Peter Griffin

Peter Griffin is one of the inaugural members of the blackjack Hall of Fame. He was an extraordinary all-rounder, but is best know for applying his sharp analytical mind to mastering the game of blackjack and writing a book that has been called the blackjack author’s guide to blackjack and the most important analysis of card counting since Edward Thorp‘s Beat the Dealer.

Sparking an Interest in Blackjack

Peter Griffin was born in New Jersey in 1937. He moved around in many American states in his youth, until he attained a teaching position at California State University where he taught statistics, calculus, and differential equations. In 1970 he proposed teaching a course on gambling statistics and went to Las Vegas to collect information. Here he played blackjack and found himself quickly fleeced by casinos. Instead of becoming discouraged, this experience sparked his interest in a closer analysis of the game of 21.

A Simpler Way to Deal with Complex Problems

It was Peter Griffin who first proposed using statisticians’ mathematical shortcuts to approach complex problems in the field of mathematics. Griffin realized that the potential of any blackjack system, no matter how complex, came down to two highly important parameters: betting correlation (BC) and playing efficiency (PE). Approaching systems through these two factors allowed Griffin to analyze them accurately regardless of differences in betting spread and without having to refer to extensive computer simulations. This allowed him to make accurate evaluations of many different methods of counting cards.

The Theory of Blackjack

In 1978, Griffin published his most famous work, The Theory of Blackjack: The Complete Card Counter’s Guide to the Casino Game of 21. This book thoroughly works through the mathematics behind advantage play and shows players how to effectively analyze blackjack systems. Besides a number of academic papers on blackjack analysis, he wrote a second blackjack book in 1991, Extra Stuff: Gambling Ramblings, in which he deals with more abstract concepts such as analyzing games with variable payoffs and proportional wagering. All of Griffin’s writing is far from dry, however. With a poet and a writer as siblings, Griffin too knew a little something about keeping an audience engaged. Wittiness and quips are characteristic of his style, which comes as a welcome surprise to many of his first-time readers.

First and Foremost a Teacher

Another amazing feat was Griffin’s abilities when it came to counting cards. Most players can, with practice, deal with one running count and true count conversion. Peter Griffin is said to have been able to keep track of a staggering six counts at the same time. Despite his card counting abilities, however, and despite the success of his first book, Griffin always considered himself first and foremost a teacher. He continued to teach throughout his career, both at California State University and at various casino-oriented courses.

Peter Griffin died of prostate cancer in 1998. In 2003 he became one of the original seven members of the Blackjack Hall of Fame.