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How to maximize value by taking advantage of tournament overlays

Posted by kahntrutahn

If you're reading this page on the DragTheBar blog, then you're probably a serious student of poker who's always looking to improve your results at the tables. Some ways of increasing your profits, like watching strategy videos and analyzing your hand histories, involve many hours of study and work. Others, however, are much easier to implement immediately without going to any particular trouble.

Earlier this month we explored how to improve your winrate by picking the appropriate type of account, VIP or rakeback. Making the proper choice in this regard could earn you hundreds or thousands of extra dollars per month depending on your volume of play.

Today, we'll look at one of the best methods for enhancing your bottom-line in poker tournaments: overlays. An overlay refers to an MTT to which money has been added to the prize pool by the poker site. This acts as an immediate boost to your return on investment (ROI), and the only thing you have to do to take advantage of the situation is click on the “register” button in the tourney lobby.

Why Do Overlays Exist?

There are a few added-value tournaments, whether freerolls or other promotional specials, that have overlays on purpose. Then there are others that come about because the poker room misjudged participation levels when placing guarantees on events. If the number of entrants in an MTT is insufficient to reach the guaranteed total, then the site has to top off the prize pool until it matches the stated amount.

Examples of Overlays

We're in the midst of a tournament series that's overlaying hard right now. The Winning Poker Network is running $250 + $15 Million Dollar Sunday MTTs every week in January, February, and March. Each one pays out no less than $1,000,001.

A little simple arithmetic shows that more than 4,000 people need to enter for the contributions from the players to add up to the guaranteed sum with the WPN keeping 100% of the fees. If more than 3,773 but less than 4,001 entrants show up, then the site will be effectively losing a portion of the rake in order to meet its commitments. And if 3,773 or fewer participants take to their seats, then the WPN will actually lose money on the event.

So far, three of these MDS tournaments have run, and none of them attracted as many as 4,000 players. Two of them saw the network have to actually dip into its own pockets to make good on its promises while the third required the operator to forgo some of its profits from tourney fees.

The Effects of Overlays on ROI

Let's look at a concrete example using the numbers from one of the recent MDS tournaments to illustrate how worthwhile it can be to join overlay tournaments.

On Jan. 14, only 3,407 individuals bought into the MDS event. This resulted in an overlay of $97,146 ($1,000,001 - (3,407 * ($260 + $15)). When we divide the prize pool – $1,000,001 – by the number of players, we see that the site paid back an average of $291.52 per entrant, more than the $265 they had forked over to participate. The average return on investment was around 10% ($26.52 profit/$265 investment).

Compare this to what happens when there isn't an overlay. Let's say that one week, 4,500 players enter, surpassing the $1,000,001 guarantee. Well, now the average payout per individual is just the same as the buyin less the tourney fee: $250. The ROI in this case is about -5.7% (-$15 profit/$265 investment).

The presence of the overlay caused a jump of more than 15% in the field's return on investment! Breakeven players were effectively transformed into solid winners, and those who are normally decent winners saw their expected value approach that of absolute sicko crushers.

Don't Ignore this Opportunity

Nobody who's a dedicated poker player can just pass by a gratis bump in ROI on the order of 15%. If you're an MTTer who can afford the $250 + $15 buyin without violating the precepts of proper bankroll management, then the Million Dollar Sundays are an excellent investment. There are many overlay tournaments waiting for keen poker fans to join, both at the Winning Poker Network and at other cardrooms, and you'd be remiss if you fail to consider them while reviewing your weekly tournament schedule.

Example of Million Dollar Sunday overlay in progress Jan 28, 2018Example of overlay in WPN's Million Dollar Sunday tournament

How to maximize value by choosing the correct rewards program

Posted by kahntrutahn

Almost everyone who plays online poker is doing so in the hopes of winning some money. As we all know, most people are delusional about their skills, have no plan to improve, do not critically analyze poker as if it were a business, and simply will not succeed.

That does not however describe you dear reader. I know this because you are reading this blog post here at Drag The Bar, a site whose sole purpose is to teach you how to be a technically more proficient poker player! Thanks to the generosity of the Winning Poker Network, this site is now free for anyone and everyone to use and thus improve their game. Improving your game is a sure fire way to earn more money (or lose less) on the felt. But there are many other ways other than studying poker to improve your poker profitability.

