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Catching Up With Jamie Gold: Poker Legend, Passionate Philanthropist, Visionary Entrepreneur

Jamie Gold is a remarkable figure in the world of poker, sports betting, gaming, philanthropy, and entertainment. His journey is not only a tale of individual achievement but also a testament to the power of using personal success for the greater good.

Gold’s philanthropic endeavors are nothing short of extraordinary. Through his unwavering commitment and innovative poker fundraising, he has raised over $600 million for various charitable causes. This monumental achievement underscores his deep-seated belief in giving back to the world, building community and leveraging his influence to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Gold’s philanthropy extends far beyond mere donations, as he actively organizes and manages numerous charity events, demonstrating his hands-on approach to making a difference.

The 2006 World Series of Poker Main Event was a defining moment in Gold’s career, where his exceptional acumen and strategic table talk were on full display. His performance in this tournament was not just about the cards. It was a masterclass in psychological battle. Gold’s ability to read his opponents and use conversation as a tool to secure an advantage was unparalleled, captivating audiences and players alike.

Jamie Gold was kind enough to spend an hour on the phone with me last week, fielding all of my detailed questions. The interview transcript is below. Talking with Jamie was an absolute pleasure. He is an uplifting and inspirational force.

Brendan:          Jamie, I’ve been a big fan of yours since 2006. Your intuitive play, your table talk, and your affable character.

Your charity track record, it is both admirable and astonishing. You’ve raised over $600 million dollars for charity. You’ve hosted or contributed to over 300 celebrity poker charity events. I think you must be the poker player that has raised the most money for charity, ever. In comparison, the One Drop Foundation has raised a total of $163 Million, and you’ve more than tripled this! Here we are, 18 years later after your WSOP Main Event win, and you are still engaged in all this charity work.

Question #1What motivates and inspires you for such dedicated philanthropy?   

Jamie:                 First, I appreciate it, and thank you for the kind words. I don’t ever look at it as a competition with other players or brands, so there’s actually no reason to look at whether I’ve raised the most money or not. It’s better to see that there are so many people in and outside of the poker world, including brands connected to poker through gaming and other ecosystems, that are so generous with their time, and have raised a lot of money and created awareness for really important causes. I’m really proud to see that we have such a generous community. So personally, the question was what keeps me going and why am I so dedicated to all of this? It’s been my whole life where I saw my mom, my dad, and my grandparents always caring about other people and what other people were going through and trying to help as many people as they could. And volunteering, being of service, and helping the world at large.

                            I was brought up in that kind of philanthropic way, so I was given that type of instinct naturally from my family.  Then once I was lucky enough to win the World Series of Poker, I was in a position where I wanted to figure out how I could best use that platform. If there are say 60-80 million people that have played poker in the U.S., and at least another 100 million across Europe, and 100s of millions across Asia, that’s a pretty massive audience. With all of the media attention there was an opportunity for a lot of impact. Now we’re going through another poker boom, with more people playing poker than ever. It will naturally start to get more coverage in media than it has over the last, let’s say, 10 years.

                            I found that dedicating myself to celebrity charity poker events, especially where I could help in the production of them, giving them access to thousands of celebrities and high-net-worth individuals. You have to peak the interest of thousands of people just to get hundreds of people for any given event. So the fact that I have met thousands of investors over the years allows me to help put together these events at a very high level. When you’re successful at something, I think you’re much more interested in dedicating your time to it. I found that I have a certain skillset that provides a lot of value to these kinds of things, and it makes me feel great because I’m helping people around the world.

                            Also, my dad was suffering from ALS, and that certainly drove me to connect with the ALS Association and try to help them as much as I could. Imagine getting 80 million people to put a bucket of ice over their heads?  So realizing that I also had friends that had Parkinson’s, and then friends that had MS, and friends that had all these different conditions that needed money and awareness to be raised so that there was a potential cure for everyone.

                            Look, we can all help the world and help others in different ways. For some people, it’s just by being kind to a stranger. For others, it’s donating your time at a local food bank. Or it’s being kind to the people around you. You don’t have to always have money or means to pay it forward or pay it backward. I’m just continually looking for ways that I can help the world, and I’ve found this to be a really great, fun, inspiring way to do that.

