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Old 06-12-2005, 05:38 AM   #1
KevinBeane
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I caught the bug. The Texas no-limit Hold 'Em bug, to be exact.

After watching plenty on TV, and playing plenty on Yahoo, I decided to give it a whirl for real money. So I read a few pointers, tips, and glossaries on the net, and I picked a room (Doylesroom.com, to be exact), and laid down $25. My plan was to play them in $5 chunks (which I ended up doing in 5- and 10-cent blind rooms). I played and lost my first $5 right away, then again my second $5 right away, and then on third $5 chunk I played, I won on a "bad beat" (you have a vastly inferior hand, but you win anyway by getting extremely lucky card(s), the only one(s) you could pull out a victory with, on the board [the face-up cards]) and won $14. This put me up to $29. I stopped playing and realized I had a lot more to learn, so I gobbled up a couple more hours of tips and info on the internet. I started picking up on the stupid things novices like myself do, and exploited them. In a couple hours, I was all the way up to $77 in my bankroll before going down to $57. I was feeling froggy and ready to enter tournaments. And I read more. All on the internet, all free.

There's two basic types of tournaments: Single table tournaments, and multi table tournaments. Single table tournaments are pretty straightforward.....each player contributes the same amount to the pot, plays with chips instead of money, and once there's only one man left standing, he gets either all of the pot, or it's divided up between first, second, and third players, or however it's configured.

Then there's multi-table tournaments, as the one sees on TV. There might be hundreds of people playing, and as more and more people go out (lose all of their chips), the tables are consolidated until there's few enough people left to put them all on one table.

Entry fees at the site I play at are pretty comparable, so you have to decide if you want to play for lower stakes at good odds (1 in 9 or 10) at a single-table tournament or higher stakes with much worse odds at multi-table tournaments.

Maybe it's because I'm a golf fan, maybe because I was attracted by the big bucks, but I went with the multi-tournament mode. By "golf fan" I meant this: You don't buy your way into the first page of the leaderboard in tournament golf; you have to play better than almost all the field to get there. In short, you have to EARN it. I wanted to see if I could earn a nice result or, more likely, an MC (missed cut) if you will.

I read somewhere that the early round of tournaments will usually feature a lot of wild, very aggressive betting as players try to get an early advantage, and that you should stay out of the madness and lay low. I kept that in mind.

Tournament #1 tonight: One guy went all in four times before the flop, forcing everyone to fold, and essentially buying the pot. The fifth time, I called him out, and he really did have "the nuts" (an outstanding hand). I finished 87th out of 113.

Then, I decided to play in a multi-table tourney with just two tables, 18 players. Similar story as the first. (Tournaments start up every few minutes of one kind or another). On an early hand, I wanted to punish other players for being too aggressive, eventually got punished myself, and bowed out in 13th place.

Then I took a break and pulled myself together. What I was telling myself was this: Again, the last thing I read, about tournament strategy, foretold the precise truth: Betting is wild, maniacal, aggressive in the first few rounds. STAY OUT OF IT and pick your spots. I wasn't doing that. I was diving in head first. I was calling out the wild boys with so-so hands because I was convinced the other guy has nothin', 'cause he's going all in and raising like mad so often.

To put it a finer point on it, I was getting angry that the same guys were buying the pot over and over again without anyone calling them on it.

This was stupid for a couple reasons. One thing, and less importantly, to raise, go all in, and scare everyone off the pot multiple times may work in the short run, but it is not sustainable over the course of a long tournement. You can only bluff so much, you can't really bluff your way all the way to a top of a tournament (well, anything's possible, but that would be more than unlikely).

More importantly, if YOU decide it's up to you to give these pot-stealers their comeuppance, to teach them a lesson, to be the sheriff, etc., you end up doing just what they want you to do: Playing mad, playing emotional. That makes you do something stupid like call in most of your chips when all you have is something dicey like a pair of 8's. Get the picture?

I was DETERMINED to be patient in the third tournament, an $8 buy-in game. If the maniacs want to steal pot after pot and take a big chip lead, fine. Just wait until you get a hand. Stay out of the fray.

In this tournament, I indeed folded most of my way through the early rounds, and I only bet with the strongest of hands (pocket pairs of 7 or 8 of higher, or when both cards were a ten or better). And it worked! I would bet conservatively, let the maniacs bet big to try to scare me out of the pot, call/raise them, and take their money.

