Trading Concepts

Supply and Demand

In every economy in the world Supply and Demand are the 2 concepts that control how people buy and sell goods and services, the same goes for the TF2 Economy. The supply is controlled by valve in how they release items and the demand is controlled by the appeal of the average gamer toward those items. Just because valve releases an item that is in short supply doesn’t necessarily mean the item is going to be worth tons of metal, the demand needs to be there as well. There are items in great supply, yet the price seems to stay high due to overwhelming demand. Understand the supply and demand of each item in TF2 will give you a huge advantage during your trade negotiations. I know this might sound a little dramatic for a game, but understand supply and demand will make the difference between being a wealthy trader or just another guy begging for items.

How items get value

Let’s face it, there is no real value to any of the items in Team Fortress 2, but we do have tools out there that help us get an idea of where the market is headed. Learn how to use the spreadsheets as a tool, not as the absolute truth of what an items value really is. People don’t understand it’s not 100% accurate and it’s not always up to date. The prices of items could fluctuate due to many different factors. People constantly think prices are rigged somehow, in my opinion, this is completely false. There are also trading forums such as and with excellent search engines to show you what people are selling certain items for. Using these different tools all together will, no doubt make you a more successful trader.

Buy Low, Sell High, Buy in Bulk

Smart traders should always be looking for cheap deals or quick sells, than find buyers that are willing to pay full value for the items you've invested in. This is one of the most fundamental concepts in the entire game, which a lot of people never follow. I promise you that there’s always going to be someone selling something cheaper than the real market value. It’s your job to understand whether or not that’s a good investment and you feel confident you can resell it quickly. Lastly, always try to buy in bulk, try to buy alot of what person is trying to get rid of at a discount, this will give you a bigger inventory, and a chance to make a little bit of profit.

Avoid resellers or other salesman.

With every trader you encounter, there are going to be sharks out there trying to make you believe that they know the value of items better then you. That their item is over spreadsheet value and your items are below spreadsheet value. Or they don’t follow spreadsheet prices, because they know the TF2 economy better than everyone else. This type of trader you’ve seen in this example are resellers, they try to profit off anyone they see, which is basically the same thing you are doing. Imagine a salesman trying to sell something to another salesman, which is in the same market of products, it’s never going to happen. Both salesmen know the value, yet they are trying to make a profit. You need to find true buyers of products; they'll be willing to pay your fee as long as it’s reasonable.

Going Premium

A lot of TF2 players don’t really understand the benefit of going from Free to Play to Premium. This includes the ability to trade, the expansion of your inventory from 50 items to 300 items. And most importantly, getting DROPS, valve releases a certain number of items to each player on a weekly basis. This happens every Thursday morning, which is set on a timer. The number of items can range between 8 to 15 items from my experience. The items that drop are normally crates and weapons. But on rare occasions, you may get a hat or a paint, which could turn out to be quite valuable. The time in which you get these drops is once per hour I believe, but I’m not 100% sure about this.

Are you a trader or a collector?

I’ve taught many people how to trade, and I see the same thing over and over, people lean towards collecting very quickly. They see a little bit of profit and want to start keeping their profits because they really like the items they currently have. If you want to become a successful trader, you must always be looking to sell everything at a moment’s notice for a profit and keep the profits coming in. Imagine you walk into a your local liquor store and the owner isn’t selling any liquor cause he’s a drunk and wants it all for himself. He’s losing potential profits from his customers that want to buy his liquor. You must think of your inventory like it’s the inventory of any business. Everything Must Go! After a certain point in your trading career you can say to yourself, enough is enough and you can start collecting. But this shouldn’t happen until you reach stage 3 of trading.

What can you …Offer.

Buyer: “How much do you want for your item” Seller: “Offer for it”
The word "Offer" has many meanings, and should be used with some caution. In my personal experience there are three reasons why a person would say offer.

1. Because they simply don’t have a clue what the item is worth.
2. Because they know the item’s value, but they are hoping to get more than what’s normally expected.
3. They know what the item’s (spreadsheet) value is but it’s been so long since anyone has paid that amount, that they are willing to accept less just to get rid of the item.

You should avoid people in category number 2 at all costs. These sellers are sharks, and I personally never trade with anyone that starts up a trade and says the words "offer" to me, these traders never price anything. I don’t recommend taking advantage of people in category 1, but they should have read my tutorial :). And as far as people in the third category is where you're going to make your profits. While you’re selling your items, you should always be looking for these kinds of deals, it’s a fundamental part of trading.

Paying in Metal versus Playing in Items.

I find this topic is not understood by many traders, so I will try to explain it. It should already be understood that Metal and Keys are the main source of currency in trading. That being said, most sellers expect payment for their low cost items to be in Metal, and their more expensive items to be in keys. I personally think it’s just for practical reasons. For example, let’s say you’re selling Bill’s Hat to someone; its value is 8 keys. It’s easier to store 8 keys versus 20 refined, especially if that person’s backpack is close to full.

