Veteran poker commentator Gabe Kaplan has retired from his prominent role with “High Stakes Poker” after spending parts of nine seasons with the show. Kaplan, 77, has been associated with the show through each of its three runs, dating all the way back to its original debut in 2006.
“High Stakes Poker” has been a popular PokerGO offering since its latest iteration began in 2020, with Kaplan and long-time commentary partner A.J. Benza behind the mic. Benza will continue on with HSP while a replacement for Kaplan will announced in the coming days.
“I had a blast doing High Stakes Poker, but the time has come for me to hang it up and empty my locker,” said Kaplan. “I want to thank A.J., Mori, and all the staff, players, dealers, and viewers. We had sixteen years of good times and now memories.” Kaplan’s final episode in the HSP booth, part of HSP’s Season 10, aired on Tuesday and will be re-broadcast on Friday.
PokerGO President More Eskandani offered high praise for Kaplan’s contributions to the show and the game itself. “Gabe’s impact on the poker world is nothing short of legendary,” said Eskandani. “His genuine and unmatched enthusiasm for the game was evident from the first day of filming and never wavered in the more than 100 episodes that Gabe was a part of. He brought the world of high-stakes poker into millions of homes worldwide and did so by seamlessly intertwining his one-of-a-kind comedic wit and expansive knowledge of the game. Without Gabe, ‘High Stakes Poker’ wouldn’t have reached the incredible heights it has achieved. Gabe will be greatly missed, and we wish him nothing but the best in retirement.”
Kaplan has been a part of the high-stakes poker scene almost since the actor/comedian first sprung into the mainstream spotlight following his turn as the star of “Welcome Back, Kotter” in the late 1970s. Kaplan has logged his own successes at the tables, winning the Amarillo Slim Super Bowl of Poker main event in 1980. Kaplan also has a third-place finish in a WPT main and a runner-up showing in a WSOP bracelet event to his credit, and he has amassed just under $2 million in recorded tournament winnings.
Kaplan’s wit, candor and poker knowledge made him a natural fit for poker commentary. His first major broadcast role came in 1997 for ESPN’s coverage of the WSOP, which was also the year Stu Ungar claimed his third and final main-event win. Kaplan also commentated on early years of the National Heads-Up Poker Championship.
Featured image source: PokerGO