Title:
Automatic card shuffling and dealing device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A card shuffling and dealing device has a housing which has a card exit at its front end and two feeder trays at its rear portion for holding respective stacks of cards. The feeder trays have card entrances facing generally in the same direction into the housing. A card shuffler in the housing adjacent the feeder trays includes at least one card sliding roller associated with each feeder tray for sliding cards held in the respective feeder tray through the corresponding card entrance into the housing. The rollers mix the cards from the feeder trays into the housing, thereby shuffling the cards. A card dealers also in the housing, presents the shuffled cards for dealing. A card holding space in the housing, between the card shuffler and the card dealer, receives and holds the shuffled cards from the card shuffler as a stack in the card dealer.



Inventors:
Ngai, Ping (To Kwa Wan, HK)
Application Number:
11/327470
Publication Date:
07/13/2006
Filing Date:
01/09/2006
Assignee:
Cathay Plastic Factory Limited (To Kwa Wan, HK)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F1/12
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LAYNO, BENJAMIN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LEYDIG VOIT & MAYER, LTD (700 THIRTEENTH ST. NW, SUITE 300, WASHINGTON, DC, 20005-3960, US)
Claims:
1. A card shuffling and dealing device comprising: a housing having a front end and a rear portion; a card exit at the front end; at least two feeder trays at the rear portion for holding respective stacks of cards, the feeder trays having respective card entrances facing generally in the same direction into the housing; a card shuffler located in the housing adjacent the feeder trays, comprising a driving device, gears driven by the driving device, and at least one card sliding roller associated with each feeder tray and driven by the gears for sliding cards held in the same feeder tray through the corresponding card entrance into the housing, the card sliding rollers mixing the cards of the stacks from the feeder trays fed into the housing, thereby providing shuffled cards; a card dealer located in the housing for presenting the shuffled cards for dealing; and a card holding space located in the housing between the card shuffler and the card dealer for receiving and holding the shuffled cards from the card shuffler as a stack in the card dealer.

2. The card shuffling and dealing device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the driving device is electrically operated, and the shuffler includes an electrical switch electrically connected with the driving device for switching the driving device on and off.

3. The card shuffling and dealing device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the driving device is electrically operated, and the housing includes a battery compartment for holding one or more battery cells for powering the driving device.

4. The card shuffling and dealing device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the driving device comprises an electric motor.

5. The card shuffling and dealing device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the at least two feeder trays are located at upper and lower positions at the rear portion for holding respective stacks of cards for feeding into the housing at different levels.

6. The card shuffling and dealing device as claimed in claim 5, wherein the lower feeder tray is positioned farther away from the card holding space than is the upper feeder tray.

7. The card shuffling and dealing device as claimed in claim 6, wherein the at least one card sliding roller associated with the lower feeder tray is driven at a higher speed than the card sliding roller associated with the upper feeder tray in order to slide the cards from the lower feeder tray relatively faster such that the cards from both feeder trays reach the card holding space at substantially the same time.

8. The card shuffling and dealing device as claimed in claim 7, wherein the lower feeder tray has first and second card sliding rollers associated therewith, with the first roller protruding slightly from below the lower feeder tray, like the card sliding roller associated with and protruding slightly from below the upper feeder tray, and the second roller is located within the housing nearer the card holding space and driven at the higher speed.

9. The card shuffling and dealing device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the card dealer comprises first and second members which are pivotably inter-connected at bottom parts thereof and are inclined relative to each other to define the card holding space therebetween.

10. The card shuffling and dealing device as claimed in claim 9, wherein the first member is situated rearward, relatively closer to the card shuffler, and the second member is situated forwards relatively closer to the card exit, and the card dealer is pivotable between a card holding position with the card holding space facing the card shuffler for receiving cards therefrom and a card dealing position with the card holding space facing the card exit for card dealing.

11. The card shuffling and dealing device as claimed in claim 10, wherein the first and second members are individually hinged about a common axis for independent pivotal movement, about which axis the card dealer is pivotable between the card holding position and the card dealing position.

12. The card shuffling and dealing device as claimed in claim 11, wherein the first and second members are inclined relative to each other at an angle of substantially 90° in the card holding position and are pivotable away from one another to subtend an angle therebetween greater than 90° upon the card dealer pivoting towards the card dealing position and staying at the card dealing position.