Brendan:             Wow, that is wonderful. I appreciate your many efforts and your outlook. You’ve really leveraged your main event win into something even bigger and better. Thank you so much, Jamie.

Jamie:                 Thank you, I’m happy to be in a position to help.

Brendan:             I hope this second question isn’t like asking Kevin Bacon to dance to Footloose. It’s about your WSOP Main Event win.

Jamie:                 No problem, really, I don’t mind at all.

Brendan:             It’s been 18 years since 2006.  Like many poker enthusiasts, I’ve watched tons of poker videos on YouTube, the high stakes cash games, the big tournaments, and so forth. Plus, through Las Vegas Top Picks, I covered the World Series of Poker from 2013-2018. I’ve seen countless pros play live. But when I look back at your 2006 performance, and watch some of those famous table talk hands, I think your performance truly stands the test of time. It was not only skillful but very original and highly psychological.

Question #2When you look back at your 2006 WSOP Main Event win, what stands out to you now? And how did you develop that style of play?

Jamie:                 Thanks for the kind words. So back then I had realized that I was not as experienced or as skilled as what I believed to be the best players in the world because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I felt like I was maybe the best of all of my friends, but a great analogy is just because you can beat all your friends at chess, this does not make you a grandmaster.

                            I thought I had a healthy sense of self-awareness in that I knew there was so much missing in my poker game, and I wanted to figure it all out. So I tracked down a couple of the best poker players that I had ever known, which were Johnny Chan, Chris Moneymaker, Chris Ferguson, and other players at that time, and wanted them to teach me as much as they could. But instead, what it turned into was more about business and finding ways that they could expand their brands. I had basically retired from representing talent. I would offer them services in exchange for them helping me be the best poker player that I could be. Some were kind enough to allow me to hang around, watch them play and figure it out for myself. Especially Johnny Chan. In seeing him play against some of the best, I then started realizing what I didn’t know. And all of a sudden, the lightbulb went off and I figured out, “Okay. Here’s where I’m playing on three levels, these guys are playing on seven levels.”

                            I then just went on a quest to figure out how I could be the best player that I could be, and I was still nowhere near the level of the best in the world. I just knew that I had to come up with a special  style if I was going to win the main event. This was my first time ever playing the World Series of Poker main event. And I knew there was a style that I could play that was working in all the LA tournaments, playing against a lot of the best players. I was playing against Johnny Chan and Barry Greenstein and so many fantastic players who would play in many of these tournaments, Chris Ferguson, you would see so many now legends in them. They were actually playing in some of these daily or weekly 300-500 person tournaments.  I started winning them consistently… these are not ones that were tracked the way they are now, would be interesting to see but I had a really great run. I would say that I probably won, let’s say 12 out of 50, which is a pretty crazy win rate. I’m talking about coming in 1st. 12 first place wins out of 50 events in 6 months  right before I played the World Series of Poker. And these were events with 300-500 people, but not for big money. I was winning maybe 25 to 50 grand but some of the best players were playing in them and it gave me such a great experience and confidence in realizing that I could talk people in and out of their hands.  They were allowing us to do that in some of the biggest poker rooms in the world at the time.

                            So I realized that nobody had really done that in my way at the World Series of Poker before, like a version of the Jedi mind trick. I started studying neuro-linguistic programming or NLP, and focusing on live reads and the habits of players. So that at the very least, if I could put people on hands with a relatively high certainty and I basically knew within a range of what everybody was playing, I could read their body language and know where I was. I could also talk them in and out of their hands most often  which they weren’t used to. And then a really big move was telling the truth.

                            In general, no poker player had been known for telling the truth. They were known for bluffing or disguising the strength of their hands. I just figured, “You know what? I’m just going to tell people what I have and no one’s ever going to believe me.” And that worked really well. I would tell people I had the nuts and they would go all in against me. And I would tell people I had nothing and they would fold. They just assume that as poker player, I wouldn’t tell the truth. So I figured out that I had all these little edges, which were fair to use.

Brendan:             And it was often heads up, so I didn’t see what the big deal was.

Jamie:                 Yes, it was almost always heads up. Those days were certainly a lot of fun.

Brendan:             I loved it when you would tell people, “Oh, yeah. You caught me. You got me.” Then they would fold and they really did have you, but you won because you got them to fold. 

