Play High-Stakes Poker… The Five-O Way!

March 12, 2014    by Davida Mintz

Are you a gambler who lives life on the edge? Would you describe yourself as a high roller who lives by the motto, “Go big or go home?” Then it’s time to take your Five-O Poker experience to the next level at a VIP table. You’ll have to make it past the watchdog, of course, before you can play. He’s the bulldog wearing shades on the far right of the Five-O Poker home page. He is the only one with the key to open the lock. He’ll invite you to the tables where the big dogs play, only after you accumulate 100 thousand points.


The game itself is the same at the VIP tables as at the lower stakes, only on a much larger scale. Blinds are 20 thousand at the VIP Pro tables and 40 thousand at the VIP Classic tables. That only leaves room to lose two matches at the Classic level before you are forced to go all-in or leave. The blinds may be lower at a VIP Pro table, but the stakes go up when players have the option to bet and re-raise. So, while you only need 100 thousand points to play at a VIP table, it takes more than the minimum to give yourself a good shot at success.

Win Big

Winning at a VIP table is a major score. Forty thousand points are up for grabs when you play at a VIP Classic table. After your first match, you have the usual option to double or triple your wager, or go all-in. Play for double the blinds and winning is worth 65,600 points after rake. Want to buy those points? The latest special offer is $25 for 58,500 points. Imagine getting all those points for free after winning just one Five-O Poker match. Winning in itself in satisfying, but winning big is intoxicating.

High Risk

It takes a fearless player with a high tolerance for risk to make it at the VIP tables. Not everyone has the temperament to handle the wild upswings and downswings that high-stakes players experience. You may find yourself up half a million points one day and down to your last 50 thousand the next. When you’re running well, your Five-O Poker account will explode with more points than you can imagine. The first player I went up against at a VIP Pro table was crushing the high-stakes. She came to the table with more than 2.4 million points, ready to add to her total.

Final Thoughts

Players looking for a new challenge should consider making the leap to the VIP tables. Competing at such high-stakes adds an extra layer of excitement to the game. You don’t have to play exclusively at the VIP tables. Play at the lower stakes if you’re more comfortable, and take a shot at a high-stakes game on occasion to mix things up. Remember, you don’t need deep pockets to be a high roller at Five-O Poker. All you need are points to be a big shot and play among the VIPs.

Odds and Probabilities: Playing Draws Part 2

February 15, 2014 by Davida Mintz

Are you the type of player who won’t lay down a draw? Does your gut have you convinced that the next card to appear will be the one you’ve been waiting for? While even “The Magician,” Antonio Esfandiari, isn’t capable of such spot on prediction, he’s undoubtedly among the world’s best poker pros. You don’t win nearly $26 million without skill, cunning and an understanding of odds and probabilities.

Esfandiari actually won the biggest tournament of his life thanks to a missed draw. It was the last hand of the 2012 WSOP Big One for One Drop: the first super high roller charitable tournament worth $18.3 million.

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Esfandiari drew 7-5 and opened the pot. Esfandiari had a commanding chip lead over Sam Trickett, who made the called.  Esfandiari smashed the flop: Jd-5d-5c. Now, a 75 percent favorite with three of a kind, it felt like the right time to place a bet with the intention to push his chips in the middle pre-flop add put Trickett all in for his tournament life. Trickett turned up fired back, re-raising twice before snap calling and turning over Qd-6d. With dss on the board… a flush draw.

Trickett was one diamond away from living the dream, but a statistical dog. A heart came on the turn and another on the river. It was over for the Englishman, who had plenty to celebrate. A $10 million plus second prize in the first $1 million dollar buy-in tournament in history is a once in a lifetime achievement.

Antonio Esfandiari had taken down the largest prize in tournament history: $18.3 million. He’s never fallen off number one of the highest winners, and never stops playing poker.

Embedded below is a link to a YouTube video of this amazing poker hand.  Have a look, listening closely to the way the commentators analyze the play and refer to poker odds and probabilities.  Then, continue reading as I discuss how we should analyze our hands this way to become better Five-O Poker players.