I did get lucky with one bad beat: One of the maniacs with half the amount of chips I had went all in for the umpteenth time. I had Ace and a seven, and decided "What the hell" and called him (note: if I had to do this over again, I probably woundn't've. It shouldn't have been worth half of my worth to try to get an ace on the "board."). Then a guy with twice as many chips as me ALSO called, and we checked each other. It turned out, the original all-in guy had Ace-King, and the guy with twice as many chips as me had ACE-ACE. I was cursing at myself yet again for trying to be sheriff an punish the overly agressive guy when the flop came down 6-8-9, then 2, then 5 on the river. I got a straight and won a ridiculous amount of chips. I actually apologized to the room for the "bad beat." Then one guy responded, "If you're gonna do a bad beat, you might as well make it a mass murder." Beautiful.

After that, I just played conservative. I called conservatively when I had a great hand and tried to nail the guys who raised me. I played a bit more aggressively if I was the last guy to bet and everyone before me folded. The counter of players left in the tourney, on the bottom right of the screen would dwindle, dwindle, dwindle.

The more I played conservatively, the more I got a reputation as a non-bluffer. People would fold the second I got into a pot. So then of course I started to bluff a BIT, just to steal some pots and buffer my position.

Soon, there were ten people left. Top nine go to the final table, and all get paid.

At that point, we started playing a bizarre game. If everyone's betting, raising, bluffing, etc., that's called a loose game (or, a loose player). If every hand is a big fold-a-thon because everyone's too paralyzed to act, that's a "tight" game.

With ten guys remaining and nine getting paid, the game got tighter than a nun suffering from constipation sitting in wet cement. NO ONE wanted to be the last guy out not to get paid, so a 40-minute-long war of attrition started. I used everyone's fear to steal a couple of pots, including a big one, but I was pretty much as tight as everyone else. I wasn't as concerned as others, though, because I had enough chips to play around a bit.

Finally, it got to the point where one guy couldn't keep up with the blinds. He was forced to go all in on a mediocre hand, and we were all ready to call him. He went out, and then there were nine. I had made the final table. I had guaranteed a prize.

At the final table (9 guys), I was in sixth place, if you will, in terms of chips, and play remained conservative, for the most part. I scored a few good hands, forced a couple of players who barely qualified for the last table out of the game, and eventually, I found myself with with J, 9. The flop was turned, and it was J, 7, 8. I had high pair, so I was happy to call when I was raised. Then I was raised again (called) and again (called). Before I knew it, I was in over my head. I was betting against a guy who hadn't been particualrly aggressive yet, and all I have is a pretty good pair, and I can either call his latest bet with 90% of my chips, or fold and lose 75% of my chips. I chose the former. I should've never let it get that far, but I lost focus for a minute and it cost me. He had a straight (8, 9 hand) and played it, and me, beautifully.

Epilogue, I finished in 5th place and won $62. As great as it was to make the final table, I was even happier to end up improving my position (started at 6th at the final table, finished fifth) against these guys.

What an exhilarating experience. I'm bursting with pride right now, just bursting.

Does it seem silly that I'm so giddy right now? Everyone here is a sports fan. You can't really be a sports fan unless you have a thirst for competition. I think a lot of us play sports AND GAMES in search of that competitive event we are naturally good at, or we find the competition we are willing to bust are tails at to get good. We do it because we want to find something to compete at, something to win at.

97 people paid $8 apiece to play in this tournament. 92 of them finished behind me. I made it to the final table - victory enough -and didn't embarrass myself once I got there. I made the first page of the final leaderboard. And there will be more. I'm not going to spend big money on poker, but I'm gonna continue spending little money and earning it back and a little more. So far, so good...even before I entered a tournament.

Finally, if you read this far, thank you, and if I've piqued your interest in competitive poker, let me tell you what worked for me.

*Watch it on TV until you have the basics down, if you haven't already. In the U.S, you can find poker on Fox Sports, ESPN, Game Show Network, and the Travel Channel.

*Once you understand how to play, start looking up strategy and tips (and GLOSSARIES - know the lingo!) online.

*You'll read a lot of math wonkery about staying in a hand only if you have a "positive expected value". Let's say you have a ten of diamonds and an ace of diamonds, and the flop is jack of diamonds, queen of diamonds, and 4 of clubs. You don't have a great hand (ace high) but you have a lot of possibilites of a great hands: (you're one diamond away from a flush, one king away from a straight, plus an ace or a ten would give you a high pair). So you might try to "draw" or fish for one of those great cards.

The math wonks will tell you to compare the percentage of how likely it is one of the cards you need will turn up vs. the percentage of your chips you will need to stay in the hand. If the card odds are greater, go for it. If the percentage of your chips you will have to bet to see the cards are greater than the card odds, fold.

