Dear Mark: I have heard, although not seen, that certain casinos offer different commissions on a 4 and 10 buy bet. Of three casinos near where I live, they all offer a buy bet with a 5% commission. Was I misinformed? Nick F.

Essentially, Nick, a buy bet resembles a place bet except that you pay a 5% commission on the amount of your wager. When you win, you are paid at the true odds, minus, of course, the 5%.

For those buying the 4 or 10, it is advised that you wager at least $20, since the minimum commission the casino will charge you for making a buy wager is a dollar (5% of $20).

The casino edge on any buy bet for $20 works out to 4.76%, with smaller sized wagers increasingly higher.

Since a buy bet does nothing more than give the house a 5% commission for paying you correct odds on a winning bet, I recommend sticking with wagers that only give the house less than a two percent edge, such as a place bet, but only on the 6 or 8. Stay away, Nick, from placing the 4 or 10, as the house edge is 6.67%.

Not only does placing the 6 or 8 have a smaller house edge, 1.5%, than buying the 4 or 10, but it is also plenty cheap. A place bet can be made for as little as $6.

My point here, Nick, is that there are other wagers on a crap game that are far superior to buying the 4, 10, or any number for that matter. But for the exception below, I generally cannot affirm the ‘buy’ wager as recommended play.

As to your question, Nick, yes, there are certain casinos that offer a different commission structure on a 4 and 10 buy bet. Although all casinos charge the commission, some only do if you win. When your 4 or 10 are losers, you don’t have to pay the commission, and the house edge drops all the way down to 1.67%, making for a terrific wager.

Longtime readers of this column know the drill and only make wagers on a crap table, or any bet in the casino, that has less than 2% house edge. A buy bet on the 4 or 10, one that is commission-free if you lose, is one that I would recommend adding to your betting repertoire.

Dear Mark: On a bike trip across France, I stopped in a casino and happened upon a game very similar to roulette, but much smaller. Do you know anything about it? The game was closed, and there was no one around to explain what it was. Jerome P.

I believe what you are referring to is boule (La Boule), which is a simplified version of roulette.

Boule is analogous to roulette in that it features a table and a spinning wheel, but it only has nine numbers and three different colors on which you can bet. Boule is played with a large wooden wheel and a rubber ball a tad bit smaller than a tennis ball.

The game is quite simple, but a very fast way of losing a whole lot of money. Every bet offered has a house edge of 11.11%, which is far, far worse than roulette (5.26%), or a true European single-zero wheel that offers a rule called “en prison” (1.35%).

La Boule, Jérôme, est un pari terrible.

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