Cash Game Question about leveling the playing field in a cash game

Legend5555

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So, play shitty all night and end up a winner because they suck out once. Yep, that's a drawback.

Listen, I know I am climbing an uphill battle here. I am trying to point out (and pretty successfully, mind you) that LIMIT is a much better structure for home games....ESPECIALLY for this home game. If the players are so worried about losing money that you would consider scratching cash and going to a tournamant structure to limit losses, then your structure is the issue. Limit fixes that.

I would also like to state that I am a pretty good no limit player, and in a cash game, much of the time NL structure is the better structure for me personally to win money. (If that was my primary driver, I would be at 2+2 and not here though). HOWEVER, it is more cutthroat and if you just want an evening of cards, it can send players home pretty early.
I enjoy playing limit more than NL overall. Though I also think NL is a better money maker for me most of the time. But it's hard to get people on the limit train because it's much less exciting.

I disagree slightly about the speed at which people lose money in limit though. Often with inexperienced players, they play WAY too many hands in limit because it's so "cheap." So you really have to adjust your stakes accordingly. That's the key. It's easy to burn through 20-30 bets. It just doesn't happen in one hand.
 

Zr1

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For home games i like limit. I want to have fun with friends and want the game sustainable. I dont mind NL if its .25/.50 or .50/1 and there is a cap on reloading. Last thing i want is one of my friends losing $1000+ in a night. I will go play at the casino or online if i want to play 1/3 or 2/5. A few drinks in and a $600 pot and the new guy makes a dealing mistake etc...not good imo. I think a NL game can be awesome if the stakes are reasonable. I just find limit so much more relaxed and people are more open to try other games. I like Stud and stud8 etc way more than holdem and its easier to mix it up once you get into limit. Obviously if its a more serious game thats different but i think its kinda stupid to do that when most people have a casino or card room within 20 minutes of where they live
 

Dugthefish

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So, play shitty all night and end up a winner because they suck out once. Yep, that's a drawback.

Listen, I know I am climbing an uphill battle here. I am trying to point out (and pretty successfully, mind you) that LIMIT is a much better structure for home games....ESPECIALLY for this home game. If the players are so worried about losing money that you would consider scratching cash and going to a tournamant structure to limit losses, then your structure is the issue. Limit fixes that.

I would also like to state that I am a pretty good no limit player, and in a cash game, much of the time NL structure is the better structure for me personally to win money. (If that was my primary driver, I would be at 2+2 and not here though). HOWEVER, it is more cutthroat and if you just want an evening of cards, it can send players home pretty early.
I agree with everything you just said. Only playing devils advocate and giving my personal belief as to why some players refuse to play fixed limit.
 

upNdown

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I agree with everything you just said. Only playing devils advocate and giving my personal belief as to why some players refuse to play fixed limit.
I think one of the biggest problems is that now we've got entire generations that learned how to play no-limit first. To them, overbets and going all in aren't just a feature of one particular game, to them, THAT'S WHAT POKER IS ALL ABOUT. So you put them at a limit table and of course they think you're giving them a scaled down experience, because all they know is no limit.
It wasn't my first poker game, but I too learned how to play no limit holdem before fixed limit, so I understand their experience. I had the same objections. Since then, I've learned the different games and I've come to appreciate them. But it's safe to say I'm in a small minority.
 

CrazyEddie

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I'll try not to repeat what everyone else has said.


Point One:

Allowing rebuys that are some proportion of the big stack (i.e "match the big stack", "half of the big stack", etc) is a stealthy way to increase the effective stakes as the game goes on. Playing .25/.50 with 500bb stacks is a much more expensive game for the losing players than playing .25/.50 with 100bb stacks. Limiting the size of rebuys to a static max buy-in (e.g. "when you're felted you can rebuy 100bb" or some other number) is a way to protect your weak players and your players with tight bankrolls. Letting stack sizes grow through the night advantages the good players and the players with larger bankrolls.

As many people have pointed out, in a cash game, between players with different stack sizes, the one with a larger stack does not have an advantage over the others. Instead, the better player has an advantage, and if that better player also has a larger stack, then their advantage is larger simply because they can take the other players' money faster because the effective stakes are bigger.

However, inexperienced players think that larger stacks give them an advantage, because it feels like it should. It's hard to persuade them otherwise. But at the end of the night they'll know the truth, whether they admit it or not, because they'll go home with an empty wallet and a very uneasy feeling about the game they just played.


