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  1. You have to love the advice that GoGooseGo(pictured), whose goes by Paul, gave to his fellow regs on PocketFives: "Never work on your game. You just have bad luck!" All kidding aside, Paul final tabled the PokerStars Sunday $100 Rebuy last month, cashing for $23,000 following a fourth place finish. He is on the cusp of breaking $900,000 in tracked scores. --- Follow professional sports tipsters, make your own betting tips, and compete for real cash prizes. Tipdayis the ultimate sports tipping resource. Check it out. --- "$23,000 is not a bad result for a Sunday tournament," Paul told us, "but every poker player wants to win a tournament, not finish fourth." The fourth place finish marked his first ever Sunday $100 Rebuy final table and his third largest tracked score to date. He had a big stack throughout the tournament and became chip leader in a hand in which he raised with aces and got two callers, one of whom had 7-6. His bullets held and he called the hand "a defining moment." As far as the money goes, Paul's wife plans to make repairs to the kitchen and hallway in the couple's house. "She plans to put down tile and laminate flooring," he said. By the way, you can find him on PokerStars and Full Tiltunder the screen name He3HaiKa. He got started in poker through a free $50 offer and his early games included $5 and $10 sit and gos on iPoker until he "accidentally" entered an MTT. He wound up winning the third MTT he registered for and has never looked back. In mid-2012, he cashed for $62,000 after taking second in the PokerStars Sunday Warm-Up. He described 2012 as "the best time for me as a professional poker player. That Sunday Warm-Up second place was the best result I've had, but the entire year was really awesome. My girlfriend and I traveled a lot. I went to ten countries that until then I had never been and played poker on several continents. Generally, during that year, everything went perfectly." The largest cash PocketFives tracked for Paul in 2013 was a $17,000 hit for placing second in thePokerStars $109 No Limit Hold'em Turbo 2X Chance. On his 2013, Paul told us, "Last year was hard for me because my worst downswing occurred while we were spending a lot of money as a family: we bought a new car, had a wedding, and had other related costs to start a family. Apparently, all of the events in real life did not allow me to play my best game." Paul is part of the Russia poker community here on PocketFives, which has 1,329 members. The group has combined for $121 million in career earnings, including $13.6 million in the last three months. Our interview subject is Russia's 48th ranked player. The Sunday $100 Rebuy runs weekly on PokerStars. If you don't already have a PokerStars account, sign up through PocketFives' link and make a deposit to get one free month of PocketFives MTT Training. You'll also get a 100% up to $600 sign-up bonus. Click here for PocketFives' PokerStars link. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  2. We've done a lot of interviews here on PocketFives featuring players who have won some of the largest tournaments offered on a weekly basis. Recently, Russia's hellohellohello(pictured), whom we'll refer to as H3 from here on out, won the 888 Poker Sunday Challengefor $23,000, an iPOPS event for $25,000, and the PokerStars Sunday 500 for $65,000 officially. All three scores, which combine for over $110,000, have happened in the last two months. The 23-year-old Russian player from Togliatti told us he "plays $109 Rebuys on my own and I hate nits." How has he managed to be so successful in the last eight weeks? He touts a pretty simple recipe for success: "How did I do it? Easy! I was just winning coin flips and fighting for each ante. In general, my victories happened at the right time." He said of his iPOPS score, "I managed to make the top 18 using two entries. I made a deposit right before the session to be able to do so. I was playing really well using both entries. At the final table, I was lucky to be seated on the opposite side of the table as the top regs, so they didn't give me a hard time. And then it was an easy game for me until heads-up play, where I managed to win by making a fortunate hero call against joaomathias." The hero call resulted in his largest career cash at the time. Nine days after the iPOPS win, the 888 Sunday Challenge served as his stomping ground. The tournament happened on the same weekend as the PokerStars SCOOP Main Event and, as H3 put it, many of the game's top players were likely more focused on SCOOP than on 888. "The 888 tournament was scheduled at the same time as the SCOOP Main Event," he said. "Apparently, the top regs were focused on the $10K and, therefore, the field in the later stages of the 888 tournament was pretty soft. My heads-up opponent deserved the victory more than I did, but the RNG was on