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Instructor Sean Sammon (left) teaches students Tara Burmaster and Kyle Halek the basics of dealing blackjack during Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical's blackjack dealer certification class Thursday.

Would-be dealers learn the basics of hit, stand and bust

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RED WING - Dealing blackjack might seem like a simple enough process: hand out cards, chat with the players, take their bets.

But ask the students in Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical's new gaming certification for blackjack dealing class, and they'll tell you it's anything but simple.

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"It's a lot harder than it looks," said 19-year-old Kyle Halek of Hastings. "All the little things add up."

The college developed the course last spring and summer after they were approached by Treasure Island Resort & Casino, Southeast Tech business relations Director Calli Ekblad said.

"What we do ... is meet with businesses and answer their need for training," she said. "When they approached us, we jumped on and developed the program with them."

But even though the course is designed to meet Treasure Island's requirements, Ekblad said they've also been in contact with casinos throughout the state and surrounding region. While it's up to each casino to decide job training and requirements, Southeast Tech's course should cover the majority of what a casino is looking for in an employee.

"It's the basic rules of blackjack -- card placement, chip handling," instructor Andrew Hardyman said. "We cover everything."

The bulk of the class, which began Oct. 22, is hand-on. Last Thursday evening, Hardyman and fellow instructor Sean Sammon sat around a blackjack table -- barrowed from Treasure Island -- playing the game.

As students took turns dealing, Sammon interrupted here and there to correct the student's speed, hand placement and other small actions.

"There's only one way to do a lot of it," Halek said.

"The whole point of the way you handle everything you do is for the camera," Hardyman said.

Throughout the course, the students also will learn about other things not related to the game: how to interact with players to make sure they're having a good time, how to deal with intoxicated people and how to handle some of the job's physical requirements.

"You teach them the ergonomics of standing," Hardyman said.

Sammon said there are no prerequisites for the class, but did say those with good eye-hand coordination generally pick up the skills quickly.

"I know that college-aged gamers exceed expectations almost every time," Sammon said.

But despite the work and attention to detail needed, the students agreed that the course certainly isn't boring.

"It's pretty fun," Halek said.

"I'm having a great time," added Tara Burmaster.

The 21-year-old currently drives the more than 60 miles from Circle Pines, Minn., every day to attend the class.

"I wouldn't still be driving (every day) if I wasn't having a good time," she said.

Both Burmaster and Halek are taking the class with the hope of getting a job at Treasure Island. But Sammon added that anyone -- even the casual player -- is welcome to take the course and learn more about blackjack.

The next blackjack dealer certification course will be Dec. 3-14. Cost is $299. Visit www.southeastmn.edu/training for more information.

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