How can learning about poker legends make you a better Five-O Poker player? By taking the time to break down hands play by play while factoring the odds the players face going into the hand. As new information becomes available, we learn to adjust stats and think about whether an alternate move may have been more profitable. The more familiar you become with odds and probabilities, the easier it will be to make decisions while playing Five-O Poker.

Next time, I’ll teach you how to change the variables so you can learn to grasp the odds of scenarios you will come across frequently. Instead of teaching you the mathematical equations used to determine equity, I’ll show you how I do it easily on a program that’s free to download.

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Odds and Probabilities: Playing Pairs Part One

By Davida Mintz February 2, 2014

It’s easier to make the right moves when you’re familiar with the odds of hitting different hands. In addition to the skills you’ve already developed, working with odds and probabilities will give you an edge over your opponents who are playing by instinct. While the statistics in the article were calculated for Texas Hold’ em, the probabilities for making each hand combination are essentially the same in Five-O Poker. Part one of this two part series focuses on playing pairs.


Independently, each of your hands has a one in sixteen chance of making a pair in the first round. You’re ahead when the first card to come out gives you a pair, or a ‘made hand.’ That means that a pair doesn’t have to hit a draw to be made. Starting with a pair gives you a 69 percent chance to beat an opponent with two random cards. Holding one pair certainly doesn’t guarantee you a win. Part its value comes from a pairs potential to develop into a bigger hand.

Two Pair

Holding a second pair significantly increases your odds of winning the hand. The chance of improving to two pair is around 16 percent. Although two pair is an extremely strong holding, the only thing it beats is one pair. It’s easily dominated, and can even lose to a higher two pair. In spite of the potential to be outdrawn, you are usually ahead when you hit two pair. When all the cards are turned over, it’s a safe bet that two pair will win the hand.

Three of a Kind

You’re a huge Five-O favorite when you make three of a kind. Starting with a pair, you can expect the third card of the same kind to come around 11 percent of the time. When your first two cards are unpaired, the odds drop to about one and a half percent. Three of a kind ranks above two pair but below a straight. Players use the terms trips and a set in place of three of a kind, but they’re not exactly the same.

Full House

A full house is powerful enough to crush nearly every other possible combination of cards. A full house ranks above all hands with the exception of quads, a royal flush and a straight flush. The odds of hitting one of the biggest hands in Five-O Poker are around 28 percent when you make three of a kind in round two. Also known as a boat, a full house consists of three of a kind plus one pair. For example, J-J-J-5-5 is a full house. The way to describe the hand is, ‘Jacks full of fives.’


Hitting Quads, or four of a kind, is so rare, it’s a shock to see the cards come out. When an individual hand starts out with a pair, the odds of making quads are .20 percent. Without a pair, the chances are nearly nonexistent, at .01 percent. When you make your hand, you’re virtually unbeatable. The only hands that rank above quads are the straight flush and the royal flush. In many cases, a player wins the most by losing with quads. Poker rooms often offer the loser a bad beat jackpot worth a big chunk of money.

Final Thoughts

One pair is a profitable hand in Five-O poker. It also lays the foundation for bigger hands to develop. Knowing when the odds are in your favor will help you decide whether to wait for the right card to hit, or take the hand in another direction. Part two of this series will focus on the odds for hitting straights and flushes.

Analyze Your Decisions for Long-Term Results

By Davida Mintz January 28, 2014

Five-O Poker is about making good decisions not results. The online dictionary, “Poker Terms,” defines results oriented thinking as; a method of analyzing a poker player based on the outcome as opposed to the merits of the play. This flawed method justifies weak play when it leads to a win. Focusing only on the outcome can lead a player to make the wrong decisions based on personal experience instead of probabilities and good gameplay. 


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The Process

When a match doesn’t go your way, ask yourself if you’re happy with the way you played. Think about why you made fatal the decision to give up on your diamond flush draw to make a pair. It’s natural to second guess yourself when the next card you’re dealt is the fourth diamond and the missed opportunity costs you the game. After a difficult hand like this, take the next game off to review the hand in your mind. Look over the spots where you might have played differently. As hard as it is, ignore the outcome. It will make you a better player.