But! I'm terrible at math and here to tell you you don't have to do all that. Just use common sense. Think about how much you are being asked to call, and whether it's worth it to bet that and stay in the game. Be honest with yourself.

*You only have to be a tiny bit good to be way better then a lot (most?) guys online. Take advantage of that. Be patient. Play non-tournament games with small blinds (again, I did 5 and 10-cent blind). I highly recommend doing it just like I did: $25, played in increments of $5. By the third or fourth increment, you will be surprised at how much your have learned, and you will probably have more than $25.

Let me isolate this sentence from the last sentence. When entering any kind of game, tournement or not, be patient. Be patient, be patient, be patient. Be patient. Then sit back with some popcorn and watch what happens to guys who are impatient.

*This is the most important thing: PAY ATTENTION TO HOW YOUR OPPONENTS PLAY! The biggest favor your can do for yourself is to figure out how each guy at your table plays, and play HIM accordingly. If a guy folds 99% of the time and then he calls big, he probably has a great hand. If a guy is betting, raising, going all-in all the time....invite him to dance if you're playing for low stakes (and you have a decent hand), let him burn himself out in high stakes game (unless you have an OUTSTANDING hand). If you pay attention to how your opponents play, and pay especially close attention to what they bet once the flop is revealed, you'll be surprised how well you can actually make a pretty good guess at what at least one of their cards are.

*By the same token, try to stay unpredictable and hard to read yourself, and find the balance between being unpredictable and not putting yourself too mich at risk.

*Low pocket pairs aren't really that great, but it seems like the suckier players treat them like gold. If you have two threes and I have 4 and a 6, I actually have a pretty good chance of beating you, since I've got five chances to get one of the six cards I need (the remaining 4's and 5's) to pull ahead of you, and there's only two cards out there (the remaining 3's) that will help you, and that's not even counting the (small) possibility of a straight, which I have a much better chance of hitting than you.

*My favorite poker phrase is "Don't tap the aquarium." Sucky players are called "fish" and will do things that will make your jaw drop. You will be tempted to call them names, and tell them just how stupid you are. Don't do it! They're your primary source of income! They're giving you money! If they stop having fun, they'll stop playing. TREAT BAD PLAYERS WELL. You will be surprised at how many people can't follow this rule, because their arrogance compels them to belittle his inferiors, and boom, a good thing (a player giving his money away) is gone. DON'T. TAP. THE AQUARIUM.

Whew! That's it. Finally, he ain't around much anymore, but a tip of the cap to Ellis, the dean of poker in SCMB and a purported great player himself. He's also made long, good poker posts well worth searching for and reading.
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Old 06-12-2005, 06:31 AM   #2
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Great & informative post, Kev...:tup:

This post probably tells more than any other post I've seen on any site. Of course like you say, kudos to Ellis for being the SC groundbreaker when it come to cards.

The only thing I'd add (tho you still cover it quite well but to put into somewhat brash & redundant terms) is the fact that you need to "learn" yourself when it comes to addressing your opponents. The biggest hurdle I saw in the game of cards is the one who'll hurt you the most is yourself.

Yes, most can learn the strategy, the odds, read your opponents, etc., but if you can't adapt yourself, you've lost before the first card hits the table.

I was a big card player in my youth but I learned that while I raked in some high stake wins, (thousands a hand), I also helped other players make the same statement by adding to their big pots. I had to come to the conclusion that while my "smarts" seemed to be in place, the requisite patience was not. My competitive nature in sports was like a race horse in the gates, chomping at the bit. Where some would be able to bide their time, I, on the other hand, was getting bored & wanted the exciting hands to be dealt now & dealt with...now.

Wrong mentality for a card player....

After a memorable night where I even knew I was playing emotionally, & having it cost me a couple thousand that I only lost cuz of my impatience, I sat back & said to myself..."This is where the game runs me instead of the other way around". With that, I "retired" since I proved I was unable to conquer my biggest obstacle...me.

I only added this post to Kevs thread to reiterate what he said that you need to clear that first hurdle of knowing your biggest opponent (yourself) so you don't end up on the wrong end cuz the odds were stacked against you...

& I'm like Kev in calling for Ellis to come on this thread for his much deserved "curtain call"....
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Old 06-12-2005, 10:24 PM   #3
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Get out! Someone else at S-C is interested in poker! I never thought that I would see the day.

Anyways, I like your story of your adventure into online poker, Kevin. Tournaments are always a great time, as long as you make them last.

The first thing that popped into my head, right off the bat, was that you played hold 'em on yahoo!. That is the worst possible place to play hold 'em. It is limit and no one cares whether they win or lose. They will call everything down.

