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The Running Count

Which is a literal indicator of the high/low strength of the pack you're currently playing from. Let's run through a few examples together:

• Five decks left -- running count is +10:
.4 x +10 = +4 true count
• Three decks left -- running count is -18:
2/3 of -18 = -12 true count
• Two decks left -- running count is +13:
with 2 decks left, the RIC always = the TIC
• Two-thirds of a deck left -- running count is +9:
3 x +9 = +27 true count

Remember, as cards are coming out you apply them to your running count. Then you must keep that running count in the back of your mind while you convert to the true count to size your bet or play your hand. After you've done that, pick up the running count again and update it as cards come into play.

How will you know how many decks are left? The discard tray is your source of information. By now you should be an astute judge of how many cards are in a given stack. Two decks of cards stand just about nine chips tall. During play, whatever is in the discard tray plus a bit more for the cards on the board will leave the remainder in the shoe. A little practice at home will teach you to gauge the remaining cards reasonably well.

Caution! Be careful about deviating from the basic strategy after you've converted to the true count! Realize that you're always estimating how many decks remain, plus your multiplication may be less than perfect. Because of this, it might be prudent to see the true count exceed the index number (shown later) for that particular hand by 10 or 15% before you "change up" your play. In that way you don't run the risk of playing worse than a basic strategy player. Sizing your bet is not as sensitive. Either you'll have an edge or you won't. It's not as big a deal if you mistakenly bet 4 units when you really should have only bet 3. You had the advantage either way. The most important part of sizing your bet according to the true count is making sure you indeed have an edge before you increase your bet. When you're not sure, a two unit wager might be a good idea. That will either be mathematically appropriate, or good for table image purposes.

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Table or fold your cards promptly and in turn, so players get the information to which they are entitled; the exception, as mentioned, is that it's considered particularly sporting to table the winner right away if you know you have it. If you're not sure if you have the winner, when you table your hand the dealer or other players will say whose hand wins. If you're sure you have a loser, don't hold onto your cards. This makes everyone wonder if you're finally going to turn over a winner.
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