“The legendary Gabe Kaplan rode off into the sunset and we get another legend in his place,” said AJ Benza at the top of the latest High Stakes Poker. “Nick Schulman, welcome to High Stakes Poker.”
“When I got the call from the big guy, it was a little bit surreal. Can’t believe I’m sitting next to you here on High Stakes but I’m happy to be here,” Schulman replied.
“We’re all Brooklyn guys,” Benza said. “Me, you, and Gabe…never bet against Brooklyn guys, we’re going to be fine.”
And with that, the next era of High Stakes Poker was underway. Just one week after beloved longtime host Gabe Kaplan’s awkward, on-air departure from the show he hosted for the better part of nine seasons, PokerGO announced that high-stakes pro Nick Schulman would take over the color commentary role for the duration of the 10th season of High Stakes Poker. And presumably, beyond.
After Schulman’s top-of-the-show introduction, it was nearly a full minute, an eternity in broadcast time, before Schulman spoke again.
It was a fitting start to a professional performance from Schulman, someone with nothing to prove and who knows better than to step into the booth and try to make an instant impression on a poker institution. Instead, like the aforementioned silence, there was a quiet calm to the bulk of the 40+ minute show. One that included long sections of radio silence, as if the episode was taking a deep breath in before settling back into the business at hand.
Of course, Schulman isn’t interested in replacing Kaplan. They are two different talents from different eras. Although Kaplan is a longtime poker player, he’s better known for his work as a comedian and an actor. An entertainer first and foremost. His commentary over the years reflected that, always on the ready with a joke in a bid to keep things light.
Schulman’s appeal stems from his longtime success as a high-level pro. It’s his ability to take viewers inside the players’ minds, putting you at the table with the cards in your hand that has won over the poker community since his debut commentary at the 2015 Super High Roller Cash Game. Since that time he’s been featured on the World Series of Poker, Super High Roller Bowl, and other PokerGO broadcasts.
Plus, he’s got the easy, confident (sometimes superior) delivery of the coolest friend you know.
“Nick represents the modern era of poker as one of the most knowledgeable, dignified minds in the game, and we are thrilled to welcome him to High Stakes Poker,” said Mori Eskandani, President of PokerGO. “Nick’s fresh, insightful perspective has added immense value to PokerGO over the years, and we believe he is the perfect fit to carry on the legacy of poker’s most iconic cash-game show.”
It’s not that there was no other choice for the job than Schulman as there are plenty of talented veteran and up-and-coming commentators, it’s that Schulman is a perfect choice. From his obvious observations and matter-of-fact statements (“No. I’ve never played the stand-up variation, A.J.”) to his ability to snap from an engaging story back into the action without taking a single breath in between, bringing Schulman’s expertise and style to this legendary poker IP could make HSP, once again, must-see TV.
“To join the show that started it all and replace the best to ever do it is a tremendous honor,” said Schulman in the PokerGO press release. “Thank you to Gabe for having his blessing, see you soon.”
High Stakes Poker weekly episodes premiere Tuesdays at 8 pm ET on PokerGO.