Sunday, May 31, 2009

Justin Bonomo Leads $40,000 WSOP Tournament Field, by Brett Collson - Poker News Daily - 30th May 2009

With a starting field rivaling the most talented ever assembled in a poker tournament, it was assumed that the final three tables of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) $40,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em event would consist of the game’s biggest names. That promise has now been fulfilled, as players cracked the money bubble late Friday evening and the final 23 will prepare to play down to the final table Saturday.

Justin “ZeeJustin” Bonomo quietly, but steadily climbed to the top of the leader board to end Day 2, holding a small chip lead over Ted Forrest, David Baker, Greg Raymer, and Lex Veldhuis. Bonomo began Day 2 third in chips with 738,000 and rarely got involved in any big pots, pulling in small pot after small pot to increase his stack gradually. His biggest win of the day came by way of Marco “CrazyMarco” Johnson, who was eliminated in 33rd place after his A-Q was overcome by Bonomo’s K-T. Bonomo also watched as Phil “OMGClayAiken” Galfond and 2003 WSOP Main Event Champion Chris Moneymaker were knocked off his table short of the money bubble. Other notables falling out of the money were Nam Le, Kirill Gerasimov, Sami “LarsLuzak” Kelopuro, and Team PokerStars Pro member Humberto Brenes.

Forrest, who was inexplicably missing for some time after the dinner break, returned to take out Galfond in 29th place and play then went hand-for-hand. Alec Torelli eliminated Neil Chriss in 28th place just after Midnight local time, sealing a payday for everyone at the final three tables. The bursting of the bubble came with less than ten minutes remaining in the final level of the night, so a card was drawn to determine that six more hands would be played before the end of Day 2. Vanessa Rousso (27th place), J.C. Tran (26th place), and Sorel “Imper1um” Mizzi (25th place), all exited just minutes later and David “The Dragon” Pham departed in 24th place on the final hand of the night when he ran into Matthew Marafioti’s pocket kings. Each earned $71,858 for their two days of work.

The remaining 23 runners will resume play at 2:00pm and the last nine standing will return Sunday for one of the most anticipated final tables in memory. The winner will receive $1.9 million. Here’s a look at the chips counts heading into Day 3:

1. Justin Bonomo - 2,678,000
2. Ted Forrest - 2,586,000
3. David Baker - 2,367,000
4. Greg Raymer - 2,287,000
5. Lex “RasZi” Veldhuis - 2,103,000
6. Alec Torelli - 1,725,000
7. Keith Lehr - 1,257,000
8. Vitaly Lunkin - 1,166,000
9. Matt Marafioti - 1,003,000
10. Brian Rast - 912,000
11. Doshi Suresh - 771,000
12. Dani Stern – 762,000
13. Clark Hamagami - 691,000
14. Matt Glantz – 671,000
15. Brian Townsend - 671,000
16. Noah Schwartz - 541,000
17. Isaac Haxton - 539,000
18. Antanas “Tony G” Guaga - 481,000
19. David Chiu - 318,000
20. Neil Channing - 270,000
21. Andrew Black - 210,000
22. Frank Kasella - 167,000
23. Andrew Robl - 112,000

The $1,500 buy-in Omaha High-Low Eight or Better kicked off Friday afternoon and broke the record for the largest Omaha High-Low event in WSOP history. The $1,500 event attracted 918 entrants and generated a prize pool of $1.25 million. Defending champion Thang Luu is currently the chip leader with 73,600 in chips, but with 197 players still alive, the gold bracelet is up for grabs. Eli Elezra won a big pot toward the of the night to increase his stack to 55,000. Others returning on Saturday include Celebrity Apprentice runner-up Annie Duke, Ultimate Bet pro Phil Hellmuth, Todd Brunson, and Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi. Play is scheduled to begin at 2:00pm local time.

Stay tuned to Poker News Daily for the latest WSOP coverage. (Credit: Poker News Daily)

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Friday, May 29, 2009

PartyPoker Lobbies for Mike Sexton to Join Poker Hall of Fame, by Dan Cypra - Poker News Daily - 27th May 2009

With news that the voting for the Poker Hall of Fame is open until July 2nd, PartyPoker has begun lobbying for its ambassador, World Poker Tour Host Mike Sexton, to be among those considered.