Assessing Skill

With so much focus on decisions and none on winning, how’s a player supposed to know if he’s any good? Many poker players believe it takes around 10,000 hands to get an accurate picture of their strengths and weaknesses. That’s 2,000 games of Five-O Poker. To determine how many hands you’ve played, look at the win-loss ratio to the right of your picture, add them together and multiply by five. It’s difficult to estimate the number of Five-O Poker hands you really need to play before assessing your skill level. Without a minimum of 5,000 hands, your results would be unreliable, with luck overshadowing skill.

 No End to the Decisions

Five-O Poker puts players to the test with 25 seconds on the clock and an automatic loss if you go over more than once. Most players move much more quickly, but don’t have the option of extra time that online poker players are given. As if the quick pace weren’t challenging enough, players are confronted with 20 decisions to make each match. There is usually more than one ‘right’ decision until the fifth round, when the best move to becomes clear. Competing in a Pro Room leaves a player with one final decision: bet, check, raise or fold?

Players that compete with Facebook friends will benefit from discussing matches and getting each other’s opinions about specific hands and strategy. Poker players review hands with each other and write about them in online forums. You won’t remember the details of very many hands, but take advantage of the times you do to look at whether you’re making the best possible decisions. In the end, becoming a winning player is about making the right decisions more often than your opponents.

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Is Five-O Poker a Competitive Sport?

by Davida Mintz, January 19, 2014

The word sports brings to mind the image of a team of people engaged in rigorous physical activity. Five-O Poker is rigorous, but certainly not an athletic endeavor. So why the debate over whether or not poker is a sport, and what is a game doing on an all sports network? We watch the World Series of Poker on ESPN and the World Poker Tour on Fox Sports Network. Five-O Poker is a variant of Texas Hold’ em, so if it’s a sport that make me an athlete. I turned to Wikipedia to help clear up the confusion. 

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Game Screen

Sport (or sports) is all forms of usually competitive physical activity which,through casual or organized participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing entertainment to participants, and in some cases, spectators.

There’s no doubt that Five-O Poker’s a sport when it comes to entertaining participants. It’s competitive, both casual and organized and involves skill. However, the part about physical activity prevents me from calling Five-O Poker a sport. I continued reading and realized I had ruled out an entire segment of the sports world. The definition goes on to read:

However, a number of competitive, but non-physical, activities claim recognition as mind sports. A mind sport is a sport or a game of skill where the mental component is more significant than the physical.

Compete Like Athletes

This describes Five-O Poker perfectly. Players challenge each other mentally in the same way members of rival sports teams compete physically. Competition drives Five-O Poker players who go head-to-head against friends and the entire player pool in weekly contests.  Athletes train to be at their best in high-pressure situations on game day. Every game of Five-O Poker is a high-pressure situation. In Five-O Poker and in sports, players develop strategies to outplay their opponents and finish first.

A Lot Like Chess

At the same time Five-O Poker is similar to athletic sports, the thought process is very much like chess, the ultimate mind sport. Players learn to identify the hands their opponents are building and adapt their play accordingly. While poker is a game of incomplete information, Five-O Poker players have more to go on, with all but one row of cards face up. In this way, Five-O Poker closely resembles chess, a game of complete information. They are both two-player games that require complete focus because one wrong move can cost you the game.

Final Thoughts: Mind Sports

While Five-O Poker isn’t the type of sport that helps you burn extra calories, it exercises your mind. It works out your brains ability to process information quickly, concentrate and problem solve. The International Mind Sports Association recognized poker as a game of skill last year, by adding it to its list of official mind sports that include chess, bridge and backgammon. That was just in time for last month’s 2013 Prague Mind Sports and Poker festival. 

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Luck Vs. Skill

By Davida Mintz, Jan 12, 2014 

You just made your straight to take four out of five rows and win the game. Next round, you see your opponent is likely to complete a flush, so you surprise him with a full house and win again. Final round…all-in and you take your opponent for the last of his chips. You’re on a lucky streak, and it feels like you just can’t lose.

