Coaching Dan Bilzerian to a $10.8 Million Dollar Win VS a Billionaire
By Chance Kornuth
I’ve been playing poker for over 20 years, and I’ve had the opportunity to coach some of the best players in the world. But one of my most memorable coaching experiences was with Dan Bilzerian.
9 years ago, I randomly got a call from Dan and in his deep voice and no bullshit demeanor, he explained that he needed help preparing for an upcoming heads up match with a $1M buy-in against a billionaire in a few days.
Dan and I had played cash together a couple of times previously, and he actually stacked me in a $400K pot at Bobby’s Room (his JJ held against my AK) in 2013 which is still the most that I’ve ever lost in one hand. I hadn’t heard from him much since that night.
It turned out that Andrew Robl was too busy to coach Dan for his upcoming heads up match that Saturday with billionaire Alec Gores at Gores’ 11 bedroom, 21 bathroom, $70 million dollar mansion. Robl told Dan to give me a call.
Dan explained that they were scheduled to play $5,000-$10,000 No Limit with a $1,000,000 minimum buy in. Dan offered to give me a $10k freeroll if he won over a million dollars and I snap called! Based on my guesstimate, Dan would win a million about 55% of the time. For 3 hours of coaching, my EV was ~$1800 an hour.
While trying to mask my excitement, I asked Dan if there was anything specific that he would like me to prepare for the session. He said “Ehhh not really, just maybe figure out the range I can jam when he opens $100k in the dark and we each have a million.”
I was relieved that we weren’t FaceTiming as my jaw just about hit the floor…. Naturally, I said “No problem, talk to you Friday.”
Two days later, I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of Park Meadows Mall in Colorado, talking on the phone with Dan, while my wife was inside Black Friday shopping. We immediately got to work figuring out how to exploit Gores.
We figured out that Dan could actually jam any two cards profitably when Gores opened to $100k dark based on his expectation that he would only call a jam with A8s+, 55+ and KQs. It was also established that Dan shouldn’t overuse this strategy as Gores would catch on and would stop open raising $100K in the dark. Hopefully Gores wouldn’t wake up with a real holding right off the bat and call or Dan could be down a million bucks in one hand!
I was thoroughly impressed by Dan’s knowledge of his opponent. Every time I asked a question about his Gores’ tendencies or range in a spot, Dan immediately replied with confidence and precision. With the game plan we had developed, we both agreed that he was going to crush the billionaire at his own mansion with millions on the line. I was virtually already spending my $10k in my head when we wrapped up the call.
I couldn’t wait for Sunday morning and to hear back from Dan. On Saturday night, I was so anxious thinking of million dollar pots going back and forth based on my strategies, it took me forever to fall asleep. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait that long. I got woken up by a text around 4 or 5 am and all it said was “Owe you $10k”. I replied, “How much did you win!?”. When the next text informed me he won $10.8 million, I immediately jumped out of bed and called him to have him tell me some hands!
The one I remember is him telling me about 5betting pre with Aces to $1.5M and it coming AKJr. He ended up winning over $5M on that hand alone.
Getting a random call from Dan Bilzerian and coaching him through the biggest spot of his life from a parking lot in Colorado is one that I’ll never forget. My only regret is not insisting on a 1% freeroll rather than the $10K!