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Basic Trading


New Member
Sep 6, 2017
You've just joined a trading server, hoping to find the hat of your dreams, but in chat you find tons of player that say "Selling [Item] for 14.22 ref"...what does "ref" mean? And what are those decimal numbers? Don't worry, I'm here to explain how it works and how to start Trading.

Note that this isn't a professional trading guide, so read this if you don't know how to Trade.

Trading Economy
First of all, TF2 Trading Economy is based on metal and Mann Co. Crate Keys.
There are three types of Metal: Scrap Metal (the "worst" one), Reclaimed Metal and Refined Metal. Usually during trades we don't say "Refined Metal", but "ref", for Reclaimed Metal we say "rec", and Scrap Metal remains Scrap.
But why people use decimals on Refined Metal when you can't phisically divide it? In reality, 1 Refined is made with 3 Reclamed, and 1 Reclamed is equal to 3 Scrap; so if we do the math, it comes out that:
-1 scrap = 0.11 ref
-1 rec = 0.33 ref

So if I have an item that is worth 5.77 ref, it means that I can get from trading 5 ref+2 rec+1 scrap.
I've previously mentioned Mann Co. Crate Keys as Trading Economy: In 2017, unless you're pretty new into buying in-game Items, you don't usually buy Mann Co. Crate Keys (don't mistake with Cosmetic Cases' Keys) to open Crates, in fact you can use them to buy high-value Items; 1 key is equal to 29.33-29.44 ref (price may change), or if you want to spend money it costs 2.25€/2.70 USD~. But don't think you can get an unusual for a bunch of keys, they're worth AT LEAST 7-10 keys.

Getting Metal
But how do I get Metal if I don't have any?
Well, you need Random Drop weapons. If you're Premium on TF2 (it means that you've bought at least one item from the Official Market) you can obtain Scrap Metal crafting it with 2 Weapons of the same class; it isn't really the best way to get Refined Metal, because you'll need a total of 9 scrap, so 18 weapons are gone, but if you have a lot of free time, you can Idle on Idle servers and get Random Drop weapons. Another way is to sell your useless hats/Strange Weapons you got during your "unboxing" sessions. If you want to quicksell, there are a lot of third-party sites, which have bots that trade instantly with you. In my opinion, scrap.tf is the best site for quickselling. If you want, you can sell Steam Trading cards to other players, there are plenty of people who want your cards for some Scrap.

Checking Item Prices
Now, supposing you've got your 10 ref after quickselling items you don't need anymore, and finally join a trade server with the acquired knowledge, trying to buy items you like, and you find your dream hat for 7.88 ref; but are you sure this is the real price? If you aren't, do a little research on the Internet before buying. In my opinion, backpack.tf is the best site for watching prices for all kind of items. Remember one thing: if you find items that have lower prices than "normal", grab the opportunity, buy it, and resell it at its regular prices.

With all these tips in mind you can now go out there and trade your items!

Fish-Related Crimes

The King of Fish
Dec 3, 2016
"Remember one thing: if you find items that have lower prices than "normal", grab the opportunity, buy it, and resell it at its regular prices."
Not always true, especially in unusual trading. You have to take the intrinsic value of an item into consideration. Take the flies BoA for instance. It's priced at 150 keys, on par with logo and above dbd. This obviously isn't right, the price must be outdated. Hell, I'd slap my own dear mother senseless before even paying half price, considering for that price in pure I could easily obtain miami or slumber. Give it your best judgement and you'll be a-okay.
EDIT: I'm aware this is for basic trading. Just providing an example of a hypothetical situation using the unusual-level which can just as easily occur in unique item trading.
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