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Logically, you know luck alone is not enough to win at Five-O Poker. You may get the best cards in the deck, but you’ll lose if you don’t know the correct way to play them. The skill comes from analyzing the board and constantly deciding the optimal way to position your cards. Matthew Hilger wrote in his book on Texas Hold’ em odds and probabilities, “One of the most common mistakes made by many players is assuming they will win when a particular card improves their hand.”  An example would be if one of your hands in Five-O Poker contains four clubs.  You may make your flush, only to find your opponent completed a higher flush, or an even stronger hand. What does this mean?  Get good at recognizing at all times what hands your opponent may hold or be drawing to that beat you.


A specific skill set is required to stay one-step ahead of your opponent and improve your odds of winning. These skills include:

Five-O Skills


– Speed

-The ability to make quick decisions under pressure

-The ability to keep track of your own hands as well as your opponent’s

-Strategic thinking


-Learn how to read your opponents

-Learn to see things from your opponent’s point of view

-Study some basic poker math.  Do a little reading on poker odds and probabilities through books like I mentioned above, or watch some videos.
-Fight against tilt.  Be mentally prepared to suffer some seemingly shocking disappointments.

Bad Beats

You know those games when you’re at a heightened state of awareness and everything is clicking. You’re playing brilliantly, but you just can’t catch a break. Bad beats are out your control. Having a healthy chip stack takes some of the sting out of losing. Even so, a streak of bad luck when you’re playing your best feels like a betrayal. I lose hands I should have won every day in online poker. I also win hands I should have lost every day. The same is true for Five-O Poker. Just remember, luck can change at any time.

Poker Debate

The skill vs luck debate in poker has become increasingly popular as Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey now have legal online poker. Countless scientific studies have researched the skill vs luck factor, and the overwhelming conclusion…poker is a game of skill. Still, there’s no denying that luck plays a significant role. In the short term, say a week or a month or two, poker pros aren’t surprised when a rookie takes their money. They know in the end, skill determines who wins and who loses. In one of his infamous outbursts while losing a game, poker pro Phil Hellmuth went so far as to say, “I guess if there we’re no luck, I’d win every one.”

Want to get Lucky?

Five-O Poker seems to have a nice balance of luck and skill. The game is a never-ending learning process with countless new skills to develop. Still, luck gives everyone the chance to win. Were it a game of 100 percent skill, only the best of the best would have a reason to play. Luck is a part of success. Embrace it.

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When to Move up in Stakes

by Davida Mintz Jan 5, 2014

You may feel like your chip stack is preventing you from moving up, but regardless of the size of your bankroll, the vast majority of players should start in the small stakes and work their way up. That means playing the Classic 1500 chip Tables until your game is solid enough to make the leap to a higher limit. Ask yourself if you’re making good decisions and you’re instinctually in tune with the game. Without hesitation, many small stakes players will answer yes. Everyone progresses at their own pace, so players who decide to stick it out in the small stakes where the competition is more manageable have the potential to make just as much money.

Moving Up

You know when your game is improving, but that’s not enough. You need tracking data to find out if your results match your experience. Five-O Poker provides statistics that include your wins, losses and how you stack up against the competition in the weekly race. The updated information appears on the homepage to the right of your picture. You may be improving as a player, but it you’re bleeding chips, give it another month in the small stakes, and then re-evaluate.

On the other hand, if you’ve been working on your game, and it’s paying off, take a stab at a higher stakes table. Only if you have enough chips to stay in the game. There’s no reason to limit your profit potential by playing at stakes that are too low. Moving back to the small stakes temporarily is always an option.

There are two ways to move up in limits in Five-O Poker. Players can choose a higher stake game in the Classic Tables, or enter the Pro Tables where you are technically playing for a higher level even in the 1500 game. That’s because you can count on at the very a minimum bet of 1500 being placed, and often much larger bets and raises.