Aside from practicality, there’s another main reason seller prefer metal over items. Normally a person is selling an item because they want to buy something else. For example, let’s say someone is selling a Fancy Fedora, because they want to buy a Charmer’s Chapeau. Both of them are spy hats, and they are about equal in value. The odds of finding someone that is selling a Charmer’s Chapeau, and seeking a Fancy Fedora is close to impossible. So the most sensible thing is sell the Fedora for Metal, and buy the Chapeau with that metal. Yes it’s a lot more work, but this is a guaranteed method to acquire a new item, because 99% of sellers prefer metal for this very reason. This brings me a controversial topic in trading.

Overpaying in items. A lot times you’ll find someone selling an item for metal and if you don’t have metal, they’re going to require you to overpay in items. So what exactly does that mean? And how can these guys get away with this? It’s simple, as I said before traders always expect metal for the items they are selling. If you’re selling a highly in demand hat for 2 refined, and the buyer doesn’t have metal, but is willing to pay in items. You should always require him to overpay a little bit, and price his items a little below market value, due to the fact you’re going to have to resell their items now. The reason this is a legitimate thing to do is because you’re doing this guy a favor, you’re taking items that he obviously doesn’t want and is too lazy to sell for metal, and giving him something he actually does want. Lots of buyers get upset over this, but if they are too lazy to sell their items, tough. And if they can’t sell their items to being with, what makes them think you are going to have any better luck?

Basic Trading Tactics
(Stage One)

Trading Tactics

These trading tactics are going to assume that you are a new trader and don’t have very much in your inventory to begin with. It’s also going to assume you don’t have the means to purchase anything from the Mann Co Store, such as Keys or Tools. There are 3 levels of traders in Team Fortress 2, the most successful traders I’ve personally meet have a started in this fashion. Being a successful trader requires time, dedication and understanding how people work. Learning how to spot a scammer, figuring out if someone is trying to pull a fast one on you, this knowledge is essential for higher level trading.

Weapon Trading

All traders should start with the basics, guns, paints, cheap stranges, and uncraftable hats. Becoming a weapons trader is the best way to understand how to make profit. It’s a 100% safe and guaranteed to pay off as long as you follow these methods. Every weapon you have should be sold at 1 scrap or 2 random tradable weapons. When new weapons are released, the new items can be sold for quite a bit more due to the high demand, but then slowly but surely those guns will begin to drop to everyone, decreasing the value once again back to 1 scrap. There are times were people will offer you items that are of greater value than 1 scrap, and if they don’t mind, you’ve got lucky and made a healthier profit.

Vintage Weapon Trading

We already discussed that there are 2 classes of vintage weapons, the old vintage set (class 1), and new vintage set (class2). We are going to be discussing class 1 in the stage 1 section only. The demand for vintage weapons, really just depends on the buyer. It’s essential to buy class 1 vintage weapons for 1 scrap only, and resell them for 2-3 scrap. It's basically 1 level above normal weapon trading. Weapon collectors are usually attracted to vintage weapons, and odd level vintage weapons. You should also be aware that there are collectors that collect any odd level vintage weapons that have a certain level, like the number 22. These buyers will usually pay a premium to acquire them to complete their collection.

Strange Trading

There are people that only deal in strange trading, they find people trying to sell their strange for cheap, then resell them for the normal spreadsheet value. There are traders who take advantage of U-Shaped investing (waiting for the price to drop to this lowest point, buying BULK, than waiting for the price to increase and resell their items.)

Paint Trading

Paint prices are highly regulated now based on the price of the paint in the TF2 store, but every once and a while you can find people selling dropped paints for a really cheap price. It really doesn't matter which paint you are trying to sell, you’ll always find a buyer looking to paint his newly dropped hat. You should mainly focus on buying and selling Low Tier Level Paints to Low-Mid Level Paints in Stage 1.

Uncraft Hat Trading

Traders have recently created an entirely new market for uncraft hats. This new method is a nice way to bridge the gap between Stage 1 and Stage 2. Uncraft hats are very cheap, they usually cost between 50%-66% less of the clean hats value. A lot of traders will buy any uncraft hat you users are trying to get rid of for 1 reclaimed, and resell those hats for 2 reclaimed-1 refined. As valve releases new items into TF2 and people purchases them from the Mann Co Store, they become uncraft, These items are actually worth a great deal while they are still new. Hopefully you can snag an uncraft hat worth tons for only a reclaimed or two. Remember the most anyone usually ever pays for an uncraft hats is 50% of the normal craft hats value.

Once you get your inventory to about 150-200 weapons and are constantly making sales, you can promote yourself to level 2. You should also start thinking about expanding your backpack to 400 slots or even 500 slots.