Nominations are open to the general public. Interested poker fans can submit the name of their chosen nominee plus up to 250 words describing why they should be the newest Poker Hall of Fame member. During the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event, Harrah’s officials will announce the names of the top 10 nominees, which will in turn be voted on by the 16 living Hall of Fame members. In addition, select media members will receive voting rights. Each person will rank their top nominees, but “only those they deem worthy of admission in 2009,” according to a WSOP press release. In order to be enshrined, a player must accrue 75% of the vote.

Longtime players or those who have contributed to the game are eligible to be considered for the Poker Hall of Fame. Sexton, a Guest Columnist here on Poker News Daily, recently wrapped up the seventh season of the World Poker Tour (WPT). He has been the voice of the WPT ever since Season I. This year, he celebrates the 20th anniversary of his WSOP bracelet win in a $1,500 buy-in Seven Card Stud High-Low tournament in which he defeated Sid “The Kid” Herald heads-up. WPT Founder, President, and CEO Steve Lipscomb told Poker News Daily, “Mike is the consummate face of poker. He was making poker mainstream before it had a prayer of being mainstream. He helped launch the WPT – which changed the poker world forever. Then, he convinced the WPT to include PartyPoker in Season I, which changed the poker world again forever. Let’s get the man into the Poker Hall of Fame!”

Sexton recently re-signed with PartyPoker and will serve as the ambassador for the world’s fourth largest online poker site in Las Vegas during the WSOP. At the Rio, a bevy of rising poker stars will take to the felts. Many were first turned onto the game by watching Sexton and WPT Co-Host Vince Van Patten bring poker to life every week. Party Gaming’s Warren Lush told Poker News Daily that Sexton has wide appeal in the industry: “I intend to approach the media and influential figures in the game and lobby for Mike because he really deserves it – he qualifies on so many levels. It is extremely encouraging that a figure such as Annette Obrestad has already expressed her intent to vote for him because she is a representative of the new generation of players. Mike appeals to players both old and new.” Also lobbying for Sexton is Irish poker pro Padraig Parkinson.

In 2008, poker pro Dewey Tomko and hole card camera inventor Henry Orenstein joined the Poker Hall of Fame in a special ceremony during the WSOP Main Event final table. Orenstein is a producer of GSN’s “High Stakes Poker” and won a WSOP bracelet in 1996 in a $5,000 buy-in Seven Card Stud tournament. Tomko first cashed in a WSOP tournament 30 years ago and holds three bracelets, two of which came in back to back events in 1984. Other Poker Hall of Fame members include Puggy Pearson, T.J. Cloutier, Johnny Chan, Stu Ungar, WPT Founder Lyle Berman, Chip Reese, Doyle Brunson, Bobby Baldwin, Jack Binion, and Johnny Moss. Two industry members have been enshrined every year since 2002; Barbara Enright and Ultimate Bet’s Phil Hellmuth served as the Class of 2007.

Sexton has 44 cashes on the felts of the WSOP, tied with Chris Bjorin for the 11th most all-time. He won the Foxwoods World Poker Finals’ first $10,000 buy-in event in 1992. Eight years later, he became the first American to take down the Euro Finals of Poker. In 2006, the WPT Host battled through the field in the WSOP Tournament of Champions, winning $1 million and defeating Daniel Negreanu heads-up. Sexton has also appeared at poker trials around the United States serving as an expert witness. Most recently, he testified in a case in South Carolina that poker is a game of skill by using hands that played out on the WPT circuit.

Vote for the 2009 Poker Hall of Fame class.

(Credit: Poker News Daily)

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Monday, May 25, 2009

PKR to Broadcast 24 WSOP Final Tables, by Dan Cypra - Poker News Daily - 25th May 2009

Independent online poker room PKR has announced that it will air the final tables of 24 World Series of Poker (WSOP) tournaments as the “exclusive sole live broadcaster.” The news comes on the heels of an announcement that ESPN360.com and BluffMagazine.com will also stream 24 events.

