PokerStars' The Big Blowout Records the Biggest Overlay in Online Poker History

PokerStars players who jumped into the $109 The Big Blowout tournament last night enjoyed stupendous value as the tournament fell short of its ultra-ambitious $5 million guarantee by a wide margin.

Requiring a staggering 50,000 entrants to cover, the tournament attracted 37,673 runners (25,505 unique players and 12,168 re-entries) leading to an overlay of a jaw-dropping $1,232,700.

This makes it the largest overlay in the history of online poker, with PokerStars beating its own record of $1,205,000 which came a couple of years ago when PokerStars hosted the 12th anniversary of its iconic tournament Sunday Million in February 2018.

For those uninitiated, an overlay happens when the tournament fails to collect enough tournament buy-ins to cover the guaranteed prize pool set by the operator. When this happens, the operator must add to the prize pool to honor the guarantee.

In last night’s instance, with the guarantee set at $5 million, PokerStars managed to collect only $3.7 million in tournament buy-ins causing a shortfall of $1.2 million and providing an EV of $32 per entry.

Sign up to PokerStars today and enjoy $30 FREE »

Top Six Biggest Poker Tournament Overlays

Year Operator/Organizer Live/Online Overlay Guarantee Buy-in
2014 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Live $2.5M $10M $5,300
2020 PokerStars The Big Blowout Online $1.23M $5M $109
2018 PokerStars Sunday Million Anniversary Edition Online $1.2M $10M $215
2018 partypoker Caribbean Poker Party Main Event Live $925,000 $10M $5,300
2012 Partouche Poker Tour Live €700,000 €5M €8,500
2013 International Stadiums Poker Tour (ISPT) Live €589,060 €3M €3,000

Blowout Series Could Prove to be the Costliest Series for PokerStars

The tournament came as part of the operator’s ongoing Blowout Series replacing the annual Winter Series to straddle the holiday weekend with over $60 million in guarantees.

The series is quite ambitious as the operator has scheduled four additional mega-events in addition to the regular events, called Big Blowouts, held every Sunday over the course of the series, each featuring $5 million in guarantees. The buy-in escalates each week, starting at a $109 price point and then subsequently going up to $215, $530 and $1050.

Considering the guarantees put up across the Blowout Series, overlays were always on cards. However, falling short by over a million dollars on the opening day suggests that PokerStars may have bitten off more than it could chew.

The tournament had a buy-in of $109, with $9 going to the operator’s pocket as tournament fee. With 37,673 total entries, PokerStars collected $339,057 in total rake. Even with this tournament fee including in the total entries collector, the operator still had to pony up close to $900,000 to cover.

The shortfall could increase further as three more $5 million guaranteed events are scheduled to take place in the coming weeks.

Furthermore, on New Year’s day, PokerStars is due to host the New Year’s Bash – another challenging undertaking for the operator as this one guarantees $2 million with an entry fee of just $11.

This event will need to attract 200,000 entries to meet its guarantee. The tournament permits three re-entries, but the late registration period lasts only 2 hours, 45 minutes.

However, the operator is doing its best to ensure a large turnout by giving away $2 million in tickets via its well-tested Ticket Machine promotion, distributing free tournament tickets randomly to players who participate in the series.

Sign up to PokerStars today and enjoy $30 FREE »

Not the First Seven-Figure Overlay

The last time, PokerStars had to shoulder such big overlays was during the summer when it hosted the Stadium Series. That series concluded with over $2.2 million in shortfalls. However, the $1.2 million overlay from The Big Blowout is the largest-ever in a single tournament.

The last time, the operator missed by over $1 million in a single tournament came in 2018 during the 12th anniversary edition of Sunday Million. That tournament had a $10 million guarantee and gathered 43,975 total entries, falling short by more than 6000.

However, the title for the costliest tournament belongs to the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open, a live tournament held in 2014 which fell short of its $10 million guarantee by a massive $2.5 million.