High Stakes Classic

The games are the same when stakes rise in the Classic Tables, but it doesn’t feel the same. I played several rounds at the 10,000 level to report my experience. The game was completely different for me because of the intense pressure I felt when a third of my stack was in jeopardy. I calmed down, played what I needed for information, and left down 9-thousand-chips down. Bottom line, the high stakes Classic Tables are a welcome challenge provided you have enough chips to play comfortably and can withstand the pressure.

Mid Stakes Pro

The Five-O Pro 1500 and 2500 are my favorite tables, and good ones to take a stab at once you feel confident at the low stakes Classic Tables. Betting adds an extra element to the game. It forces you to be fairly certain who will win when the final card is placed. Even if you can’t keep up at first, it’s worth playing to practice betting, raising and folding. These are the primary moves in Texas Hold’ em.

When you’re starting, just throw out a bet when you think you have the best hand.You will lose the most money when you can’t fold the worst hand. When your opponent bets, take a moment to consider how likely it is that you will win, When you’re pretty sure he’s got you beat, save your chips and fold.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to take shots at higher limits. It will improve your game, and you’re just testing the water. Once you’re reliably beating the new higher stakes, consider moving up again. Don’t feel like a failure if it doesn’t work out, and don’t be afraid to move down in stakes. Every poker player goes through downswings, and without dropping down in stakes, they risk losing everything.

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Betting on Five-O Poker

By Davida Mintz December 29, 2013

Each variation of Poker has a number of betting rounds. There are four in Texas Hold’ em, and one betting round in Five-O Poker Pro. Once all five rows are filled, the betting begins. The player, who played second, is the first to place their bet. One bet is all it takes to pressure some opponents into second-guessing their hands, and folding under the pressure.

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Player Types

Betting styles vary widely from opponent to opponent. The most common, and pleasant to play with, are the polite betters who will check it down, or call a small bet if they’re not sure they have the best hand.  When they do have the best hand, they will commonly bet twice minimum, and usually win the round.



The opposite style is less common, but seem to be skilled at the game, wildly aggressive and willing to make any size bet allowable to force you to fold or call with the losing hand. After continuing to fold the worst hand to one of these players, my ego got in the way and I called an ill-advised bet and lost 9000 chips. I actually stuck around to recover a few of those chips, which didn’t sit well with my opponent who left the table with a massive amount of my chips in his stack.

What Style Works Best For You

Do you see yourself as an aggressive calculating player, with little concern over the feelings of your opponent? Your playing style can best be described as loose-aggressive, an extremely profitable player type. Be careful not to overdo it, because in excess, this player type can suffer from extraordinary losses.

A tight-aggressive opponent it the patient player, who bets aggressively with the nuts. This player waits all day for a loose-aggressive player to apply pressure by place large bets when they hold the winning hands.

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Is Your Hand Bet-Worthy?

Before you bet, it’s important to know how likely you are to win the hand.

1.      First, count the rows you can’t lose.

2.      Next, the rows you know you’ve lost.

3.      Then, count the rows you will win if your opponent doesn’t make his flush or straight.

4.      Finally, add the rows you expect to win.

Do the math: If you have a reasonable expectation of winning at least three rows, place a bet, call a bet or put in a raise.

There is not always time to get an accurate account, but other than one invisible row of cards, you have all the information needed to know if you’re a winner.

Placing a Bet

It’s time to raise the stakes and put some chips on the line to place your first bet. Let’s make a small bet. If you want to raise the bet, use the raise slider, and then select raise to raise the bet. When your opponent calls, you go to showdown where the best hand wins. One you place a bet, your opponent has three choices: He can fold, giving up on the hand, call or reraise your original bet.

Bet Sizing

Bet sizing is a tricky subject that is always under debate in Texas Hold’ em,, and while it’s relegated to the final round in Five-O Poker, the right bet has the power to cause a player with a better hand to fold. The challenge is to bet big enough to get value for you winning boards, but not so big that is scares your opponent into folding. Bet sizing is relative to player type, as you’ll notice some opponents are more likely to fold to even the smallest bet. You’ll run across other opponents who hate to fold, and will give you value for unreasonably large bets you make with the winning hand.

