Inside Dan Bilzerian’s new book, The Setup he takes you on a rollercoaster ride through his early childhood, Navy Seal BUDS class, two hell weeks, extreme poker gambling, and endless sex and drug fueled debauchery inside mega yachts, private jets and supermodels around the world.
I will walk you through the Setup book’s core contents, I’ll reveal major themes and lessons as well as what I wish he would have done with this book.
What is the Meaning of the Setup?
No, it’s not a setup where the FBI had been following Dan for years in a black van in a criminal investigation that goes haywire. Although that would have been a great read too.
The “setup” is rigging the environment into your favor to produce greater results with less effort. Inside his book you will see how he uses the “setup” to get an edge over others and ultimately go from an average shy boy into an international multi-millionaire jet setting playboy without going to jail (for a long time that is).
Dan Bilzerian’s Childhood and the Source of his Pain
What most don’t realize contrary to what most people think is that Dan was picked on as kid as he was a quiet, reserved, more introverted type. He struggled with women growing up and was unable to talk to women, make it known that he likes a woman. He was not this extroverted cool kid that all the girls chased on campus that we all assumed.
Adding fuel to the fire, during Dan’s childhood his dad was convicted of a white collar felony conviction and became the laughing stock of his community growing up. Parents told there kids they could never hang out with Dan as the “criminal” behavior must run through the family they thought.
The combination of struggling with women and being outcasted in his community created a chip on his shoulder that would drive Dan to spend the majority of his life proving himself to others and the world that he is “enough”. He would not play by the rules because playing by the rules never served Dan in youth. He had to think outside the box and figure out new ways to accomplish goals. All in the vain of saying “f*ck you” to those who doubted him.
He loved showing others he was better and more capable without telling them. Letting them uncover it on their own was pleasurable for Dan. He didn’t want to tell you up front. He knew if you found out on your own it would have more impact.
Enter the Navy Seal BUDs Class and Performance Enhancing Drugs
At age 18 this led Dan to want to become none other than a Navy Seal as the ultimate “one up” against those who made life difficult for him.
A skinny Dan works hard to become a Navy Seal to prove to others he can do what very few men can do and that he’s a badass. That he’s enough. That he’s worthy. That others shouldn’t have doubted him early on, but mostly so he can get laid.
Dan would drive across the boarder San Diego, CA to Tijuana, Mexico to get steroids and other drugs to enhance his training capabilities. He felt that others were doing it behind close doors so why not. You will notice that a common theme with Dan is maintaining an edge and rigging the environment into his favor. Performance enhancing drugs is one of them.
When asked by a senior Seal why he wants to be one his response was just so that he can say he is one to others and often imagined how others would perceive him and how it would help him get laid. He did not share words like honor, duty, fight for country or to preserve freedom. I will say… you have to appreciate his honesty because it’s likely on every SEALs mind, but few would actually say it and just give you the same old canned patriotic response.
Due to injury he has to re-do hell week and keeps getting rolled back into different classes 229, 238 and 239 for violations that Dan claims the SEAL instructors were out to get him. This is an insane feat to do that not even active Navy SEALs would want to endure. He did each grueling task in training by taking it one day at a time and really one exercise at a time. Just getting through each “evolution” as they called it which sounded like hour long challenges in training.
Dan is nearly days away from graduating into an official Navy Seal when he gets thrown out of the class on a minor violation.
There is a lot of controversy about what happened with Dan’s Navy Seal training and if he ever became a SEAL. Is he making this up to sound cool? People don’t believe him but he sets the record straight and has numerous SEALs and officers who were in his BUDs classes share what Dan was like during training.
Dan realizes that being in the military is about taking orders to the T. Not questioning authority, not having a free mind to add your own insight, just following orders regardless if you think it’s the most effective way to get the job done. Because of this I believe Dan would have been a respected SEAL amongst his equal team members, but would have always been in trouble with the officers.
He likely would have always been treated poorly by SEAL leadership and this would have made Dan really despise his time in the teams outside of the camaraderie and brotherhood I’m sure he would have enjoyed. Dan’s unit would have been sent to Iraq or Afghanistan during the War on Terror in 2001-2016 and likely would have served many tours which would have beat the shit out of Dan mentally, physically and spiritually.
If he wouldn’t have been killed in combat or severely injured with a missing limb, he would have at a minimum returned back a very different Dan with severe PTSD. He likely would not have become the Dan we know today.
The University of Florida and Fraternity Life
Dan is now older, more experienced and built his confidence in SEAL training although he did not become a SEAL he did undergo numerous hell weeks and many months of training. He had money saved up, disability checks from the Navy, and was in a fraternity.
Dan would learn a skill that would serve him well for the rest of his life… sexual life that is.
