4 Takeaways From Dan Bilzerian’s Autobiography “The Setup”

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  • Post last modified:November 1, 2022

As I logged in to Instagram, I saw Dan Bilzerian was throwing a party for the launch of his autobiography, The Setup

I knew he was writing a book, but I didn’t know it was out already. 

I went on Amazon to buy it and never…found it. 

True to himself, Dan had decided to self-publish. 

So I bought the book and began reading. 

I finished it in four days — the 125 000 words of it, or 7 hours of reading, more or less.  

Here are four takeaways from Dan Bilzerian’s “The Setup”. 

You can read the entire summary of the book here

This article is rated “S”, for spoilers. 

1. Dan Bilzerian Is Just Human

The story was known. Dan had inherited all of his money from his father, paid girls to sleep with them, and overall, did nothing with his life. 

Except that none of this seems to be true. 

Dan Bilzerian wasn’t born @danbilzerian. He became. Through hard work, failure, and overcoming fears. 

Dan grew up in Florida and Utah, and was bullied until he turned 15. 

Shy with girls, he never managed to get a girlfriend until he went to university. 

More than one person will recognize themselves in the story. 

Distant father, powerless mother, angry teen. 

Bilzerian is particularly open and vulnerable from the start, admitting he was just a lame kid. 

An image far away from the playboy insulting his fans online. 

The candid tone Dan takes to tell his story is almost emotional. 

Diagnosed with ADHD, he bounced from school to school during his teenage years. 

He was obsessed with girls, guns, and money, and never really managed to get neither money or girls. 

He began smoking weed early on, and would spend his nights searching for porn on television. 

One day, a group of boys taped him in the basement and threatened to release the tape if Dan didn’t pay them up. 

Fortunately, Dan’s friend saw that and destroyed the evidence. 

That day was one of the worse days in Bilzerian’s life. 

All of this eventually led him to turn 17. 

After spending 21 days in prison for having guns in his car on the first day at school, he did the only thing that would make him and his dad proud: he joined the military. 

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2. Hard Work Stands Behind Every Achievement

Dan joined the Navy with one goal in mind: getting into the SEAL training, which he did. 

When his legs started to hurt, he was diagnosed with bilateral tibial stress fractures. 

He was dropped and told to wait two more years before joining the next class. 

He refused, appealed, and convinced the captain he could finish the training on broken legs. 

Dan went until the end of “hell week”, then quit. 

He was given a four-month break before joining the next class. 

This time, he did the whole training, but somehow was dropped off the program 36 hours before graduation. 

When he was admitted to the second part of the program for the third time, they simply didn’t let him graduate.

Dan was not disciplined, his mindset didn’t fit the SEALs. 

He was playing a game he’d never win. So he abandoned, and went to university. 

3. Taking Risks Can Pay Off

Dan had noticed throughout his teenage years that his ability to sleep with girls didn’t depend on him, nor on the girls. 

It depended on his environment. 

The less attention he gave girls, the higher the ratio girls/guys was, and the more laid back he was, the more likely he was to sleep with them.

Instead of working on himself, Dan decided to work on his environment. 

His first semester at college made him extremely popular among girls. 

Later on, his brother taught him poker, and Dan got quickly addicted. 

He played online and lost all of his money. 

Since no one was willing to fund his addiction, he sold the few guns he had left and went to a casino, determined to try “one more time”. 

He played for 6 days and made $10k out of the $750 he had begun with. 

Considering himself ready, he went to Vegas and played all day every day for a month. 

After 30 days, he had made $187 000. 

It was more money than he had ever seen. 

He didn’t need anyone anymore. 

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4. A Growth Mindset Will Take You to The Moon

From that point on, Dan never changed his life. 

He just did more of what he was already doing. 

His new career as a poker player took him off the official tournaments and into private rooms where the rich and bad players were playing. 

Dan played against all of them. He made people believe he was a bad player backed by his father so a lot of people were interested in playing against him.

As he grew his network, he was eventually invited to Molly’s Game, where he met actors, billionaires, and movie stars. 

He befriended Nick Cassavetes, a movie director who hosted regular poker tournaments, and Bill Perkins, a Texan hedge-fund manager. 

The more money Dan made, the more he spent it to look rich, the more people believed it.

When he acquired enough money, he paid promoters $1000 per girl they would introduce him and that Dan would have sex with.

He’d bring these girls to the poker tournaments to serve drinks and give massages which made billionaires want to come and play against him. 

Dan is not shy about the origin of his money. 

Most of what he owns, he earned it against billionaire Alec Gores and millionaire Sam Magid. 

He subsequently rented then bought houses in San Diego, LA, and Vegas, threw parties, and hosted poker tournaments.

In 2012, he created an Instagram account to document his life and attract more people, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

To Conclude

It’s obviously difficult to cram a 7-hour book into a 5 minutes article.

The Setup wasn’t only the biggest surprise of the year for me, it was also one of the funniest books out of the 53 books I read in 2021.

The Setup is like if The Wolf of Wall Street had had a cocaine-addicted baby with Neil Strauss’ The Game

Obviously, Bilzerian is not going to earn the Nobel Prize of Literature. But you have to give the devil his due. He wrote a good book — by himself! 

The Setup, though, isn’t a novel. 

It’s a self-help book. 

Dan, maybe without knowing so, ruthlessly applied self-help principles throughout his life. 

It’s the only thing that got him where he is today. 

Reading The Setup, you will easily recognize Carole Dweck’s Growth Mindset, Benjamin Hardy’s Personality Isn’t Permanent, and Grant Cardone’s 10X, among others. 

Overall, Dan Bilzerian isn’t any different than you and me. 

He just knew what he wanted from the start, laser-focused on it, and worked hard to get it. 

One could say he was fearless. It’s his constant willingness to push the boundaries that got him where he is today.

The Setup is probably the least politically correct book there is which makes it the funniest. 

Dan shows you what is possible, and what mindset to adopt to get it. 


I don’t know. 

Probably more than that. 

For more articles, head to auresnotes.com.

Photo credits: Wikipedia

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