Yeah, I was gonna mention the valve clearances also. I always have used the EXACT method you described in the OP and my bike always started 1-2 kicks.
If any of my idiot friends decided to hop on my bike, they always gave it throttle, and completely pissed me off, because that usually meant that I had to change the plug. That accelerator pump (even with the BK mod) would foul the plug immediately.
Oh, and I don't think you want to go for a crazy, hard, kick. Just nice and smooth all the way to the bottom, with some steady force behind it....
My 02' yz250f had the same symptoms until I reshimmed the valves. If it hasn't been done, it's way, way overdue. And I also used to give mine a couple blips of the throttle If it's cold, and hasn't been started for awhile. In fact, I believe the factory manual states to do it in cold weather conditions. I'll have to check, before I put my foot in my mouth though!