Point Two:

Letting people take money off the table ("ratholing") is universally derided, but it shouldn't be. There are three different parties to consider, and all three dislike ratholing, which is why it's usually not allowed. The first party is the casino. Casinos want as much money in play as possible because that increases their profits. The second party is the winning players. They want as much money in play as possible because that increases their profits as well. The third party is the losing players. Because these players are degenerate gamblers and are mathematically illiterate, they want a chance to "win their money back". In truth, these people shouldn't be sitting at the table at all, but luckily for the rest of us they sit anyway and fund our hobby.

Accordingly, casinos forbid ratholing and both types of players applaud, both the smart and the stupid.

From a sportsman's perspective (rather than a professional's perspective or a degenerate's perspective) there's absolutely nothing wrong with ratholing. Deciding how much money to risk is an important part of wagering, and every player should have every opportunity at the start of every hand to decide how much money they are willing to risk at that point in time. Cries of "you have to give me a chance to win my money back" are fundamentally misguided; the first rule of poker that anyone should learn is that money ceases to be yours as soon as it goes in the pot. Money in someone else's stack belongs to them; you have no claim over it, and not a single person at the table owes you anything, let alone the obligation that they keep risking as much as you would like them to.

This, needless to say, is a controversial opinion, but I will die on that hill.


Point Three:

Talk to your players. Make sure everyone is comfortable with the amount of money that they can expect to lose on a losing night, including all the rebuys that they'll make. Consider the buy-in rules part of setting the stakes, just as much as deciding what blinds to play (in fact, even moreso). Talk to your players individually, not as a group, so that nobody feels pressure to conform to others' expectations. Try to help them understand that there's absolutely nothing wrong with playing a short stack against a big stack in a cash game, but don't expect them to believe it. Try to accommodate everyone's desires, but bear in mind that it can be very hard to set up a game with players who have very different bankrolls while still keeping everyone happy.

Good luck, and please keep us updated on how things turn out for your game and your group of friends.
 

CrazyEddie

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Oh, and teach them how to play fixed-limit mixed-game dealer's-choice. :) There's a reason that once upon a time this was what everyone played in home games, before the TV NLHE boom.

And that reason was IT'S FUN!

p.s. Welcome to the forum!
 

Poker Zombie

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My group is a social group of primarily $20 tournament players. Basically the same as @Toaster 's group (though mine is much larger in size).

Over 11 years of record keeping, the average Losses (average amongst players that finished down $1 or more) per session:
  1. Cash Game 5¢/10¢ NL Holdem: $15.05
  2. Cash Game 50¢/$1 Limit Holdem: $15.63
  3. Cash Game 50¢/$1 Limit Omaha: $18.33
  4. Tournament NLHE $20, 1 Rebuy max: $27.48
  5. Cash Game 25¢/50¢ NL Holdem: $37
  6. Cash Game 75¢/$1.50 Limit Holdem: $37.50
  7. Cash Game 25¢/25¢ NL Holdem: $38.75
  8. Cash Game 75¢/$1.50 Limit Omaha: $52.50
Of course, groups vary by the players and the culture they create. YMMV (especially where the 25¢/25¢ game has generated slightly higher losses than the 25¢/50¢ game).

When determining "risk", this table, while maybe not representative of your own group, is the best information I have seen.
 
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detroitdad

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From a sportsman's perspective (rather than a professional's perspective or a degenerate's perspective) there's absolutely nothing wrong with ratholing. Deciding how much money to risk is an important part of wagering, and every player should have every opportunity at the start of every hand to decide how much money they are willing to risk at that point in time. Cries of "you have to give me a chance to win my money back" are fundamentally misguided; the first rule of poker that anyone should learn is that money ceases to be yours as soon as it goes in the pot. Money in someone else's stack belongs to them; you have no claim over it, and not a single person at the table owes you anything, let alone the obligation that they keep risking as much as you would like them to.

Help me understand this train of thought. We all buy in for 50 bucks. I double up on the first hand. I can immediately take 50 off the table and pocket it. Then next hand I win 20 bucks. I can take it off the table and pocket it? So on and so forth?

Or am I misunderstanding something in your post?

Thanks
 

TheDuke

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My group is a social group of primarily $20 tournament players. Basically the same as @Toaster 's group (though mine is much larger in size).

Over 11 years of record keeping, the average Losses (average amongst players that finished down $1 or more) per session:
  1. Cash Game 5¢/10¢ NL Holdem: $15.05
  2. Cash Game 50¢/$1 Limit Holdem: $15.63
  3. Cash Game 50¢/$1 Limit Omaha: $18.33
  4. Tournament NLHE $20, 1 Rebuy max: $27.48
  5. Cash Game 25¢/50¢ NL Holdem: $37
  6. Cash Game 75¢/$1.50 Limit Holdem: $37.50
  7. Cash Game 25¢/25¢ NL Holdem: $38.75
  8. Cash Game 75¢/$1.50 Limit Omaha: $52.50
Of course, groups vary by the players and the culture they create. YMMV (especially where the 25¢/25¢ game has generated slightly higher losses than the 25¢/50¢ game).

