When you think about one of the influential books about the game of blackjack of all time, you would most likely assume it would be written by a professional blackjack player, not an inexperienced player who was a Mathematics Professor.
Professor Peter Griffin was the inexperienced player who wrote such a book; The Theory of Blackjack: The Complete Card Counter’s Guide to the Casino Game of 21. In the gambling community, it is highly regarded as one of the most comprehensive books since Edward O. Thorp’s, Beat the Dealer. Mr. Thorpe had this to say, “The Theory of Blackjack is a fundamental contribution to our understanding of the game…unusually well written and amusing…a pleasure to read.”
The book’s theory for basic blackjack play along with card counting variations was not actually tested through playing conditions but based on observation and research combined with extensive mathematical theories and principals is how the basic strategy is outlined in Griffin’s book.
In 1970 during his tenure as a mathematics professor, Griffin was interested in developing an academic course regarding the mathematics of gambling. A small club in Yerington, Nevada was his first destination for research. He tried his own hand at blackjack, in which he did not fare too well. In the excerpt from The Theory of Blackjack Mr. Griffin wrote, “No, it wasn’t a knowledgeable card counting play, just a beginner’s mistake for I was still struggling to learn the basic blackjack strategy as well as fathom the ambiguities of the ace in “soft” and “hard” hands.”
Griffin went on to gather a compilation of statistics on blackjack players from Las Vegas, Reno and Atlantic City and put together a comparison study. He was able to discover that casinos had a two percent advantage over the non-professional blackjack player.
Through mathematics he was able to prove the majority of complex gambling concepts listed in his books like Bet and Strategy Variations as well as approximating them, The Role of the Correlation Coefficient, Efficiency, Betting Correlation and Strategic Efficiency and The Proper Balance between Betting and Playing Strength. Proportional Wagering, Effects of Rebates on Losses, and an analysis of gambling systems were theorized as well.
Griffin discovered the top concept for potential gains for any card counting method is the Betting Correlation (BC) and the Playing Efficiency (PE) which can give a player an approximate calculation of a potential win rate in games utilizing betting spreads sans computer simulations.
Considered by some as accelerated reading, Griffin’s humor which graces throughout and his writing style makes it suitable for everyone; especially blackjack players.
Griffin’s next book Extra Stuff: Gambling, Ramblings was published in 1991. Other published works of his included mathematical journals and gambling articles. Harrah’s Institute of Casino Entertainment had the privilege of Griffin teaching Mathematics of Gambling courses.
He was inducted posthumously into the Blackjack Hall of Fame during its inaugural beginning in 2003 for his contribution to the game of blackjack. He died in 1998 at the age of 61.