my side." His Sunday 500 win came on June 1 and has helped boost his total cashes on PokerStars to over a half-million bucks. H3 is the top-ranked PocketFiver in the city of Togliattiand #4 in Russia. Worldwide, partly on the strength of his Sunday 500 win, he has shot up to #94, his highest ranking ever. He said of his homeland, "The Russian community is very friendly. But in case you suck out on your colleague in a deep run, be ready to get a punch to your face and liver. Ha-ha, just kidding of course! Just the face." We're pretty sure that's the first time a liver punch has ever been mentioned in an interview, so we're definitely charting new territory. He admitted, "Russians don't have the best reputation in the world, but in fact we have many good poker players and vivid personalities." In case you're wondering, there are just over 1,000 Russians with PLB scores on PocketFives. H3 has eight online MTT scores of at least $10,000 and is closing in on 1,900 in the money finishes overall. He plays as hello_totti on PokerStars and Full Tilt and hellohelloooon 888. We asked what qualities he thinks make for a successful MTT player nowadays. After all, this author has been in the industry for eight years and has seen our world spin upside down multiple times. "Discipline, psychological stability, controlled ego, and aces on the button," he jokingly responded. If you don't have an 888 Poker account, sign up through the links on PocketFives to get a special 100% up to $600 deposit bonus (normally 100% up to $400), $88 free in most locations, and one free month of PocketFives Training with no signup fee. Get started here. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  3. Late last month, Russia's MatveichukR(pictured) took down his sixth PocketFives Triple Crown. If the award isn't familiar to you, the way to get one is to win three $10,000 prize pool tournaments with at least 100 players each across three sites tracked for the PocketFives Rankings within seven days. PocketFivers have won 106 of them in 2014 and exactly 900 all-time. For MatveichukR, the latest Triple Crown was his sixth overall and his first since September of last year. He told PocketFives in an exclusive interview, "Almost a year has passed since I won my last Triple Crown. A few times, I got two of the three wins, but did not succeed in getting a third. But now, I've gotten my sixth one." When asked what the key was to winning so many Triple Crowns on PocketFives, MatveichukR answered firmly, "You just have to play a lot." He added, "Now, it's not so easy to win a Triple Crown. I used to play on seven sites and everywhere there were a lot of tournaments that qualified for one. Now, your options are pretty much just PokerStars, Full Tilt, and iPoker." Here's a list of the six Triple Crowns that MatveichukR has achieved in the last two years: October 1, 2012 (on 32Red, Titan, Party with 684.18 points) December 19, 2012 (on Stars, Tilt, Party with 460.99 points) May 31, 2013 (on Stars, 888, Titan with 605.38 points) June 21, 2013 (on Titan, Stars, Tilt with 481.70 points) September 7, 2013 (on EuroPoker, Tilt, Stars with 545.99 points) July 27, 2014 (on Titan, Party, Tilt with 646.15 points) You'll notice that his latest Triple Crown was worth 646 PLB Points, the second most in a Triple Crown he's had, much of which came via a victory in the Full Tilt Sunday Brawl on July 27. Three of his five largest career scores have come in the Brawl, leading him to say, "I was in a downswing and that was my biggest win since September 2013, so I'm very happy." All told, MatveichukR has amassed 213 first place finishes in online MTTs and almost 600 top-three finishes. Accordingly, he has battled against some of the top names online throughout the years, so we thought it'd be fitting to ask who the best online tournament players in the world are right now. His response: "cal42688(pictured) and moorman1. Among Russian-speaking players, I would pick veeeaand Romeopro. Moorman is a legend online. cal42688's game seems, to me, to be very interesting, as he has had very solid results. veeea and Romeopro are people with whom I have discussed a lot of hands and learned a lot from. I think they are the top players in Russia and Ukraine." Check out our Triple Crown Wall of Champions to learn how to get your own award! Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  4. Over the last weekend of August, Russia's MAMOHT_T(pictured) came away with the victory in the 888 Poker Mega Deep. Defeating a field of 681 entrants meant a $32,000 payday, as he defeated fellow PocketFiver Grind24seven heads-up. In part as a result of his recent performance, MAMOHT_T has found his way into the top five of the PocketFives Online Poker Rankings, settling in at #5 in the world, and just lapped $4.6 million in online tournament winnings. We caught up with the top-ranked Russian to talk about his latest claim to fame. PocketFives: Nice job on the 888 Mega Deep win. How are you feeling about it? MAMOHT_T: I feel great and very happy, of course. PocketFives: Can you walk us through how the tournament went in general for you and give us your thoughts on its structure, field, and buy-in? MAMOHT_T: The tournament went pretty calmly for me. Until there were 40 or 50 players left, I managed to gradually increase my stack – nothing really special. Starting when there were 40 opponents, the field began to play more aggressively and I had to fight back. When there were six players left, I became the chip leader and remained at the top until the end, busting one opponent after another. The tournament is very good. It has a very good and smooth structure and the buy-in is also okay for its structure. PocketFives: You've had several five-figure scores this year, including a win in the Full Tilt $250,000 Guaranteed. Tell us about what has been going right for you this year and why. MAMOHT_T: I play a lot, try hard in every tournament, and sometimes get lucky. The result is victories and it's awesome when a victory comes with a five-figure score. PocketFives: Do you have any plans for the money? What have you used your poker winnings for this year? MAMOHT_T: Nothing special. I live for fun, go on holidays with my wife, and help my parents. I am thinking about getting a good car this year. PocketFives: Speaking of this year, what goals do you have poker-wise for the rest of 2014? MAMOHT_T: I would like to win one or two events during the WCOOP and then go to an EPT stop, as I really want and like to play offline, although I do so rarely. PocketFives: What do you do besides poker? What else interests you? MAMOHT_T: Poker takes up a lot of my time, so I don't have a lot of time to spend on other interests. I love to travel to visit interesting places in other countries, play Dota2 periodically, and the rest of my time is given to my wife, friends, and parents. If you don't have an 888 Poker account, sign up through the links on PocketFives to get a 100% up to $600 deposit bonus,$88 free in most locations, and one free month of PocketFives Training. Sign up here. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  5. Oh, tech problems. This author especially hates technology, like when he strolls over to his computer only to find 10 updates that have to be installed before he can check his e-mail. Also in my camp with a disdain for tech issues is Russia's harrrrmonica, who won the Full Tilt Sunday Brawl in recent weeks for $26,000. There were almost 1,000 entrants in the Brawl and harrrrmonica said he had just come back from playing in his first European Poker Tour event in Barcelona. Therefore, it was his first Sunday session after a mini-break of sorts from grinding online. "After two hours, my Hold'em Manager went nuts," he told PocketFives, "so I had to stop my PC and switch to my laptop, reducing the number of tables I had open." Despite the tech SNAFU, harrrrmonica said having to trim the number of tables might have helped his concentration, but added, "It was not a fun experience. I usually tilt a lot about any tech problems during a session. I stopped registering around the Warm-Up and Brawl and kept my early tables." He persevered through the initial issues and finished tops on the leaderboard. He planned to take the $26,000 and sink a chunk of it into the ongoing WCOOP on PokerStars. He told us, "It's the first time I will be able to play the No Limit Hold'em schedule with a comfortable bankroll, so hopefully I keep running well. I will also try some Limit games if I find time to refresh myself on the rules." If you take a look at his recent scores, you'll notice that he final tabled the PokerStars Sunday Warm-Up a month ago for $36,000, his largest online tournament score to date. The Brawl was his second largest cash ever, meaning he has been on a lucrative run as of late. "Any given tournament you run deep in is a lot of luck, but lately I feel much more comfortable psychologically," he told us. harrrrmonica added, "My success is also because of my girlfriend, who helps me in everything I do, as well as my great poker friends." The Russian got started in poker after a career in television production. As he rationalized, "It was a moment in my life when I needed a new challenge. What attracted me to poker the most was the fact that all you earn is yours whether it's success or failure; it's the Wild West. If you start getting lazy and stop working, other guys will come and take all you have. It helps keep your motivation high and forces me not to spend every night of baseball season watching my Rays." PocketFives has over 1,500 registered members from Russia who have combined for $142.2 million in career online tournament winnings, including $11.9 million in the last three months. Russian PocketFivers are closing in on 300,000 total in the money finishes and harrrrmonica is #10 in the massive nation. He is #2 in the western city of Krasnodar. The Sunday Brawl runs weekly on Full Tilt. Sign up for Full Tilt through the links on PocketFives to get a 100% up to $600 deposit bonus and one free month of PocketFives Training with no sign-up fee. Click here to get started. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  6. Two weeks ago, Alexander Ivanov (pictured), who is known as s3c3on PocketFives, finished in second place in the Full Tilt Sunday Major, a $215 Re-Entry tournament, for $30,000. There were nearly 900 entrants and Ivanov, who calls Russia home, booked his second largest cash to date. "I feel great," Ivanov said of his win. "It was a strong group at the final table, so it was nice to beat a lot of good players." He told PocketFives he hit several big hands, including besting Tom hitthehole Middleton with aces against kings, and remained in the top 10 on the leaderboard from the money bubble all the way until the final table. He was the smallest stack when the final nine began, but busted two opponents to vault into second place. "I don't think this result will change anything," the Russian admitted. "I won a MiniFTOPS event for $50,000 in January 2013 and had five or six final tables on PokerStars around the same time, so for me it'll mean a big push for further development in poker and of course a good bankroll." You can regularly find him playing online during the weekends, as he is not a daily grinder. When he's not playing poker, Ivanov works as a managing director for a digital advertising company. He said of his work-poker balance, "The job gives me an opportunity to play with the best players in high-stakes MTTs, which helps me play better and better." As such, he tends to limit his action to Sunday Majors and series like the WCOOP and FTOPS. Ivanov got his start in the game four years ago in freerolls and low-limit games on Full Tilt. He started playing more regularly on weekends about two-and-a-half years ago and told us, "Online poker is good practice for offline series. It keeps me in good form. Right now, poker is more a hobby for me, but I really want to develop and get better." Why would Ivanov be so interested in fine-tuning his game for the live arena? What about live poker is so appealing? "I don't know exactly," he admitted. "I do know that for now it's not realistic to play poker full-time.I have a great job and a big family. Any further steps will be based on getting results and stabilizing my ROI." He added, "Hopefully my next interview will be after winning the WCOOP Main Event or something like that." Time will tell! We should probably take this opportunity to point out that the Russia poker community is over 1,500 PocketFives members strong. The group has combined for $144 million in winnings all-time and $13.4 million in the last three months. The Sunday Major runs weekly on Full Tilt. Sign up for Full Tilt through the links on PocketFives to get a 100% up to $600 deposit bonus and one free month of PocketFives Training with no sign-up fee. Click here to get started. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  7. According to this week's PokerScout Scouting Report, the coming year will be a pivotal one not only for Russia, but also for online poker worldwide. "Players from the Russian Federation currently comprise a significant portion of total traffic on many of the largest poker sites," the PokerScout report stated. "But if the Russian government has its way, online poker will be about as prevalent in Russia as it is currently in the United States – that is, virtually nonexistent." The timeline for the effects of the Russian situation date back to 2012, when the Russian Supreme Court, in response to stronger gambling laws in the country, informed internet service providers to block the access to online gambling in all but four specially designated "gambling zones" that had been established in 2009. Those four zones – Kaliningrad Oblast, Azov City, Altai Krai, and Primorsky Krai – are on the far-flung edges of the Russian border where infrastructure is spotty and live gambling has yet to take hold. In response to the Russian Supreme Court order, the government started to block websites, but only hit ones deemed pornographic or those that promoted "criminal behavior." In 2013, a major ISP service in Russia called Beehivebegan blocking attempts by players looking to get online at PokerStars. While this was significant, the PokerScout data suggested that the move by Beehive "had little effect on players' ability to use the software." It did, however, demonstrate the Russian government's commitment to halt online gambling, according to PokerScout's analysts. Over the past year, Russia has vacillated between potentially passing legislation that would open up its online poker market and an outright ban on the activity. In March 2014, the Russian government put PokerStars and other online poker sites on a "blacklist," which brought about the departure of Betfairfrom the Russian Federation. But in June, the Russian Finance Ministry reported that talks were in the works that would regulate online poker in the country, designating poker as an "intellectual and commercial game" rather than a game of chance and returning it to the country's official sports registry. In December, those talks failed to reach fruition and, instead, the opposite path was taken. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed Bill 478806-6, which puts further punishments on illegal gaming operations. Under the new law in Russia, fines would increase to a maximum of 500,000 rubles and/or two years in prison. Inside the law is language that many have viewed as basically outlawing online poker in the Russian Federation save for the "gaming zones" previously established. One of the clauses of Bill 478806-6 states that "conducting gambling with play equipment outside the gambling area, or by using information and telecommunications networks, including the internet, as well as means of communication, including mobile communications, or without obtaining permission in accordance with established procedure on the activity of the organization and conduct of gambling in the gambling zone is punishable." This implies that use of the internet to play on unregulated sites outside of the Russian Federation could see a Russian citizen fined or jailed for their conduct. If Russian authorities actually enforce the new laws, the resulting departure of online poker players from the country would have a significant impact on global online poker play, according to PokerScout. Prior to Black Friday, US traffic on PokerStars accounted for 26.8% of the site's business; as of 2013, the Russian Federation makes up 17.4% of PokerStars' current business. PokerScout made some ominous predictions regarding the state of online poker worldwide if Russia departs the online scene. "Most online poker sites are obligated to comply with increasingly strict licensing and regulatory requirements in Europe… It appears unlikely that top operators will be able to remain in Russia much longer" with the current laws in place, PokerScout stated. Furthermore, "the departure of major operations from Russia could virtually ensure that 2015 is a down year for online poker" if the newly passed laws are put into effect. PokerScout's Scouting Report is a daily newsletter for the online poker industry, with in-depth data and analysis of the market. More information can be found by clicking here or contacting support@pokerscout.com. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  8. Last month, Moscow's Ravic85(pictured) took down the PokerStars Sunday $109 Rebuyoutright for $63,000. There were well over 1,100 entrants that day and Ravic85 outlasted five other PocketFives members at the final table. Now, he's camped out in Las Vegas for the annual World Series of Poker. "The last few months haven't gone well, so this win came at a great time," Ravic85 told us after the fact. "I am particularly pleased that on the same day I also managed to take fourth place in the Bigger $109." The Sunday $109 Rebuy represented his largest online tournament cash to date by a factor of two, surpassing a $32,000 score in the 888 Poker Mega Deep in 2014. Ravic85 was the short stack for a chunk of the final table and said he admired the play of knutante, whom he beat heads-up. No deal was struck, so the runner-up cashed for $45,000. Ravic85 told us he was headed to Las Vegas this month for the WSOP. Consequently, he was planning to spend his winnings on live events: "I plan to play a few No Limit Hold'em tournaments and a big tournament at Aria. I am also going to play $5-$10 cash games and, of course, the Main Event." Speaking of the Main Event, he has reached Day 6 of poker's most prestigious tournament before. This will be his third trip to Las Vegas (pictured), so we asked him for advice for newcomers. He told us, "Don't drink too much alcohol the night before a tournament. Go to a show, eat at nice restaurants, get great steaks, and go to the lake and take a ride on a boat and jet skis. If there is a free day, then it's cool to go to the Grand Canyon, but you have to leave early in the morning." What do his friends and family think about his poker exploits? Do they approve or shake their heads in shame? He told us, "They have long been accustomed to the fact that I prefer non-standard ways of earning money, although many people still believe that sooner or later I will lose an apartment playing cards." He is up to 65 tracked wins and is approaching $2 million in career online tournament winnings. Ravic85 is #83 worldwide in the PocketFives Online Poker Rankingsafter reaching an all-time high of #69 earlier this year. He's the #3 ranked player in Moscow and #4 in our Russia poker community. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  9. Last month, Denis Timofeev (pictured), who is known on PocketFives as Flat, took third in the PokerStars Sunday Millionand put back $93,000. He's associated with the 2CardsCollege pro poker training teamand told PocketFives, "I was very happy about finishing third, but I'm a little upset because I was so close to heads-up. I played with the second largest stack all final table and wanted to make a deal heads-up with another reg and win after that." $93,000 is certainly nothing to scoff at. In fact, it was Timofeev's largest score ever by a factor of three and, as he put it, "It is really good money. I've played every Sunday for two years with no big results. I think I actually deserve it now." He has $1.4 million in career online tournament winnings and is ranked #5 in his home country of Russia. There was no deal that week in the Sunday Million, which attracted a field of 5,680. He told us why no agreement was discussed in a tournament that frequently ends in a chop: "We had a reg with a big stack all final table and a lot of short stacks. That's why there was no talking about a deal. The third player three-handed was not so good. I think even if we had three equal stacks, there would have been no deal." He plans to buy a flat with his newfound winnings and, yes, that's somewhat ironic given his screen name on PocketFives is Flat. In fact, when asked if he had any plans for the money, his response was, "Look at my screen name." Duh. He has shot up to #128 worldwide in the PocketFives Rankings, 33 spots off his all-time high set earlier this year. His friends and family have been pretty elated about his success in poker. "They are happy for me," Timofeev said. "They told me, 'We knew someday you would win something like this.'" He didn't even have time to celebrate his big Sunday Million score either, as he was heading to Barcelona and had a ton of errands to do around town. As we said, Timofeev is up to #5 in Russia and is #1 in the city of Perm. He gave us his take on the Rankings here at PocketFives: "Every MTT player wants to be first. That's why every move up in the Rankings is good." He certainly has set himself up for success, as within four days of his Sunday Million final table, he won the PokerStars Hot $109 twice along with the $102 Heads-Up Hyper-Turbo and $109 Rebuy. Timofeev got started in poker eight years ago after hearing about the game from a friend. "Now, poker is a huge part of my life," he said. "I'm playing, learning, and training. I'm also interested in sports like basketball, biathlon, and football. Another big part of my life is my girlfriend. We like to spend time together and travel." Who doesn't? Other big scores for Timofeev include multiple wins in the PokerStars Big $162 and a victory two years ago on PokerStars in the Sunday Storm for $32,000. Visit PokerStars for more details on the weekly Sunday Million. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  10. In June, Russia's Viktor papan9_p$Ustimov won the PokerStars Sunday Warm-Up after a three-way deal and walked off with $66,000. That was the largest amount given out and Ustimov was one of four PocketFivers to make the final table. Although it was just his ninth tracked win, he has almost $500,000 in online tournament scores to his credit. "It's a great feeling," Ustimov told us after his big win. "In MTTs, you always want to be the first place finisher." The Warm-Up had over 2,300 entrants that week, although there was an overlay since the prize pool fell short of its $500,000 guarantee. He trades aluminum alloys by day and gets to play poker about four times a week. Other big scores for the Russian include third place finishes in the Bigger $55 and Sunday Second Chance for $40,000 combined as well as another final table in the Warm-Up a year ago for $18,000. He's the 25th-ranked player in his home nation. Ustimov started playing poker with friends in school. For him, the game marked a rivalry of sorts with his friends, which is why to this day he sticks to MTTs over cash games. He has $332,000 in winnings on PokerStars and another $112,000 on Full Tilt. He plays as papan9_p$ on both sites, so he's really easy to keep track of. As the title of our article relayed, Ustimov was on the national American football team in Russia called the White Wolves (pictured at top) as the first running back. He calls himself a "master of sports" in American football. The Russia poker community on PocketFives has almost 1,900 members who together have generated $182 million in winnings over the years. $12.2 million of that total came in the last three months. Russian players have amassed over 400,000 in the money finishes over the years. Visit PokerStars for more details about the weekly Warm-Up. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.

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