Jamie:                 Yes, ha. I’ve obviously had to study and re- train my game, which I do consistently. I’m always learning and growing.  Every single time I play, I’m learning something. I can play a hundred times better than I did back then, I just have to play a completely different game now. The competition overall is so much higher. There’s an unlimited amount of information available to everyone. When I seriously started studying, there were maybe two or three books recommended to me, and there was no internet. There were no video training courses or similar methods readily available to speed up our poker education. I feel like I’m a much better coach and teacher now, and really like to help other people. I want to help this wonderful game grow.  I don’t spend my life as a poker coach, but when I have that opportunity, I like to give it away in charity events and things like that.  I take it very seriously when I end up coaching someone. I feel like I’ve made a lot of average players into really great players that couldn’t see how and why their game was stuck. I really enjoy doing that with people.

                            I can help somebody become a better player in the same way that really great players have helped me become a better player. That’s the beauty of the game of poker is that you can always get better. It’s a never-ending journey of learning. The game evolves and changes every couple of years and it does not play anywhere near the way that it used to. It is most noticeable in the way that everyone’s playing against you. People are playing GTO and using solvers. If you’re not on top of your game and consistently learning and getting better, you’re going to be left behind.

                            Anybody who’s playing the same game they did 10 years ago, they just have a much lower chance of competing. They have to get so lucky in order to win, where I don’t want to put myself in that position. I want to make it so that I have to get unlucky in order to lose.

Brendan:             Exactly.

Jamie:                 Right? There’s a big difference and many people don’t understand that.  I prefer to play where the only way I’m losing is by getting unlucky, as opposed to the only way I am winning is by getting lucky. Everything leading up to those final choices is key too.

Brendan:             That’s a stellar distinction, right.

Jamie:   So poker players usually understand that. I worked very hard to put myself into positions where I can get lucky, but I am not playing a game that is based on me getting lucky for overall success in the long term.

Brendan:             Right. And again, your being able to adapt I believe is critical.

Jamie:                 Yeah, that’s true. A lot of people are closed-minded in that way, they think once they master a skill, one area of poker, they think they’re complete, which is impossible. You can never master the game, which is so beautiful. You can’t be closed off to learning. And I look at it as it’s such a wonderful thing that I can learn and get better for the rest of my life. I will never be a perfect player. There’s no such thing.

Brendan:             Perhaps it’s part of that attitude and approach that just keeps you in the game and on top.

Jamie:                 On top is a very subjective opinion and I don’t judge my life in that way. I am on the best path that I can be. I had to take so many years away from the public part of competing  for business or personal reasons. Going through long COVID and all the craziness that was happening there. So, I would say that I have the potential to compete at the highest level of the game. I’m just now getting back into it… I probably play maybe 15 tournaments a year, and about 10 of them are at the World Series of Poker. That’s including online. Otherwise, I play a lot of cash games and I play online…I can’t play tournaments every day and stay inspired with the game. I can do that during the summer and play in the World Series of Poker, but I couldn’t do that daily all year round.

Brendan:             I hear you.

Jamie:                 There has to be a mix for me.

Brendan:             Can I ask you two related cash game questions?

Jamie:                 Sure.

Brendan:             Question #3:  Would you ever consider Hustler Casino Live or any of those televised cash games happening now? Would that be fun for you?

Jamie:                 Yes definitely. I used to play in High Stakes Poker and then I was playing in Poker After Dark, and then the pandemic happened. Probably just six months before the pandemic happened, I played on the Poker After Dark series. And then all of a sudden, the pandemic happened, and Hustler Casino Live was created after. They are my friends and have built something impressive.  I just haven’t been back in LA. I am certainly planning on doing that show in the future.

Brendan:             Awesome.

Question #4: This is about an old infamous hand. There are so many great cash game hands, but that one with Sammy Farha is pretty legendary, kings versus aces. I think you saved yourself $180,000 at the end. Your take?

Jamie:                 You are educated in the game enough to see that. It’s not that I lost. It is that based on the setup of the cards, I was not going to get away from that hand except by saving myself $180,000 at the end. It is not just my opinion. I was sitting at a table with Doyle Brunson, Barry Greenstein, all these legends assuring me they all go broke in that spot.

Brendan:             Interesting.

