The third edition of Commentators Week kicked off the 6th season of NBC’s Poker After Dark, and it was a fun-filled match highlighted by another PAD record falling by the wayside. Participating in this match were Howard Lederer, Gabe Kaplan, Joe Sebok, Ali Nejad, Mark Gregorich, and Kara Scott.
All six players made it through the first two days, but not without some damage being inflicted along the way. By day’s end, Scott would have only 7100 chips in her stack, while Kaplan was even further behind and hung on by a thread with only 2500.
But with a triple up and another double up, Kaplan regained footing and increased his stack back up to 14k early on Day 3. Then with the blinds at 400/800, Scott found pocket fives under-the-gun and shoved her last remaining 6600 chips in, only to be called by Kaplan who now woke up with pocket kings. A flop of 3s Qs Kh gave Kaplan top set, and when the turn blanked, the effervescent and charming Scott was eliminated in 6th place, undoubtedly much to the chagrin of many of the show’s viewers.
Kaplan now sat in 2nd chip position behind Lederer, a remarkable turn of events from where he began the day. Late in the session, a short-stacked Nejad moved his remaining 6050 chips into the middle from the big blind with Ks Qc in response to Kaplan’s raise on the button with Kd 7c. Kaplan called, and a flop of 8h 7h Jh put him in the lead. The Ac on the turn and the 5c were no help to Nejad, and he was eliminated in 5th place.
The four remaining players all made it to Day 5, with Lederer holding twice as many chips as his closest rival Kaplan. With the blinds at 800/1600, Kaplan found Kh Qh on the button and raised to 1600. Sebok folded, but Gregorich pushed in the big blind with Ad 8s, and Kaplan made the call. A board of 6h 3c 5d 4c Kc pushed the pot to Kaplan, and Gregorich was out in 4th place.
With the blinds now 1000/2000, Lederer found Kh 8h on the button and moved his last remaining 22,800 chips into the middle. But Kaplan peeked down at pocket aces in the small blind and made the call. The board was no help to Lederer, and he went home in 3rd place.
The heads-up battle for the title began with Sebok holding about a 7k chip lead over Kaplan. Sebok got off to a good start, winning a big pot in the first hand of heads-up, but Kaplan kept chipping away at him and eventually took over the lead. Then with the blinds at 2000/4000 Sebok made it 11,000 with Jc 2c and Kaplan called with 6h 5h. The flop came Kh Jh 9h, giving Kaplan a flush and Sebok a pair of jacks. Kaplan led out for 10,000, prompting Sebok to move all in. Gabe instacalled, leaving Sebok to catch a couple of miracle cards on the turn and the river. He got one of those cards when another king hit the turn, but the river blanked and Kaplan was the victor.
With his astonishing victory, Kaplan broke the Poker After Dark record for the biggest comeback in PAD history, overcoming a short-stack of only 2500 chips that he held at the end of Day 2. He also joined Lederer, Gavin Smith, Clonie Gowen, and Johnny Chan as the only players who have won at least three times on Poker After Dark in a six-handed format, and tied a record held by Smith, Chan, and Chris Ferguson as the only ones who have knocked out all five of their opponents in a single match. Well done, Mr. Kotter, well done!
Dennis Oehring serves as the Public Relations Coordinator for the firm POKER PROductions.