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[PSA] Flux's guide to CS:GO trading and how to do other things good too.

Hello /globaloffensivetrade,
While I am fairly new to the cs:go trading scene, I have a fair amount of past experience TF2 trading, as well as a few other games, and thus have learnt through a bit of luck and experience how to make profit. I get asked questions multiple times a day about some of these trading basics, and you guys seemed quite keen, so I've decided to write this guide. I spent a lot of time and effort on this, so I would appreciate your feedback and feel free to point out any obvious mistakes. If nothing else, read the bolded and italicised parts.
About me:
I've been trading in cs:go for about 3-4 months now, and used to trade heavily in TF2 before cashing out my money and investing it into csgo. I've probably put in around ~$1500 from that and have cashed out about $15000, and still have a [fairly decent inventory](#). Before we get to the part on how I did this, we need to start from the beginning.
Introduction:
When starting to trade, it is a good idea to have an idea what you want. Whether you want to get a particular skin or knife, or earn a living, or just have fun will direct how you might want to trade. I personally trade for fun, but as it turns out making a profit can be quite fun. There is already a good guide to the basics of trading here, and I will try not to reiterate this, but instead explain some more practical details. I recommend you read this if you are completely new to csgo/trading.
Some 'tools' of the trade:
These are sites or tools which are handy to bookmark, check regularly or use.
Trading sites:
Everybody knows Csgo lounge or Csgl, and that it can be quite the hive of scumbag and villany, however due to its high traffic flow, is probably one of the best media to trade.
(Will add more here if I discover more good trading sites)
Pricing Sites:
For most items that the average trader deals with, the price can be looked up quite well at www.steamanalyst.com. Now it is important to know that this is the 'market price' and is not the same as its cash value. When dealing with the steam marketplace, keys take a value of $2.5 USD, and thus the price of skins in keys is their market price / 2.5. Keys are the primary currency of csgo trading and are known as 'pure' offers. Cash value of items is their key value x $1.8-1.9. Offering a 5 key skin is not the same as offering 5 keys as a 5 dollar note isn't the same as 5 dollars worth of groceries. Other sites such as csgo stash also has similar information.
Pricing for items above market price requires some knowledge and experience. People such as elowynoceania have setup a steam group to price check some of these items and has also written a rough price list found here. A handful of people on this subreddit are also experience in price checking (and I will add a list here of any who are willing; send me a message).
Price checkers (with specialty):
**It seems that most people I've listed have stopped price checking. If you are willing to help, please pm me with your steamURL and/or specialty with regards to price checking.
Pricing for knives and skins can vary on their look, even skins of the same type with the same condition may be worth very different. And somewhat strangely, prices of identically looking skins/knives can be very different if they have different conditions.
Browser extensions:
This list was compiled by etherfast here, but I'll copy paste it for convenience. These are incredibly helpful and have streamlined my trading experience, saving me a lot of time and effort.
While I get these two nice weeks off, I thought about putting some time into helping you guys improve your trading experience.
Before I make my list, I want to stress this out that these are mostly for Chrome users. If you have no reason not to switch to Chrome, you should do it. Some of the extensions have Firefox versions as well, but not all of them.
1. Enhanced Steam
This is a nice extension that isn't necessarily related to trading, but it enhances your Steam experience. This is by far the most complex Steam extension, and the list of features is endless
2. Lounge Companion (Dota 2 & CS:GO) No longer allowed on csgl
This will make your CSGL experience better, by allowing you to price check items on the fly and helping you bet easier.
3. Reddit Enhancement Suite
This is well known and it will improve your Reddit Experience and once you try it, you won't be able to live without it. Once again, the features are endless.
4. Reddit Trading Flair Linker Enhanced
This extends people's flairs when you browse the subreddit. It's really nice because it gives you a clickable Steam link, points out any privacy/VAC Bans/Trade bans and tells you if the person is online or playing anything.
5. Steam Community SteamRep Integration
This will highlight profiles banned on SteamRep for you. It doesn't take into account the pending reports, so you might want to do that check yourself. But when that box turns red, you know it's a good warning sign.