The power of ratios. At the frat parties the ratio of man to woman would always be in the men’s favor, 3 to 1 for example, so that could be 150 women to 50 men, which made it easier to talk to women since through the law of supply and demand, the men would have higher value.
This fascinated Dan as and his frat brothers were able to experience sexual experiences with women they could not have dreamed of, and would likely never happen back in his hometown or when he was in the Navy despite training to become a SEAL. The low amount of men and massive amount of women made the women compete for the attention of each guy more than they normally would, which made it all that much easier for Dan to get laid.
Living and partying in the fraternity house taught Dan the power of having the right logistics. For instance, being able to walk 20 ft from the main party into your room and it was so easy to bring women back vs being at a far away location and likely being rejected if you asked her to leave a venue, all her friends, to go 20 minutes away in a car, where she has no idea where she’s going.
The partying would eventually take Dan into a place where he becomes broke.
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High Stakes Gambling and the Addiction Curve Begins
Dan begins playing poker to make money in college and study’s the game like a madman playing 18 hours a day for months on end. It starts out small with $100 hands but as this progresses he’s playing $100,000 hands and multi-million dollar games. He finds a way to rig the environment in his favor once again by getting access to the right tables – that is wealthy men who suck at poker and have a big ego.
Dan specialized in a certain type of playing and creating a “setup” that would increase his odds of winning and winning big.
Dan plays with a lot of well known A list celebrities which made me feel kind of sad to see how that celebrity spends their free time often doing drugs and messing around with strippers and escorts.
High stakes gambling takes a serious toll on Dan’s mental health and his ability to enjoy life. He shares that when you have good hand or bad hand or are bluffing your face is always the same, you have to hide any emotion or facial expression to not giveaway any clues to the other players. He seems to want to quit playing poker after some very significant multi-million dollar wins.
This level of playing poker shows how bad he wanted to “be someone” and how much risk he was willing to undergo to create the life he wanted at the expense of his own well being.
With Great Power Comes Great
Dan is now rich from poker and sets out to achieve every childhood fantasy he could ever imagine.
You will read about more orgies than all your fingers and toes. It will after a time get old and you will wonder if you are reading the same story again or this was a typo. Many of these stories are redundant and some will give you some real laugh out loud moments.
Dan doesn’t push hard if a girl ever rejects him for sex. He simply puts his clothes back on and leaves or kick the girl out. This is a way to reclaim the sexual power dynamic as you showcase that you don’t need her and you won’t beg like the masses of men will, but Dan fails to respect that women just want to spend more time connecting and building sexual tension before sex actually happens. If she is not ready, then Dan did not create enough sexual build up for her to be ready. Just because Dan is ready does not mean she is as men sexually are like switches and women are like slow volume knobs.
Dan takes all his lessons learned and perfectly executes the “setup” and would go on to create the biggest parties, orgies and shenanigans since the glory days of Playboy’s Hugh Hefner. Dan himself is shocked at what he’s created and couldn’t believe it too.
Dan’s fame would rise to that of celebrity status and would learn the power of fame when combined with the perfect “setup” equals unbelievable results like the world has never seen. It got to the point where A list celebrities are with him and more people are coming up to Dan than the person whose been on the big screen for decades.
This newfound fame would become Dan’s golden goose and his worst enemy.
To Commit Long Term or to Commit to the Orgy in the Hot Tub?
Orgy in hot tub wins.
Dan will fall in love several times throughout the book with each relationship ending the same. He cannot stay committed. He cheats. Like he cheats a lot it’s sad to read because his girlfriends are Playboy Playmates and supermodels. Like men would give both their legs for these types of women yet Dan self sabotages the relationship over and over. The poor women even come back to him numerous times hoping to reconcile yet Dan continues to repeat the same mistakes.
It is difficult to imagine what position Dan was in. Very few men in the history of the world have ever been in his position. You can’t blame the guy honestly. He’s throwing parties at his OWN house that have over 1,000 women and less than 50 guys and all the women want Dan, like forcibly and somewhat violently want Dan.
Perhaps a part of the problem is that Dan struggles to stay with one girl, likely because he didn’t develop the communication skills to have a relationship since he did not need to develop these skills in order to meet, attract and have sex with so many women, he just had to create the right setup combined with his wealth and elite social group of pre selected men for women to flock to him.
If you can have any model, instagram influencer or actress then it’s all too easy to walk away from women the moment she makes a mistake or does something you don’t like or is asking you to be a legitimate committed boyfriend.
The debauchery can only go so far.
Chasing Dopamine and Losing Himself
The partying gets bigger and wilder as Dan tries to outdo the last party.
I noticed it seems that Dan has few close male friends, a lot of people want to be around him and want access to his lifestyle but mainly for the status it gives them and the women it can bring. Dan worked hard to create this lifestyle so naturally he is reserved with what men he lets inside his inner circle.
