What is overlay in poker? This is a term for tournament players that could be very profitable for you to know.

The prize pool in MTTs (multi-table tournaments) is built from entries, but sometimes there are so many rebuys and entries that extra funds build up. This becomes an overlay, meaning extra prize money that makes the MTT more lucrative. A lot of players search for overlay poker MTTs and will even enter late if they see it has one.

If you don’t know anything about overlays, this article will be your guide. We’ll look at what they are, how they get created, and how to find them.

This is what the MTT lobby looks like at PokerStars

All participants fill the MTT prize fund by buying a ticket. For example, if the lobby lists a buy-in of $1.10, then $1 is sent to the prize pool, and another $0.10 goes to the room as rake.

If the MTT is regular, then it has a guarantee, meaning, a prize fund guaranteed by the poker room. The poker sites do some calculations to find out how many players should join, based on previously completed MTTs.

This event cost $5.50 to enter and had a guaranteed prize pool of $6,000

Overlay is the difference between the guarantee and the actual prize fund. If the entries create a larger prize pool than what was guaranteed, then that extra money is the overlay.

So, if the declared prize money is greater than what was collected, then such an MTT is called an overlay. And in this case, the tournament organizer compensates for the difference from his own pocket, which is beneficial for the players.

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Here's an example of an overlay in action: if an $11 MTT has a $50,000 guarantee, then the poker room assumes there will be more than 5,000 people in it, including re-entries (rake does not go into the prize pool). And if, for example, 4,800 participants gather, then the MTT will have an overlay.

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There are several reasons for overlays:

  1. New poker rooms can lure newcomers in this way.
  2. Certain MTTs do not attract the required number of participants because they do not take place at the most popular time of day – for example, early in the morning.
  3. On large series where generous guarantees are announced. Typically, this is how market giants fight with competitors and get new users to download their software.

In December 2020, the Blowout Series on PokerStars hosted a $109 buy-in tournament with a huge $5,000,000 guarantee. Despite 37,673 registrations (including 12,168 re-entries), the players did not exceed the guarantee. Moreover, the difference was $1,232,700, which became a record for online poker.

If constant overlays occur in the same event, the rooms will reduce the guarantee. For example, the Blowout series was held the following year, but there was no longer such a large difference between the guarantee and the actual prize pool on PokerStars. Why? Because the room had given away over a million dollars extra on the last one.

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PokerStars starting out holding online poker games back in 2001 and now the company is worth over 6 billion dollars. They sponsor a slew of tournaments like the European Poker Tour, UK and Ireland Poker Tour, plus a handful of others. Over the years, PokerStars has remained on top of the online poker industry. They’ve expanded to offer fantastic online casino games and sports betting.

You can locate tournaments with overlays by keeping a close eye on MTT schedules. Rarely, you’ll hear about tournaments with overlays long before they happen. Most of the time though, it will take a careful eye.

We can also help. If you connect with our GT+ Support, they can tip you off when an overlay is coming up.You may need to sign up with another poker room and download their software, but the potential winnings will be worth the time. Also, you should ask us which poker software

There is a type of tournament in which players will be in the black by default. They are called freerolls. We advise all beginners to start with them, because entry is free and the prizes are quite real.

A comprehensive schedule of free tournaments and current passwords for freerolls can be found in a special section on our website.

The freerolls on 888poker

The most profitable freerolls aren’t always on the same site. Partypoker is a good choice because of its regular events, with prize pools between $50 and $400.

But when you register with a new poker room (and make a small deposit), that’s when you’ll get some of the biggest freerolls. In this case, the first depositor freerolls are giving away hundreds, but thousands of dollars. 888poker, for example, often gives away $1,500 for first time depositors – with no entry fee.

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