The Setup by Dan Bilzerian: Summary & Notes

Rating: 8/10

Available at:

Related: Lucifer’s Banker, American Desperado


The near-unbelievable story of Dan Bilzerian’s rise, as told by the man himself.

Regardless of what you think of Dan, there are lessons in here for everyone on the importance of “The Setup,” branding, and working towards a goal.

He covers everything from his childhood, to his wild parties, to the strategy behind his marketing and poker.

Highly entertaining.


  • Never gamble when the game is rigged, unless you rigged it (in this case referring to battling the government).
  • Understand the value of your time. Pay someone to do the things that you don’t like or that aren’t worth your time.
  • The best way to attract others to you is to live a fun and interesting life and not be tied to the outcome of others liking you.
  • A big ego is a good target for betting.
  • When going through something difficult, set achievable goals. Take things a day, or an hour, or a minute at a time. You can do anything for a minute.
  • The ability to learn is far more valuable in the long run than natural talent.
  • The setup is one of the most overlooked things in life. Think more about how your environment affects your outcome.
  • Going into the military after high school and then going to college can be a great move. It gives you some time to grow and learn more about what you want to do. You’ll likely get into a better school, and be more mature. And you may have your school and medical benefits paid for too.
  • Bilzerian’s poker strategy: be perceived as a rich, poor poker player, and play in private games with other poor players.
  • The first step towards succeeding at anything is cramming the most experience into the shortest period of time. For Bilzerian and poker, this meant playing 10 simultaneous tables for fourteen hours per day.
  • In all situations in life, the person willing to walk has all the power.
  • The quickest way to build trust is to answer truthfully even when you know the person won’t like your answer.
  • One of the most detrimental parts of poker is that it forces you to mute your emotions.
  • It’s much more impressive to find out someone is rich when they haven’t mentioned it.
  • “There is nothing better in this world than doing something for someone and having that person be truly appreciative.”
  • Your body is capable of ten times more than your mind thinks possible.
  • People think money can buy happiness, but it can only buy pleasure. Those are very different things.
  • Happiness comes from doing things you love and being at peace with yourself. It’s a state of mind and can last a lifetime.
  • Pleasure needs to be fed. It comes from self-indulgence and is addictive. The more you indulge, the more you need to get the same high.
  • Life is a game, and like any game, you must have a good strategy to win. The implementation of that strategy is the setup.

Want to get my latest book notes? Subscribe to my newsletter to get one email a week with new book notes, blog posts, and favorite articles.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.