Steel Wheel Poker Hand

Ace to Five Straight Flush

by Jesse Knight


Steel Wheel Poker
Steel Wheel - A five high straight flush.

In the poker community, players often use slang or jargon when discussing poker hands and other aspects of the game. For example, in a Texas Hold’em game, if a player holds Ace-King in their hand, it is commonly referred to as “Big Slick.” Likewise, if a player holds a five high straight, or 5-4-3-2-A, it is commonly called a “wheel,” or a “bicycle.” Similarly, if a player holds a five high straight flush, which is 5-4-3-2-A, all in the same suit, it is known as a “steel wheel.” A steel wheel is a rare and powerful hand. It is the lowest ranking straight flush possible, beating four aces and losing to a six high straight flush.

In most poker games, the ace can play as either a high card or a low card, depending upon the situation. For some new players, this can be the source of some confusion, if they are unclear about when each occurs. Just to clarify, in general, if the Ace is used as a high card in the hand it will also play as a high card. For example, if a player held A-K-Q-J-T, they would have an Ace high straight, and the Ace would play for high. Alternatively, if a player holds 5-4-3-2-A, They would hold a five high straight, and the ace would play as a low card. In keeping with this logic, a steel wheel is considered five high, even though it contains an ace, meaning that it would lose to any higher ranking straight flush.

In split games such as Omaha Hi-Low or Stud Eight or Better, making a steel wheel guarantees that you are going to be getting at least some of the pot, but more will scoop the whole pot. A wheel is the best low hand possible so you will get the low portion of the pot (sometimes you might chop the low with one or more players). Having a steel wheel means you will most likely get the high portion of the pot too unless an opponent has a higher straight flush.

It is exciting to make a steel wheel for several reasons. First of all, it is not an everyday occurrence to make a natural straight flush. In some casinos, if they have a Monte Carlo Board, you may receive a cash bonus just for making the hand. In addition to this, when you make a steel wheel you are usually a lock to win the hand, and you can often win a large pot. This is especially true if your opponent makes a full house or four of a kind; you may only get credit for having a flush, and may get quite a bit of action.

The most exciting thing about making a steel wheel is that it can trigger a bad beat jackpot, if you are playing in a poker room that offers one. Although the qualification for a bad beat jackpot can vary widely depending upon where you play, in most casinos, a bad beat jackpot is triggered when a player has either some type of aces full or four of a kind beaten by a better hand. A steel wheel can be one of the two hands necessary to trigger the jackpot, provided certain conditions are met.

There are typically a number of conditions that must be met for a jackpot to be considered valid. These can vary quite considerably from casino to casino, a fact you should be aware of. One condition that is pretty much universal is that both hole cards must play from both hands. In order for a steel wheel to play both cards, you must play two suited cards from your hand and complete the straight flush with an additional three suited cards from the board. If you play only one card from your hand and four from the board, you would still have a straight flush (provided you are playing Hold’em and not Omaha), but your hand would be ineligible to hit the jackpot.

Some casinos restrict jackpot holdings even further, and require that in the case of a hand containing four of a kind, the player must have a pocket pair. If three of a kind hit the board, and a player held the fourth in their hand, they would not be eligible for the jackpot, regardless of whether their kicker played. This is significant, because a player can make a valid four of a kind, using both hole cards, and not be eligible for the jackpot, simply because their hand did not contain a pocket pair. This condition is highly restrictive, because it nullifies a majority of hands that would otherwise be eligible to hit a jackpot. Since this condition is so restrictive, it often leads to very high progressive jackpot amounts with very large payouts. Many casinos make a decision at the management level to manage their jackpots this way, because they believe that a big jackpot is a big draw to the casino. This is consistent with an industry wide trend toward fewer and larger payouts, away from a greater number of smaller payouts.

Usage: Steel Wheel On The Flop, Straight Flush Wheel

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