Doyle's Room is a very new online casino. It is one of the few big online poker rooms that has never been downloaded on my computer. The main reason the software has never been on my computer is because I only play poker online for an hour a week, if that. I used to play online a lot though.

To be honest, I have been considering for a while to put real money onto an online poker site, and if I do, I will put it on Doyle's room so we can play together sometime.

Your advice about learning the game ties into the reason that I do not play much online poker. I have read many books on poker, although I only own three, and have three instructional videos on my computer, including Caro's Poker Tells and Phil Hellmuth's Online Poker video. Your main advice seemed to be to go out, learn how to play the game right, and then go out and have a good time with it.

I have been doing that and have done for about a year and a half. To be honest, knowledge is a physiological disadvantage in poker. It is what will drive you nuts. It is what makes me most frustrated with the game of poker. Online, bad beats occur so often. Although I have had great success in online poker, including having 1.5 million play chips at poker stars(until I sold them) and numerous final tables and well ranked finishes in tournaments, too often you lose big pots making the right plays, with the right hands. Knowing what to do and making the right play and then losing will drive you insane. I know that they happen playing in person, but the defiantly happen a lot more online.

I don't think that online casino's are rigged in advantage for any particular person, but to be honest I do believe that they are rigged to entice "action." Too often hands seem to unfold the way which mathematically should rarely happen. In real life(in person) these things rarely happen. Online, they happen alot, which leads me to believe that the hands are dealt in a way to entice more "action.'' An example is that almost every hand people catch running cards to win a pot. Maybe the reason is that everyone calls bets. The majority of online players are idiots. Playing with calling stations will drive you nuts.

Anyways, that all ties in to why I am still sceptical about putting real money onto an online poker account.

I am glad to hear that you are having a good time with it Kevin, because I have really had some great times playing online poker. There is some kind of feeling that you get from grinding it out for hours and finishing well in an online tournament that just gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment in a form that can not be found anywhere else.

Also, thanks for those of you who gave me the heads up about this thread. Also, thanks for bringing me into the discussion and the props.
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Old 06-13-2005, 03:15 AM   #4
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Great to see you back, Ellis.

First, about starting on Yahoo. In a sense, I shouldn't have even brought it up because it's Limit Poker (Yes, Yahoo! will not do No Limit, even with fake money), but I played on Yahoo not really for practice, but to get used to acting on concepts like calling, folding, etc. and to relax. I did NOT do it to learn strategy, and I did not do it thinking, "I'm going to parlay this knowledge into real money play someday!" My decision to join a for-pay site was spur-of-the-moment because I was bored, and I ended up creating a monster.

I can't speak for other card rooms, but I haven't seen an inordinate amount of bad beats at Doylesroom.com (They're a part of the Tribeca Tables Network, so if you belong to any of these sites, you are sharing opponents and tournament pools with Doyle's Room). My strong hands have almost always been rewarded if I played them right. Not all of them, but I take the losses and bad beats in stride because a) I know that it's gonna happen, and b) I have so little at stake each time, but I play like I do have a lot at stake. I don't enter tourneys that cost more that ten bucks to play and I don't put more than five bucks on the table for non-tournaments (and then, only nickel-and-dime blind tables). I've been doing this for two weeks, and I think my record speaks for itself: Made a $25 deposit, now sitting on $105.62. I've profited comfortably even when you take away the $62 from my tournament finish. Refusing to get frustrated and playing with the belief that the wins will continue to come along with the losses seems to have worked well for me so far.

I hope I do get to play on a table/tourney with you at some point Ellis, and that goes for anyone else here, too.

And Tarkus, now that I'm a big advocate of the game, I must ask you....perhaps your card-playing impatience has mellowed with age, and it's time to dip your toe in the pool again?
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Old 06-13-2005, 05:04 PM   #5
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Hmmm...The call of the cards is strong in you, Obi Wan...

I must consider this idea.......
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Old 06-14-2005, 04:26 AM   #6
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Not my game, but I enjoyed reading the accounts of it!
I was reading Kevin's initial post thinking "I gotta PM Rob! He's gonna crap his pants!"
Anyway, good luck my friends! Keep us posted on how it goes! (and Kevin I think you could learn some good stuff from young Rob here..... if there's a 'gift' for poker, I'm quite certain he's got it.)
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Old 06-15-2005, 03:18 PM   #7
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We should try and get to a sit & go or tournament together, Kevin.

