Top Poker Sites for Guarantees and Overlays
One of the most popular types of poker tournamentsis the guaranteed tournament. What makes these tournaments unique is that they have minimum prize pools that are guaranteed by the poker room. If not enough players sign up to meet the guarantee, the poker room makes up the difference.
Players love to play these tournaments because, if the conditions are right, the winner (and the players that make the final table) can walk away with a nice five- or six-figure score. Sometimes, they win more.
This is only possible if you join a reputable site, though. You need to join a site that you can trust will hold up their end of the bargain. That’s why we’ve listed the best online poker sites for guaranteed tournaments right here.
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These are the best poker sites for guarantees and overlays that you can join today. Here are a few of the many reasons why.
- They’ll cover the difference if there aren’t enough players to meet the guarantee. They won’t cancel the tournament.
- These poker rooms run frequent guaranteed tourneys (daily and weekly).
- Each site offers satellites to the larger guaranteed MTTs so that you can try to play the larger buy-ins on a discount.
We handpicked these sites ourselves after conducting several hours of research and hands-on testing. We’re confident that you’ll enjoy the guaranteed tournaments running at any one of them.
And in the next section, we’ll give you an overview of what we look for in online poker sites before we recommend them.
Finding the Best Poker Sites for Guarantees
How do you find the best poker sites for guaranteed tournaments?
What you don’t do is join the first poker room you see. You don’t join a poker room because of their promotions or because of the one massive guaranteed MTT they’re running.
No, if you want to find a site that runs the best guaranteed MTTs, you need to do some research first. You want to find a site that constantly runs high quality guaranteed tourneys.
The following is what we recommend you look for.
Traffic (or the player pool) is important. You need other players for tournaments to run in the first place. Larger player pools are also necessary if you want to play tournaments with large guarantees.
Now, there’s something to be said about finding overlay tournaments. If you don’t know what these are, we’ll talk about them in the next section.
Overlay tournaments are great if you can find them. They can offer a lot of value. However, poker sites that always promise these huge guarantees without the players to back the numbers up often cancel the tourneys.
Ultimately, we’d rather join a poker site with lots of players, and huge and frequent guaranteed tourneys than hope for the occasional overlay tourney.
We won’t discuss specific numbers because not everyone will have an abundance of options. All you need to know is that you want to join a reputable site with the largest number of players possible.
We’re talking about guaranteed tournaments, so obviously any site you join will have to offer these tournaments.
Beyond this, we also recommend considering the following.
- How large are the biggest guarantees?
- How often can you play guaranteed tournaments?
- Do they have overlay tournaments? How often and how valuable?
- Do they offer satellites into their largest guaranteed tournaments?
- How many games and variants can you play with a guaranteed prize pool?
- Are there low stakes guaranteed tournaments? Are there high stakes tourneys, too?
- Does the poker room offer guaranteed tourneys within a larger tournament series (like SCOOP/WCOOP)?
The goal is to find a site that caters to what you like, and that offers the most variety, convenience, and value.
Another thing you might want to look into is whether the poker room focuses on recreational players or if they accept everyone.
Poker rooms that choose to focus on recreational players often do the following.
- Prohibit third-party software like Poker Tracker and Holdem Manager
- Limits the number of tables you can play at once
These rooms will usually have additional features that will benefit recreational players. Here are a couple of examples of what you can find.
- Anonymous tables – These tables use numbers instead of screen names to identify players.
- Temporary notes and tags – You can use them for your current session only. Then, they disappear.
- Quick seat – This function prevents players from table selecting i.e. avoiding good players and preying on weaker ones. This is less of an issue with MTTs, but it’s still a useful feature to have.
These rooms try to discourage pros from even joining. Those that do will be on more of an even playing field with everyone else since they can’t use software or other tools to help them play.
These are great rooms to look for if you just play for fun. Features and terms like these will give you a slightly better chance of cashing in the guaranteed tournaments that you play.
Of course, if you’re a grinder or strive to be one in the future, then you’ll want to join a site that welcomes everyone and allows you to use a limited range of software to help you study and play.
The attributes above are the most important when searching for a poker site with the best guaranteed tournaments. This isn’t everything you need to look for, though.
Here are some of the other important attributes to look for.
- The poker site’s reputation – Do other players enjoy playing here? Can you trust the poker site?
