With great personalities comes a great responsibly…for action! This week’s clash on Poker After Dark is a battle of wills between two players with vastly different personalities, but the same huge amount of entertainment to offer. Tom Dwan and Gabe Kaplan may come from different generations, but as the classic Poker After Dark hand shows, they’ve got the same instinct for a big pot and will do anything to drag it in.
KAPLAN THE CLOWN PRINCE
Watching Poker After Dark and knowing that Gabe Kaplan has long been seen as an authority on the game might lead you to believe that he’s always been around in poker. He talks a fantastic game, is incredibly dangerous in any pot and often comes out on top, but did you know that he made his name cracking jokes and putting out novelty records?
Kaplan co-created and starred in the popular TV show Welcome Back, Kotter, in which he played the class teacher of a group called the Sweathogs, who were diverse students. It was during the show that he released the hit novelty record Up Your Nose (With a Rubber Hose), so if anyone knows humor, it’s Kaplan. But does he figure out Tom Dwan’s body language in this hand, or does the student take a pot from the teacher?
THE VALUE OF DWAN’S HAND
One of the best ways to enjoy any hand involving Tom Dwan is to put yourself in the place of his opponent, in this case, Gabe Kaplan. Working out the strength of Dwan’s hole cards is akin to trying to juggle cats, but post-flop, Kaplan can start basing his judgment on the information.
Dwan’s play is fascinating not just because he is an aggressive, uncompromising player, but also because, especially in looking back at these archive clips, we’re watching a very young man holding his own alongside players with huge personalities.
The value of Dwan’s hand is something Kaplan has to figure out based on two key criteria – what is Dwan trying to get me to do, and how often can I be correct in working out what he has?
TEACHER MEET STUDENT
Kaplan’s career had taken him from New York stand-up circuit to a major television series before he entered the world of poker, but it was in 1980 that he started to make a name for himself in a big way. Kaplan won the Amarillo Slim Superbowl Of Poker in Las Vegas for $190,000 (the tournament cost $10,000 to enter) and Kaplan entered poker legend as well as starring on television.
Welcome Back, Kotter had ended the year before, but far from a conventional path into poker, Kaplan’s journey would take him to the poker commentary booth as much as it would the table. He became one of the most famous voices in the World Series of Poker, long before he starred in this 2010 season of Poker After Dark. Following the series, he would only cash once in the nine following years, in 2014 at a Super High Roller tournament in Las Vegas, for just over $250,000.
DWAN’S PARALLEL PATH
Although the two men are a generation apart, there are strong parallels between the pair. Dwan has cashed for just over $3 million in live tournaments, Kaplan raking in just under $2 million.
Dwan had his own extended period away from the live circuit, not cashing once between February 2014 and February 2017, before returning to action in, you’ve guessed it, a Super High Roller for just over $250,000.
Were both men suited more to the high stakes – and high-pressure world of TV stardom – that made their names? You bet they were, and you can watch them in action across all seven original seasons of Poker After Dark exclusively on PokerGO. Subscribe today for 24/7 access to The Vault, as well as live streams of the latest action and mindblowing poker documentaries such as Phil Hellmuth’s Poker Story. Just like Kaplan and Dwan, it’s unmissable drama.