Catching an overlay on a major poker site for a guaranteed tournament online is like catching a one outer in poker, it almost impossible. I mean it is a great marketing tool to promote tournaments and such, you get the average poker player, or players to see “$10+1 buy-in, $5,000 prize pool guaranteed” and decide to play based on perceived incentive of the $5,000, like they are getting a really big sale at a department store. This is without a doubt one of my biggest pet peeves in poker. An overlay for you who do not know, is an amount of money the site has to pay because the guarantee was not met. For example, if the guarantee is $5,000 and $4,000 worth of entrants are in the tournament the site is forced to cough up (pay) for the addition $1,000 out of their own pocket, essentially costing them money.
Now with these guaranteed prize pools, they usually attract a certain number of players required to make up the guarantee (minus the rake), this also is further helped out by the time of day, week or month and the volume of players they expect on the site. And they even have the stones to keep registration open long enough to meet the guarantee lots of the time, in case they do not get there, this was before they introduced late registration well into the first level. In essence this helps them make there quota (number of entrants, amount of profit from rake, etc…) giving them a reason to run the current tournament.
I cannot even count the number of times I have glanced at a tournament about 30 minutes to an hour before it begins and I say, there is no way they are going to make the guarantee, and sure enough somehow, someway, they make it! And I will tell you what the players (like me) are thinking, hmmm look at that tournament it is going to start in 5 minutes and there is no chance it is going to make the guarantee so I will sign up. You fall right into the trap! And every other person on the site is thinking the same thing that you are! And there is a mad scramble to get into the tournament and you cannot believe how quickly it fills up when it looks like the site might have to pay an overlay.
My point is, if your playing a tournament, do not play it for the guarantee. The payouts are the same as if there was no guarantee. Playing a 9 man Sit-N-Go tournament at $10+1 each the prize pool is $90, and what is guaranteed is that you pay for what you get.