There’s a thin line between wanting to be a serious poker player and being a poker player with an addiction. Most poker players have no idea when they cross that line and once they do, it becomes a difficult addiction to break. This is what happened with Rear Admiral Timothy Giardina who served as the deputy head of US Strategic Command in Omaha, Nebraska.
Giardina was also second in command of the US nuclear forces and a well respected and decorated officer. However, he was not immune to the poker tables and soon found his hobby becoming an obsession he could no longer control.
He was fired back in 2013 for creating fraudulent poker chips in order to support his gambling addiction to the poker tables.
The investigation conducted by the military revealed that Giardina would take $1 poker chips and then use new stickers and paint to turn them into $500 poker chips, which he would then take and gamble at the poker tables. The Associated Press recently obtained a criminal investigative report that revealed details of the investigation and the fact that Giardina is now banned by a network of casinos for his fraudulent acts.
The report also revealed that Giardina spent over 1000 hours playing poker during an 18 month period, averaging around 15 hours per week. He was a frequent visitor at the Horseshoe casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa and was usually referred to as ‘Navy Tim’. Even after Giardina was caught and charged, he was unable to stop his gambling addiction and started visiting Harrah’s casino, also located in Council Bluffs.
The report revealed that when one of the casino security guards asked Giardina about the polygraph tests used in the military, Giardina said
(What) they’re really trying to do is find out if you got, you know, if you’re having sex with animals or something really crazy or you’ve got this wild life that you could be blackmailed into giving military secrets out.
Giardina went through a military investigation but was never charged with counterfeiting. In May 2014, he was found guilty on 2 counts of conduct that was not acceptable of an officer. He was guilty of passing fake gambling chips and lying to an investigator. Giardina was ordered to forfeit $4,000 from his salary and given a written reprimand. He was not sacked and continues to be on the Navy payroll as a staff officer in the state of Washington.