6. Steam item search between friends.
This helps you find that specific friend of yours that has that nice Bayonet you want. It loads all of your friends' inventories locally and it makes them searchable. It takes a bit of time to preload, but it's a good alternative to searching through inventories yourself.
7. Decline Unavailable Trade Offers (credit to hohchu, and more)
This helps you dismiss that annoying green envelope that sticks to you when a trade offer is unavailable.
How to start trading?
Now you've bookmarked all those sites I've linked, and read the guides and downloaded all the plugins, what now? Well first in any business, you need to invest something in order to make something, there is no two ways about it. A decent investment (at least $100) will allow you to start trading decently. I recommend the best route to do this is by buying keys off people who are reputable on this subreddit, who sell for around $1.8-2. This is best done via paypal, and will be initially a slow, difficult process as you will have no reputation or rep at this point. You may even want to buy keys off the steam store, however note that these may not be immediately tradeable depending on your payment method. Once you have the keys, look around on the subreddit, csgl, play the game and generally immerse yourself in the community. This will give you some idea of what things are valuable and demanded. Skins which look nice are generally worth more than skins that aren't as nice. Betting skins, such as the AK Redline FT, AWP Asiimov FT, etc tend to be easier to sell just before a tournament, and easier to buy just after.
Once you have a good grasp of what is valued, start making a few trades. Add or message people and offer your keys on their items, and then if they say yes, try selling it for a bit more and voila you have just made your first bit of profit. Now I will go much further in depth later on, but this is the gist of it.
How to gain reputation?
It can be very difficult to gain rep as a beginning trader. There is the catch-22 where people won't sell you things for cash because you don't have rep, and thus you can't get any rep. However, it is very possible to get rep if you present yourself right.
Firstly it helps to have a decently set up steam account. Private profiles are strongly discouraged and most people won't even add you. Private inventories may also be an issue to people. Having an older account and/or a steam level above 2-3 will also make things a bit smoother, as people realise you have invested some time/effort/money into your steam account. As an example I will use my profile. I have a prominently displayed 6 year of service badge. I am level 33, which means I have invested a fair amount of money into my steam account, and I have a lot of hours of a variety of games as well as a lot of +rep comments on my profile. It may even be good to put the country you are from on your profile, given that eastern european accounts have a relatively high rate of scammers, and some people will be more comfortable trading you if you are in their country. Now on the flipside, lacking these things may lead to suspicion of being a possible scammer.
Secondly, being a generally mature and polite person will build more trust with anybody dealing with you. Being aggressive, abusive or seeming illiterate are red flags which may suggest that you are not a trustworthy person. I personally refuse to accept accidental trade offers which they have put none of my items in, and constantly strive to be an honest trader and to not take advantage of people. Now, these things aren't necessary, but being this kind of person will generally help you overall in trading as well as life.
To get meaningful rep for cash trades, you need to setup a thread that isn't your profile, as your profile is not monitored by anybody but yourself. Accusations of scamming can be deleted and +reps can be faked by friends on your profile. So set up a thread here on the steam group: CS:GO Rep. Feel free to copy my setup here but insert your own information which can be found by searching your steamURL on steamrep. Once you've done that, make sure you get the people you trade with to leave a message regarding the trade on your thread, so keep that link handy (I have mine linked on my steam profile).
Now probably the easiest way to do this is to buy a few keys off the steam market, and then sell them to people who have a lot of rep. You will lose some money initially, but you will gain some all-important rep, and will soon be able to buy keys for cash. Doing multiple small transactions is the best way to build rep initially. Selling a few keys here and there, and buying a few will start to fill out your thread.
How to screen people as potential scammers?
There is already a very helpful guide on how to avoid common scams here and here. The most definitive way to tell somebody is a scammer, is if they've done it before and been reported for it. Before doing ANY trade, search their steamURL in www.steamrep.com. A person who is a scammer will have a red outline and it will say 'banned' and will explain why. People who have an orange border with 'x number of reports filed' are generally scammers as well, and I strongly suggest you do NOT trade with either of these types of people.
