Blackjack Theory and Peter Griffin


An original member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame, Peter Griffin dedicated a portion of his professional career around the analysis of mathematics and their role in the game of Blackjack. Writing two popular books and numerous technical papers for mathematical journals and publications, all dedicated to an analysis and appreciation of gambling, Griffin’s theories are still in use today.

Following an unsuccessful, and scientific, visit to the casinos of Nevada in 1970, Griffin dedicated himself to serious research on the application of mathematical theories to successful gaming at the Blackjack tables. By gathering data about players, games, drawing comparisons between players and casinos in Atlantic City, Las Vega and Reno and structuring calculations from it all he was able to prove that an average Blackjack player was working at a disadvantage of two percent against the “house” or casino in which they played. He was also able to put his research to work in developing answers to many problems.

Like so many other mathematicians he decided to develop and publish methods and strategies to help players of all levels effectively beat the casinos. In 1978 he published the incredibly popular “The Theory of Blackjack”. This book explained in great detail, almost as a manual would, how a player could use card counting to win at Blackjack. He introduced two key factors involved in card counting: betting correlation and playing efficiency, both of which allow for an accurate estimation of the possible win rate for any Blackjack system, but card counting in particular. Many professional and amateur players rely on Griffin’s work alongside the other famous manual of the card counting world, “Beat the Dealer” by Edward Thorp.

Griffin had stated that his first love was not mathematics, but teaching and so he soon found himself in a “classroom” at the Harrah’s Institute of Casino Entertainment where he taught a course titled “Mathematics of Gambling”. Griffin would eventually teach around twenty different courses at the Institute. He also continued teaching statistics, calculus and differential equations at California State University until his death in 1998.

Griffin later published additional stories and information for his fans and admirers with “Extra Stuff: Gambling Ramblings”, published in 1991 and delving into even more complex issues than some of the topics covered in “The Theory of Blackjack”.

Between his two publications Griffin handed the gambling world many techniques and formulas that are still in use on a daily basis for analyzing games and for card counting players. He analyzed popular basic strategy tactics for Blackjack, presented two effective methods for breaking down card counting systems, single and multiple decks counting systems, thoroughly discussed insurance and explained the significance of a betting system in conjunction with a strategy, among many other subjects. His writing style displayed his sense of humor and his depth of analytical prowess all while successfully conveying the useful information his work had yielded.