With this in mind today, I'd like to discuss one of these other methods. Since WPN sponsors this site, we will focus specifically on how to be a more profitable player at the Winning Poker Network. We are going to achieve this goal by analyzing the options players have insofar as what type of account to use when playing at WPN sites such as America's Cardroom, Black Chip Poker, True Poker, and Ya Poker.

WPN logos

Elite Benefits vs Rakeback: Choosing the Right Americas Cardroom Rewards Plan

Players at Americas Cardroom and the other Winning Poker Network sites have two options when it's time to create their accounts: normal 27% rakeback and the Elite Benefits system. Those on rakeback cannot claim Elite Benefits rewards and vice versa, so it's important to make the right choice before beginning to play. Over the lifetime of an account, the differences between the two programs can add up to thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars especially for high-volume players. Therefore, it pays for you to get this choice correct from the start.

About the Two Programs

Rakeback at the Winning Poker Network is calculated using the weighted contributed methodology. This means that in cash games you receive credit proportional to the amount you actually put into the pot rather than getting an equal share merely for being dealt into a hand. In tournaments, the house fee is considered the rake for the purposes of rakeback calculations. The percentage of 27% is applied to the total rake you generate, and this is the amount of the rakeback you're eligible for. You don't have to wait till the end of the week or month to claim your Americas Cardroom RB payment. You can receive a payout every day whenever you want by going to the “Rewards” ---> “Rakeback” section of the poker software. The money will be transferred to your real money balance instantly.

Elite Benefits operates according to a system of ranks based upon the amount of Rank Points you earn. Rank Points accumulate at a rate of 5.5 for every $1 paid in rake or tournament fees. The levels, in order from lowest to highest, are: Lieutenant, Captain, Major, Colonel, General, and 5 Star General. Placement in Lieutenant through Colonel is based on your monthly Rank Points while General and 5 Star General consider your playing volume for the whole year. As you pass certain Rank Point milestones throughout the year, you'll earn free cash. Additionally, you'll receive Combat Points that can be exchanged for money credits that get higher the further you climb through the EB program. Each Rank Point you collect awards you with a number of Combat Points that varies depending on what rank in the system you hold.

Which Program Is Better?

Either Elite Benefits or rakeback might be appropriate for your individual playing habits; there's no one-size-fits-all solution. The value delivered by rakeback is a steady 27% no matter how much you play, but the Elite Benefits arrangement gives back more to people at the higher ranks – that is, those who can put in a significant volume of play regularly month after month. If you want a precise cutoff point as to when Elite Benefits becomes more valuable than straight rakeback, this comprehensive comparison of the rakeack versus Elite Benefits VIP programs applies to Americas Cardroom as well as its partner Winning Poker Network skins, like Black Chip, True Poker, and Ya!

The short answer is that flat rakeback is better for lower-stakes individuals and those who play infrequently. In fact, Elite Benefits only becomes superior if you're confident of being able to reach one of the two highest ranks. Those ranks correlate to General or 5 Star General at ACR, Legend or Icon at Black Chip or True Poker, and Diamond or Black Diamond at Ya Poker. You'll need to rake more than $18,182 a year ($1,516 a month) to be able to secure your general's stars. To give yourself some margin for error and room to maneuver, though, it might be best to stick with RB unless you can rake in the ballpark of $20,000 per year ($1,667 per month).

It is worth noting that the thresholds for this may change at some point in 2018. WPN currently does not allow points to be exchanged for anything but cash prizes. However, in the past, points were exchangeable for tournament tickets at a slightly higher rate of conversion. WPN also operated a store front with various real world prizes. The store front is closed for remodeling and the T$ conversions are currently on hiatus. However, it is my understanding that both of these things may return in the future. If so, I'll make another blog post and/or edit this one to reflect the changes in conversion thresholds.

eb

Your Choice of Rewards Programs

The Winning Poker Network caters to all kinds of customers, from the casual, recreational poker player to the seasoned pro. That's why it has developed two separate rewards systems so that each user can select what's best for him or her. Armed with the information we've just presented, you can act with confidence and ensure that you don't make a mistake when deciding between Elite Benefits and 27% rakeback.