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Gabriel W. “Gabe” Kaplan (born March 31, 1945) is an American comic, celebrity, poker commentator, and professional poker player. He was born in Brooklyn, NY. He’s famous for his character as Gabriel “Gabe” Kotter in the 1970s sitcom, “Welcome Back, Kotter,” but he’s become more visible recently in terms of the popularity of poker, notably the “No-Limit Texas Hold-‘Em” kind, specially as cohost and combined commentator, with A.J. Benza, on previous seasons of “High Stakes Poker” on GSN.
As a lad, Kaplan had aspirations of being a Major League Baseball player. Nevertheless, he was not able to really make the roll of a minor league team and made a decision to pursue other interests. He started working as a bellman in a hotel in Lakewood, New Jersey. Touring comics would occasionally perform in the resort, and Kaplan started to work toward his own profession as a stand-up comedian. Gabe honed his standup routine in 1964 in areas including the Cafe Tel Aviv at 250 West 72nd Street, New York City. Kaplan’s humor was successful, and he toured the nation along with his performance depending on his childhood experiences in Brooklyn. In this span he also recorded the humor record Holes and Mello Rolls, which contained long routines about his high school days, among other issues; the sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter, whose principal characters he helped Eric Cohen and Alan Sacks create and whose heart structure he helped them to develop, was in part according to his comedy performance. The collection ran from 1975 to 1979. For the initial five contests, Kaplan was the captain of the ABC network team. In the 1st contest, Kaplan conquered Robert Conrad, who had been participating in the event representing the NBC team as its captain, in a race substantially to Conrad’s chagrin. Kaplan passed Conrad having a powerful sprint to the finish line, giving ABC television network the triumph with 175 points.