As indicated by the name of the system, cards are divided into categories of high and low. Cards two through six are assigned a value of plus one, cards seven, eight and nine are assigned a value of zero and cards ten through Ace are assigned a value of minus one.
The running count resets to zero every time the deck is shuffled and you will add or subtract against it as each card is dealt. Probability dictates that any card higher than a ten is more likely to earn the player a blackjack and therefore every time one of these cards leaves the table our odds of said event happening goes down. Seven, eight and nine are considered neutral because these increase our odds of beating a dealer that must stand on sixteen. Cards two through six will actually improve the hands of most dealers at critical points in the game and therefore we do not want these cards in play.
A true count must always takes into consideration the amount of decks remaining in a casino shoe. This does not have to be taken into consideration if you are only playing with a single deck of cards, however casinos are always on the lookout for card counters so the odds of finding a blackjack table with only one deck in play are therefore slim to none.
The true count in a game can be calculated by taking the running count and dividing it by the amount of decks remaining in play. If there were four decks in play and your running count was four you would therefore have a true count of one. Size your bets accordingly; the higher the true count becomes you will be betting more money and subsequently the lower it becomes you will only be betting the table minimum. A good rule of thumb is double the minimum bet on a count of two, triple the minimum on a count of three and so on.
As always the best way to practice a running count for beginning players is to do so at home before such a skill is mastered and put into use at a live casino. Always remember to conceal your intentions; casinos reserve the right to ask anyone to leave at any time and someone who has been targeted as a card counter will be at the top of the list.