Kaplan at the 2006 World Series of Poker
|Residence||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
March 31, 1945 |
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|World Series of Poker|
Main Event finish
|World Poker Tour|
He was born in Brooklyn, New York. He is best known for his role as Gabe Kotter in the 1970s sitcom, Welcome Back, Kotter. More recently he has become known as a poker player, and as co-host and joint commentator for the series High Stakes Poker on GSN.
As a boy, Kaplan had aspirations of being a Major League Baseball player. However, he was unable to make the roster of a minor league team and decided to pursue other interests. He began working as a bellman at a hotel in Lakewood, New Jersey. Touring comedians would sometimes perform at the hotel, and Kaplan began to work toward his own career as a stand-up comedian. Gabe honed his standup routine in 1964 in places such as the Cafe Tel Aviv at 250 West 72nd Street, New York City.
Kaplan's comedy was successful, and he toured the country with his act based on his childhood experiences in Brooklyn. He appeared five times on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson from May 1973 to December 1974. During this period he also recorded the comedy album Holes and Mello-Rolls, which included long routines about his high-school days, among other topics; the sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter, whose central characters he helped Eric Cohen and Alan Sacks create and whose core format he helped them to develop, was in part based on his comedy act. In the sitcom, Kaplan played Gabe Kotter, who returns as a teacher to the dysfunctional high school where he had himself been a student. The series ran from 1975 to 1979, and Kaplan bought a home in Palm Springs, California with his earnings.
From 1976 to 1978, and again in 1981, Kaplan participated in the ABC celebrity athletic competition Battle of the Network Stars. For the first five competitions, Kaplan was the captain of the ABC network team. In the very first competition, Kaplan defeated Robert Conrad, who was participating in the event representing the NBC team as its captain, in a race much to Conrad's chagrin. Kaplan passed Conrad with a strong sprint to the finish line, giving ABC television network the win with 175 points. In 1981, Kaplan returned to the competition as the team captain for the NBC side, as he was appearing in the TV show Lewis & Clark which was airing on NBC at the time.
Kaplan became involved in financial markets and poker during his acting career. He made his first appearance at the World Series of Poker in 1978. In 1980, Kaplan was considered one of poker's elite as he won the main event at Amarillo Slim's Super Bowl of Poker (SBOP) and was presented with "a loving cup that was so enormous it made the gaudy gold bracelets given to the winners at the World Series of Poker look understated." Over the next five years his reputation was solidified as he made the final table at the Super Bowl's main event two more times.
In July 2004, he finished third in a World Poker Tour no-limit Texas hold 'em event, earning more than $250,000. He also finished second in the 2005 World Series of Poker $5000 Limit Hold 'Em event, winning $222,515. Kaplan was joint TV commentator for the 1997 and 2002 WSOP events. In 2007, Kaplan won on NBC's Poker After Dark in the episode "Queens and Kings" after defeating Kristy Gazes heads-up and outlasting Howard Lederer, Ali Nejad, Vanessa Rousso and Annie Duke.
In the 2007 World Series of Poker Kaplan finished in ninth place in the $50,000 World Championship H.O.R.S.E event, winning $131,424; Freddy Deeb eventually won the event after defeating Bruno Fitoussi in heads-up play.
Kaplan has resumed performing stand-up comedy and is also working on adaptations of Welcome Back, Kotter. He still plays poker frequently and became a commentator for poker events and televised poker shows, including the National Heads-Up Poker Championship on NBC; High Stakes Poker on GSN; and the Intercontinental Poker Championship on CBS.
- US Search "Gabe Kaplan"
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