What is ‘Wheel’?
Wheel is a term that is used to refer to a straight that goes from ace to five. Put simply, in order for a player to hit a wheel hand, a player must have the ace, two, three, four and five. If an ace is used as part of a straight, sometimes it counts as high, and sometimes it counts as low. This is determined by which end of the straight the ace falls on. If a player is holding a wheel hand, then the ace will be counted as low because it falls on the bottom of the straight.
Straights are not permitted to ‘turn the corner’, this means that if a player is holding a queen, king, ace, two and a three, they cannot use their hand as a straight. So whenever an ace forms part of a straight, it has to fall on either the high or the low side. If it falls on the low side, it is called a wheel, if it falls on the high side, it is called a ‘broadway’. In the unlikely event that a player manages to hit a hand of suited ace to five, it is referred to as a steel wheel. Since a regular wheel is the lowest possible ranking straight, players will generally have to rely on a little bit of luck if they are going to take the pot. Although a wheel outranks three of a kind, it will lose to any higher ranking straight or better. That makes it a medium ranking hand in games such as Texas Hold’em.
If, however, the game is a High-Low one, the wheel becomes a significantly better hand. This is because the wheel is classed as a ‘nut low hand’, meaning it outranks any other low hands and only another wheel hand can tie with it. If a player is lucky enough to complete a wheel hand before the dealer reveals the river, they could potentially win a massive pot if they bet aggressively. Ultimately, the wheel is either a middling hand or one of the best hands a player can receive – it just depends on what type of poker they are playing.