Bill Rancic Defends His Wife Giuliana After Fashion Police Controversy: 'I Tried to Get Them to Release the Footage' 41 years, 2,189 covers and 55,436 stories from PEOPLE magazine's history for you to enjoy
- Paula Deen! Tamar Braxton! Alek Skarlatos! Meet the Dancing With the Stars Season 21 Cast!
- The Best Photos from the Week of August 24- August 30, 2015
- Texas Boy Sentenced to Probation for Beating His Neighbor's Dog to Death
- Off-Duty Texas Cop Found Dead Inside Home
- EXCLUSIVE PHOTO: Shonda Rhimes Poses with the Casts of Scandal, Grey's Anatomy, and How to Get Away with Murder
On Newsstands Now
- Matthew McConaughey: In His Own Words
- Jessa Duggar's Wedding Album
- Brittany Maynard's Final Days
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine
People Top 5
LAST UPDATE: Tuesday February 10, 2015 01:10PM EST
PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- October 29, 1979
- Vol. 12
- No. 18
It Was Welcome Back, Sucker, When Gabe Kaplan First Played Poker, but Now He's Cleaning Out Champs
Clearly, nothing's in a name. In just 18 months of serious poker, the late lamented Mr. Kotter has risen from a penny-ante pigeon to a no-limit shark. Having taken some half-million dollars from the card tables of Las Vegas since June, he set out this month to prove his prowess head-to-head with Bobby "the Owl" Baldwin, 29, winner of the 1977 World Series of Poker. The game was $100,000 freeze-out, meaning that each brought $100,000 to the table and would play until one went bust. They sat down at 2 a.m. in the Silver-bird Casino—after Gabe's last show in the nearby MGM Grand. Two hours and 55 minutes later, when Kaplan raised the pot $10,000 (on a pair of fours), the Owl flipped up his cards and muttered: "Hell, you got me, Brother Gabe. Looks like it's going to be a long, cold winter." Gazing at a small mountain of $500 chips, Brother Gabe managed to keep his poker face as well, saying tersely: "That's a lot of pocket change down there."
Gambling, Kaplan explains, was part of the avocational fallout of his career migration from TV studio to nightclubs. "When I first came to do shows in Vegas," admits the 34-year-old bachelor, "I followed the usual entertainer's syndrome—I played craps and lost. Suddenly, I realized what a jerk I was—making such great money [about $100,000 a week] and losing it all right back. A friend suggested that I try poker instead, that it was more entertaining." But in Vegas entertainment is expensive, and Kaplan dropped a bundle mastering the game. Eventually, though—in preparation for the Owl—he beat this year's world champ Hal Fowler and took the legendary "Amarillo Slim" Preston in four freeze-out matches (Slim won five others). Gabe has gotten so hot, in fact, that a syndicate of a half-dozen showbiz friends are anonymously helping to bankroll his action. "I'm into the psychology of the game," says Kaplan. "I definitely bluff more than the other pros—I'm a great bluffer." Testifies one of the pros, Doyle Brunson: "Gabe was terrible when he started. But he picks up fast and has the sort of reckless disregard for money that is helpful to a high-stakes player."
Those close to Kaplan still find it all a little implausible. His parents, now retired in Brooklyn, "can't believe I'd be playing cards for that kind of money," says Kaplan. "They just shake their heads and act like I'm telling jokes." It's the same for his old low-stakes poker buddies in L.A., who regard him as just a bigger fish. "I'm always trying to show my actor friends how great I am," he moans. "I end up making really wild moves and bluff with nothing. They're wise to me."
Treat Yourself! 4 Preview Issues
The most buzzed about stars this minute!