When determining "risk", this table, while maybe not representative of your own group, is the best information I have see out there.

This is very interesting info. Do you keep track of individual player stats in terms of win/loss or just aggregate data?

And if you keep track of individuals, is this info available to the players? Just wonder how players would view this info. Thinking it would detrimental to the game if losers know how much they're actually losing and will quit. And may build resentment towards the winners as well.

It's one thing if a losing player donates $50-$100 in a weekly low stakes game. He likely views it as a relatively cheap form of entertainment/socializing. But if you post a list and show him that he's lost $5000-$10000 in the last year or two it's going to be a rude awakening for him.
 

upNdown

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Help me understand this train of thought. We all buy in for 50 bucks. I double up on the first hand. I can immediately take 50 off the table and pocket it. Then next hand I win 20 bucks. I can take it off the table and pocket it? So on and so forth?

Or am I misunderstanding something in your post?

Thanks
It’s a radical idea. I don’t like it. And if it is implemented for a bunch of noobs, make sure they all understand that they might get their fingers broken if they try that in the real world.
 

TheDuke

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Point Two:

Letting people take money off the table ("ratholing") is universally derided, but it shouldn't be. There are three different parties to consider, and all three dislike ratholing, which is why it's usually not allowed. The first party is the casino. Casinos want as much money in play as possible because that increases their profits. The second party is the winning players. They want as much money in play as possible because that increases their profits as well. The third party is the losing players. Because these players are degenerate gamblers and are mathematically illiterate, they want a chance to "win their money back". In truth, these people shouldn't be sitting at the table at all, but luckily for the rest of us they sit anyway and fund our hobby.

Accordingly, casinos forbid ratholing and both types of players applaud, both the smart and the stupid.

From a sportsman's perspective (rather than a professional's perspective or a degenerate's perspective) there's absolutely nothing wrong with ratholing. Deciding how much money to risk is an important part of wagering, and every player should have every opportunity at the start of every hand to decide how much money they are willing to risk at that point in time. Cries of "you have to give me a chance to win my money back" are fundamentally misguided; the first rule of poker that anyone should learn is that money ceases to be yours as soon as it goes in the pot. Money in someone else's stack belongs to them; you have no claim over it, and not a single person at the table owes you anything, let alone the obligation that they keep risking as much as you would like them to.

This, needless to say, is a controversial opinion, but I will die on that hill.
Well, if you're going to let people rathole, then the opposite end of the spectrum should be fine. Meaning you might as well get rid of table stakes if ratholing is fine. So the richest guy at the table can just bet larger than anyone else and win every hand. Equally great for the health of the game.
 

Poker Zombie

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Cash game data of individual cash-in cash out is recorded. Players may request any stats they like, but in the newsletter I don't tend to focus on losses any more than ESPN focuses on NFL fumble leaders. The data is available, but as you mention it would be heartbreaking.

I have never checked my own personal losses.

Instead, I share positive stats. Even loss leaders have stats that are encouraging. Each event one random player that signs up early will get a Personal "Stat Sheet" For example, here is what @Mrs Poker Zombie 's looked like in July 2018...
Stat Sheet Liz.jpg

Stat Sheet Liz pg2.jpg


For tournaments, it was a little more work of sorting and filtering to get the numbers. That data tracks every Knockout, finishing position, and rebuy (amongst other data not relevant to this discussion).

I could probably do an entire thread on statistics, but I suspect the only one that would be interested would be @TexRex (we have shared a lot of data over the years to improve our games).
 

detroitdad

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It’s a radical idea. I don’t like it. And if it is implemented for a bunch of noobs, make sure they all understand that they might get their fingers broken if they try that in the real world.

Why not teach the "noobs" the right way to play? I've played in a lot of different home games and I've never seen this as practice. If this is allowed I would be hard pressed to think that the game would grow. Most players, including myself would never take a seat there.
 

CrazyEddie

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Help me understand this train of thought. We all buy in for 50 bucks. I double up on the first hand. I can immediately take 50 off the table and pocket it. Then next hand I win 20 bucks. I can take it off the table and pocket it? So on and so forth?

Or am I misunderstanding something in your post?

Thanks
You have my post exactly right.

Consider it this way. We're betting on the outcome of some ball games (just you vs. me, not against bookmakers). We each put up $50 on the first game, and you win it. Then on the second game, you put up $50 and I say "No, let's make it $100. And you can't say no, because you have to give me a chance to win back my money."