For people who are scammers-to-be, red flags include:
  • Impersonating another account
  • Low amount of hours/few games
  • New steam account/low steam level
  • Private profile
  • Private inventory/not valuable
  • Not many comments
  • Russian, Romanian or even Italian, or named laska (sounds racist, but the majority of scammers I've met were either of these)
1:58 AM - laskerZ: razizt guide 0/10
1:59 AM - Horrorshow Flux: hahaha
1:59 AM - laskerZ: I'm hugely offended by it. As an Eastern-European, I DEMAND IT TO BE REMOVED
  • Young, immature (<15 years old) - don't really understand the results of their actions
  • Overly keen, impatient to receive your item, offer to pay more than your buyout
  • Know a lot about how cash trading works without having any rep (though some people may have experience in ebay trades, etc and can be trusted)
  • Suspicious in any way (if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is)
Basically if they don't have much to lose, often they will be more likely to scam. People with established names and profiles and inventories have much more to lose and so can be more trustworthy. If I were ever to scam, my lost reputation would be more costly in the long run than any single deal, not that is my only reason I don't scam, just to mention another, I'm not an asshole.
How to cash trade?
Typically paypal is used in most cash trades, being the most convenient generally. Skrill or BTC (bitcoin) can also be used, but I don't personally have much experience in either of these. Typically how trades are done is the buyer will send a money payment as family and friends and pay any fees to the seller, and once the money is confirmed to be received, the seller will send a trade. This method is still possible to be chargebacked, do not listen to anybody who tells you otherwise. Note some countries don't have this option. A middleman can be used, who can be found here, and will hold on to the item before the buyer pays, and will only trade to the buyer once they confirm the seller has received the money. This prevents direct scams, but offers no protection for chargebacks. Chargebacks are the main reason I require people to have rep before dealing in cash with them.
How to setup a neat table for a reddit post?
Easy, just copy what I've done here:
|Type|Skin|Wear|Comment/Screenshots|Current Offer|Buyout|
|:----------|:----------|:----------|:----------|:----------|:-------|:-------|
|Knife|Butterfly Night|FT|Clean looking|None|95k
Now for the big buck item: How to make profit?
The secret to profit is high volume, small profit trades. I will outline how my strategy works below, but it is not necessary to read to make profit, skimming the paragraphs and reading the TL;DR at the bottom should be sufficient. The classic 'buy low, sell high' advice is only partially true. I see so many people trying to sell high and never getting any trades. It really should be 'buy low, sell market'.
Buying items:
It is important to understand a sellers' psychology, in order to understand how to get good deals. First of all you have to buy an item. You do this by exposing yourself to the market as long as possible to find good deals. Post on multiple cs:go/reddit trades, frequently browsing the new section. If you are to offer on a trade, if you are paying pure keys, feel free to offer a little bit less than market price or their buyout (yet still reasonable), so there is a profit margin for you. If you do it in the right manner, more often than not, people are often flexible enough to accept their price, since a reasonable guy with a reasonable price is a good person to trade with. If you offer skins, people more often than not will not value skin offers as highly as keys (though there are exceptions).
Selling items for a profit:
Note that this is more of an explanation of maximum profit, and is a little bit unnecessary to actually profit.
When selling an item you need to understand buyer's psychology and some basic statistics (OH NO THE HORROR!). They want to do either of two things with the item: Use it it or sell it, roughly I'd say the proportions respectively of these people are 1:4. When I say they want to use the item, I mean usually they want to play with it. Thus they are willing to pay full price (FP) or a little bit more (FP + 1 arbitrary unit). The arbitrary unit (AU) can be anything; a dollar, a key, etc and is tied to the value of the item, often around 5%. It is basically your profit margin for most items. Occasionally users will be willing to pay slightly higher than full price, but it isn't enough to rely on the small proportion who do for most of your profits.