Setting Up Binds

Binds are a helpful tool to post your ads in a trade server. What it does is when you press on a certain key on your keyboard, a pre-inputted message will pop up. It's basically the same thing as using copy paste, but these commands are stored into your Steam Account. This can be done by enabling console in your options menu. Press ~ to open console then type the following: bind <key> "say <your trade message>". <key is the button your keyboard in which you want to press, so for example, I personally use F1, F2, F3, F4, because these keys are not binded to anything important for TF2 to function. And <your trade message> is what your trade message will be, for example Selling>Hats, Weapons, and Paints. So in your console you would type, bind f1 "say Selling>Hats, Weapons, and Paints". Make sure you have a space inbetween bind and f1, and f1 and "say, and "say and Selling>.

Hats, Misc, Strange, and Vintage (Class 2) Trading Tactics
(Stage 2)

Vintage, Genuine, and Unique Hats & Misc Trading

While you are still trading weapons, you can now begin to start trading hats. Hat traders make a lot more profit in 1 sale then a weapons trader ever will. But now you must understand the hat market extremely well. There are currently around 360 hats & misc items in TF2. You must know the value of each hat and if that hat is in demand or not. The only real way to know if a hat is in demand is if you see people in trade servers constantly asking to buy the same items over and over. The more hats you keep in your inventory, the more likely you’re going to find a person willing to buy. There are people who buy hats for a quick sell of 1 refined and resell the hat for their spreadsheet value.

There are people that will buy any hat for 1 reclaimed less then market value and then take the time to find a buyer willing to pay the true market value. There are hat traders who only trade hats, meaning the wont deal in metal. As long as the hat they are giving you is worth less than the hat you are giving them, they will complete the trade. By using all of these methods all at once, you’re looking to start a constant stream of metal coming your way. You have to remember, not everyone is looking to make profit, and a lot people just want certain items in the game to complete their characters theme. You are looking to provide that service to your customer.

Strange Trading (Stock to Salvaged Strange)

All stranges stock weapon stranges, such as the Rocket Launcher, or The Mini-Gun, are some of the most valuable strange in the market. They usually cost a few keys depending on the demand, but there are always buyers for strange stock weapons. Try to find good deals on these and resell them for pretty decent profit. All stranges that come out of salvages crates follow the U-Shaped system. When these salvages crates are unboxed, the value of these strange is extremely high, and then as more and more of them get unboxed, the prices will bottom out. This is the best time to buy these stranges. Once that Salvages crate stops dropping the value of these strange will start to pick up again as the supply of salvages crates have been cut off forever. This will also cause the value of salvages crates to increase as well.

Vintage Weapons (Class 2) - Trading

As we talked about in the tutorial, there are 13 rare vintage weapons. Vintage Fan O' War, and Concheror are currently valued at 2 earbuds, so these should be considered in the Stage 3 of trading. So we are going to focus on the other 11 vintages for sale. These can range from 1 refined to 4-5 keys, they are generally boughten by collecters who wish to complete their vintage collection. But these buyers arnt going to be the same as stage 1, these buyers will have alot keys and metal to fork over for these puppies. So try to find them for cheap, and find a collector. It should be noted that spreadsheet values on these are really never accurate due to rarity.

Key Trading

Is quite a simple concept, you find sellers that are selling keys for 2.33 or 2.44 refined and resell the keys for 2.55 or 2.66 (if you’re lucky) refined. I discussed Bulk buying in concepts, well here’s where it works best. There are traders who buy tons of keys from the Mann Co Store, and try to sell them for metal. If you have enough metal, you should try to buy as many keys from that person at a discounted price.

Promos/Unusual Trading
(Stage 3

Promo/Unusual traders – Please refer to the two section I have already written regarding promo’s and unusual to get a better understand of the values and importance of promos and unusuals.

This is the level you can find the biggest traders in Team Fortress 2. Everyone in the game wants promos and unusuals cause they are rare and awesome, which also makes them extremely expensive. I don’t recommend moving to this level unless your backpack is worth at least 150-200 refined. At this level one sale’s profits could be equal to the 3 months of trading guns and hats.

You must learn the ins and outs of every unusual, every promo, what their worth, and how quickly you can resell that item after you’ve invested in it. There are traders that spend all day flipping earbuds. Let’s say earbuds are valued at 25 keys, these traders will look for people selling earbuds for 23-24 keys, then have buyers lined up to buy at 25 keys. They will do this is over and over. There are people that buy any quick-sell unusuals, than spend a lot of time trying to find buyers to pay double what they’ve invested in it. There are traders who try to only upgrade their unusual. They will start with a one bud unusual  and work their way up to a 5-6 bud unusual, quick sell that unusual at a discount, keep the profits, then do it again, and again. You can pick your poison, but you must remember that unusual and earbud trading is like playing chess. Everyone is almost on the same level as you, but you have to strategically trade your items in a way where you're making all the right moves to profit as much as possible.

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