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In poker, an overlay is the gap between a tournament’s guaranteed prize pool and the actual prize pool generated by entrants. For example, if a tournament has a guaranteed prize pool of $5,000 and 45 players pay the $100 buy-in, the players contribute only $4,500 – the remaining $500 is covered by the organizer and is referred to as the overlay.

In sports betting, this term refers to a situation in which the odds of a particular wager are higher than they should be for the sports book to turn a profit. This usually happens when the bookmaker fails to do enough research on the match. However, in some rare cases, a line may appear as an overlay in order to attract the attention of bettors.

Usage Example

1. “The tournament attracted less attention than expected, so the final prize included an overlay.”

2. “The handicappers at our local sports book are terrible, but I won’t complain since we get so many overlays.”


Poker overlays are far more common in online poker than in live poker because of the fierce competition and the volume of tournaments available at online poker rooms.

In sports betting, professional punters tend to bet massive amounts of money on any overlays they find. Consequently, many line makers use the lines published by others to make their own lines, which helps to ensure that no overlay will be published – and if it does, it won’t stay open for too long.

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