Many blackjack players have a sense of dread when they hear about “The Griffin Book” and other similar databases like the Oregon Surveillance Network and Biometrica, that are basically databases that track players who use card counting as a technique for winning at blackjack. But what exactly is “The Griffin Book”, and should people be scared of it?
Beverly S. Griffin and Robert R. Griffin founded the Griffin Detective Agency in 1967 as an investigative firm that primarily supported the gaming industry in Las Vegas. Their main role was to investigate and report on individuals suspected of cheating or using other means to gain an advantage while playing in the casinos. If a gambler was either cheating or beating a game, the Griffin Agency would take the patron’s picture and add it to “The Book”, which became a valuable source of information for casino operators both locally and internationally.
In the early days, a casino would contact a Griffin detective when they had suspicions about someone cheating or using an unfair advantage. The detective would then conduct an impromptu evaluation on the suspicious player in person. The agency was even said to have several illegal, private casinos on their client list.
The Griffin Detective Agency eventually evolved into Griffin Investigations and started distributing information, mostly electronically, to their casino subscribers. However, they made a fatal error by not clearly distinguishing cheaters from advantaged players, causing their downfall. Their misinformation led to a defamation lawsuit filed by well-known advantaged players, Michael Russo and James Grosjan, who ultimately won their case and received damages from Griffin Investigations and Caesar’s Palace in 2005.
Griffin Investigations filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September of the same year and eventually came out of bankruptcy, but with better safeguards to prevent labeling advantaged players as cheaters. The reality is that whether it’s Griffin or somebody else, as long as blackjack remains beatable, there will always be databases filled with the faces of people who are beating it. The company continues to circulate information about undesirable casino patrons, even a database that tracks jackpot winners in hopes of detecting “fraudulent activity.”
In conclusion, there will always be databases tracking advantaged players, but the most successful ones continue to play even after getting in “the book”. The key is to focus on beating blackjack and not be afraid of the casino’s watchful eyes.