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My mother and best friend, Priscilla McDaniel, for raising me as a free thinker, teaching me acceptance, and how to solve problems on my own. May you forever rest in peace. I miss you and love you so very much!

Derren Brown, for his series on Channel 4 television in England. His work has been an incredible inspiration. I lend full credit to "The System", a special 2008 presentation by Derren Brown, for directly influencing the horse racing scheme of this book.

Nick McLaren for his overwhelming generosity, Bill Bailey for his compassion, The Kimballs & Merriams for their uncontested faith, The Arnolds for their love and support, Rick Arsenault for his participation in developing ideas, Lisa Morgan for giving me a place to work, my sister Karen for never giving up on me, Alison Dunton for her unconditional support, William Danton for introducing me to Roulette, Alan Frey & Gina Quintanilla for proof-reading my work, and Anastasiya Godyna for inspiring me to include a Ukrainian character.

There have been far too many individuals who have listened to me ramble on about scenes that I have written through the years. If you are one of those people and hoped to see your name listed here, I apologize. You have been extremely helpful by lending your ears. It would be unfair to create a list because some have been more helpful than others, and I couldn't possibly remember every name of every person who has ever assisted in this way. I am truly grateful to have so many friends! Thank you all!

1: The Players

A pair of lion statues stood proudly at the Bellagio Casino and Hotel entrance at the heart of Las Vegas Boulevard. The stretch of sidewalk preceding the hotel swelled with tourists. People from all over the world gather hourly to see the water show exhibit for perhaps its millionth presentation. For many, this might have been a first impression of Fabulous Las Vegas. For the tall, slender gentleman who pushed past the excited crowd, the musical light show was nothing short of an annoyance. Jack hardly noticed the attractions anymore. Even the tourists themselves had become part of the city's scenic backdrop.

Jack pressed through a group of Asian tourists. A toothy yellow grin glared wickedly in anticipation when the crowds were too thick to push through. Tapping his expensive alligator shoes hard against the sidewalk, he shifted his heavy briefcase between eager hands. A family of camera-ready immigrants hardly noticed. Finally, Jack tore through the group and found his way into the large wooden revolving doors to the front lobby.

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