king of instagram plays poker

How The “King of Instagram” Plays Heads-Up Poker (Analysis)

You probably already know Dan Bilzerian.

The man dubbed the “King of Instagram” claims to have made his entire fortune playing poker — which has been contested (see: Did Dan Bilzerian Win His Money in Poker?).

It’s tough to know how Bilzerian approaches poker strategy because he mainly plays in high stakes private games. Back in 2017, however, he played an online heads-up cash game session (on Bill Perkins’ account) that was live streamed on Twitch.

The following hand breakdowns from that wild session will give you a rare look at how Bilzerian actually plays. (If you’d prefer watching to reading, watch Doug Polk’s video on this session.)

Let’s get started.

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Hand #1: Running Like Dan

$10/$20 HUNL. Effective Stack $3,647.50.

Bilzerian is dealt K J in the big blind
Opponent raises to $50, Bilzerian raises to $264, opponent calls.

Well played by Bilzerian here before the flop. K J is a standard 3-bet in this spot against a loose button raising range in a heads-up game.

Flop ($519): Q 2 T
Bilzerian bets $346, opponent calls.

Bilzerian has a clear value bet with his second nut flush.

Turn ($1,211): 5
Bilzerian bets $807.33, opponent calls.

The turn changes nothing and Bilzerian follows through with another 66% pot-sized bet. This size makes a lot of sense because, should his opponent call, it sets him up to shove all-in on the river.

River ($2,825.66): 7
Bilzerian bets all-in for $2,234.71, opponent calls.

At this point, Bilzerian has the second nuts and a clear spot to shove for value. Fortunately for him, his opponent has a lower flush with 3 4.

Bilzerian shows K J and wins the $7.3k pot
Opponent mucks 3 4

Hand #2: An Ambitious Bluff

$10/$20 HUNL. Effective Stack $7,956.72.

Bilzerian is dealt Q♠ T in the big blind
Opponent raises to $60, Bilzerian raises to $260, opponent calls.

QTo is certainly a playable hand versus a button raise, but Bilzerian’s decision to 3-bet is a mistake.

If his opponent were to 4-bet, Bilzerian would be in a bad situation in which he either calls (versus a very strong range) or folds (and surrenders his hand’s equity). Also, offsuit high card hands like this perform very well as a call.

Flop ($519): A A 5
Bilzerian bets $259.50, opponent raises to $620, Bilzerian re-raises to $1,780, opponent calls.

Although he has whiffed the flop, this is a better board for Bilzerian’s range as the 3-bettor, so firing a small c-bet is the right play. A smaller size would have been a bit better (~33% pot instead of ~50% pot), but his size is fine.

Versus the raise, Bilzerian has a very easy fold. His range in this spot should contain many strong hands that can continue against this raise (AK-ATo, KK-99, flush draws), so this hand, which is toward the bottom of his range, should hit the muck.

Bilzerian was apparently feeling frisky, however, as he turns to Bill Perkins to ask what he should do in this spot. Perkins responds “raise or fold” and Bilzerian goes with the former, making an ill-advised flop 3-bet to $1,780.

Turn ($4,079): 3
Bilzerian bets $2,420, opponent calls.

After his opponent calls the re-raise on the flop, Bilzerian should wave the white flag with his no equity bluff. His opponent’s range is likely made up of trips, full houses, and maybe flush draws, and Bilzerian should not expect those hands to fold.

River ($8,919): 2
Bilzerian bets all-in $2,496.72, opponent calls all-in.

The river completes the flush draw, so now none of the hands in Bilzerian’s opponent’s range will fold to a river shove, especially when that shove amounts to less than 30% of the pot.

At this point in the stream, Bill Perkins is in the background trying to convince Bilzerian to give up on his bluff. Bilzerian goes for it, however, and his opponent drags a decent-sized pot.

Opponent shows A♠ Q and wins the $14k pot.

Hand #3: Pocket Aces

$10/$20 HUNL. Effective Stack $9,482.14.

Bilzerian is dealt A♠ A in the big blind
Opponent raises to $60, Bilzerian raises to $260, opponent calls.

Bilzerian picks up the preflop nuts and 3-bets to 13bb over a 3bb raise. He was obviously correct to 3-bet, though a slightly larger size would have been more appropriate considering the extremely deep stacks (475bb).

Flop ($519): 3 2 4
Bilzerian bets $346, opponent calls.

This is a fine flop bet by Bilzerian with his overpair.

Turn ($1,211): 5♠
Bilzerian bets $807.33, opponent calls.

With the low end of a straight here, Bilzerian should lean towards checking or betting smaller because his opponent is not likely to call with many worse hands versus this large bet.

River ($2,825.66): 5
Bilzerian bets $1,883.77, opponent calls.

The river pairs the board and Bilzerian decides to go for thin value with his wheel. This bet is way too thin. If his opponent calls, Bilzerian’s best case scenario is chopping the pot against the same straight. Worst case scenario, he will be up against a higher straight or a full house.

It would have made more sense for Bilzerian to check and call a bet, turning his hand into a bluff-catcher on the river. This would give his opponent the chance to bluff with a hand like a missed flush draw.

Bilzerian shows A♠ A
Opponent shows 6 9 and wins the $7k pot

Hand #4: The Biggest Pot of the Session

$10/$20 HUNL. Effective Stack $9,252.75.

Bilzerian is dealt Q J on the button
Bilzerian raises to $60, opponent 3-bets to $260, Bilzerian 4-bets to $680, opponent calls.

Bilzerian makes a standard open on the button and faces a 3-bet from his opponent. With a hand like this, Bilzerian should mostly call — and he should always call if stacks were closer to 100bb.

However, since stacks are very deep (412bb) 4-betting with a hand like this at a low frequency is a reasonable play.

Flop ($1,359): Q 8♣ 4♠
Opponent checks, Bilzerian bets $906, opponent calls.

This bet by Bilzerian certainly has merit, but his hand isn’t strong enough to bet three streets for value, so he should plan on checking at some point in the hand.

Doug likes checking back on the flop, as doing so would protect some of the weaker hands in Bilzerian’s range with which he would also check back.

Turn ($3,171): Q♣
Opponent checks, Bilzerian bets $2,144, opponent calls.

The turn gives Bilzerian trips and he decides to bet big to set up a river shove.

Bilzerian has a very strong hand here, but this second queen on the turn generally won’t be good for his range. Rather than betting big, he should play his hand in the same way he would play pocket aces or kings. Specifically, he should check back and hope his opponent tries to bluff him on the river.

River ($7,399): 9♣
Opponent checks, Bilzerian bets all-in $5,552.75, opponent calls

When his opponent chceks for a third time, Bilzerian has an easy shove for value. Unfortunately for him, his opponent had him trapped with 8♠ 8 for a full house.

This hand was definitely a cooler for Bilzerian, but if he had checked on either the flop or turn, he may have been able to avoid losing his entire 412bb stack.

Bilzerian shows Q J
Opponent shows 8♠ 8 and wins $18,504.50

Based on this session, it’s pretty clear that Bilzerian would struggle to win online versus good players. His aggressive style may work in soft, high stakes live games, but he’s a fish in the water on the internet.

Would you have played any of these hands differently? Comment below and let us know.

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About the Author
Patrick Harvey

Patrick Harvey

Graduate student trying to make money in poker so that I don't end up having to drive Knish's truck.

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