The key count is when you know you have the advantage.
The pivot point is when the count reaches a point when you have reliable information about the expectation of your wager.
I would suggest you do two things:
a. Join Green Chip. For $12.25 per quarter, not only will you have access to some of the most knowledgeable players in the game, you will also have access to Green Chip archives. Within the archives you will find a wealth of information pertaining to the game and more importantly for you, some serious posts about K-O.
b. Purchase the K-O book, which can be done by clicking the left panel labeled Online Catalog. The book is $17.95, and as a Green Chip member you also get 10% off...such a deal!
You are probably going to get some pretty good answers right here in this thread. You're just not going to get them in this post.
I felt that the book did a pretty good job of explaining the two terms. If memory serves, V&F even go back and explain each term a second time. I am willing to admit that I had to go back and re-read them a few times before I had a good understanding of them.
I would recommend that you, of course, read any further definitions you receive here, but don't worry about it too much. Pick whether you are going to use the key and pivot for your sole indices or if you are going to use the "full preferred" indices in the appendix.
Memorize and practice your matrix. Every now and then, go back and read the definitions of key and pivot. As you become more adept at understanding when you have the edge, the terms will make more sense to you.
The nice thing is that in the meantime, you don't have to understand them to use them.
KO is (nearly) one-size-fits-all. There are four important counts.
- Pivot is always the same, regardless of the number of decks and rules. This is the count at which it is generally thought that you put out your max bet. This is also the count at which most of the "preferred" strategy changes trigger (in 6-deck all but one of the strategy changes trigger at Pivot). The book says to set Pivot at +4. I don't like to work with negative numbers, so I set Pivot at +34.
- Insurance is always taken at a count of Pivot-1.
- Initial Running Count (IRC) is the value of the count immediately after shuffle. IRC changes with the number of decks. IRC is zero for single deck and -20 for six deck (30 and 10 in my adjustment).
- Key Count is the value at which the advantage begins to shift to the player and at which the player should begin to ramp up his bet. Key Count is a function of number of decks, e.g., -4 for six-deck, 26 in my adjustment.
Be advised that KO tends not to get larger bets out until a good bit later than HiLo. This doesn't matter much playing without cover, but can cost a lot of advantage playing with cover and other people at the table. Adjustments have been computed for pack depth, particularly for those who are Wongers.
I echo the advice of others to get the book. It's an excellent read.