Die With Zero: Bill Perkins Tells You to Stop Over-Saving and Under-Living

A new book by Bill Perkins preaches experiences over savings, encouraging readers to spend in ways that make them feel more fulfilled. It’s only natural seeing this kind of advice from a man who has made his reputation as a high-rolling poker player, appearing at the World Series of Poker and PokerStars events. Despite the author’s penchant for gambling, however, this self-help book turned personal finance guide is about more than just chasing thrill and whimsy. Unfortunately, amid an economic recession where many households are struggling to stay afloat, “Die with Zero” may not find a receptive readership ready to embrace its happy-go-lucky message to live life to the fullest.

High-Stakes Player

At the table, Bill Perkins is not a low-risk player by any means; he likes to play big with big buy-in events, big prop bets, and big dollar games. In the 2013 High Roller for One Drop four day Texas hold ‘em event, he managed to win 3rd place along with over $1.9 million. Just last year, Perkins clinched nearly $3 million at the Triton Million for Charity event in 6th place. Overall, however, he loses more than he wins when he plays in online poker games like those offered at the Betsafe live casino. A talented and frequent player, he can afford the losses - but not because he’ll win them back.

A Man of Means

While poker is a high-profile pastime for Bill, he makes his real money as a hedge fund manager. A University of Iowa alumnus, he graduated as an Electrical and Electronics Engineer before working as a trader in the oil industry. Now he manages Skylar Capital, an energy hedge fund - yet another high-stakes bet on his part and earning him the moniker the “Last Cowboy” on Wall Street.

When he’s not trading on the stock market for millions, Bill Perkins lives a jet-setting life of leisure. He likes to travel, gamble on all manner of things with friend and fellow billionaire poker player Dan Bilzerian, and enjoy what the world has to offer.

Reflections on Life

“Die with Zero” isn’t just a look into the philosophies Bill Perkins has as a man of means, but as a man entering his 50s with a family, his good health, and a robust social life. He emphasizes the importance of using the time you have to enjoy experiences while you still can, to not throw money at anything that sticks but to prioritize what you have always wanted to do or have been putting off and pursue it while you still can.

Much of the financial advice he espouses is convincing and optimistic. For example, the idea of reexamining inheritance and when exactly is the best time to give your children money. The thing is, many of the ideas he shares are not new to those who already have the money and life stability to exercise them. They may seem groundbreaking to a man experiencing midlife malaise, but this is old news to people who can afford it. If read with the best intentions, the book presents like a naive attempt to reconnect with a greater sense of self. At worst, it reads like a cruel and out of touch oversight of the economic plight that the majority of Americans are currently facing.

Timing is Everything

Maybe the unfortunate reality is that Bill Perkins’s mid-life crisis coincided poorly with the past year’s events to put the release date for “Die with Zero” smack dab in the middle of a pandemic-recession. After all, Perkins seems to be thoughtful, both in his philosophies and his awareness of the world. He is active on social media, not only sharing about his life but frequently sharing about current news.

If there is one thing the pandemic summer has seen an excess of, however, it is rich celebrities showing how removed they are from the everyday life of the American people. “Die with Zero” may not have the same viral potential as a tone-deaf cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine”, but it certainly has the same spirit.

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