Gabriel W. “Gabe” Kaplan (born March 31, 1945) is an American comedian, actor, poker commentator, and professional poker player.
He was born in Brooklyn, New York. He is best known for his role as Gabriel “Gabe” Kotter in the 1970s sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter, but he has become more visible in recent years in relation to the popularity of poker, especially the “No-Limit Texas Hold-‘Em” type, particularly as co-host and joint commentator, with A.J. Benza, on previous seasons of High Stakes Poker on GSN. In the current season of High Stakes Poker Kaplan co-hosts with fellow poker professional Kara Scott.
As a boy, Kaplan had aspirations of being a Major League Baseball player. However, he was unable to make the roster of even 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.
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.
After Welcome Back, Kotter, Kaplan continued with his stand-up act and was in several movies, and portrayed comic Groucho Marx in a one-man show. In 1981, he starred in the TV series Lewis & Clark, which ran for one season.
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 Amarillo Slim’s Super Bowl of Poker Main event 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 and finished in sixth place at the WSOP Main Event in 1980. He had numerous other Super Bowl and WSOP final appearances at minor events.
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 $5000 2005 World Series of Poker 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 9th 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.
As of 2009, Kaplan’s total live tournament winnings exceeded $1,300,000. His 9 cashes at the WSOP account for $497,659 of those winnings.
Kaplan won again on Poker After Dark during “Cowboys” week that first aired in February 2008 against Chris Ferguson, Andy Bloch, Chau Giang, Hoyt Corkins and Doyle Brunson.
Gabe Kaplan’s “Poker After Dark” win in the first week of the 2010 Season, “Commentators III” week, marked the greatest comeback in the show’s history. 
Kaplan has resumed performing stand-up comedy and was also working on adaptations of Welcome Back, Kotter. He still plays poker frequently and became a commentator for poker events and televised poker shows, most recently the National Heads-Up Poker Championship, in 2005 and 2006, on NBC, High Stakes Poker, on GSN, and the Intercontinental Poker Championship.
In 2007, he appeared in Zak Penn’s improvisational comedy, The Grand, as, “Seth Schwartzman,” father of brother and sister poker players.