What Kind of a Person Cheats at Poker?


Did you hear the joke about the poker player who counterfeited chips? He got a flush, but still lost. In January, a poker player from North Carolina brought his own chips to a big-time poker tournament in Atlantic City. He got caught because he flushed them down the toilet, hoping, it was supposed, to avoid detection. He got a flush, not a royal, but a flush nevertheless. We all had a good laugh. “Just how stupid was he?”

In the first place, chips have no value outside of the game and second the other players and the casino would always know how much he had won and how much he had bought in and therefore how many chips he had. Poker players are famous for their skills and attention to every detail of the game and they are close observers of their opponents. Fooling the other poker players at one of those tournaments would never be easy. At the very least, he must have thought the other players were just too stupid to notice his homemade chips. Good luck on that one in a high-roller poker tournament, buddy.

And now there’s another story about counterfeit poker chips. Admiral Timothy M. Giardina, – that’s right – an admiral in the United States Navy, was discovered counterfeiting chips. The navy caught him, finding his DNA imbedded in the paint on the chips. However, the navy was slow in its investigation; the casinos in Iowa caught him a year ago using phony chips and banned him. Banning did not keep the fine seaman from the tables; he kept coming back to play. The man loves poker it seems, spending an average of 15 hours a week playing – banned or not. Why should he care about being banned? After all, he was not bound by the rules others play by. The navy reacted to his excessive poker playing and less than honest approach to the game. He was demoted for his gambling and relieved of his command long before the DNA evidence was found.

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. Robert Burns, Associated Press, 11-22-14

The game of poker is a competition between players. So, if you cheat at poker you are cheating the other players. If you cheat at blackjack, craps or roulette you are cheating the casino, not the other players. Poker is a game of skill and not chance, regardless of the legal opinions to the contrary. It is therefore, more than just cheating. Cheating at poker is an act of contempt, disrespect and aggression against the other players. What kind of a person would cheat at a game of cards? Criminals cheat at casino games; people without personal integrity cheat at poker. In this case, the cheater was a man with a very good education, the highest security clearance the country can grant and a career based on trust and good judgment.

The poker playing admiral was second in command of the U. S. Strategic Command – our nuclear force. He is the guy the country trusts to command the most powerful weapons in the world and yet he cheats at poker? This story defies understanding.

This is not really a story about gaming, but it happened in a gaming context. This is more about national security and integrity than it is about gambling. The man lacked the integrity to play a simple card game by the rules and yet he was chosen to rule men. The admiral may have been addicted to something, but it wasn’t gambling. He was simply determined to win. Where else did he cheat? Did he cheat on his taxes, in college, in his marriage, to get promotions, to gain a command – did he cheat at everything or just poker? I cannot believe it was just poker. I don’t know about you, but this story makes me very uncomfortable.

The story is not about gambling, but it does highlight an important issue for the industry. All gambling games are predicated on integrity. Each player has to trust in the integrity of the game, the other players and in the case of casino games, in the operator. Gambling as a commercial enterprise only works when everything is on the up and up – there is no room in the game for a counterfeit chip or the kind of person that uses them.

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1 Response to “What Kind of a Person Cheats at Poker?”


  1. 1 Robert Brown November 26, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    One can’t blame them for this coz poker in fact is a game of temptation and if you really into it so much then loosing everytime is not a fact so easy to digest. lol!


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