I am a new K.O. strategy player. Using a minus 20 as a starting point and counting 7's as a plus one I played over three hours in Louisiana. In all of the shoes I never had a plus count. Is this unusual or is it to be expected.
It would be rare to play 18 shoes (3 hours) and have none of them go positive...but it could happen. I thought that for an unbalanced count your starting point was supposed to be -24 for a six deck shoe. Hopefully you are also counting 2,3,4,5 & 6 as +1 and 10,J,Q,K,A as -1 in addition to your counting of the 7 as +1.
I also hope he was counting more then just the 7's. If not, then I'd agree it's very normal to never have a positive count. For KO the recommened IRC is -20 so as to set the pivot point at +4. When I used to use KO I noticed it took a long time for the count to go positive, but I wouldn't say it never happened. A balanced system will go positive much quicker.
What you saw is not that unusual. Look at the KO book, p.104 and notice that for 6 decks, for IRC=-20, the Key Count, where you increase your bet, is -4. You don't have to wait for a plus count. By the time RC gets to 0 you should be betting about half your max bet. At this point, on average, the expectation is about .6%. The Pivot Point, where most players make their max bet, is +4 and you won't get there very often in a 6 or 8 deck game.
I prefer to use IRC=0; it's easier to count and things don't seem quite so negative. See Appendix VIII in the book.
Also, KO betting and strategy are based on average values over the shoe. They are right on at the Pivot Point, and good near that point, but the farther you are from the PP the less accurate. You can make more bets above minimum by realizing that, for example, (assuming your IRC=-20), RC=-9 after one deck dealt is as good as the Key Count of -6 based on an average of 3 decks dealt, and justifies an increased bet. Just keep an eye on the discard tray.
Hope this makes some sense.
With a balanced count the tags add up to 0 when you count through a full deck. KO is unbalanced, and is at +4 when you count through a whole deck. There's more to it then that, but that's the simple explination.