13. The card shuffling and dealing device as claimed in claim 12, including a spring resiliently biasing the card dealer rearwardly towards the card holding position and forwardly towards the card dealing position.

14. The card shuffling and dealing device as claimed in claim 13, wherein the spring is connected to and acts upon the first member of the card dealer.

15. The card shuffling and dealing device as claimed in claim 14, wherein the second member includes a handle fixed thereto and accessible on one lateral side of the housing for pivoting the card dealer between the card holding position and the card dealing position.

16. The card shuffling and dealing device as claimed in claim 14, wherein the first member of the card dealer includes a card presser in the card holding space, the card presser being movable forwardly with the first member when the card dealer is in the card dealing position and urging cards in the card holding space towards the card exit to facilitate card dealing.

17. The card shuffling and dealing device as claimed in claim 16, wherein the presser comprises at least two hinged parts pivotably connected, at first outer end of the hinged parts, with the first member of the card dealer, and, at a second outer end thereof, with the housing to form a foldable parallelogram structure, which is expandable into the card holding space, as the first member pivots forwardly, and which is collapsible as the first member pivots rearwardly.

18. The card shuffling and dealing device as claimed in claim 9, wherein the first and second members of the card dealer are both planar.

Description:

The present invention relates to an integrated card shuffling and dealing apparatus or device.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Poker, as a game, is becoming increasingly popular, but card shuffling and dealing remain tedious and time consuming. Card shuffling devices are available on the market, which typically shuffle cards into one stack from two from opposite directions, and the shuffled cards must be taken out and dealt manually, or a separate card dealing device is then used.

The invention seeks to obviate or at least alleviate such a problem or shortcoming by providing a new or otherwise improved card shuffling and dealing device.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to the invention, there is provided a card shuffling and dealing device which comprises a housing having a front end and a rear portion, a card exit at the front housing end, and at least two feeder trays at the rear housing portion for holding respective stacks of cards. The feeder trays have respective card entrances facing generally in the same direction into the housing. A card shuffler is provided in the housing adjacent the feeder trays, which comprises a driving device, gears driven by the driving device, and at least one card sliding roller associated with each feeder tray and driven by the gears for sliding cards held in the same feeder tray through the corresponding card entrance into the housing. The card sliding rollers are operable to mix the cards of said stacks from the feeder trays into the housing, thereby shuffling said cards. A card dealer is also provided in the housing for presenting said shuffled cards for dealing. A card holding space is provided in the housing between the card shuffler and the card dealer for receiving and holding said shuffled cards from the card shuffler as a stack in the card dealer.

Preferably, the driving device is electrically operated, and the shuffler includes an electrical switch electrically connected with the driving device for switching the driving device on and off.

Preferably, the driving device is electrically operated, and the housing includes a battery compartment for holding one or more battery cells for powering the driving device.

Preferably, the driving device comprises an electric motor.

In a preferred embodiment, said at least two feeder trays are provided at upper and lower positions at the rear housing portion for holding respective stacks of cards to enter the housing at different levels.

More preferably, the lower feeder tray is positioned relatively farther away from the card holding space than the upper feeder tray.

Further more preferably, said at least one card sliding roller associated with the lower feeder tray is driven at a relatively higher speed than that associated with the upper feeder tray in order to slide said cards from the lower feeder tray relatively faster such that said cards from both feeder trays reach the card holding space generally at the same time.

Yet further more preferably, the lower feeder tray has two first and second said card sliding rollers associated therewith, with the first roller protruding slightly from below the lower feeder tray as the equivalent card sliding roller associated with and protruding slightly from below the upper feeder tray, and the second roller is provided within the housing nearer to the card holding space and driven at said relatively higher speed.

In a preferred embodiment, the card dealer comprises first and second members which are pivotably inter-connected at bottom parts thereof and are inclined relative to each other to define the card holding space therebetween.

More preferably, the first member is situated rearward relatively closer to the card shuffler and the second member is situated forward relatively closer to the card exit, and the card dealer is pivotable between a card holding position with the card holding space facing the card shuffler for receiving cards therefrom and a card dealing position with the card holding space facing the card exit for card dealing.