I would download Doyle's Room, but we would have to play in a freeroll or playchip sit and go, because I can't put money on the site right now because I don't have the money.
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Old 06-15-2005, 03:27 PM   #8
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Whats the legal standpoint as far as under age gamblers playing for real money in an online poker room?.

Personally, I'll stick to video poker where I'm about $1400 dollars up from my recent Vegas trips.
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Old 06-15-2005, 03:36 PM   #9
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The legal standpoint, as far as I know, is that you have to be 21.

At all the poker sites I have been to, in order to sign up you have to be 21. Of course that doesn't stop people like me, who put in all true information, except add a few years from their birthdate

I have read a few articles about how it is becoming a problem that underage kids are using their credit cards or their parents to go online and gamble.

I can see why it is a problem, but I can't see how online poker rooms can stop it, other than banning people who say they are younger, in the poker room's chat.

I have never deposoted money into a poker room, but have been really considering it and will probably do it somewhere down the road.
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Old 06-15-2005, 06:23 PM   #10
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There was an article about poker in Sports Illustrated a couple of weeks ago. In terms of legality, online poker is illegal for anyone in the United States to play, per the Wire Communications Act....but they really don't go after anyone for it because that would be under the jurisdiction of the FBI, and they have way too many more serious things to worry about then busting people for playing at partypoker.com. According to the article, the worst thing that could happen to you is you win a bunch of money online (enought so that you're doing a lot of high volume banking activity, enough for the feds to notice), and then you don't declare your winnings on your taxes, they'll go after you for tax evasion.

The few measures the government has taken against internet gambling has focused on other areas of the issue than the players. For example, the Feds sent a cease-and-desist letter to Esquire magazines ordering them to stop accepting advertising for online, for-pay poker sites.

Senator John Kyl (Arizona, I believe), has proposed legislations ordering credit card companies to cease-and-desist carrying out transactions involving these sites (and I paid my way on with my Visa, so this would suck), but apparently he offers this bit of legislation every year and gets no support.

***
Shawn said, "Keep us posted!" So I think I will indulge myself and continue to write about my findings.

I'm down to $100 from $105. Whenever I lose the last of my chips in a game or tournament, I try to learn something from it.

I learned something from the 18-man tourney I was in last night. I had 4 and 5 offsuit, got to see the flop cheap, and somewhat amazingly, it came up 8 7 6. I have a straight. Then the flop came up 10 and the river, 2. I was betting very aggressively, as I usually do when I have a set (3 or a kind) or better...I really hate to fold hands like that. Since I was excitable since I was the tourney chip leader by a large margin, and feeling invincible and with a strong hand, I gleefully called when two people went all in...and they both had 9's. I took a big hit and finished 7th.

The lesson I learned is to pay attention when the flop helps you get a straight, in terms of whether your hand completes the straight on the low end or the high end. If I would've focused on how strong these non-maniacs were betting and looked harder at the flop, I would've realized it's likely they have a stronger straight than me.

Ellis, Doyle's room offers plenty of freerolls, but they charge "action points" to play in them, which I think you only accumulate by playing in real money tournaments. Check the FAQ.
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Old 06-15-2005, 10:52 PM   #11
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Kevin, I joined Doyle's Room. My user name is RMiller.

I am going to try and get $25 onto the site tomorow night. I will let you know when I get the money on the site.

What is your your user name?
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Old 06-16-2005, 08:47 PM   #12
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Ellis, my username is MrEleganza, and if you use that as the referral code as well (my username), I'll get a $25 bonus if you play there long enough to accumulate 2,500 action points (I've probably logged about ten or twelve hours of regular game play total, and four tournaments in the last 2 1/2 weeks, and I have 1,890 action points).

Anyway, I will split that $25 bonus with you if you make it that far, and that goes for anyone else who signs up using my screen name as a referral code *THAT I KNOW, AND ACKNOWLEDGES IT HERE!* (I don't want people coming out of the woodwork saying, "Give me my $12.50!")
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Old 06-16-2005, 09:04 PM   #13
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While I mull over the idea of jumping on board The Addiction Express with you guys, I found a great tool to help you keep count of your winnings, Kev.

This abacus is 100% foolproof & will help you when your attentions on the game since it's so easy to use. I just wanted to help in any way I can.

So good luck & please forward me $12.50 + S&H.....
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Old 06-17-2005, 03:56 PM   #14
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Yeah Tarkus, you should dish out $25 and give it a go.

Kevin, I put you on my buddy list.

I haven't put real money on the site yet, but hopefuly by the end of the night I will.
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Old 06-17-2005, 07:29 PM   #15
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Ellis, I've added you as well. Game on!
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