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Wild Monkey Pai Gow


Wild Monkey Pai Gow is a pai gow poker variant where the player can surrender or double before the dealer exposes his cards. At the time of this writing, it has placements at the Barona in California and the Caliente Casino Race Club in Tiujana, MX.


Following are the rules for the partially-wild joker version.

  1. A 53-card deck is used, including one joker. The joker may represent any card that will complete a straight, flush, straight flush, or royal flush; otherwise, it counts as suit-less fifth ace.
  2. Play begins with each player making the mandatory Main wager. At this time, the player may make the optional Dealer Joker side bet.
  3. Each player will receives seven cards, face-down, and the dealer will receive eight cards, face-down.
  4. Each player reviews his cards, and then makes one of the following choices:
    • Fold, surrendering half their wager and ending the hand.
    • Raise, making an additional Raise wager of any amount up to their Main wager.
    • Check, and stand pat, taking no further action.
  5. Each remaining player then sets their hand into a two-card and a five- card hand, in standard pai gow.
  6. The dealer then turns all of his cards face up.
  7. If the dealer’s hand has the joker, he will discard it.
  8. The dealer will set his hand according to the house way for Wild Monkey Pai Gow.
  9. The A-5 straight, known as the "wheel," is the lowest straight.
  10. If the player’s two-card hand beats the dealer’s two-card hand, and the player’s five-card hand beats the dealer’s five-card hand, then the player’s Main wager and Raise wager win and pay even money (with no commission deducted).
  11. If the dealer’s two-card hand beats or copies the player’s two-card hand, and the dealer’s five-card hand beats or copies the player’s five-card hand, the player’s Main and Raise wagers lose, and are collected.
  12. Otherwise, if the player beats the dealer one way and loses or copies the the other way, then the player’s Main and Raise wager push.
  13. The Dealer Joker bet pays according to the following pay table. Wins are on a "to one" basis. As in the base game, the dealer's hand is scored after discarding the joker.

Dealer Joker Pay Table

Dealer Hand Pays
Yes 9-high pai gow 300
Yes 10-high pai gow 100
Yes J-high pai gow 25
Yes Q, K, or A-high pai gow 10
Yes All other hands 4
No Any hand Loss

There is also a fully-wild joker version, which is played at the Barona casino in California. The only rule change in that version, besides the usage of the joker, is the player may only surrender a king-high pai gow or less.



The following table shows the probability of all possible net outcomes in the version with a partially wild joker, assuming optimal player strategy.

Partially Wild Joker Analysis

Net Win Probability Return
2 0.143211 0.286422
1 0.049272 0.049272
0 0.341317 0.000000
-0.5 0.302030 -0.151015
-1 0.126235 -0.126235
-2 0.037935 -0.075869
Total 1.000000 -0.017426

The lower right cell shows a house edge of 1.74%. The player will double 34.13% of the time, for an average final wager of 1.3413 units. That makes the element of risk 1.74%/1.3413 = 1.30%.

The only information I know about the fully-wild joker version is that the house edge is 1.63%, the average wager is 1.3748 units, for an element of risk of 1.63%/1.3748 = 1.19%.

The following table shows the number of combinations, probability, and contribution to the return for all possible outcomes of the Wild Monkey bet. The math is the same for both the partially-wild and fully-wild joker versions. The lower right cell shows a house edge of 3.59%.

Dealer Joker Analysis

Dealer Hand Pays Combinations Probability Return
Yes 9-high pai gow 300 31,080 0.000035 0.010520
Yes 10-high pai gow 100 248,640 0.000281 0.028053
Yes J-high pai gow 25 963,480 0.001087 0.027176
Yes Q, K, or A-high pai gow 10 22,051,260 0.024879 0.248795
Yes All other hands 4 110,490,100 0.124661 0.498645
No Any hand -1 752,538,150 0.849057 -0.849057
Total     886,322,710 1.000000 -0.035867


Sorry, you're on your own with that for now.


The math for Wild Monkey Pai Gow was done by Charles Mousseau of Total Gaming Science and GLI. The math reports were kindly provided by the game owners with permission to quote from for this page.