APPT Cebu: Bring on APPT Ulan Bator!

By Landon Blackhall

It's no big secret that poker has caught the world by storm, but throughout the Great Poker Boom in the last few years, there's one country that hasn't popped in poker-related conversations too often: Mongolia.

Landlocked between mainland China and Russia, Mongolia is the world's most sparsely populated independent country. But there's enough people with an interest in poker to build a modest but thriving poker scene.

With the assistance of prominent Asian poker figure Mike Kim, an army of Mongolians have made their way to the APPT Cebu Main Event, including the president of the Mongolian Poker Association, Batsuren Tserendorj.

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Just some of the Mongolian players getting their first taste of poker at an international level

"I learned the game of poker in America six years ago and brought it back to Mongolia," Tserendorj said through a translator. "Since then we've opened 16 small card clubs throughout the country and many people are beginning to play online."

The growth of the game is restricted due to the government's strict stance on gambling, but Tserendorj is confident that the game will grow: "I am hoping that one day we can have a major poker event like the APPT in Mongolia."

Kim is thrilled to have been able to help bring Mongolia to the world poker stage. "It's funny. I initially invited about half-a-dozen guys and 20 people ended up coming out. These guys have been playing a lot of poker at the resort but tonight we're going to see the sights!" he said.

If the performance of their players in today's flight is anything to go by, there could well be a Mongolian Joe Hachem or Chris Moneymaker out there, in particular, Bold Uundai, who is currently the overall chip leader with 110,000 after eliminating an opponent in a massive pot.

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The colourful Bold Uundai has charged to the chip lead late on day 1A

We caught the action on a flop of Q♦ 5♦ 2♥; Uundai led out for 3000 then called his opponent's check-raise of 12,000 to see the turn of the [10d]. The opponent checked again, Uundai shoved all in and the opponent called, tabling 5♥ 5♣ for a flopped set, well ahead of Uundai's Q♠ [10s].

However the river [10h] was golden for the Mongolian and his friends cheered as the opponent angrily splashed his short stack into the pot and stormed out of the Marquee.

We're now into the final level of the day with blinds at 400/800 and an ante of 75. Approximately 60 of the 106 starters remain seated, with the chip average up to almost 35,000.