Jamie:                 That night, it seemed all Sammy wanted to do was create the biggest pots possible, he was playing like a maniac. Not sure why he was playing wild that night, but he was, and here I am, watching this the whole day, and we’re near the end of the session, and the maniac is on the button raising, and I have kings in the big blind…yeah I’m never getting away from that hand pre flop.

Brendan:             Of course.

Jamie:                 If an ace came on the flop, of course you can get away from it. What are the chances that he has aces?  I’ll take my odds I have the best hand in this situation. And obviously, I figured out very quickly that I did not. I soon knew he had aces or kings because he’s not likely playing queens that way against me, knowing that I have aces or kings or at worst ace king, I guess I could have queens too for the first part of the hand .  He knew I had a very big hand. So once he kept playing back at me, I thought, “All right, I’m in trouble now.” I’m hoping that he has kings for the chop now. It’s possible. It happens. You play enough. You see that happen. So, my job was to confuse him enough to get him to check. And the only way I knew how to do it, where I was so engrossed in this whole thing, was…I just got a little nutty myself and tried to figure out a way that he would check that river. And so, that’s what I did and that’s how the hand played out. And people were saying that it was because we were friends. And I said, “We weren’t that friendly.” I mean, we weren’t enemies, but…

Brendan:             No, your play was great. I thought for sure he wanted to maximize.

Jamie:                 Then he thought I might actually have a ten in my hand. It’s a bit embarrassing for me to watch myself, but was fun for others to watch I’m told.

Brendan:             Yes, and you were ready to call so quick, you kept saying it. It slowed him down. It stopped him in his tracks. And yeah, you saved money. It was amazing.

Jamie:                 I’m so glad that worked, but if he shoved the river, I fold. Because what other hand could he have at the end point? He’s never doing it with queens.   

Brendan:             Yes. It was such a setup.

Jamie:                 Yeah. It was an unfortunate situation but somehow I got out of it. And then, look, there was the really fortunate one against Patrick Antonius, even when I misplayed my hand.  I didn’t know my opponent well enough, had never played against him before. I didn’t know that there’s no way he’s shoving in unless he had a straight in that spot, because he knew that I could easily have a set. So, it was a poor play on my part and I got really lucky.

Brendan:             I wish you would’ve ran it twice.

Jamie:                 Me too, and he wanted me to.

Brendan:             Yeah, he did.

Jamie:                 And he only wanted to go one and I asked him for three.

Brendan:             I know.

Jamie:                 That was hilarious also.

Brendan:             I was glad you got lucky on that!

Jamie: Thank you.

Question #5What’s your current life like? What projects are you working on?

Jamie:                 I am financing and producing TV shows and movies, as I’ve always been involved in some way or another with. I’m getting more specifically into sports and gaming content, which I love. I’m also advising a couple of tech companies, and just having a blast helping them with marketing and the growth of their companies.  Then I play poker, late night poker. And during the day, I usually take a few hours and work with my team, I have a team of 30 different people. We are a collective of sports bettors and data information specialists where we use AI simulations and some of the sharpest minds in sports betting, we come up with the best picks off the board every day. I’m having a blast doing that, and I’m sharing a lot of it for free just with friends in our Telegram group. Right now it is for anyone who wants to join our telegram group.

                            We’ve now proven this model over the last three years we’ve been documenting it. And we’re audited and verified running at 60% or better win rate against the spread…here’s the link:

Brendan:             Wow, that’s great.

Jamie:                 Yes, which is really tough to do. And we do it consistently. And everything is timestamped. You know, a lot of people make these false claims. I am very proud to be able to say it and back it up. Everything is timestamped, so there’s no faking it. There are a lot of people who give out sports betting information that claim to have these win rates, and it is simply not true. I am very proud that I’m helping a lot of people win a lot more money and lose a lot less. And at the very least, even if they don’t follow every one of our picks, they’re getting really sharp information and learning a lot. And so, I love it. I’ve been sports betting my whole life but not always a winner. And the fact that I now have information that can help me win a lot more and lose a lot less, it’s a joy to do it and to share it.

Brendan:             Very exciting.

Question #6:  What’s another hobby you love besides poker?

