WASHINGTON — About 200 people in the area are trying their hand at becoming professional blackjack dealers.
MGM National Harbor’s Dealer School, offered through Prince George’s County Community College, got underway this week.
The casino will need to hire more than 700 dealers before its expected opening later this year.
At a training center near the casino construction site, wannabe dealers gather around blackjack tables for hands-on instruction Wednesday night.
Zack Moore, a retired IBM technician, is enjoying the training and hopes to turn it into a job.
“My second career should be fun,” he said.
Moore said doing the math required for the job isn’t a problem, but handling the cards can be troublesome.
“Sometimes my brain and my hands don’t talk to each other,” he said, laughing.
Carl, a student who declined to share his last name, also finds working with the cards challenging.
“Shuffling is not what I had thought it was. There’s an art to it, and I’m still learning it,” he said.
“If you don’t know and you haven’t been through this, you would think, ‘Oh, I could do that. It’s easy.’ But until you get behind a table, you don’t know. There’s a lot of little procedures they have to know,” said Casino Manager Jamie Hartley.
For example, you have to know which hand to use to make a payoff, depending on where a blackjack player is sitting.
“If there’s a player on spot one, they have to use their left hand. If there’s a player on spot five, they’ll have to use their right hand,” Hartley said.
At the end of the six-week blackjack class, students will have to pass an audition to get a diploma. To get a job, dealers must know two major casino games, so students will get 12 more weeks of instruction in either craps or roulette.
At the end of 18 weeks, they will be able to interview for a job.
Hartley says they’re looking for people who deliver top-notch customer service.
“The number one key is to have a good personality, have a great attitude. Smile and be fun — willing to have fun — and you’re getting a job.”
Follow @WTOP on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
© 2016 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.