After many years as the voice of High Stakes Poker, Gabe Kaplan has decided to call it quits.
The famed voice of one of poker’s most recognizable programs announced his immediate departure from PokerGO in a press statement. However, a successor is being sought and should be named soon.
Kaplan and his business partner, AJ Benza, made the Season 10 premiere episode announcement on Tuesday night. His commentary on the program seems to have ended with that episode.
Transitioning from Actor and Poker Pro to Social Commentator
The 77-year-old former poker announcer from Brooklyn, New York always wanted to play professional baseball. He lacked the physical prowess necessary to realize such ambitions, yet he built a prosperous career in many fields.
Before he became a household name as a poker commentator, he starred as the title character in the groundbreaking 1970s comedy Welcome Back, Kotter. He played poker practically every day in the 1980s and 1990s, and he was widely regarded as a far more capable professional player at the time than his zany TV persona would have you believe.
According to the Hendon Mob, Kaplan has approximately $2 million in live tournament cashes and won a $10,000 buy-in event with a $190,000 payout in 1980 at Amarillo Slim’s Super Bowl of Poker.
In the 1990s, Kaplan started his career in poker broadcasting by providing analysis of the World Series of Poker for ESPN. It was Kaplan’s memorable question to Ungar, a three-time world champion who had fallen on bad things owing to drug addiction, after Ungar’s surprising 1997 WSOP Main Event triumph, that made the moment immortal.
Ungar replied, “Well, I hope so,” which was hardly a vote of confidence.
Less than a year later, at the young age of 45, Ungar sadly departed unexpectedly in Las Vegas. Friends since high school, Kaplan and the Poker Hall of Famer, Benza, co-hosted High Stakes Poker on the Game Show Network in 2006.
During poker’s golden age, the pair would spend the first five seasons together. The first season of High Stakes Poker was an immediate sensation, and the program is still regarded as the pinnacle of poker television by many.
The Origins of Extreme Poker Bets
Fans of the comedy pair Benza and Kaplan enjoyed their sardonic sense of humor, quick wit, and on-screen chemistry. Kaplan began dating Kara Scott after Benza left the show in Season 6. Season 7’s lone host was late SNL alumnus and poker aficionado Norm Macdonald, who died away in 2021. (2011).
Similar to Poker After Dark on NBC during the poker boom, High Stakes Poker was cancelled by Game Program Network after Black Friday (April 15, 2011) since the show had lost most of its advertising revenue.
Legendary poker TV producer Mori Eskandani brought the program back in 2020 for Season 8 on PokerGO, and he rehired both Kaplan and Benza as co-hosts.
During Season 9, they hosted the program together once again, and on Tuesday night’s launch of Season 10, they did so for the last time.
To fill in for Kaplan for the rest of Season 10, PokerGO will make the announcement of his successor next week. The next episode will run on Tuesday evening at 8:00. Ali Nejad, Lon McEachern, or even a commentator from outside the poker field may replace him.