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Whether it’s in Las Vegas’ glitzy casinos or its seamy back alleys, Black Belt magazine columnist and poker pro Mark Jacobs captures the excitement with the vision of an insider in his new novel Pascal’s Wager...

Destined for a brilliant career in academia, Pascal Silver instead decides to be a risk taker. Packing up his unfinished philosophy dissertation he moves to Las Vegas to pursue his dual goals of winning the World Series of Poker and the only slightly less daunting task of finding the meaning to existence.

Low on cash, Pascal is forced to take a part-time job at a private detective agency. Now, with his boss out of town, into his life walks the gorgeous Allegra LaPierre. She asks Pascal to find out who murdered her father, casino owner “Houston Phil” LaPierre.

Using his uncanny poker skills, Pascal can tell everyone involved with Houston Phil has something to hide, including his ex-stripper widow, his knucklehead son, Bruce, and his old business partner, Fat Johnny, who’s in debt to a local gangster. Complicating matters, Bruce LaPierre is suddenly found dead in his office and the number one suspect is Allegra. Though all the evidence points to his client’s guilt, Pascal falls back on the famous wager of faith put forth by his illustrious namesake. He chooses to have faith in Allegra, not just because he’s gone head over heels for her, but because it’s a good bet.

But when representatives of the Chicago mob show up and tell him to drop the case, Pascal has to take his greatest gamble yet. With Allegra’s life hanging in the balance, he’ll need to pull off the biggest bluff he’s ever attempted to get her back alive. Even if he does, he’s still left with the question “Who killed Phil?” a question only he is shrewd enough to answer.

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