Jamie:                 I am a big consumer of content. Whether it’s TV, movies, sports betting, watching sports, betting on sports information. I’m just a sponge for information and I’m always learning something. I learn something new every day. I know it’s a cliché but it is my life. I’m consistently searching for information and educating myself.  I like to better myself every day and then figure out ways that I can then pass that information on to people. For many, many years, I would say maybe 20 years, I was really just focused on marketing, building businesses, helping them sell products or creating opportunities for other people. Once I felt like I hit a high level I see there’s so much more information that you can learn just with AI and all the tools that we have, we’re living in the most amazing time. And maybe, the most concerning time in history for many reasons.

                            But the positive side of tech gives us access to most of the available information in the world.  So anything that you want to be an expert in, you probably can be. I’m just constantly trying to better myself and learn from all the people who’ve done it at the highest level in the past. I digest a collective set of information from all those people. Whether it is in film and television or in marketing or in sports betting, or in poker, I’m just on a constant path of learning and trying to be better every day. I can then be that much more valuable to everyone that I’m working with.

Brendan:             Such good stuff. You should really be on Joe Rogan. I think he would love talking to you. He and his interesting guests cover many topics like this in great detail.

Jamie:                 I would be honored to be on Joe Rogan’s podcast. I’ve enjoyed many of his shows.

Brendan:             Question #7What life advice would you give to young people in their 20s?

Jamie:                 Great question. I would say, first of all, don’t follow any path that you feel like you are born into or expected to. Meaning that if your parents went to a university at a certain age or went to law school or went to medical school…don’t follow anyone else’s path other than your own. Figure out what you’re interested in, what you have a talent for, and focus on that. Become an expert in whatever area that you are interested in. Instead of focusing on ten different things, focus on one thing first, become an expert at that. And then all the other things that you ever want to do in your life will be so much easier because you will have this skillset in one area that you are an expert in, people will take you more seriously.

                            Now if you do want to go the common university path, great. The amount of money often spent there could be your investment in a different life though.  You can also go later in life, education is always there. Just don’t feel like you have to follow the 9-5 path that most people are born into. I think that too many people do what they’re expected to do, and they’re miserable, right? They’re supposed to have children by a certain age. They’re supposed to do so many things…not everyone has to follow the same path. We can all enjoy our life. Some people’s lives will be working 9-5 jobs, some people’s lives won’t be. And now, you can basically do anything. Almost anything, I should say, from home or in an alternative way.

                            There’s unlimited opportunity for personal growth. Then, when you decide you want to do something, find a mentor. Someone who’s already been successful in the area that you’re interested in. Be coachable and work for free and donate your time… what’s the one thing you have to offer? Time. Donate your time in exchange for a priceless lesson from someone who’s been there already. And I think too many young people feel like they’re entitled. Lose that sense of entitlement. Be humble. The world doesn’t owe you anything. Offer value to people. Give them your time, give them your energy. And in exchange, learn as much as you can from them so that you are then educated in the world that you want to be in, as opposed to expecting for people to pay you to do a job that you’ve never done before. Be loyal and give back.

                          I worked for free through my college years. I worked all my Christmas breaks, all my summer breaks. Now collectively, if you put it together, I probably only worked a year for free. But as an intern, I knew that I wanted to be a talent agent, so I worked for free for a famous talent agent. Worked my butt off and made sure that I had a job waiting for me when I got out of school. And that’s why I was an agent before I was 21 years old, not because I got lucky.

                            Luck has been a big part of my life but I believe that you create most of your own luck. I worked really hard to then get lucky. A lot of people have said to me, “I should have been the one to win the World Series of Poker.”

                            And I say, “What year did you play?”

                            “Oh, I didn’t play in it.”

                            “Oh. So you weren’t even in it, but you feel like you deserve to have won it.” Do you realize that you actually have to put yourself in a position? Because they’ll say to me, “You just got so lucky.” Yes, of course I did.  I also worked really hard to put myself in a position to get lucky. And you have to show up. 75% of success is often about putting in the time and effort.

Brendan:             I like what you said, just putting yourself in a good position. Working hard and putting yourself in the position to be fortunate or lucky.

Jamie:                 Right.

Brendan:            Two more questions from another Las Vegas Top Picks staff member.

Question #8:  You made a lot of big, bold plays during your main event run. Do you make the same plays today? If so, what enables that?

Jamie:                 I would make the same plays today if I had the same reads on the players, but the game and the players have changed so much.