PKR has set up a free website dedicated to WSOP coverage from the Rio in Las Vegas. Of the 24 events that will make up PKR’s live coverage, the site is looking forward to the $50,000 buy-in HORSE Championship. Last year, it was infamously won by Expekt Poker pro Scotty Nguyen, who was allegedly inebriated during the festivities and visibly hostile to both his tablemates and Rio staff. Nevertheless, Nguyen became the third winner of the prestigious event, which awards the Chip Reese Trophy to the winner. The late Reese took down the inaugural 2006 version, besting Full Tilt Poker pro Andy Bloch heads-up. In 2007, the $50,000 buy-in HORSE Championship was won by Freddy Deeb, who defeated Bruno Fitoussi to earn $2.3 million.

PKR will also carry several final tables of the $10,000 buy-in events. The World Championship of Heads-Up No Limit Hold’em is Event #29 and was won last year by Kenny Tran, who outlasted Alec Torelli in the final match. World Poker Tour (WPT) Founder Lyle Berman took fifth in that contest, with a bevy of world-class pros finishing near the top. The World Championship of Pot Limit Omaha will also air on PKR. In 2008, Boyle Poker pro Marty Smyth captured his first bracelet in it and defeated Peter Jetten. Coming in third place was Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi, who earned over $330,000 for his efforts.

PKR Marketing Director Simon Prodger commented in a press release distributed by the online poker site, “The World Series of Poker is without doubt the biggest event of the poker calendar and it fills me with delight that PKR has managed to scoop exclusive rights to be the official broadcaster for these 24 bracelet events.” PKR has also become the official non-U.S. sponsor of the WSOP’s official website. A large PKR ad now dons the top of the site. The gray menu bar, which in the United States is sponsored by Bluff Magazine, is sponsored by PKR outside of the North American nation. The WSOP Countdown is also presented by PKR and the site has information at the bottom of the page about its WSOP satellites and along with a host of ads.

Among those events that will be shown on PKR are:

Event #4: $1,000 No Limit Hold’em Stimulus Special
Event #17: $1,000 Ladies Championship
Event #18: $10,000 World Championship Omaha High-Low Split Eight or Better
Event #29: $10,000 World Championship Heads-Up No Limit Hold’em
Event #33: $10,000 World Championship Limit Hold’em
Event #35: $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha
Event #40: $10,000 World Championship Pot Limit Omaha
Event #41: $5,000 No Limit Hold’em Shootout
Event #45: $10,000 World Championship Pot Limit Hold’em
Event #49: $50,000 World Championship HORSE event

PKR was one of the first online poker sites to popularize the concept of 3D poker. On the last Sunday of every month, the room offers the $100,000 Guaranteed PKR Masters, a $250 buy-in tournament that pays out at least $25,000 to its winner. $27 direct buy-in satellites are available, as are a multitude of options starting as low as $0.52 or 900 PKR Points. PKR regularly offers a $30,000 guaranteed prize pool tournament on other Sundays that comes with a price tag of $88. Every day except Wednesday, the site offers an $18 buy-in $10,000 guaranteed tournament along with a Daily $17K.

According to PokerScout.com, which keeps tabs on online poker room traffic, PKR is the 14th largest network or site worldwide with a seven day running average of 790 cash game players. It does not accept U.S. customers. (Credit: Poker News Daily)

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Harrah’s launches interactive department for WSOP, by Amanda Finnegan - Las Vegas Sun - 22nd May 2009

Harrah’s Entertainment announced today that it has launched a new subsidiary, Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment, to oversee the global and online growth of its World Series of Poker brand.

Harrah’s has hired Mitch Garber, the former CEO of PartyGaming, the largest online gaming company in the world, as the Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment CEO.

"As the world's largest gaming company, Harrah's is taking a proactive approach toward international and interactive expansion," Harrah's CEO Gary Loveman said in a statement. "It is important we position ourselves to explore new markets as well as new technologies with our best in class brands."

