The Setup: A Review of Dan Bilzerian’s Autobiography

06 Apr

Dan Bilzerian is one of the most talked-about figures in the poker community, and certainly the most controversial character we’ve had in recent years. The King of Instagram is as polarising as they come and now he’s put together an autobiography to give us an even deeper look into what makes him tick.

The Setup goes all the way back into Bilzerian’s childhood and chronicles his path into early adulthood where he attempts to pass selection for the Navy Seals. Then comes the move into gambling and poker, and the end is all about finding fame and the limits of excess.

The book was penned exclusively by Dan Bilzerian and not ghostwritten as many might have thought. And what a great job he did too. Entertaining and controversial in equal measure; a real page-turner.


For those who aren’t familiar with why Bilzerian creates so much controversy here’s a little bit of background.

The main talking point is his claim to have won his fortune playing in private high-stakes games against mega-rich businessmen. Those who don’t believe that claim are all sticking with the story that every cent came from a trust fund, set up by his dad full, of illicit cash from his days as a corporate raider in the 1980s. Paul Bilzerian spent time in prison for financial crimes and it has been reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission failed to recover most of the funds they went after.

But enough of that, this isn’t a judgement, only setting out the two sides of why Dan Bilzerian is controversial for the most part.

The other half has to be his style of social media posting which many consider flagrant. Of course, much of this, certainly from the male population, comes down to nothing more than jealously. This is a rich guy who is determined to enjoy his life to the full, and he doesn’t mind showing off a little.

The Setup – What’s It All About?

The text of this book cannot be described as anything other than no-holds-barred. Every gory detail you can imagine, it’s all in here.

Readers who know a bit about Dan Bilzerian might expect the book to be a project of him trying to influence the way people perceive him, but that absolutely isn’t true. Both the good and bad are presented equally in graphic detail.

Talking of graphic detail, we are lucky that the manuscript was ever printed, according to a story that hit the headlines last year. It turns out that workers at a printing shop were so disgusted by the content of The Setup that they staged a walkout and refused to complete the job.

An email was sent to Bilzerian’s team, stating:

“Several bindery workers saw the content of the book and have walked out on working that shift for the job. In my years, this is a first but evidently, the content was quite offensive to some.” Fast cars and guns are known to be two of Bilzerian’s passions, but the detail about orgies and drugs (with photos, of course) makes you realise what is really going on behind the scenes of where all of his Instagram shoots take place.

There is a great deal of soul-baring. Bilzerian has always been open about his struggles in childhood and how later he used to find it difficult to talk to women. We should also respect any man who has the stones to even attempt the Navy Seals training course regardless of whether he passed or not.


Dan Bilzerian’s gambling exploits are why most poker players will buy this book. They will want to discover just how he claims he climbed the ladder until he was able to play in private high-stakes games for millions of dollars at a time.

Those who follow his poker exploits will be aware that there is a mooted $100,000,000 heads-up match in the wind against billionaire businessman Alec Gores. It turns out that Gores is the very guy who Bilzerian turned over for eight-figure sums on more than one occasion. There is even a photo proving that a $10.8 million wire transfer took place.

Time will tell if this mega-match will take place but for sure everyone will want to see it.

Final Thoughts

In short, this is a fantastic read and comes highly recommended. Bilzerian and his team have done a first-class job at putting together a book that gives a great look into one of the most fascinating lifestyles ever seen.

Yes, he does rub people up the wrong way but in fairness, much of this is in retaliation to the abuse he receives on a daily basis. Don’t let this put you off choosing this title which, if you have even the slightest interest in the man and his lifestyle, will enjoy immensely.

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