                            Generally I trust my reads and try to get it in good. For example, for last year’s World Series of Poker, Main Event I made it pretty deep, four and a half days deep, almost five. And then I got knocked out. You know how I got knocked out? By getting it in with the best of it. I had queens, the guy had jacks. That’s how I want my money in. You’re rarely going to get it in better than an 80% favorite. I think winning that would’ve put me in the top 10. Actually I’m telling a bad beat story now so let’s stop that. My apologies. Those are so boring.

                            And so yes, I would make those same plays today. And so you asked what inside me enables that? I think that I’ve always trusted my gut and I work really hard so that I can make the right read on people, and that I usually know where I am at in a hand. So if you know where you’re at and you know you’re getting it in good, I will always make big plays….that’s what enables me. I have no fear as long as I feel that my read is right. 

Question #9:  You constantly ate blueberries during the 2006 Main Event. Did you know the health benefits at the time or did you simply like them?

 Jamie:                I have been a fan of blueberries my entire life, as far as I can remember. I would say from three or four years old, my mom would tell you that it was always my favorite food. Did I know all the health benefits then? No. But as I got older, I certainly understood  the health benefits. That it was a brain food and it was something that also made me feel better.  The benefits that it would accelerate your brain function in certain areas. I was also a big proponent of clean eating, sleep patterns, hydration, ozone, hyperbaric oxygen, truly clean water. People thought I was nuts. I think that these life hacks are common knowledge now.

Brendan:             Correct. Ahead of your time.

Jamie:                 I wasn’t thinking of myself as so special. I just knew it was my path. It’s not as if I’m perfect by any stretch, or do everything for ultimate health as I have hedonistic tendencies. I do my best to eat as clean and as sharply as possible for mental health. Especially during the World Series of Poker where if you’re at  5% less because you’re dehydrated, and people think, “I’m drinking water all day,” that’s not the point. You’re usually drinking toxic water.

                            It’s a fine line between being dehydrated and drinking things that will help you mentally. So yeah, I’ve always been a big proponent of that. I had a hyperbaric oxygen chamber and an infrared sauna in my home 15 years ago when nobody had ever heard of that before. My best friend in Los Angeles, Grant Haas, was  the one who educated me on so many of these things. I was into stem cells and some other things, but he’s taught me most of what I know about peptides and hyperbaric oxygen and so many life-extending things that I’m now using. I don’t know if I’m going to live longer than anybody else, but I’m doing my best to give myself a great shot of avoiding many of the pitfalls of aging.

Brendan:             Bryan Johnson would approve. Do you know Bryan Johnson? He’s the multimillionaire tech guy who’s spending millions on a “super health” treatment plan and lifestyle.

Jamie:                 Ah yes I’ve seen some of his videos, but I do not know him personally. I also do blood treatments. I believe very strongly in ozone IV therapies. You should look into it. Ozone therapy is very well-researched and well-proven. It was a key to my recovery when I was going through all the issues that doctors couldn’t figure out during COVID. It is fantastic. The more I read about it, the more I learn about it, the more I realize that, “Wow. If I had had that available to me my whole life…” And it saved so many of my friends’ lives. My dear friends Dori Zuckerman and Sue Melke have a natural viral cure that definitely saved my lungs during covid and has inspired me to help others get through these nasty lung viruses. I have an incredible network of friends and family.

Brendan:             Sounds amazing. I will look into it.

Jamie:                 I think you’ll be amazed at what proven alternative medicine in conjunction with standard medicine can do for you. I also have this great network of really brilliant people. I am fortunate to have people around me who are a lot smarter than I am in so many areas, and they are willing to teach me. Oh also, look into peptides and things like BPC 157.

Brendan:             BPC 157 and peptides, I will. I love health and fitness stuff too.

                            Jamie, thank you so much for all your time and detailed thoughts today!

Jamie:                 No problem, it was a pleasure, and thank you.


A Few Cool Links:

Jamie Gold Instagram:

Jamie Gold Telegram / Sports Picks:

Jamie Gold Website:

Jamie Gold Charity Work:

Last hand at WSOP Main Event 2006, where Jamie talks his opponent into calling an all-in from way behind, for the win!

The Jamie Gold Sammy Farha Hand, where Jamie saves himself $180-185,000 at the end:

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