The #1 Biggest Mistake that Rookie Ticket Brokers Make

by Brandon

When I first started buying and selling tickets online, I was eager to get my hands on as many tickets as I could. I thought, “Hey, it’s Bon Jovi! I’m sure this is going to sell for a ton of money.” By buying tickets like wild, I was committing what I believe to be a young ticket broker’s most common mistake, and that is buying mediocre tickets to high-priced events. By reading my experience, I hope that you won’t make the same mistakes when you find yourself in the position to pull the trigger on high-priced seats. Let me explain:


When tickets to U2’s upcoming tour go on sale, you might think that even your nosebleed seats will sell for a ton of money just because it’s U2. The thing is, though, most fans aren’t searching for nosebleed seats. In fact, they were probably able to pull nosebleed seats themselves. The whole reason why they’re on eBay or StubHub looking for tickets is because they don’t want to be stuck with Reserved Section 407. What they’re looking for is more like Section 2, Row A, and if you stray too far away from the premier zones of any venue, your profits will suffer.

I’ll give you an example:

Agganis Arena Seating Chart

Unless the artist and venue are both superb (and I’m talking Bon Jovi at Madison Square Garden, that type of show), you’re probably not going to make much profit from any section other than from the ones highlighted in blue.

I’ve learned my lesson, but back when I first started selling, I was losing hundreds of dollars on tickets that I should never have touched in the first place. Like these:

Bon Jovi, February 20, Section 113: -$151.10
Paul McCartney, March 28, Section 102, Row P: -$308.45
Paul McCartney, March 28, Section CCC, Row 19: -$299.15 (yes, same show!)
Paul McCartney, April 03, Section 3, Row 2: -$209.89

(Note that these shows were not at the venue pictured above.)

You know what the real problem was with these tickets?


Look at that last example–those were second row seats! What went wrong? Well, two things. First, the section was in front of the stage, yes, but it was far off to the side. And second, but more importantly, the tickets cost me $567. I had to sell the tickets for $607 just to break even. Of course, I didn’t even come close. It’s hard to get anyone to pay $600 for any ticket to any show, even if you have middle floor, front row seats.

My general rule of thumb

Over my time as a ticket broker I’ve come up with a general rule that has probably saved me thousands of dollars in stupid buying decisions. And that is:

Unless the tickets are for a top artist at a top venue, never spend more than $150 per ticket.

Of course, there will be occasions when you pull amazing tickets on Ticketmaster (or elsewhere) and they happen to be above $150/each. In these cases, you have to check eBay and StubHub before you pull the trigger just to make sure these tickets are indeed selling for at least $200/each. Even then, it’s risky.

Out of all my experience selling tickets, 95% of the occasions that I’ve lost money have been cases where I bought tickets priced above $150/each. By eliminating these purchases, you will also largely rid yourself of taking losses as a ticket broker. Now, “not taking losses” isn’t the key to becoming a ticket broker, but it’s a damn good start.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt November 22, 2010 at 11:29 pm

Hi Brandon. I’m an aspiring broker and want to first say that this site is the best resource I have come across so far for a beginner and I plan on purchasing the e-book soon. I’ve only been “paper trading” for a couple of weeks so far, but I fear I would have quickly learned the lesson that you describe here after tracking secondary market sales for the seats I could have purchased. Ironically, Bon Jovi floor seats @ MSG may have been my expensive downfall too had I actually bought them.
Though my question is: Can you often find great seats to desirable events in the NY/NJ area for under $150 or should I be looking more outside my residential area, in less familiar states and venues for cheaper events to start?


Brandon November 23, 2010 at 11:59 am

Hi Matt,

Good question. The answer is a definite yes, there are plenty of shows on sale in the NY/NJ area for under $150 a pop. I’ve made a great chunk of my profit in ticket brokering from these kinds of shows. Shows in Newark, Atlantic City, New York City, Trenton, Philadelphia–all these cities (and more) will have plenty of great shows to profit from.

