Who is Gabe Kaplan?
Gabriel Weston Kaplan was born on 31 March 1945, in Brooklyn, New York City USA, and is a professional poker player, actor and comedian, perhaps still best known for his role in the television sitcom “Welcome Back, Kotter” which aired during the 1970s. In recent years, he’s been better known for his work on the GSN program “High Stakes Poker”, in which he serves as a commentator.
The Net Worth of Gabe Kaplan
As of early-2020, Gabe Kaplan’s net worth is estimated to be over $30 million, earned through success in his various endeavors. The majority of his wealth was gained from successful acting projects, which in turn funded many financial investments which helped him prosper.
He’s also won over $2 million in poker competitions.
Early Life, Education, and Career Beginnings
Gabe grew up in Brooklyn and is of Jewish descent, with his family settling in the US to find safer and better opportunities. As a child, he became very interested in a career as a professional baseball player, hoping to make it in Major League Baseball (MLB). He attended New Utrecht High School located near home.
After matriculating, he tried out to become a part of a minor league team but was unsuccessful.
This led him to decide that baseball wasn’t really for him, and he began looking at other avenues. While doing so, he worked in New Jersey as a bellman for a hotel, where he saw comedians go to the hotel and perform stand-up shows, which inspired him to pursue something similar. He began developing his skills and jokes, often performing at New York City’s Café Tel Aviv and other local locations. He improved to the point that his comedy routine was attracting a lot of attention.
Acting Career – Welcome Back Kotter
Gabe gained the opportunity to tour around the country, performing his stand-up routine, which often consisted of experiences he had as a child.
At this time, he was being invited to several television programs, including “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” in which he made five guest appearances in a year. While working on a comedy album about his high school experiences, he was then approached by television producers to create a sitcom starring himself.
He got on board with this opportunity, leading to the creation of “Welcome Back, Kotter”. The comedy show focuses on him playing the titular high school teacher, who becomes involved in a remedial class featuring ethnically and racially diverse children.
The show ran for four years and elevated his career nationally. The show built his comedy career further, and he incorporated his personal experiences into the show. While working on the show, he also competed in “Battle of the Network Stars” representing ABC. After the end of his show in 1979, he continued his stand-up tours, and also got a lead role in “Fast Break”, which was released shortly afterwards.
Continued Acting Work and Poker
Over the next few years, Gabe balanced his comedy work with several acting endeavors. In 1981, he had another starring role in “Lewis & Clark”, playing the titular Lewis, which ran and featured a New York native who has a dream of starting a country-music club.
After a few more television appearances, he took a long break from acting, to focus on other endeavors brought about by the financial success his career brought him. He invested a lot of his money in the financial markets and was successful, leading to his wealth growing exponentially. He then became interested in playing poker at a professional level, making his debut in the World Series of Poker during the late 1970s. After a few years his skill became well known, and he was considered one of the best players at the time, solidified with a win at the Super Bowl of Poker. He continued to showcase his skill in the next five years, and remained a mainstay of poker for decades to come.
In 2004, Kaplan made headlines once more as he reached third place of a Texas hold’em event by World Poker Tour, at which he won over $250,000. He also consistently placed highly at various World Series of Poker (WSOP) events. During this time he became a close partner and collaborator for WSOP, becoming a commentator for many of their events.
He also competed in an episode of “Poker After Dark”, in which he defeated Vanessa Rousson, Kristy Gazes, Ali Nejad, Annie Duke, and Howard Lederer.
He continued to build his tenure with a ninth-place finish at the 2007 WSOP HORSE event.
He then competed in “Poker After Dark” once more, and won again, with many considering the episode one of the greatest comebacks in the show’s history. In terms of his television work, he often appeared in various poker-related programs such as “Intercontinental Poker Championship”, “High Stakes Poker”, and “National Heads-Up Poker Championship”. He also made an appearance in “The Grand”, and released the book “Kotter’s Back: E-mails from a Faded Celebrity to a Bewildered World”, which featured absurd emails he composed and people’s reaction to them. In 2018, he returned to mainstream television with a guest appearance in “BoJack Horseman” – the Netflix show is considered one of the greatest series of all time.
Gabe has never revealed any information about a romantic partner or a wife, preferring to keep to himself. He does have a daughter, but has shared no information about her mother. There have been rumors that he is gay, due to his support of same-sex marriage in the US, but the rumors were shot down after he posed in a picture with his daughter. There were also some rumors that he became romantically involved with “Welcome Back, Kotter” co-star Marcia Strassman, who played his on-screen wife, but it has never been confirmed. She passed away in 2014, and it led to a lot of coverage on Gabe’s end due to their professional relationship.