Peter A. Griffin

Peter GriffinPeter A. Griffin was born in New Jersey in 1937. As the son of an actuary, and the grandson of a mathematician, it should not come as a surprise that Griffin was interested in numbers from an early age. Throughout his childhood, Griffin lived in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and finally Oregon.

As a young man, Peter Griffin earned an undergraduate degree from Portland State University, and went on to California State University to get his Master’s degree. His first (and only) job as a professional was a teaching position at California State University.

Discovering Blackjack

He was teaching calculus and differential equations, but he always referred to him self as a simple algebra teacher. In 1970, his interest in gambling statistics was born. He proposed a class focusing on the statistics of gambling, and was sent to Las Vegas to do the necessary research.

During this first trip, he saw nothing but failure. While this might be demoralizing for a lesser man, Griffin was hooked. He vowed to deconstruct and ultimately beat the game of blackjack. He started by compiling massive amounts of real-life player data by watching players in live casino settings. During this early work, he coined the 2% average house edge, which has become a standard today.

While pioneering the art of card counting, Griffin demonstrated his superior intellect at the blackjack table. Most card-counters are only able to keep a single running total, mentally, to have a ‘running count’ for the deck. Griffin, on the other hand, reportedly was able to keep track of an astonishing six counts at one time.

While Griffin was surely a capable card counter, he never made vast sums of money with his skill for one reason: he found card counting (and the game of blackjack in general) to be quite boring. He knew that it would take a long period of time for card-counting to be profitable, and he’d rather not spend that much time at the table. No matter what the financial gains may have been, his first love was still teaching.

The Theory of Blackjack

book coverEven though he wrote two full-length text books on the subject of blackjack it was his first , The Theory of Blackjack, that earned him the most fame. While The Theory of Blackjack has been elevated to epic proportions, it really is above the average reader. This book goes into a deep, college-level statistical analysis of the game,. In short, it is simply too advanced for the average reader to absorb without conducting extensive research.

This book has sold over 700,000 copies and is still the go-to for any blackjack players interested in card counting. No matter what counting systems people have invented since, they always conform to the basic principles and classifications presented in The Theory of Blackjack.

In 1998, the sixty-one year old professor succumbed to prostate cancer. Beyond his obvious contribution to the game of blackjack, the people who knew him best said that Peter Griffin was a meticulous, caring man, who touched the life of every student who passed through his classroom. He is sadly missed, but will always be remembered.

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