Further more preferably, the first and second members are individually hinged about a common axis for independent pivotal movement, about which axis the card dealer is pivotable between the card holding position and the card dealing position.

Yet further more preferably, the first and second members are inclined relative to each other at an angle of substantially 90° in the card holding position and are pivotable away from one another to subtend an angle therebetween greater than 90° upon the card dealer pivoting towards the card dealing position and staying at the card dealing position.

Still yet further more preferably, the card dealer is resiliently biased by a spring rearwardly towards the card holding position and forwardly towards the card dealing position.

Still yet further more preferably, the spring is connected to and acts upon the first member of the card dealer.

Still yet further more preferably, the second member includes a handle fixed thereto and accessible on one lateral side of the housing for pivoting the card dealer between the card holding position and the card dealing position.

It is preferred that the first member of the card dealer includes a card presser in the card holding space, which is movable forwardly with the first member when the card dealer is in the card dealing position to press upon cards in the card holding space towards the card exit to facilitate card dealing.

It is further preferred that the presser comprises at least two hinged parts pivotably connected at one outer end thereof with the first member of the card dealer and at an opposite outer end thereof with the housing to form a foldable parallelogram structure which is expandable into the card holding space as the first member pivots forwardly and is collapsible as the first member pivots rearwardly.

In a preferred construction, the first and second members of the card dealer are both planar.

BRIEF DECRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

The invention will now be more particularly described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is an internal left side view of an embodiment of a card shuffling and dealing device in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 2 is an internal right side view of the card shuffling and dealing device of FIG. 1, loaded with shuffled cards;

FIGS. 2A and 2B are right side views of certain components of the card shuffling and dealing device of FIG. 2;

FIG. 3 is an internal right side view of the card shuffling and dealing device of FIG. 2, with the cards being turned;

FIG. 3A is a right side view of a card dealer of the card shuffling and dealing device of FIG. 3;

FIG. 4 is an internal right side view of the card shuffling and dealing device of FIG. 3, with the cards ready for dealing;

FIG. 4A is a right side view of the card dealer of the card shuffling and dealing device of FIG. 4;

FIG. 5 is an internal right side view of the card shuffling and dealing device of FIG. 4, with only a small number of cards left; and

FIG. 5A is a right side view of the card dealer of the card shuffling and dealing device of FIG. 5.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring to the drawings, there is shown a card shuffling and dealing device 100 embodying the invention, which includes a housing 1 having a tapered front end 1A and a rear portion 1B, a horizontal slot-like card exit 11 at the front housing end 1A, and two feeder trays 30 and 31 provided at the rear housing portion 1B for holding respective stacks of playing cards (obtained by for example separating a deck of cards into two roughly even stacks). The two feeder trays 30 and 31 are located at respective upper and lower positions and serve to feed cards from the corresponding stacks into the housing 1 at different levels. The trays 30 and 31 have respective slot-like card entrance 30A and 31A facing generally in the same direction into the housing 1.

The card shuffling and dealing device 100 includes a card shuffler 300 provided in the housing 1 adjacent the feeder trays 30 and 31 for shuffling the cards from the feeder trays 30 and 31 into one stack, a card dealer 200 also provided in the housing 1 for presenting the shuffled cards for dealing, and a card holding space 2 in the housing 1 between the card shuffler 300 and the card dealer 200 for receiving and holding the shuffled cards from the card shuffler 300 as a single stack 5 in the card dealer 200.

The card shuffler 300 is mechanically driven by a driving device which is preferably electrically operated and is in this particular embodiment implemented by an electric motor 310. The shuffler 300 includes trains of drive transmission gears 320 driven by the motor 310, and a card sliding roller 330/331 associated with each feeder tray 30/31 and driven by the gears 320 for sliding cards held in the same feeder tray 30/31 through the corresponding card entrance 30A/31A into the housing 1.

Each card sliding roller 330/331 is fitted with a co-axial gear 321 in mesh with a transmission gear 322 of the gears 320 for being driven and is surrounded by a rubber tyre which protrudes slightly from below the respective feeder tray 30/31 for gripping the lowermost card by its bottom surface to slip the same. A pair of rollers 34/35 may be used immediately behind each card entrance 30A/31A, simultaneously driven by certain other gears of the gears 320 as shown to provide additional drive upon the card in transit.

