May 102013

It always starts innocently enough.  Someone in my group talks about The Counter burgers.  Someone else says they haven’t been.  Someone else say they haven’t been in a while. Okay, team lunch there.  Easy enough. But where is the twist? There has to be a twist, doesn’t there?

The fun of The Counter is building your own burger. Wouldn’t it be more fun if someone else built your burger for you? Though it wouldn’t be fair if people were assigned burger partners, so it’d need to be random. That’s how Burger Roulette was born.

Everyone makes a burger. We shuffle the burger forms before giving them to the waiter. Then we also get randomly assigned numbers and when the burgers come out, they are distributed in that order.  No one cares about which burger comes out, just what number burger it is.

Initially, I called it Burger Roulette, after Russian Roulette. Thinking that people are playing with loaded guns/hamburgers. But cause we are well trained computer scientists, as the plans developed, it became more of a prisoner’s dilemma problem. That problem, from game theory, basically has two folks caught doing something bad.  They both get the same deal.  There’s enough evidence to put each of you away for 2 years. But if you turn on your partner, you’ll go free but your partner will get 4 years.  Though if you both turn on each other, you’ll both get 4 years.

Do you turn on your partner or not? Theoretically, you should turn. Because if you don’t turn, you’ll either get 2 years (partner didn’t turn on you) or 4 years (partner turned on you).  Average sentence = 3 years.  If you do turn, you’ll either get 0 years (partner didn’t turn on you) or 4 years.  Average sentence is 2 years. Clear cut call. Theoretically.

The game also has a version called the iterated prisoner’s dilemma, where you play the game with each other many times, and thus, your strategy changes. Hopefully some trust can be built over time.

But let’s get back to the more pleasant (and practical) topic of burgers. Do you make a burger you’d think was the best burger, hoping you’d get your own burger?  (Don’t turn!) Or do you think it’d be fun to create a monster of a burger, hoping you don’t get your own burger? (Kinda turning…I mean, it’s just a burger after all…)

Because we work with each other, there is somewhat of an iterated feel to it. Folks you turn on will you’ll be working with for a while still. They aren’t getting whisked away to a cell somewhere else.

We have been to Dining in the Dark together. So we have trusted that people weren’t messing with your food in the dark already. This is similar, just with burgers, and light. And maybe a shake thrown in. It made a good burger outing quite fun.

The waiter was a little flustered when we shuffled all the cards infront of him, but once he understood what was going it, it made things easier.  All burgers are medium.  Bring us every type of fries. And we really didn’t care who got which burger. How much easier can you make it on a waiter?

Everyone said they made a burger they would be willing to eat.  Though a few qualified it with “but I wouldn’t have ordered it for myself”.  Some had themes, like Thai (peanut sauce, pineapple, sprouts, carrot strings, sliced cucumbers + bacon, just cause Thai food is better with bacon right?), or fire (everything that sounded hot).

And all the burgers were enjoyed.  One (only?) person did get their own burger. And it was one of those folks that qualified it with the “i wouldn’t have ordered it for myself” lines. The most challenging aspect (besides the jalapeños – but that was more of a mental thing) was the size for some people.  I guess people typically get the 1/3 pound burger while I happily checked off the 1 pounder.  The burger I got was only 2/3rds of a pound and I was done before some of the folks were done assessing their burger…but everyone finished.

Cause if you didn’t finish, you got the pleasure of picking up the bill.

Anyway, if you ever wanna play burger roulette/dilemma, I’m down.

Especially when their special shake of the month is Churro.  That thing is fantastic!

  2 Responses to “Burger Roulette @ The Counter”

  1. As far as iterated goes: were you required to divulge which burger you placed the order for? And if you weren’t required, did people choose to do so anyway? If so, did they tell the truth?

  2. No requirement. I think there were some folks trying to make “the best burger” but there wasn’t going to be anyway to quantify that. But they were proud of the combination with brie and pineapple or whatever, so they disclosed. I think everyone fessed up to their burger and said (as best they could remember) what was on it. The guy that made the hot burger did overlook the habanero choice. Huge oversight!

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