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Avoiding Tilt

By Davida Mintz December 22, 2013

It’s essential to stay focused and mentally alert at all times in Five-O Poker. However, after a few bad beats, bad cards and a shrinking chip stack, it’s easy for a player to lose his temper or behave irrationally, known as tilt. Let’s say you hit the flush you needed to win on row five and the game was all yours. Fist bump. Then your opponent shows up with four of a kind and wins. Who gets that lucky? Next hand, you can’t even get a pair. A total loss. One more bad game and you’ll be on tilt. Playing in this state of over-aggression leads to poor decision-making and poor playing strategy.


 What to do if you are Tilting

If you’re on tilt, take a short break to avoid making things worse. Remember, this happens to everyone. Think back to the time you were the one raking in the chips while your opponent helplessly lost hand after hand. Later in the article, we’ll talk about ways to find your focus and get past a bad beat at the poker table.

When you have been losing to the same player for a while, and find yourself thinking, “I’ll just keep playing until I beat them once, then I’ll stop,” Stop now. You are already on tilt! Don’t entertain the idea of getting even…it leads to mega-tilt. Walk away and take control of the situation. Five-O Poker will find you a new opponent to start fresh with.

 Tilt: Texas Hold’ em Style

Displays of tilt are not as obvious in Five-O Poker as the angry moves tilting Texas Hold ‘em players make after suffering a bad beat. It’s almost a sure thing the loser will push all-in on the next hand, regardless of his cards, and likely do it several more times. He will continue to make huge bets, using his anger-fueled aggression to dominate the table.

Preventing Tilt

Tilt in poker is an emotional state of mind that can be triggered by a number of different events, so we need to be prepared for it at all times. In a relaxed setting, imagine the scenarios that cause you to loose emotional control. Now, imagine yourself in those scenarios, staying focused on your game, and unaffected by the situations that would usually upset you. Now, imagine yourself in those same scenarios, but with a different outcome. This time, everything is working the way you want it to, and you are the winner.

We have to be prepared to lose so that it does not throw us and put us on tilt. We also need to go in with an expectation of winning, so relax your body and repeat that short visualization about your Five-O Poker game.

Find the Five-O in Open-Face Chinese Poker

December 1, 2013

No one plays Five-O-Poker just once. The game transforms Texas Hold ‘em into addictive experience players can’t walk away from. It’s a lot like 2011, when the high-stakes world went wild over the invention of Open-face Chinese Poker (OFC). They haven’t looked back, and the successful ones share many of the same skills that make a winning Five-O-Poker player.

Round One

Both reward the ability to quickly and easily make decisions. That’s critical because of the large number of cards involved. The games start the same way, with five cards dealt to each player in the first round. Then, Five-O-Poker goes full speed ahead, dealing five cards in each additional round until each player has 25.

It’s a little different in OFC where after the first round, players get their cards one at a time for a total of 13. Instead of five rows, the OFC player organizes his hands into two rows of five cards, and one of three.

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Challenges Players

Players have a lot more information to work with in these face up versions of the game than in more traditional poker. Knowing what’s in your opponent’s hand puts you under constant pressure to figure out what the best move is based on that knowledge. That component is left out of the game in Texas Hold ’em, where none of the cards is visible unless the hand goes to showdown.


When all the cards are dealt, the hands are measured up in the same way. Each row is judged against your opponent’s corresponding row, and the majority wins: best three out of five in Five-O-Poker, best two out of three in OFC. Unlike Five-O-Poker, which awards the winner with a pre-set number of chips, OFC is based on a point system which vary based on bonuses.

Here to Stay

It’s easy to see why these fast-paced games have become so popular. They’re easy to learn, but playing well involves extreme focus, trying out different strategies and experience. At the same time, there’s enough luck involved to allow a first time player to beat a pro, game after game. The learning never ends in Five-O-Poker and OFC, and skill pays off in the long run. It did for poker pro Jason Mercier who won $62,940 in an OFC tournament this year. Mercier was obsessed with the game, and wrote about an intense session, telling blog followers, “I played for 34 hours straight, then slept for nine hours, then played for another 20 hours.”

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