Admiral Fired Over Cheating at Poker

Last year, Rear Admiral Timothy Giardini was fired as the #2 man in charge of America’s nuclear forces. It’s now been revealed why he was fired and it fascinates me for two reasons. First, because it involves poker: He was cheating at poker by creating $500 poker chips to use in casinos. I’ll give the second reason a bit later.

The admiral fired last year as No. 2 commander of U.S. nuclear forces may have made his own counterfeit $500 poker chips with paint and stickers to feed a gambling habit that eventually saw him banned from an entire network of casinos, according to a criminal investigative report obtained by The Associated Press.

Although Rear Adm. Timothy M. Giardina’s removal as deputy head of U.S. Strategic Command was announced last year, evidence of his possible role in manufacturing the counterfeit chips has not previously been revealed. Investigators said they found his DNA on the underside of an adhesive sticker used to alter genuine $1 poker chips to make them look like $500 chips.

Nor had the Navy disclosed how extensively he gambled…

The records obtained by the AP under the Freedom of Information Act show Giardina was a habitual poker player, spending a total of 1,096 hours — or an average of 15 hours per week — at the tables at the Horseshoe casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa, in the 18 months before being caught using three phony chips in June 2013.

15 hours a week doesn’t seem like all that much to me. From 2008 to early 2013, I probably averaged 25-30 hours a week at the poker tables. But the phony chips is obviously a problem. Now here’s the second reason I find this interesting: This is one of those three military leaders that the deranged Jim Garrow claimed were fired because they refused to carry out Obama’s order to drop a nuclear weapon on Charleston, South Carolina.

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  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    The casino would’ve kicked him out much earlier, but he kept threatening to turn the keys.

  • eric

    15 hours a week doesn’t seem like all that much to me.

    The hours alone probably weren’t the major issue, it’s what they may imply about his finances. The bigger concern is if he’s taking (significant) losses and not reporting them, that’s a pretty good reason to remove his security clearance (and thus, eliminate his ability to do this paticular job). Heck, technically making significant earnings at the tables and not reporting them could jeopardize his security clearance.

    But either way, ‘he’s a habitual gambler’ looks like a bit of an add-on reason to me. The real reason was the fraud/forgery of chips.

  • John Pieret

    The problem was obviously that Obama ordered him to drop a nuclear weapon on Charleston, South Carolina … instead of on the Horseshoe casino.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Does the Navy really have evidence of this, or did they just find some old film swept up from the cutting room floor after Kubrick finished editing Dr. Strangelove?

  • Childermass

    Many years ago, I was a cashier in a city with an adjoining military base. I was told that I did not need to ask for check approvals for military officers since the military takes that kind of behavior very seriously. I doubt any stores would do that today as check cashing policies these days are far harsher as a rule. But still it give an idea that military has a history of not tolerating fraud.* Someone with extreme debts and/or someone committing felonies is a blackmail risk which is really something you don’t want in a high ranking officer.

    *Unless it is useful in starting a war or getting a weapon approved, of course.

  • Chiroptera

    Just a bit of pedantry here: that’s not cheating. It’s actually fraud. Small difference I admit, so feel free to ignore me.

  • brucegee1962

    Wouldn’t it be forgery?

  • John Pieret

    Childermass:

    I did not need to ask for check approvals for military officers since the military takes that kind of behavior very seriously.

    Back in the day when I was an Army JAG officer [mumble] years ago, having a pattern of bouncing checks or, worse, kiting checks was a good way to get yourself tossed out of the military with a less-than-honorable discharge.

  • http://adventuresinzymology.blogspot.com JJ831

    @Chiroptera

    Well, since it’s poker (versus something like Blackjack) the amount of a bet can/will affect the outcome of a game. So I guess if he was actually betting with a counterfeit chip, trying to get others to fold, then I might call that cheating.

    I’d imagine that would be the best way to do it – the house won’t ever really touch the chip if you are using it on the flop* (although I’d imagine it’s raise a bunch of flags when someone drops a $500 chip mid-hand without the Casino knowing the chip is ‘out’).

    *I never play poker in Casino’s, so I’m not sure how that would work out. For all I know you cash chips in prior to sitting at a poker table. I’m a blackjack guy myself.

  • whheydt

    Right…because having a moderately high ranking officer (and, by the way, since Commodore doesn’t exist as a rank right now, was he a “Rear Admiral, Lower Half” or “Rear Admiral, Upper Half”? Yes, those are real ranks) in a position to be blackmailed in charge of nuclear forces…not the best idea around.

  • Kevin Kehres

    Well, all I can say is that with him out of the way, we can finally get rid of Charleston. And not a minute too soon.

    Damned blight.

    (Actually and really, Charleston is lovely. If a bit sticky in the summertime what with 90+ degree temperatures and 100000000000% humidity. My guess is that it’s one of those cities that will be affected eventually by sea level rise due to global warming.)

  • pixiedust

    Meaning no disrespect to Ed, but the number two guy in charge of our nuclear forces might not really have 15 hours per week to spare on poker while still performing his duties at the level of proficiency we’d all like. The genial host of this blog (or me, for that matter), on the other hand, may well have 25-30 hours.

  • dukeofomnium

    Counterfeit poker chips, refusing to nuke a city, is there really a difference?

  • David C Brayton

    The #2 in charge of nuclear weapons was caught counterfeiting?!?! Fuckin-a, he should be fired. Cheating at poker game between friends by sneaking a glance at his cards is one thing. But counterfeiting $500 chips at a casino? This was a serious crime; it wasn’t merely cheating. He probably should be prosecuted.

  • lorn

    I’m assuming that admiral Timothy Giardini , by naval tradition a rear-admiral is referred to as admiral, had been losing. Winners have significantly less reason to commit fraud. Losing in Vegas can quite easily become debt, possibly debt to people outside the normal US banking system. Significant unsecured debt, particularly to non-US banks or shady figures, is grounds for removal of security clearances. It can be assumed that to hold his position admiral Glardini has to have such security clearances.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Ed, creating fake casino chips is not “cheating at poker,” it’s fraud. Calling it “cheating at poker” sounds like you’re trying to minimize the extent of this guy’s crimes.

  • emc2

    For the record, he was a three-star (Vice Admiral) at the time, and instead of a court martial he accept NJP and was reduced to Rear Admiral, Upper Half, Two stars. According to his Navy.mil bio he is now on the staff of the vice chief of naval operations.

  • chrisdevries

    I read somewhere (and this was awhile ago, so it may have changed) that the federal government, and most states, do not have laws against counterfeiting casino chips. The worst the casino can do is ban you from their premises.