Peter Griffin

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Blackjack Hall of Fame Peter GriffinPeter A. Griffin was born on July 19, 1937, in New Jersey.  He is the author of the classic text-book Theory of Blackjack and several counting systems. This book is considered the bible on the mathematics of the game and includes a complete discussion of correct basic strategy and card counting systems including single and multi-parameter. In 2003, he was inducted as one of the inaugural members into the Blackjack Hall of Fame as a theoretical pioneer. Peter Griffin died from prostate cancer at the early age of 61 on Sunday, Oct. 18, 1998.

Early Life

Griffin was one of three children.  His grandfather, Frank Loxley Griffin was a mathematician at Reed College and his father was an actuary.  Griffin obviously had mathematics in his genes and an aptitude for solving problems.  Griffin received his Bachelors degree from Portland State University and his Masters degree from the University of California.

Griffin grew up in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Chicago, Illinois, and Portland, Oregon.  He was married to Lydia and had a brother, Alan (a poet) and a sister, Barbara (a writer).

Teacher

In 1965, he took a teaching position at California State University, teaching statistics, calculus and differential equations until his death in 1998. Griffin also taught a course on the Mathematics of Gambling at the Harrah’s Institute of Casino Entertainment. He taught about 20 of these courses over the course of his life, keeping students spellbound with his tales of gamblers, casinos, and card-counting.  Teaching was indeed Griffin’s main passion in life!

Peter Griffin with Heineken and playing cards  in handBlackjack

Griffin got involved with the game of blackjack in January 1970, when he proposed a course on the mathematics of gambling.  After visiting Nevada for research and getting his “clock cleaned” (as the New York Times would summarize), Griffin vowed revenge on the casinos.

Griffin proposed mathematical “shortcuts” to compare blackjack card counting systems. He was the first to break down the potential gains available from any card counting method to two key indicators: the Betting Correlation (BC) and the Playing Efficiency (PE).

These two parameters provided an accurate estimation of any system’s potential win rate in any game using any betting spread, without extensive computer simulations. He used these methods to evaluate the differences between single-level and multi-level counting systems, as well as the value of using multi-parameter methods (keeping more than one count).

Blackjack researchers have been using Griffin’s methods ever since. Any proposed counting system, regardless of its level of simplicity or complexity, can quickly be broken down to its BC and PE, and its comparative value to other systems and methods can be determined.

Author

Over a period spanning 20 years, Griffin published dozens of technical papers in mathematical journals and at academic conferences, all gambling related. Even in his most technical writing, wit and off-the-cuff quips were the hallmarks of his style.1)EDITOR NOTE: I met Peter Griffin for the first time in the 1990s during one of Stanford Wong’s events.  As I introduced myself, I handed him a 6-pack of Heineken.  I was told he was fond of such things.

Griffin authored two books: The Theory of Blackjack: The Complete Card Counter’s Guide to the Casino Game of 21 (1978, revised many times since, published by Huntington Press), and Extra Stuff: Gambling Ramblings (1991).  Griffin’s research and publications were a milestone for system researchers, developers and players, the most important analysis of card counting systems since Thorp’s Beat the Dealer.

IMAGE CREDIT: BlackjackHallOfFame.com
IMAGE CREDIT: The Theory of Blackjack (back cover)

SOURCE CREDITS: [ BlackjackHallOfFame.com ] [ WIKIPEDIA ] [ ARCHIVE:  blackjackbomb.com ] [ 12 BJC Dec 98 ] [ Mar 98 BJF 17 ] [ nytimes.com ] [ BlackjackHero.com

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Footnotes

Footnotes
1EDITOR NOTE: I met Peter Griffin for the first time in the 1990s during one of Stanford Wong’s events.  As I introduced myself, I handed him a 6-pack of Heineken.  I was told he was fond of such things.

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