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The only items I can market are Mann Co. Supply Crates. And, if I have a look at the description of the crate, I can see a list of possible items:

Description of a Mann Co. Supply Crate

Does this mean that if I try to open the crate a pseudo-random number would be drawn and one item would be given to me? Or is the item already set when I first got the crate? This is especially important for the "Exceedingly Rare Special Item"!

Strangely, if the draw had yet to happen, then I would have no problem selling the crate. But if the draw already happened, then I would like to know the result, and I would be a bit reluctant to sell the crate. It is all about psychology, because I understand there is no difference in fact.

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    Schrödinger's crate: either way, you won't know until you open it. – Colin D Dec 13 '12 at 20:43
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Source

Though the notion and concept of a crate suggests that the contents should be predetermined, Robin Walker has confirmed the mechanics are such that item drop is determined at the point of opening the crate; moreover, items are not mapped to crates and thus there is no distinction to be made between two crates of identical series.

  • So they seem to stick to the laws of quantum mechanics. – Sentry Dec 14 '12 at 14:48
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There's no way of knowing what's in the crate before opening, other than just what it's possible for the crate to contain. I would guess that Valve just generates what's in it when you open it so they don't have to keep track of what's in hundreds of thousands of crates for no reason, but there's no way to know how they do it. Opening crates is just a gamble.

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