Jeffery Pollack will stay as commissioner of WSOP and will add president of the subsidiary to his title.

The company said in addition to growing the WSOP, Harrah’s Interactive will explore the use of interactive gaming technologies globally, beginning with Europe.

The WSOP expanded to Europe in 2007 with the introduction of WSOP Europe held each fall in London.

The WSOP event starts Tuesday at the Rio. Last year’s tournament attracted 58,720 entrants from 124 different countries. (Credit: Las Vegas Sun)

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

WSOP To Offer Players Ability To Help Charities, by Earl Burton - Poker News Daily - 21st May 2009

Over the past five years, poker players have stepped to the forefront for a variety of charitable causes. Online tournaments have raised funds to assist the victims of the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia, the Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and other deserving organizations. The Heartland Poker Tour makes contributions to the Disabled American Veterans. There is even an organization – founded by Poker News Daily guest columnist Mike Sexton, tournament directors Linda Johnson and Jan Fisher and philanthropist Lisa Tenner – called Poker Gives, that focuses on using poker to assist in fundraising for charities. Now the World Series of Poker will step up and take poker philanthropy to the next level.

For the first time in its forty year history, the WSOP will offer players who cash during each event on this summer’s schedule the opportunity to donate part of their winnings to an organization that the WSOP has aligned itself with. All that a winning player has to do is to ask the payout clerk to leave one percent of their winnings to the Nevada Cancer Institute and the WSOP will arrange to transfer the funds to the Institute. As with many charitable donations, they are tax-deductible and contributors will receive a letter from NVCI for accounting purposes.

During the run of the tournament schedule, a special VIP lounge will be set up for players who pay a membership fee to be able to use the room. The “Aces Club” will be donating a large portion of each membership taken for access to the room to the Nevada Cancer Institute. As of press time, there are still memberships available and anyone who wishes to access the “Aces Club” should visit the area during the first few days of the WSOP.

One of the most popular fundraisers during the last few years at the World Series has been the “Queens of Heart” that play during the Ladies’ Championship Event. Featuring such players as former WSOP Ladies’ Champion Jennifer Tilly, poker professional Kristy Gazes and actresses Mimi Rogers and Cheryl Hines, the team has raised large amounts of money for women’s causes over the past few years. This year, the WSOP has created a special line of poker clothing for women, available at the Rio and on their website, WSOP Shop. The proceeds from sales of the “Queens of Heart” merchandise will go to the Nevada Cancer Institute, continuing the tradition the team has driven while playing on the felt.

There will be two special charitable tournaments during the run of the WSOP. “Ante Up For Africa” – the cause promoted by actor Don Cheadle and poker professional Annie Duke – will be back for their third annual event. The $5,000 buy in No Limit Hold’em tournament is open to anyone 21 years or older and this year, for the first time, will be a part of the ESPN broadcasts of the WSOP. For the Media Charity Event this year, the players who reach the final table will have donations made in their name to the Nevada Cancer Institute.

Finally, the Championship Event of the World Series will also have a way for players to make their mark in a charitable way. Poker pro Phil Gordon’s charitable cause “Bad Beat On Cancer” and the Nevada Cancer Institute will both benefit from players who donate, much like earlier in the tournament schedule, one percent of their winnings to charity. All contributions are tax deductible and will benefit research into the cure for one of mankind’s worst diseases.

With the WSOP adding in this charitable aspect to their poker schedule, the poker world is once again proving that, while there may be no charity at the poker table, there is a charitable heart inside all who play the game. (Credit: Poker News Daily)

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

PokerPalooza to Debut at 2009 WSOP, by Tom Jenkins - Poker News Daily - 14th May 2009

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) Gaming Life Expo is no more. In 2009, the world’s largest poker expo will be re-branded PokerPalooza and debuts at the Rio in Las Vegas on July 2nd, one day before the start of the prestigious $10,000 buy-in Main Event.