- The banking options you can use – What options can you use? Are the limits and fees reasonable?
- The poker room’s promotions – Deposit bonuses are good, especially for winning players. We think VIP (or some kind of rewards) programs are ideal, as you’ll earn rewards for every tourney you play.
- How to contact the poker room – Customer support is important. How can you get in touch with the poker room and how fast will they respond?
These are things that matter regardless of the type of poker room you want to join. Combine these two lists together and the odds that you’ll find a great guaranteed tournament poker site increase exponentially.
This is assuming you want to find a site on your own, though, which, of course, takes a lot of time, testing, and money. Fortunately, there’s an easier way.
Just use our recommendations above.
We don’t have enough time to go through our entire process here. Just know that we spend a lot of time and effort reviewing and testing every site we recommend. Between our hands-on approach and our decades of combined experience, you can trust that every site we suggest you join is worth your time.
We’re positive that, by the time you’re done, you’ll see that you can trust our recommendations.
Overlay Tournaments and their Benefits
We briefly mentioned overlay tournaments in the last section. Now, we want to take a couple of minutes to talk about them in depth.
Let’s start with an explanation of what overlay tournaments are.
Say a tournament you want to play in is guaranteeing a prize pool of $150,000. The buy-in for this tournament is $100. This means 1,500 players need to register to meet the $150k guarantee.
Now, let’s say that only 1,349 players register for the tournament. That means the tournament only has $134,900 of the $150,000 guarantee and it’s about to start any minute. What happens then?
The tournament will have an overlay. The poker room will cover the $15,100 difference.
This is a huge value to players because you’re still playing for a piece of the same prize pool, but there are 151 fewer players that you’ll have compete with to win a piece of it.
The number of players paid will be smaller, sure. However, everyone will make more money since fewer players will be paid.
Finding Overlay Tournaments
It’s not easy to find overlay tournaments. You might not find out about one until the last minute when registration is about to close.
That said, there are a couple of things you can try.
One, poker sites with less traffic are more likely to have an overlay tournament than sites that boast tens of thousands of players.
The buy-in will be a clue, too.
For example, if you find a tournament that has a large buy-in ($5,000 or more) and a huge seven- or eight-figure guarantee, it’s possible that tournament will have an overlay. $5,000 is a lot of money for most players, and it’d be tough to run enough satellites to fulfill the guarantee that way.
The last clue is to look at older tournaments that poker rooms run every year.
For example, Party Poker hosted the Caribbean Poker Party in the Bahamas in 2017. This had a $5,300 buy-in with a $5 million guarantee.
This event barely had enough registrants to cover the guarantee then. The smart move would’ve been to keep it all the same in 2018. Party Poker had different plans, though.
Party Poker upped the guarantee from $5 to $10 million. And while they got more registrants than the previous year, they only had 1,815 when they needed 2,000 to make the guarantee. As such, the Caribbean Poker Party had an overlay of $925,000.
History won’t always be an indicator. Sometimes, a tournament that had a strong turnout in previous years has an awful turnout the next year. And vice versa. It happens
However, if you keep your eyes and ears open, pay attention to history, and play at smaller poker sites online, you’ll increase your chances of finding an overlay guaranteed tournament.
Do this and you’ll not only increase your odds of running deeper in the tournament, but you’ll make more money when you do.
4 Tips to Help You Run Deeper in MTTs
The whole point to playing at the best poker sites for guaranteed tournaments is to do well in those tournaments. You want to run deep, cash, or even win the whole thing and add a lot of money to your bankroll.
How do you do that, though? How do you run deeper in guaranteed tournaments more often?
The following tips should help.
1Treat the Early Levels Like a Cash Game
Many people recommend you play tight during the early levels of a tournament. There’s a phrase MTT players use that says, “You can’t win a tournament in the early levels, but you can lose it.”
This makes sense. You don’t want to play every hand you’re dealt.
However, you also don’t want to play only the tip-top of your range. If you wait for hands like JJs+ and AJs+, you’re going to struggle to consistently run deep in the MTTs you play.
The problem with this approach is that if you can’t build your stack, even a little, you’ll often find yourself with a short stack in the middle levels.
There are strategies to help you with this, but who wants to resort to push/fold poker in every MTT you play?