You ought rightly to tell me to take a hike. You won my money fair and square. You might be okay with raising the stakes on the next bet, but maybe you're not, and I don't have any right to demand you put up anything you don't want to.

In cash poker games, every hand is a new, separate, independent proposition that the players are wagering upon, and in my view, it's not appropriate for one player to dictate to another how much money they should place at risk. That's the entire purpose behind table stakes in the first place - that players can decide for themselves how much to risk, and that they can neither lose nor win more than that.

The prohibition against ratholing came about because casinos want everyone to keep playing as long as possible. It's since been adopted by home games because players at home model correct behavior based on casino rules. I understand the impulse to denigrate ratholing, I just think it's misguided.
 

CrazyEddie

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Well, if you're going to let people rathole, then the opposite end of the spectrum should be fine. Meaning you might as well get rid of table stakes if ratholing is fine. So the richest guy at the table can just bet larger than anyone else and win every hand. Equally great for the health of the game.
Ratholing is an extension of table stakes; playing out of pocket is the opposite.

In table stakes, you can add on as you like (subject to maximum buy-in rules, if any) between hands. If ratholing is allowed, you can also remove as much as you like, but once again, only between hands.

Playing out of pocket means that you can and must put up as much money as necessary during the hand, no matter how much you have on the table.
 

grebe

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I'll try not to repeat what everyone else has said.


Point One:

Allowing rebuys that are some proportion of the big stack (i.e "match the big stack", "half of the big stack", etc) is a stealthy way to increase the effective stakes as the game goes on. Playing .25/.50 with 500bb stacks is a much more expensive game for the losing players than playing .25/.50 with 100bb stacks. Limiting the size of rebuys to a static max buy-in (e.g. "when you're felted you can rebuy 100bb" or some other number) is a way to protect your weak players and your players with tight bankrolls. Letting stack sizes grow through the night advantages the good players and the players with larger bankrolls.

As many people have pointed out, in a cash game, between players with different stack sizes, the one with a larger stack does not have an advantage over the others. Instead, the better player has an advantage, and if that better player also has a larger stack, then their advantage is larger simply because they can take the other players' money faster because the effective stakes are bigger.

However, inexperienced players think that larger stacks give them an advantage, because it feels like it should. It's hard to persuade them otherwise. But at the end of the night they'll know the truth, whether they admit it or not, because they'll go home with an empty wallet and a very uneasy feeling about the game they just played.


Point Two:



This, needless to say, is a controversial opinion, but I will die on that hill.
Yes, you will die on that hill. Totally alone.

Also, your analogy of sports betting doesnt hold water. It should be if you and your buddy agreed to make several hundred bets if you want to compare it to poker. Ratholing will kill a game because money is leaving it as fast as it comes on it.
 

detroitdad

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Ratholing is an extension of table stakes; playing out of pocket is the opposite.

In table stakes, you can add on as you like (subject to maximum buy-in rules, if any) between hands. If ratholing is allowed, you can also remove as much as you like, but once again, only between hands.

Playing out of pocket means that you can and must put up as much money as necessary during the hand, no matter how much you have on the table.

Still doesn't make any sense to me and I still don't understand/agree with it. I think it will eventually kill the game. If players are playing at uncomfortable levels/stacks/stakes then the format of the game should be changed.

I'm curious. Is this how you run your current game? Everyone is ok with it?
 

CrazyEddie

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Yes, you will die on that hill. Totally alone.
I'm used to that.

Ratholing will kill a game because money is leaving it as fast as it comes on it.
"Leaving it as fast as it comes on" is another way of saying "The stakes remain the same throughout the game."

When money enters a game and doesn't leave it, the stakes get bigger even if the blinds don't change. This advantages the good players and the well-bankrolled, and does so without anyone noticing.
 

Poker Zombie

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You have my post exactly right.

Consider it this way. We're betting on the outcome of some ball games (just you vs. me, not against bookmakers). We each put up $50 on the first game, and you win it. Then on the second game, you put up $50 and I say "No, let's make it $100. And you can't say no, because you have to give me a chance to win back my money."

You ought rightly to tell me to take a hike. You won my money fair and square. You might be okay with raising the stakes on the next bet, but maybe you're not, and I don't have any right to demand you put up anything you don't want to.

In cash poker games, every hand is a new, separate, independent proposition that the players are wagering upon, and in my view, it's not appropriate for one player to dictate to another how much money they should place at risk. That's the entire purpose behind table stakes in the first place - that players can decide for themselves how much to risk, and that they can neither lose nor win more than that.