Harrah’s officials tout PokerPalooza as being geared towards “everyone from the professional to those who have not yet taken up the game.” Past WSOP bracelet winners and Main Event champions are slated to be on-hand signing autographs and imparting their poker knowledge on PokerPalooza attendees. A special “Bad Beat Bar” will also be set up, in addition to a full food court. The Rio Pavilion, which is around the corner from the Amazon Room at the Las Vegas hotel, will host PokerPalooza.

A variety of non-poker activities can also be found at the event formerly known as the Gaming Life Expo. Guests can try their luck on a mechanical bull, put their nerves to the test in the Richard Petty Driving Experience, don oversized sumo wrestling outfits, and take home prizes in a series of carnival games. Appropriately, Ty Stewart, Marketing Director for the WSOP, commented in a press release distributed by Harrah’s this week, “It’s going to be part trade show, part carnival, all fun.”

Last year, the Gaming Life Expo attracted 50,000 visitors to the Rio. A total of 165 booths could be found over the Pavilion’s 50,000 square feet of space. Exhibitors drumming up sales and awareness included New Balance, Bass Pro Shops, McFadden’s, Gamma-O, and All-In Energy Drinks. The Aussie Millions, a high-stakes poker tournament that takes place every January, even set up shop. In January, its Main Event attracted 681 entrants (down from 780 the year before) and was won by Australian native Stewart Scott. ESPN Radio broadcasted from the Expo; its television arm will air the $40,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em tournament, the Ante Up for Africa charity festivities, the WSOP Champions Invitational, and the $10,000 buy-in Main Event this year. Television coverage begins on July 28th.

All-In and Poker Pro Magazine were two of a handful of industry publications scurrying around last year’s event to boost readership. Signing autographs were a bevy of poker pros including 10-time WSOP bracelet holder Doyle Brunson, Full Tilt Poker pro Gus Hansen, Celebrity Apprentice runner up Annie Duke, 2008 HORSE Championship winner Scotty Nguyen, 2004 WSOP Main Event Champion Greg Raymer, 2005 WSOP Main Event Champion Joe Hachem, 2007 WSOP Main Event Champion Jerry Yang, and Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari. Master Toddy’s Muay Thai Academy dispatched its “Fight Girls” to the Rio to teach martial arts to guests.

One of the highlights from 2008 was a “Man vs. Machine” poker competition. The “Machine” in question was from the University of Alberta; it squared off against several brand name poker pros including Nick “Stoxtrader” Grudzien, the face behind the popular training site StoxPoker. According to the Rio’s website, Full Tilt Poker pro Matt Hawrilenko and StoxPoker instructor Jay Palansky also competed against the computerized poker mind. The crowd watching man and machine battle included belly dancers on loan from the Gaylord India Restaurant, which makes its home at the Rio, and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) stars Josh Burkman and Grey Maynard.

Here are the hours of operation for the inaugural PokerPalooza:

Thursday, July 2nd: 11:00am – 8:30pm
Friday, July 3rd: 11:00am – 8:30pm
Saturday, July 4th: 11:00am – 8:30pm
Sunday, July 5th: 11:00am – 6:00pm

Booths run $2,500 each, with a $200 surcharge for a corner space. Vendors can pay using a major credit card. Interested companies are asked to contact Sharon Wayne, the WSOP’s Expo Manager, at (702) 777-2310 for more information. The event is free and open to anyone age 21 and up. (Credit: Poker News Daily)

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World Series of Poker And Online Site Offer Chance At Main Event, by Earl Burton - Poker News Daily - 14th May 2009

Since its purchase of the World Series of Poker back in 2005, Harrah’s Entertainment and WSOP officials have been highly aggressive in driving for sponsorship opportunities for the largest poker event in the world. On Thursday, it was announced that the WSOP and the online gaming developer Zynga have joined forces to push the WSOP brand name even further into the worldwide consciousness.

Zynga, who developed a free Texas Hold’em application that is one of Facebook’s top game application and features over twelve million monthly active users, will be offering two seats to the $10,000 Championship Event of the WSOP. Zynga will host several “Shootout” tournaments via their online application with a sizeable prize package for the two winners of the event. The “Shootout” tournaments begin on June 8th and will run through June 22nd.

