What Is Overlay In Poker?


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Tournaments are popularly regarded as the holy grail of the poker world. Now, irrespective of whether you are a poker pro or a rookie, you must have noticed some tournaments exclusively mention the term “Overlay” at the time of announcing the tournament’s pot value. So, what do you think overlay poker means? Well, if you are unsure then keep reading this post wherein, we have detailed the meaning and the benefits of overlay in poker along with the ideal overlay poker strategy. Let's head on to read the overlay poker definition and find out exactly what does overlay mean in poker.

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Overlay poker meaning – Explanation

Most poker tournaments in general guarantee a specific prize pool even before knowing the number of entrants that will be participating in that particular tournament. Vital to this, when poker rooms (both live and online) host any tournament they generally declare a guaranteed prize pool well in advance. Now, in an event when enough players do not turn up to meet that prescribed pot amount the poker rooms add the difference amount from their pocket to meet the initial guarantee amount. The difference amount added by the poker room to complete the prize pool is hereafter referred to as overlay poker.

Overlay poker meaning

Building on this explanation, let us understand the concept of overlay in poker in a tournament with the help of a short example:

Let's assume an online poker tournament has a guaranteed prize pool of $10,000. This means the poker room has promised its entrants that there will be a total amount of at least $10,000 in the pot. The entry fee for this tournament is $100 which will go towards building the prize pool. Let’s say in the current tournament only 90 players turn up so the total pot amount collected is only $9000 with $1000 still to be added to the pot. This amount of $1000 which the poker room will add to the prize pool will thus be known as an overlay in poker.

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What is the benefit of participating in a tournament with an overlay poker?

Overlay poker in general is quite expensive for the poker rooms since they are expected to pay the difference amount out of their profits. On the contrary, the overlay in poker offers some profound benefits to the participants because although the prize pool is the same, the number of participants has gone down significantly. But, how does this benefit the players?

Well, let’s assume in a standard poker tournament 400 players were supposed to compete for the pot worth $4000. In such a situation, each player’s expected value was $4000/400= $10. Now suppose only 200 participants participated in the tournament instead of the initial 400. So, each player’s expected value comes down to $4000/200 = $20.

Overlay poker tournaments are especially beneficial for poker players because they increase their win rate and benefit their bankroll management. This is because the investment done by the player remains the same but with a lesser number of participants, the player’s chance of winning generally increases significantly.

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Overlay poker strategy

Overlay poker in tournaments is often considered a direct indication that the tournament is of high value. By participating in such tournaments even somewhat weak players generate a positive win rate and often go on to win a fair amount of money, provided the overlay poker in the tournament is fairly big.

Overlay in poker

Since you hold a positive win rate in overlay poker tournaments, the ideal strategy is to play as aggressively as possible especially if you notice you are not surrounded by absolute pros and are holding premium hands. However, always be prepared to tweak your overlay strategy because most online poker tournaments offer late registrations. Therefore, many times, the tournament that initially started with an overlay poker ends up recovering the entire pot amount by attracting a number of late entrants. In such a situation the tournaments cease to be an overlay once all the players join.

Best ways to find overlay poker tournaments

If you want to hunt down some multi-table overlay poker tournaments, then one way is to browse the internet and look for some unpopular websites since you will not find many players there and it will be easy to find a spot.

Usually, a person can find overlay tournaments online, not in person. It is because of the volatility that digital platforms provide during playing sessions. In physical tournaments, the number of players joining is fixed.

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