The sex with women almost seems robotic. Like he’s doing it because he knows it’s awesome, he’s always wanted this dream life and any guy would love to have sex with the women he is, yet something is clearly off with Dan.
Dan feels lonely going from woman to woman, and surrounded by men who want to use him, take something from him, so you begin to see a common theme of just sex, drugs, eating, sleeping for literally 200 pages.
This is depicted in all the special exclusive events he gets invited to like the White House Correspondence Dinner, Cannes Film Festival and galas. He goes yet has no fun, and is immediately bored. There is not enough stimulus for Dan. There is no naked girls running around, no hot tub, and orgies. He always wants to leave within 20 minutes to go back to the hotel room and have sex and do drugs. He seems to be lost in his own world of chasing dopamine and see no point in anything else. Caught in a trap of hedonistic pleasure that he cannot seem to escape.
This takes him to dark places.
Finding Happiness Outside the Sea of Women
Dan reaches his breaking points after excessive partying as it causes too much stress and chaos in his life dealing with all these women.
Dan goes on small trips with a few close friends where Dan is most alive, grateful and genuinely happy.
He finds peace in the simplest of things like hiking with friends in Hawaii, walking on the beach and swimming and snorkeling in the ocean with friends. No orgies, real connection with real people that he actually likes and who like him without his “setup”.
He admits that these simple low cost trips were far better than going on mega yacht trips with 50 models and not finding any joy and wanting to just get off the yacht.
Dan reveals that pleasure is a never ending black hole that you have to constantly feed until it sucks your soul in too.
Happiness is found in meaningful goals, real relationships and doing simple things that often cost nothing.
Social Controversies Addressed in Detail
Dan responds with his side of the story to many controversial events like his trust fund, throwing a pornstar off the roof, the alleged girl who got kicked at a club, why he got booted from the SEALs, why he only had a few seconds on Lone Survivor when he was promised much more.
He shows evidence and images to support his claims.
And most people don’t know he redirected his jet to land and help out at Hurricane Katrina. And he was there helping in the Las Vegas mass shooting. Even when he tries to do good the media finds a way to spin it and turn him into a bad guy. Likely because it creates good press and gets eyeballs.
3 Key Lessons Inside the Setup by Dan Bilzerian
1. Always have an edge and rig the environment to help you get greater results with less effort.
2. A no f*cks given attitude increases your value as a man. Be willing to walk away from situations that don’t serve you. If you don’t need anything or anyone then you are free to do and say as you please which makes you an honest and authentic man. Others are more likely to respect you more since they can trust you, even if they don’t like it.
3. Aim for happiness as a priority over pleasure. Many men think having crazy drug fueled orgies is a prerequisite to be happy, but after reading this book having a really awesome relationship with great friends, inner contentment and authentic goals that matter is more than enough.
What The Setup Book is Missing
This is not a step by step manual on how to create the “setup” for yourself, but stories about Dan’s own setup and the funny outrageous results from it.
If he went into more details of what he was doing, and how he created it that would have made this book more valuable to its readers.
Like sharing insider secrets like, “connect with promoters in the city, tell them xyz, pay them xyz, have them do xyz…”
He could have reduced the amount of debauchery after the 10th orgy I get the picture. I often thought I was re-reading the same story and thought he might have double printed the same page. Instead go more into details on how the reader can create the perfect “setup” for himself.
I’d like to know his thoughts on marriage, pre nuptial agreements, long term relationships, and having kids does he want one? Is he polyamorous? How does that work?
Why does he think his attempts at relationships failed outside of just having too much abundance? What would he have done better? And what is he currently doing today?
He does not address the financial troubles of his company Ignite. His company is public and the financial statements are available and it shows a company in disarray. New leadership too frequently, bad financials for the size of the company. I would like to have heard more on this side of the story too.
Where he is going next? What are his biggest goals for the next decade? The book sort of ends with a final story then he gives you 2 pages of motivation to go out and create a sick life.
My Recommendations to Dan Bilzerian
On social media be more vulnerable about your journey, you did at times in your book and it changed my perspective of you. More people should see this side of you. It would establish more trust and a bond rather than just look at your channel and say “wtf is going on this guy is nuts”, but people need to understand that you started with many of the same challenges your follower base has, but you used “the setup” to get ahead in life and so can they.
The biggest shocker for me was that Dan… is actually like me. He’s a guy who was picked on as a kid and struggled with women. Who failed at many things in his life that he put his heart and soul into. He was able to still accomplish his dream beyond anything he thought possible and this to could be my reality if I create the perfect “setup”.
I do not think the masses understand that Dan is like them, and that is very sad.
If you are interested in learning how to create an epic social life of like-minded men and create high-quality relationships learn more about the work I do with men.