Eighteen winners from these tournaments will be randomly selected to play in the Final Showdown on June 29th and 30th and the final two will be determined on July 1st, in time for the opening of the Championship Event on July 3rd. The WSOP package will include roundtrip airfare to Las Vegas, three nights’ accommodations at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino, a backstage tour of the WSOP venue and a day pass to the VIP player’s lounge.

“We built our Texas Hold’em poker game into the largest game on Facebook by keeping an eye on what is important to our players”, Mark Pincus, CEO of Zynga, stated during the announcement. “We know that poker is a lifestyle which includes playing online, offline and watching it on television. This partnership is an opportunity to bring those worlds together.”

“Any poker player knows the Holy Grail is to win the Main Event of the World Series of Poker”, echoed Craig Abrahams, World Series of Poker vice president, in the announcement. “Now for the first time, we’re reaching fans in a new way through Zynga’s platform. Players from all over the world can play the free Texas Hold’em game from the convenience of their own living rooms and win a seat to the biggest poker tournament in the world.”

This business move is only the latest in what has been a huge undertaking by Harrah’s and the WSOP to market the game to different corporations and beyond just the poker mainstream. Since 2005, such companies as major sponsors have included Miller Brewing’s Milwaukee’s Best beer brand (which will continue to be the main sponsor of this year’s event), Corum (who crafts the bracelets that winners take home), Pepsi’s SoBe Adrenaline Rush energy drink, the Helene Curtis’ Degree deodorant, the United States Playing Card Company’s Bicycle Pro Cards, Levitra erectile dysfunction medicine, chocolate maker Hershey’s and Planter’s Peanuts. Poker magazines have also invested in sponsorship of the WSOP, usually in return for “exclusive” coverage of the event. It is estimated that these sponsorships and other licensing outlets – such as playing cards, chips, apparel and video games – bring in more than a million dollars to Harrah’s yearly. (Credit: Poker News Daily)

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Does WSOP Help Affiliates? - CAP Forum

I'm curious -- what kind of benefit do poker affiliates really get from the popularity of the World Series of Poker?

As you probably know, just about every prominent online poker site is offering player satellite tournaments and freerolls, or travel packages to the WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas. The theory is that affiliates can use these tournaments as tools to pull in more players. And that theory is based on the assumption that players get really excited for this event, and are scouring the Internet for places to qualify.

So what do you think? Does WSOP bring in the traffic and players, or does it have a limited effect on affiliate marketing? Have you even tried to market the event to players, or do you think it's unnecessary?

Greg Tingle comment...

Good question. We've found that the World Series of Poker helps spike traffic, boost some sales, but largely just adds positive buzz and helps generate both industry and news media stories, which are usually for the greater good of poker and igaming. We're a media, publicity and portal development company (with some involvement in specific affiliate programs) so we might see and experience things a little differently to some traditional affiliates. I'm certain some brand so better out of the WSOP than others. For example, Mike Sexton is signed to PartyPoker and is also associated with a number of poker tournaments such as World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour. Because as I understand it Mike is so respected in the industry it's a great thing for PartyGaming's PartyPoker in addition to other poker brands and tournaments he associates himself with. Another side benefit of the WSOP is that I think it can force the hand of online poker brands to update their creative (banners etc). I think I've noticed Virgin Poker, Party Poker, PKR and Doyle's taking advantage of the WSOP to incorporate into some of their banners. The WSOP might also facilitate more travel and tourism packages into Las Vegas and some affiliates might do well to pro actively promote airline booking, accommodation and the like associated with poker tournaments in Las Vegas and the like. Centrebet had a promo for the Aussie Millions in Melbourne, Australia - Crown Casino which I understand was pretty successful with players based outside Australia. Blogging about these happenings might also have a number of additional benefits for affiliates such as improving search engine rankings and gaining stronger industry reputation. Good on CAP for raising this question as I've sometimes pondered the benefits of WSOP for igaming entrepreneurs and gaming affiliates. Maybe the wisdom of numbers method on the CAP forums may help us get to the bottom of this. I think it can only be a positive however some elements are difficult to measure. (Credit: CAP)
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