A much better approach is to treat the early levels like a cash game. Steal the blinds. Re-steal from other players. Continuation bet the flop, and double barrel the turn.
In other words, play solid poker and try to build your stack.
2Get More Aggressive When Antes Kick In
You want to play some hands during the early levels, but you don’t want to get out of control. Don’t play every hand because the pots you win early on won’t contribute that much to your stack.
It’s a much better idea to kick it up another notch once antes kick in.
Antes are the mandatory bet that everyone must pay in addition to the blinds. For example, say you’re at 100/200/25. There will be 525 in the pot before the cards are dealt.
Pots with antes in them can make up a large portion of your stack, especially if you ran bad or are card dead and ended up with a short stack. If you shove or re-steal when antes kick in, you can double or triple your stack within just a few hands.
Here are a couple of good opportunities to look for once antes kick in.
- Tight players you can steal the blinds from.
- Players who open-raise light that you can three-bet steal from.
- Loose players who call three-bets light but check/fold the flop or turn too often.
These are all great opportunities to add chips to your stack, especially once antes kick in. You’ll need to build your stack if you want to run deep, not to mention win the tournament.
3Attack People on the Bubble
The bubble is the phase during a tournament where only a few people remain, then everyone will be in the money.
For example, say the top 200 people cash in the tournament you’re playing. You’ll be on the bubble when there are 201, 202, 203, etc. people left.
It’s at this point where people tighten up. No one wants to play for hours only to bust a couple spots away from doubling your entry fee.
This is the exact point where you need to get aggressive. Steal the blinds and continuation bet the flop. Re-steal a frequent opener. Shove all in.
Now, there are variables to keep in mind. You can’t just go crazy. You need to keep your stack size in mind, as well as the effective stacks at the table. You need to keep player tendencies in mind. And you need to keep your table image in mind.
So long as you’re abusing stacks that can’t take the damage if they lose, you abuse players who are capable of folding, and you’re mindful of how often you’re abusing the table, it’ll be hard to find a better time to build a stack to make a deep run than on the bubble.
4Learn Push/Fold Strategy
Making a deep run in a tournament means you need to survive. And sometimes the cards don’t go your way, or you make a bad play, and you end up with a short stack.
Most people consider a short stack to be around 10 big blinds. However, with antes, a “short stack” can be a little larger than that (think 12 to 20 big blinds).
Either way, when you have this small of a stack, your strategy needs to change.
First of all, you can’t limp or raise then fold preflop. The problem with this approach is that a short stack is so small relative to what you put in the pot that once you start betting, it’s incorrect to fold.
Not only that, but whenever you bet a couple big blinds then fold, you’re losing huge chunks of your stack and any fold equity that comes with it.
The other reason why playing “normal” poker is a mistake is because you don’t have enough chips to play all three streets. At some point, you’re going to have to be all in, and folding at any point will be a huge mistake.
So, why not maximize your fold equity and shove from the start?
This is why it’s going to make more sense to learn push/fold poker. You’ll use this strategy when you’re too short to play a normal poker hand.
The benefit to playing this way is that you maximize any fold equity you have. You’ll be able to pick up lots of pots preflop when shoving because other players will have short stacks too and won’t want to risk taking a substantial hit to their stack on a coin flip.
Push/fold poker (and ICM) is too deep of a rabbit hole to cover here. Besides, there’s software out there that will help you learn it.
The point we want to get across to you now is that, if you want to make more deep runs in the guaranteed tournaments you play, there will be a time where you’ll be too short to play poker. You’ll have to resort to pushing or folding instead.
Learn about ICM and push/fold poker, use all the tips above, and we’re positive that you’ll run deeper in more of the guaranteed tournaments you play more often.
Play in the Best Guaranteed Tourneys Online
Guaranteed poker tournaments are a lot of fun. You can buy in for a relatively nominal amount and compete for a piece of a guaranteed prize pool.
Play in the right tournament and you can take home a six-figure prize. And if you get lucky, you might even find an overlay tournament where there are fewer players to fight through and more money to win for cashing.
We even gave you a few tips to help you pull it all off.
Don’t forget, though, it all starts with choosing the right site. And the fastest way to do that is to scroll back to the top of this page and choose one from our list. We only recommended the very best poker sites for guaranteed tournaments, and each one has been tested and vetted by us.