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A High Roller Who Attempts to Exact Revenge on Las Vegas

18 October 2005

Las Vegas Sun

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Even after losing more than $3 million in a gambling frenzy over a three-year period in the late '90s, Daren Leverenz still thinks he can beat Las Vegas. He's even constructed a TV series around that belief, "Man Vs. Vegas," which debuts Friday night at 10 on CMT (Cox cable channel 57).

Leverenz is the star of this eight-show series, in which he attempts to win back the fortune he lost from 1997 to 1999. He has since repaired his finances and liquidated all of his assets to build a nest egg of about $1 million for his made-for-TV venture.

In the series Leverenz grabs tourists at random -- at ATMs and in elevators -- and hands them several thousands of dollars to play on his behalf.

"If they win, I give them some of the profits," Leverenz said during a phone interview from his office in L.A. on Monday. "But they never lose their own money. I want them to share in the experience of being on this roller coaster."

Leverenz, who made a fortune through investments in the market in the '90s, became a self-described adrenaline addict during his gambling forays. A birthday bash in which he turned $2,000 into $180,000 got him started; near the end he lost $250,000 in a single day the week Bellagio opened.

The 35-year-old resident of the San Fernando Valley town of Calabasas has filmed the series at the Plaza and Aladdin. His favorite forms of gambling are blackjack and baccarat, and he's learned to enjoy craps and poker. But he'll wager on any form of gambling -- even betting on NHL games -- and is unafraid of trying to beat the Vegas odds.

"It's all about attitude," he said. "You have to always be positive."

Sounds good, but our money is on Vegas.

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