The prohibition against ratholing came about because casinos want everyone to keep playing as long as possible. It's since been adopted by home games because players at home model correct behavior based on casino rules. I understand the impulse to denigrate ratholing, I just think it's misguided.
I like your POV. I wouldn't allow it at my home game either, but I support the idea.

In practice, I don't want players putting 5¢ chips in their pockets that I paid $3+ a chip to obtain/label. I also don't want to be running to the cash-box every 3rd hand. I also don't want "in-play" and "out of play" stacks anymore than I want spare decks of cards with the same backs sitting on the table as it could invite trouble.

However, if I'm playing at the Las Vegas Flamingo, and spot an actual "spotted bird", that chip will be in nobody's stack at the end of the night. :whistle: :whistling:
 

TheDuke

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You have my post exactly right.

Consider it this way. We're betting on the outcome of some ball games (just you vs. me, not against bookmakers). We each put up $50 on the first game, and you win it. Then on the second game, you put up $50 and I say "No, let's make it $100. And you can't say no, because you have to give me a chance to win back my money."

You ought rightly to tell me to take a hike. You won my money fair and square. You might be okay with raising the stakes on the next bet, but maybe you're not, and I don't have any right to demand you put up anything you don't want to.

In cash poker games, every hand is a new, separate, independent proposition that the players are wagering upon, and in my view, it's not appropriate for one player to dictate to another how much money they should place at risk. That's the entire purpose behind table stakes in the first place - that players can decide for themselves how much to risk, and that they can neither lose nor win more than that.

The prohibition against ratholing came about because casinos want everyone to keep playing as long as possible. It's since been adopted by home games because players at home model correct behavior based on casino rules. I understand the impulse to denigrate ratholing, I just think it's misguided.
So what are your thoughts on players lending chips to one another between hands.

You're playing 3 handed. Player A wins a big pot from player B but then immediately gives back the chips after the hand. They're close friends and may or may not pay each other back after the fact. You're player C. Are you ok with this?
 

CrazyEddie

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If players are playing at uncomfortable levels/stacks/stakes then the format of the game should be changed.
Well I certainly agree with that.

I'm curious. Is this how you run your current game? Everyone is ok with it?
Fair question. I'm not running a game right now. I'm hoping I'll soon have a small game with close friends. I don't expect it to be an issue either way; I doubt anyone would want to take money off the table. If they did, I'd allow it, but explain that almost nobody else would (including casinos), and I wouldn't allow it if the other players objected (which I doubt they would).
 

CrazyEddie

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You're playing 3 handed. Player A wins a big pot from player B but then immediately gives back the chips after the hand. They're close friends and may or may not pay each other back after the fact. You're player C. Are you ok with this?
If I think they might be colluding I'm leaving. I recommend this strategy to everyone at all times.

Note that "colluding" includes "having any sort of joint financial interest in the outcome of the game" which is why @Poker Zombie has been extremely careful about seating married couples, as should anyone running any home game.

If I know the players and trust them to be playing independently then I wouldn't care, but would certainly be wondering what the heck they're doing, and would probably have to rethink just how well I know and trust them.

Not sure what this has to do with ratholing, rather than collusion.
 

TheDuke

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If I think they might be colluding I'm leaving. I recommend this strategy to everyone at all times.

Note that "colluding" includes "having any sort of joint financial interest in the outcome of the game" which is why @Poker Zombie has been extremely careful about seating married couples, as should anyone running any home game.

If I know the players and trust them to be playing independently then I wouldn't care, but would certainly be wondering what the heck they're doing, and would probably have to rethink just how well I know and trust them.

Not sure what this has to do with ratholing, rather than collusion.

This is an example of ratholing.

Rather than putting additional money on the table, player B is getting chips from player A who is effectively ratholing those chips.

You don't see that?
 

CrazyEddie

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In practice, I don't want players putting 5¢ chips in their pockets that I paid $3+ a chip to obtain/label. I also don't want to be running to the cash-box every 3rd hand. I also don't want "in-play" and "out of play" stacks anymore than I want spare decks of cards with the same backs sitting on the table as it could invite trouble.
Practical concerns trump everything. :)
 

CrazyEddie

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This is an example of ratholing.

Rather than putting additional money on the table, player B is getting chips from player A who is effectively ratholing those chips.

You don't see that?
Yes, but the concern isn't the ratholing, it's the obvious apparent collusion.
 

TheDuke

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Yes, but the concern isn't the ratholing, it's the obvious apparent collusion.
It's not collusion. Player A is just lending money to Player B without additional money actually hitting the table.

This is being enabled by ratholing.
 
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