Then there are those looking for a profit. Thus they will often be paying a low price (FP - 2 ~ FP - 1). If you have bought it for fairly cheap (=< FP - 2) then you can easily flip it to these people for FP - 1 for at least an AU profit. What price you bought it for may determine whether or not you sell to a specific type of buyer. If you paid full price (FP) then you price your item at > FP + 1 and search for the small proportion of people who are willing to pay more. I have found that the mean price of items if you pay keys is FP - 1, with a standard deviation of 1 AU. I found it optimal to focus on buying items at the price of FP - 1 ~ FP - 2. Thus at the highest range of your buying, you make a profit from 20% of the population, and at the lower end you make it from almost 100% of the population. Of course these numbers are highly speculative.
Here's a graphical explanation for what I am saying. This graph represents roughly the market for items. I am suggesting that you buy at FP - 1 and Sell at FP for maximal consistent profit, as in this picture, where the pink is your sweet sweet profit, basically the crux of my entire guide, not only this is profitable, it is very stable and consistent and safe profits (with the notable exception of new items, which don't have a fixed FP).
TLDR; Buy highly demanded items for under the market price, and sell for market price or slightly below for maximum profit/time.
Cutting your losses/How to get unstuck as a trader?
Sometimes you will find yourself with an item which should be worth x, but you aren't getting offers near it. Maybe you got ripped off, or it has suddenly dropped in price. This is when you cut your losses. Moping over your loss won't help you earn more and will keep you stuck at your current value. Don't be too attached to your items, unless you have already gotten your 'dream knife', so why would you even be reading this :P?
Profit is based exponentially on what you have, i.e. the more you have, the more you profit you make. Thus it is often better to quickly sell some items in order to increase your total currency value (even at a loss of your theoretical currency/market value) as having currency allows you to make more profit than that damn StatTrak Butterfly Boreal Forest FT. You should try and sell at FP - 2, or sell it on the market.
The potential future profit will eventually cover the losses incurred by this trade. This ensures a smooth flow of items in and out of your inventory, allowing for maximum profit.
Selling Strategies:
Generally skins are easier to sell, but have smaller profit margins, and knives are more profitable, but move a lot slower. Hence I will explain how I sell items, and recommend you do the same. Basically lets say you have some skins and knives. What your goal should be, if you want to make profit, is to eventually convert all these skins and knives into currency like keys or cash. How you do this is to downgrade. Downgrading is trading for slightly less desirable/valuable items alongside currency.
What would be optimal is that someone will offer your buyout in keys, however this rarely happens (and is often leading to a scam attempt), so you need to take a relatively big item, and break it down into smallemore liquid bits. When you are offered items, take an offer that is similar in value if it has highly liquid items (such as betting skins, keys, vanilla knives, cheap 'entry level' knives around ~20-30k) over an 'overpay' offer of something that is hard to sell (stat-trak low tier knives, battle-scarred high tier knives, case hardeneds). It is often easier to sell two low-mid tier knives than one high tier knife.
People who trade at a lower level, I suggest you upgrade, like trade two $1.25 skins for $2.50 one, as then you can trade for a key and possibly buy a $3 item, etc. The way I actually see it is like nuclear fusion/fission, just an analogy for you physics and chem nerds :3. Elements which are heavy release energy when split by fission (trade expensive items into multiple cheaper items), and elemental which are light, gain energy by fusion (trade a few cheap items into a reasonable item).
When trading an item with a high variance in price, you want to be moving towards either end. I'll give an example. A Karambit Fade FN with 60% purple/40% pink goes for around 250k. This is highly demanded as it's the cheapest you can get of the item. A Kara Fade with 90% Pink/10% yellow goes for ~500 keys and is also highly demanded as it's the best you can get. So if you had a Kara Fade 80/15/5 (~320k), you would want to downgrade to a 60/40 + 70 keys and if you had a 90/7/3 (~450k) you would want to upgrade to a 90/10. This concept mainly applies for fades, but can also be used in other patterns.
Conclusion:
Damn I just wrote that in one sitting, start to finish. If only I had the motivation for my uni work. Feel free to share this guide with your friends and fellow traders.
Peace,
Horrorshow Flux
submitted by josman3 to GlobalOffensiveTrade [link] [comments]

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