As I explain in another post, knowing which tickets to buy all depends on what the demand is for that show, not necessarily where the show is taking place. There are great shows in Albuquerque and poor shows in New York City–it all depends, and you have to do some research before you buy.

With regard to the Bon Jovi tickets, if you can grab front floor seats or (especially) seats in the Pit, those tickets will bring you huge profit, almost no matter the cost. Bon Jovi at Madison Square Garden is one of those rare exceptions where it’s probably a good idea to buy the top tickets regardless of price.

Looking at the Bon Jovi listings on StubHub right now, the cheapest Pit tickets are selling for $3,000 each. That’s gonna bring you profit no matter what Ticketmaster charges.

All the best,



Matt November 23, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Thanks for the reply. Looks like there’s a lot more work to this than I initially realized. They definitely weren’t pit, but I just saw Floor (Sec 5 & 8 ) at the Garden for $300, was surprised they were still there, and assumed it would be an easy money doubling opportunity.
Follow up question (and I’ll probably have more as I get through all the posts): How reliable is a site like SeatGeek for research on what’s trending up and down?


Brandon November 23, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Just a general rule of thumb: if it’s been more than a day since tickets initially went on sale, 99% of tickets that you pull won’t bring you any profit, and will usually end up losing you money. If you want to buy tickets a day after they went on sale, you have to triple and quadruple check to make sure you’ll be able to sell them for $50+ more than you bought them for (to cover fees, etc.)

As far as SeatGeek, I can’t see much use in it for ticket brokers. The reason is because SeatGeek is meant more for fans who are looking for a great deal on tickets and who don’t plan on reselling them. For them, it can be a valuable resource if you know how to use it correctly. Ticket brokers typically wouldn’t buy tickets from StubHub with the intention of selling them later, though.

You can do this but this is extremely difficult to accomplish due to StubHub’s ridiculously high fees. You’d have to somehow be able to buy tickets on StubHub and sell them for $100 more sometime in the future just to make any decent profit. It would be time consuming and there are other hassles that come along with this kind of strategy (shipment delays, to name a big one).



Matt December 11, 2010 at 6:05 pm

I have recently started selling tickets. It all started when Strasburg made his debut this past year. I made a lot of money on that game and got hooked. My question is how to ticket brokers buy so many tickets when ticketmaster often has the 8 seat limit. Also, is there any way around paying for the service fees that ticketmaster charges?

Thanks a lot


Brandon December 11, 2010 at 8:51 pm

Hey Matt,

Strasburg totally shook up baseball, I remember. I’m sure Nationals front office was very happy. 😉

To your questions:

1. Remember that ticket brokers are often not going at it alone. Sometimes they are practically corporations, with “employees” all across the country pulling tickets. If there are 20 pullers and each one is able to nab 4 GA tickets to Linkin Park, they can list 80 GA tickets instead of just 4. Also, sometimes ticket brokers lie. (No joke.) They may list 100, 200 GA tickets in order to seem more authoritative, or because the price differential on StubHub and eBay is so great that they can afford to sell tickets they don’t have. All they have to do is buy them on eBay right after someone buys it from them on StubHub, and the difference in prices is their profit. 🙂

2. Nope! We all wish we could bypass those annoying fees, but even if there were a way, it’d be illegal.



chris May 11, 2011 at 6:06 pm


Is it legal to buy tickets from somebody on ebay or stubhub, and then resell them on those sites? If so, do I have to buy off Ticketmaster and that team’s site?


Darryl July 26, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Hi Brandon. I just want to start off by saying awesome site. Have you ever had any experience buying season tickets for a particular sports team and just selling every game? If so, is it a profitable route to go down?


Matt October 25, 2011 at 8:49 pm


How long did it take you before you were making a decent profit? Were to buying and reselling tickets every day for different types of events or did you focus on one genere of tickets? Thanks!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: