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Alphas

Who is the Mystery Man that Replaced Hugh Hefner

His name is Dan Bilzerian. He is the poker-playing multimillionaire famous for blowout bashes that look a lot like Playboy Mansion bacchanals. Bilzerian’s 31,000-square-foot Bel Air, California compound is a place where “clothing is always optional.”

When the 37 year old bachelor isn’t at home in California, he’s often at his bachelor pad in Las Vegas, or snowboarding with Olympian Shaun White in New Zealand, or partying with friends in Tahiti or Ibiza, or racing dune buggies in the desert, or yachting around Italy’s Pontine Islands. One Instagram post shows him visiting Shanghai, China, “for no reason at all.”

In August, he and his brother flew to their ancestral homeland of Armenia, an adventure that abruptly ended when neighboring country Azerbaijan issued an arrest warrant for Bilzerian. Apparently there were allegations that he obtained ­grenades illegally and “demonstratively” shot off missile launchers at a gun range.

His high-flying lifestyle has earned him nearly 25 million followers on Instagram, where he shows off his world with no shame — PC or not. In March 2017, he created an uproar by posting a picture of himself relaxing in a hot tub and using a topless, bent-over female as a dinner table. “It’s national women’s day, be thankful,” he wrote. Bilzerian did not help his cause with critics this past January when he wrote “This #metoo s–t is getting out of control, guys getting their lives ruined over touching a girl’s back or hitting on someone.”

Still, the new age Hugh Hefner continues his fast-paced exploits with no apologies. Female attendees hoping to attend Bil­zerian’s parties must abide by his door policy: “If you come with ugly chicks, you won’t get in; I keep the parties exclusive and it becomes a matter of there being only so much space.” Even with his rules, some women will go to almost any length to party with him. “They’ll text pictures of their [bare butts] and for sure offer to hook up with me,” he said. “I get that a lot.”

Caitlin O’Connor, 28, is an actress and frequent attendee at Bilzerian’s bashes. “I’ve been to parties where girls are walking around naked,” she said, likening Bil­zerian to a modern day Hugh Hefner. “There are threesomes, foursomes, everybody doing what they want without pressure. These things happen naturally in Dan’s habitat. The girls there are all ­super-hot. They’re all 10s. You need to bring something to the table.”

She insists she and the other women at his parties are in no way exploited, or at least not in any way they don’t wish to be: “It feels empowering to be young and without judgment.”

Bilzerian gained public notoriety around ten years ago as a high-stakes poker player with a habit of posting his extreme exploits on social-media sites. One ridiculous video on YouTube had him test-driving a bulletproof vest by shooting at his pal Antonio Esfandiari. (The vest worked.)

When Instagram experienced massive growth, so did Bil­zerian’s jet-setting reputation. The son of super wealthy corporate raider Paul Bilzerian, he grew up in a Tampa, Florida lakefront mansion with an indoor basketball court. In 1989, his father, who had made a fortune from hostile bids on companies such as Hammermill Paper, was found guilty of stock and tax fraud and served 13 months in prison. “Basically, I didn’t get a lot of attention as a kid,” Dan told the Daily Mail in 2013. “I guess that’s why I’m such a flashy lunatic.”

Following high school, he completed 510 days of Navy SEAL training, but ended up bowing out. Bilzerian then failed to graduate from the University of Florida and began playing online poker, bringing as much as $100,000 in some games. He claims to have won $50 million between 2013 and 2014, eventually investing a good chunk of money in cryptocurrency.

Along the way, he developed a knack for engaging others with his tales of excess — gambling, girls, high-powered weapons and fast cars — and came to embody an aspirational lifestyle for macho bro strivers. It’s memorialized in a song by T-Pain and Lil Yachty that includes the line: “I get 10 Brazilians like I’m Dan Bilzerian.”

Bilzerian’s latest bash was the launch of Ignite Cannabis, the world’s first international legal-weed company, for which he is both the spokesman and the chairman. The event attracted an estimated 1,500 guests, was budgeted at some $500,000 (including $25,000 for sushi) and featured the mask-wearing DJ Marshmallow. As for whether or not the DJ hooked up with anyone at the party, “I’m not going to speak to that,” Bilzerian said with a laugh. “But any celebrity who comes to my house and wants to get laid is going to get laid.”

Big celebs who’ve partied at Bil­zerian’s pad include actors Adrian Grenier, Vin Diesel and Chris Brown, “The Hangover” director Todd Phillips and rapper Ludacris. As for female guests, they’re less likely to be household names. “Honestly,” said Bil­zerian, “I try to stay away from the famous chicks and LA girls in general. I personally prefer girls from the Midwest. They’re more appreciative. They haven’t been on 50 private jets and been to Dubai ­every three weeks.”

To make sure guests stay in line, Bil­zerian’s events tend to be seeded with security. At his bash for Ignite, there were 35 guards with rifles and machine guns. “If anybody was going to f–k with this party, there was going to be a gunfight,” he said. “Last time I had a party, some a–hole pulled a gun at the gate . . . We didn’t have 35 guys with long guns at the time. Now that is the ­policy.”

Though most people wouldn’t be all that comfortable around enough firepower to overtake an embassy, Bilzerian is no stranger to guns. He’s got an extensive weapons collection (mostly stashed in Las Vegas, where firearm laws are lax; his least expensive gun, he says, goes for $5,000) and has been known to put together Mojave Desert jaunts designed around bringing junker cars onto the sand and shooting them up with heavy artillery. At one such outing in 2014, he blew up a tractor-trailer — which resulted in allegations by Nevada authorities that he detonated a homemade bomb.

Arrested and briefly held, Bilzerian settled for misdemeanor charges (failing to extinguish a fire in the open), paid a fine and agreed to appear in a public-service announcement. In the video, which is viewable on YouTube, he deadpans, “Be responsible with guns and exploding targets. Jail? Let’s not do that again.”

One hazard of hanging with Bilzerian is that sometimes guests might be too wasted to even attend the shoot-’em-ups.

“I accidentally ate two big weed cookies at Dan’s house in Vegas and was high for three days,” remembered O’Connor. “We were about to go to the desert to shoot guns but I was so high that I needed to get a room. Dan hooked me up with one at the Hard Rock. Dan always hooks it up.”

While other people’s most outrageous ­experiences at Bilzerian’s digs would be something sexual, this does not hold true for the host.

“I don’t think it’s outrageous to hook up with a bunch of chicks; that happens all the time; it’s common,” he said. “Something out of the ordinary is that I got bit by an alligator at one of my parties. A friend of mine was there, a guy they call the Real Tarzan. He’s into exotic animals and brought over an alligator. We don’t sedate the animals or tape their mouths shut, which looks lame. I had alligators in Florida but this [one] was a little quicker than they were. I tried to catch him [but] he whipped around, bit me and left a scar on my leg.”

He previously kept a pair of goats, named Zeus and Beatrice, at his California home, ­although they are now living on a farm; Bilzerian can be seen on his Instagram posing with a pizza-eating monkey on his shoulder. “We’ve had almost everything [at my house]” he added. “Giraffe, snakes, monitor lizards, etc.”

In case that fails to keep guests entertained, he’s got a 16-foot-deep pool in Vegas, is building a paint ball field there and keeps a four-lane bowling alley in the Bel Air home. “We have had girls bowling naked and that didn’t help,” Bilzerian said. “They were just as bad as when they have clothes on.”

Dan has recently changed some of his dangerous partying ways, including the cocaine-and-Viagra binges that led to him suffering two back-to-back heart attacks at 25; then there was the pulmonary embolism in 2011. He’s also slowed down his alcohol consumption. “I don’t like anything that makes you feel like s–t the next morning,” said Bil­zerian, who, in 2016, acknowledged taking ­“d–k-enlargement pills, HGH [and] testosterone.”

For now, however, Bilzerian — who has had two serious girlfriends in recent years, Playboy Playmate Jessa Hinton and model Sofia Bevarly — has no itch to tone down his sex life or settle down with one woman. “[Hugh Hefner] was a legend and we view relationships in a similar way: monogamy is not natural for guys,” he said.

But even Instagram’s biggest party dude experiences his share of ennui. “For me [when it comes to sex], it’s more about quality than numbers,” Bilzerian said. “If I just want to [have sex with] a ton of girls, I can probably [do that with] 20 girls. I don’t want to hook up with a girl unless I feel that I will want to hook up with her again.” Besides, he added, “If there are too many girls, it becomes distracting . . . It’s not as cool as everyone thinks.”