The €1 million Big One for One Drop is underway. Major William Hill investor Parvus will resist any deal with Amaya. The Equity Poker Network seems to have gone belly up. And more.

Just Another Million Dollar Euro Drop in the Bucket

Poker’s biggest buy-in tournament is back for a third time. The Big One for One Drop got underway at the Monte Carlo casino this morning, with its buy-in made bigger than ever due to a currency change; due to its location, the ticket price is now one million Euro. The other, bigger difference is that it’s now an invitational, rather than open event, as organizer and Cirque du Soleil owner Guy Laliberté decided that it would attract more wealthy business types if he didn’t allow top professionals to enter and scare them away.

Not everyone is impressed with that decision, especially as it would be a bit of a stretch to call some of the people Laliberté accepted “amateurs.” Adding insult to injury, many of the professionals who would otherwise have been playing have been recruited as coaches or solicited to buy action by those who managed to duck under the fairly arbitrary bar he established.

PokerNews has, as usual, the exclusive live coverage rights. You can follow their play-by-play here.

As of this writing, the chip lead is held by Russian businessman Anatoly Gurtovoy. Investor and restauranteur Alfred De Carolis is in 2nd, and hedge fund manager Dan Shak in 3rd. The only bust-out so far is Bobby Baldwin, ironically one of the players whose inclusion is questionable: with four WSOP bracelets and $2.3 million in cashes, it’s hard to call him an amateur while keeping a straight face, even if he now works on the industry side of things as a casino executive, rather than being active as a player.

Quick Hitters

– The prospects for an Amaya/William Hill merger are looking fainter, as the investment group Parvus Asset Management has penned an open letter to the board, stating that such a deal would “destroy shareholder value” and that Parvus – one of William Hill’s most important investors – would oppose it, regardless of the terms.

Equity Poker Network, a recreational player-focused network operating in the unregulated US market, has apparently gone under. The network’s website and its flagship skin, Full Flush Poker, both went offline on the 1st of the month and show no signs of coming back up. Cashout times had been growing ever longer, in some cases over a year, in a scenario reminiscent of the now-infamous Lock Poker. As happened with Lock, cannier players saw the bottom coming up early, and were selling their account balances to others at dimes or even pennies on the dollar.

– The first season of the Global Poker League is rapidly nearing its conclusion, with the playoffs coming up. The Montreal Nationals and Los Angeles Sunset are the first two teams to have locked up their berths, while the Las Vegas Moneymakers are the first to have officially been eliminated. The Eurasian conference is much closer, and it’s still up in the air for the time being who will make the postseason there.