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I have a basic question on mining. How does it work?

For example, if I use my computer to mine coins such as litecoins, do those coins go straight into my offline wallet? Or must I be connected to some online centralised pooling service, which holds to coins until I transfer them to my offline wallet?

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You will most likely be using a mining pool, in which case the coin you earn will remain on your pool account until you choose to withdraw it to your local wallet. Most pools support auto-withdrawals (i.e. when the balance reaches a certain threshold).

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