WPT season opener kicks off at Thunder Valley with an epic Top Gun video

Thunder Valley staff gets into character and enjoys some pizza
Terrance Reid
Posted on: April 01, 2023 08:14 PDT

A Top Gun homage video, a smoke machine, a mock explosion, and a packed house. This wasn't the movie theater, this was the scene for the season opener of the World Poker Tour at Thunder Valley Resort in Northern California for the "Rolling Thunder" stop. If you're looking for reasons to show up to tournaments at level one, the atmosphere today is a strong reason.

The setup

It started on Friday, the day before the Main Event when the tournament staff showed up dressed in costume for Day 2 of the "Leaning Tower of Chips" event. No color-ups meant for massive "leaning" chip stacks as players went deep into the event.

In full costume, the room provided boxes and boxes of pizza for the players while the staff dressed the part.


While players loved the party, the pizza, the show, and the huge chip stacks, only a select number of people knew what it would lead to. The opening day of the Main Event would reveal all.

The payoff

As the room filled up for the only starting flight of the $3,500 Main Event, players took their seats. Cameras were everywhere, though no one was sure just what was coming as intense music filled the room. That's when this happened, with the video playing on every screen in the casino.


Featuring WPT Executive Tour Director Matt Savage, experienced tournament directors Jordan Cutter and Justin Hammer, and Thunder Valley Director of Poker Operations Ben Erwin, the staff really worked hard to make the introduction something special. If you haven't seen Top Gun, here's the video that provided Erwin's inspiration.


The fun atmosphere here at Thunder Valley Resort should be no surprise to anyone who's frequented this poker room. Pair that with the partnership with the WPT, champions of player experience, and it's a recipe for an incredible tournament. And this is only Day 1.

We'll be here for all four days of the event, which will feature streamed coverage for the final day on Tuesday, April 4th.

Image/video credit: Thunder Valley Poker Room