This “running” count must be converted to a “true” count to be effective for betting and playing decisions. To do this we divide the running count by the number of decks left unseen. For instance, in a double-deck game after the first hand, we have a running count of +4. Since there are virtually two full decks remaining we divide the count by 2, yielding a true of +2.
In multiple-deck games, we’ll have to keep an eye on the discard tray to accurately estimate how many decks are remaining. So with two decks gone, we’d have four left (in a 6D game); dividing the above +4 by four decks gives us a true of +1. One trick here: practice glancing at the discard tray just before the completion of the hand, and see what your divisor is going to be for the next hand. This will give you extra time to compute the true while the dealer is making payoffs and picking up cards.
In a single deck with a quarter-deck dealt we have three-fourths left. To divide with fractions we invert and multiply, so we would multiply the running count by the inverse 4/3. That same +4 count would now be multiplied by the 4 (=16), then divided by the 3 (=5.33). One thing about a single deck: the true is always more than the running count, both positive and negative, as we always have less than a full deck remaining. While we can get lazy for betting purposes and use the running count as the true count here in a single deck when it comes to Basic Strategy deviations (playing decisions) we need to have an accurate true count. This is fully covered in the recommended reading.
Now we start dealing with hands. Deal one hand to yourself, one for the dealer. Go as slow as you need to keep the count accurately. Keep score with poker chips or the like. Although you will never see this in casino play, deal down to the last six or eight cards. After the last hand run the remaining cards out to check your count. When you can deal, play all hands correctly, count, convert to true count, pay off hands, and check the remaining deck for the count (and are correct on the count) in under two minutes with this single deck you are well on the way. Once the speed has been gained consider switching from the kitchen table to a good software package, like Casino Verite by Norm Wattenberg. Programs like this will automatically track your play from session to session, providing valuable input on your progress. This will perhaps be the longest stretch in building our game, taking maybe 60 more hours of practice.