Kaplan vs. Benza

by , Mar 29, 2007 | 5:04 am

kaplan.jpgbenza.jpgDid anyone else catch High Stakes Poker 3 on Monday? It’s a great episode this week … with Mike Matusow, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, Antonio Esfandiari, Phil Laak, et al. We see David Williams needled for his bling, and he retorts by skillfully wielding “the Sang” (9-2 … kinda like the Hammer, only a wee-bit stronger). And then Yukon Brad Booth shows up and buys in with a cool $1 million in cash, suddenly posing a new threat to Brian Townsend’s fortress of bills. Awesome, great poker.

But the real battle in this episode (which repeats tonight) seems to be taking place off the table — between the two announcers, Gabe Kaplan and AJ Benza. If this is new shtick … well then good job, because it’s pretty entertaining. But even better, you get the sense they truly don’t like each other and are in the midst of a career catfight … especially when Kaplan calls out Benza for having his agent complain about Gabe to GSN.

Benza, is actually a pretty interesting sparring partner for Kaplan. For one, he’s a former blogger for the not-so-poker blog Oddjack. Before that, his broadcasting claims to fame included a studio brawl with Stuttering John (from Howard Stern) that eventually came to blows in the hallway.

Click below to see what Pokeratizens had to say about these two just last month:

The best poker commentator on TV is

Total Votes: 167
Started: February 14, 2007

Poll archives

Ha ha.

Not sure what legs Benza has to stand on, nor why Gabe even has to fight back. (Or what they are even fighting about for that matter.) But if they keep it up I gotta think Benza stands to gain.

10 Comments to “Kaplan vs. Benza”

  1. Ed

    They have been doing that “bickering” shit since Season 1.


  2. DanM

    Yeah, but watch this week’s episode. A little more harsh than before.

  3. Ed

    Yeah…but when watching it I thought to myself, “Self, I sure wish they would either bust out the shivs and start sticking OR bust out the baby oil…and start sticking.”


  4. Doc John

    Best announcers are Phil Gordon, Howard Lederer, and Mike Sexton, in no particular order. I like Gabe’s comments, but I am continually surprised that a guy who has done stand-up is not funnier. The one I can’t figure out is Norman Chad, who is NEVER funny…”That guy got rid of those pocket deuces faster than my second wife got rid of our marriage license!” Gabe does a good job of getting inside the player’s thought process…”Mike Matusow is now wondering whether his jacks are any good, and Dr. Nasiri still thinks he has the best hand.” I like Sexton because I am an old guy, but I like Gordon and Lederer because I think each of them is really a genius. Have you ever looked at their wesites and how many things they do and get involved in? Amazing.

  5. threestwo

    doc john,
    Since you think norman chad is NEVER funny (with a 2nd wife joke as an example), I need to know what drugs your taking so I can stay away from them!

  6. DarthWHO

    I have to agree, this latest “bickering” actually looked real. Kinda felt uncomfortable while watching it…

    Like to know if there’s more to the story here.

  7. AJ Benza

    The bickering is NOT real between me and Gabe. We just have a good time breaking each other’s balls. Sorry.

  8. Don F.

    That look from Gabe at the end of last night’s show sure looked real. BTW, if you’re doing to be entertaining, pot shots and sniping are fun, bringing “behind the scenes” squabbles up front is not IMO.

  9. Hatrick

    I agree, it does look real. I have them Tivo’ed so I basically blow through the first couple of seconds to the action. But the few times I sat through them, they are constantly taking pop-shots at each other. This ball busting looks real and I’m surprised GSN even tolerates showing it. There def is some bad blood between them. If there acting/playing around, they should get an Emmy for their act.

    Not sure where AJ has his poker experience nor why he is considered an expert, but “Mr. Kotter” is a pro in own right. Just seems to me AJ has a chip (no pun) about something. I don’t understand why someone like AJ just can’t be glad to have such a cake job. There are moments during the game where AJ states the obvious or says something just plain stupid. And Gabe just continues on like a professional.

  10. al corbs

    AJ is acting like a jilted Italian lover