The lower feeder tray 31 is positioned relatively farther away from the card holding space 2 than the upper feeder tray 30 i.e. rearwardly of the upper feeder tray 30 such that the lower feeder tray 31 is exposed to facilitate loading of cards. Such a fore-and-aft arrangement of the feeder trays 30 and 31 also assists in reducing the size of the overall card shuffling and dealing device 100.

To cater for the farer farther position of the lower feeder tray 31 from the card holding space 2, the shuffler 300 incorporates a second card sliding roller 323 for the lower feeder tray 31 for card acceleration. This extra roller 323 is provided within the housing 1 at a position nearer to the card holding space 2 and is driven at a relatively higher speed than the first roller 331 and more importantly than the other roller 330 associated with the upper feeder tray 30 in order to slide the cards from the lower feeder tray 31 relatively faster such that the cards from both feeder trays 31 and 30 reach the card holding space 2 generally at the same time, thereby ensuring or at least promoting neat piling of cards 5 in the card holding space 2.

The precise construction and arrangement of the trains of transmission gears 320 will not described in further detail herein for clarity, as they are generally known in the art.

In general, the card sliding rollers 330 and 331/323 are arranged and operated to feed and mix the cards of the two stacks from the corresponding feeder trays 30 and 31 at different levels into the housing 1, thereby shuffling the cards 5 and pile them up in the card holding space 2.

The shuffler 300 includes an electrical pushbutton operating switch 33 at an uppermost central position on the housing 1, which is electrically connected in series with the motor 310 and one or more (e.g. four) battery cells held in a battery compartment 6 at the bottom of the housing 1 for switching on and off the motor 310 powered by the battery cells. As the construction of the battery compartment 6 and the connection of its terminals to the motor 310 and the switch 33 are generally known in the art, they will not be further described herein for clarity.

Referring to the card dealer 200, it comprises a card holding plate 20 and a card blocking plate 21 which are pivotably inter-connected at their bottom edges and are inclined relative to each other to define the card holding space 2 therebetween. The card holding plate 20 is situated rearward relatively closer to the card shuffler 300, and the card blocking plate 21 is situated forward relatively closer to the card exit 11. The card holding and blocking plates 20 and 21 are individually hinged at their bottom edges about a common horizontal axis X at the bottom of the housing 1 for independent pivotal movement. At their upper edge portions, the card holding and blocking plates 20 and 21 are guided by respective side pins extending through corresponding arcuate slots 9 and 10 formed in opposite right and left side walls of the housing 1 (FIG. 1).

In general, the card dealer 200 is pivotable about the axis X between a card holding position (FIG. 2) with the card holding space 2 facing the card shuffler 300 (and the card blocking plate 21 standing upright) for receiving cards therefrom and a card dealing position (FIG. 4) with the card holding space 2 facing the card exit 11 (and the card blocking plate 21 lying flat down) for card dealing.

The card holding and blocking plates 20 and 21 are inclined relative to each other at an angle of substantially 90° in the card holding position to present a right-angled internal corner for receiving and piling cards 5 from the card shuffler 300. The two plates 20 and 21 are pivotable away from one another to subtend an angle therebetween greater than 90°, up to a maximum angle of about 120°, upon the card dealer 200 pivoting towards the card dealing position (FIG. 3) and staying at the card dealing position (FIG. 4).

The card dealer 200 is resiliently biased by an extension coil spring 24 rearwardly towards the card holding position and forwardly towards the card dealing position. The spring 24 is connected to and acts upon the card holding plate 20, in that it is stretched across the aforesaid side pin of the card holding plate 20 and a location within the relevant right side wall of the housing 1 at a small distance behind the axis X.

The card blocking plate 21 has a co-planar side handle bar 23 fixed thereto, which extends radially from the aforesaid side pin of the plate 21 and lies within the relevant left side wall of the housing 1. The free end of the handle bar 23 protrudes out of that housing side wall for access by a user to pivot the card dealer 200 between the card holding position and the card dealing position.

