar interests with the host) not everyone has the time to listen to a three-hour long conversation. In case you're only interested in the juicy, poker related parts here's all you need to know.
1:00 Right off the bat, Bilzerian mentions his mind boggling poker results, which are the point of contention for many people following him. Dan claims that he won 54 million dollars off of one player and 10 million beating another one which prompts a huge reaction from Joe Rogan who's a millionaire in his own right and - as he himself states - knows nothing about poker. Those numbers are really hard to believe for some people because they are so much higher than the lifetime winnings of most of the top pros and JRE podcast certainly helps to shine some light on the issue.
3:30 Though Dan Bilzerian was a gambler for a very long time, 2012 marks the beginning of his major winnings with 11 million scores coupled with additional million being a result of $2,000 stake in the second place WSOP Main Event finisher (presumably Jesse Sylvia). Bilzerian mentioned Nick Cassavetes who's a famous Hollywood writer and director featured in the 5th season of High Stakes Poker which adds some amount of credibility to his story. While this is not strictly poker related Dan describes "going down to Cabo (with Nick Cassavetes)" after a particularly painful breakup as the beginning of his route to becoming one of the most popular social media personalities in the world so it's certainly one of the defining moments of his life.
26:00 Dan is hammering home the point about the origin of his money. He points out the common misconception of him being a "trust fund kid". He didn't care to correct it, as it often allowed him the entry to crazy high poker games in which poker savvy pros weren't really welcomed. This is the most compelling argument for people claiming Dan isn't exaggerating when he talks about his poker winnings (along with reports from reputable sources like Haralabos Voulgaris). It makes sense that a guy capable of playing solid poker allowed to participate in crazy good, crazy high games against recreational billionaire players could possibly achieve some amazing results not attainable for pros who were denied that opportunity (provided a favorable short-term variance and ultra-aggressive bankroll management strategy).
40:00 Bilzerian talks about his college poker beginnings, mentioned that his brother taught him how to play. Dan became an online grinder and his military checks served him as the first bankroll. He discussed poker and played some home games with his fraternity members. At some point in 2005, he went broke which forced him to go on an amazing poker run. Bilzerian "sold some guns for 750$", played on a gambling boat for a week to win $10,000, three weeks later in Vegas and he had $187,000 to his name. This sounds like a script for a Hollywood movie and it was a launching point of Dan Bilzerian's poker career. He recognizes that he was extremely lucky, mentions Chris Moneymaker effect and the fact that poker circa 2005 was a gold mine. There were no training tools, and "even pros weren't good back then".
1:57:00 Around 2-hour mark we hear the story about Bilzerian's crazy Vegas prop bet. Bill Perkins tried to bet Rick Salomon that he couldn't ride a bike from Los Angeles to Vegas (roughly 300 miles) in 48 hours. Rick declined but Dan's was very much interested so he took the bet. With $600k on the line and only six weeks of preparation, Bilzerian enlisted the help of Lance Armstrong. On top of that, Rick Salomon decided to bet Dan that... he would die during the aforementioned bike ride which Bilzerian quickly accepted since if he did end up dying money in escrow wouldn't matter to him that much. Long story short, Dan ends up crushing the prop bet, finishing the race in only 32 hours.
2:08:00 The meaty part of the interview as far as poker is concerned. Again, we hear about the $54,000,000 score. Turns out Bilzerian won it in a series of heads-up games against an anonymous billionaire. At one point in the game, he had $18,000,000 in his stack and was covered so it was possible that he could be put to a decision for the entirety of that humongous stack. Answering Joe's question, Bilzerian states that he won 14-15 million dollars in a single hand of poker though he didn't give us more details. Dan didn't shy away from playing with his entire net worth at the table (which, while dangerous and incorrect from bankroll management state point is probably the only way one could win so much money playing poker).
Dan explains how complicated and stressful poker is. Bilzerian talks about the fact that he learned most of the strategy back in college when it was far less complicated than it is now. He mentioned how advanced the state of poker knowledge is nowadays and how online game started to resemble a 'math video game' due to the ubiquity of poker software which in his opinion makes the game less pure. He wouldn't play online anymore as he's aware that he couldn't compete with online pros (this somewhat uncharacteristic humble remark by him goes a long way in making his stories more credible). Bilzerian talks about live poker and explains that while there are no movie style obvious tells you can gain an edge by studying the psychology and circumstances of your opponents.
As for the non-poker related stuff, Bilzerian talks about the origin of his social media career, his time in the army, stem cells, fighting and mushroom trips (pretty much the standard gauntlet of topics as far as JRE podcast is concerned).
What Did We Learn?
While we can go on a tangent about the dangers of celebrity culture and while some of Bilzerian's ideas might be superficial he's not evil and he's not even a douchebag so many label him as. He seems like a nice enough guy who's perhaps a bit misguided when it comes to some aspects of life but then again, no one is perfect. As far as poker is concerned his stories actually make a lot more sense in the context of a three-hour long conversation than they do when we hear them as a soundbite or a title of a news story.
Bilzerian seems to know what he's talking about when poker is a subject matter. If we couple that with his extremely intense way of living, addicting personality and the fact that he was able to gain access to crazy high stakes poker games suddenly stories about winning $54,000,000 in a series of heads-up games don't sound as outrageous.
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