Connected transversely to the handle bar 23 is another radially extending bar 25 which is arranged to engage and close a normally-open electrical switch 36 in the same housing side wall, upon the card dealer 200 reaching or staying at the card holding position. This switch 36 serves to detect the card holding position of the card dealer 200 and is connected in series with the operating switch 33, etc. to permit energization of the motor 310 i.e. the card shuffler 300 only when the card dealer 200 is ready for loading of cards. The two bars 23 and 25 are slightly pivotable relative to each other, with a coil spring 26 stretched across them.

The card holding and blocking plates 20 and 21 become angularly inter-engaged by their bottom edges only when they are inclined farthest apart i.e. at the maximum angle of about 120°. Thus, as the card blocking plate 21 is pivoted forwards by its handle bar 23 from the card holding position of the card dealer 200, the card holding plate 20 will not start pivoting immediately until the said maximum angle is reached, and shortly afterwards the card holding plate 20 will be jerked forwards by the spring 24.

On the other hand, while the card blocking plate 21 lies flat down in the card dealing position of the card dealer 200, the card holding plate 20 may be pivoted backwards to a certain extent until the said maximum angle is reached. Such an extent of backward pivoting of the card holding plate 20 allows room for the splayed stack of cards in the card dealer 200 ready for dealing (see FIG. 4 vis-à-vis FIG. 5).

The card holding plate 20 includes a card presser 220 in the card holding space 2, which is movable forwardly with the plate 20 when the card dealer 200 is in the card dealing position to press upon cards in the card holding space 2 towards the card exit 11 to facilitate card dealing. The presser 220 is formed by at least two hinged parts, i.e. a pusher part 221 and a support part 222, which are pivotably connected at an outer end of the pusher part 221 with the card holding plate 20 and at an opposite outer end of the support part 222 with a hinge Y at the bottom of the housing 1 to form a foldable flat quadrilateral structure (akin to a parallelogram).

The card presser 220 will expand from the card holding plate 20 into the card holding space 2 when the plate 20 pivots forwardly and will collapse upon the plate 20 pivoting rearwardly. The presser 220 is under the resilient action of the spring 24 that acts upon the card holding plate 20.

As the cards in the card dealer 200 are slid out through the exit 11 for dealing, the remaining cards become gradually thinner, and the presser 220 simultaneously expands (under the action of the spring 24) to take up the room left behind the cards and more importantly to maintain the cards against the exit 11 by pushing the cards with its pusher part 221. When the card dealer 200 becomes (almost) empty, the card holding plate 20 is inclined slightly forwardly at an angle of about 70° with the flat card blocking plate 21. Collapsing of the presser 220 will give room to the card holding space 2 to pile up cards from the card shuffler 300.

The operation of the subject card shuffling and dealing device 100 is now described. Playing cards are first laid into the upper and lower feeder trays 30 and 31, and the operating switch 33 is then pressed, when the card dealer 200 is ready (i.e. in the card holding position) to accept/hold the cards, to start the motor 310 which in turn drives the gears 320 and hence the card rollers 330 and 331 to slip and shuffle the cards from the two feeder trays 30 and 31 alternatively into the card dealer 200, where the cards 5 hit the card blocking plate 21 and are stopped thereby to fall and pile up orderly on the card holding plate 20 (FIG. 2).

The handle bar 23 is pivoted down forwardly to pivot the card blocking plate 21 down bring with it the card holding plate 20. This turns the card dealer 200, with the cards 5, through about 90° into the card dealing position (from FIGS. 3 to 4), in which the cards 5 are splayed and pressed by the spring-loaded presser 220 against the card exit 11, ready for dealing.

The automatic, electrically operated card shuffling and dealing device 100 described above has a compact construction with a reduced size by integrating the card shuffler 300 and the card dealer 200 in a single housing 1. Cards are fed and shuffled into the housing 1 and piled up neatly therein by employing the single-direction card shuffling design with the use of the card blocking plate 21. By combining the card shuffling process with the card dealing process, operation is simple and time is saved, with added fun.

It is envisaged that more than two feeder trays 30/31 may be included as desired. The card shuffler 300 may be driven by any other driving device such as a spring motor and may even be operated manually.

The invention has been given by way of example only, and various other modifications of and/or alterations to the described embodiment may be made by persons skilled in the art without departing from the scope of the invention as specified in the appended claims.