CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This application claims the benefit of the filing date of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/610,262, filed Sep. 16, 2004, all of its contents incorporated herein in their entirety.
1. Field of the Invention
The subject invention relates to a table game apparatus for playing an electronic game.
2. Description of the Prior Art
The prior art discloses an array of gaming tables having table tops pivotally supported on a support frame, such as that shown in U.S. Pat. No. 6,435,970, issued to Baerlocher et al. Such gaming tables include a table top having an upper surface and a lower surface extending to a border wherein the table top defines a centrally located electronic display. The table top is attached by a hinge to the support frame for allowing the table top to be adjustable between a closed and an open position.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
It is also known in the table art in general to support a table top on a plate fixed to a support.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The present invention provides such a table game apparatus distinguished by a plate presenting a plate aperture substantially co-extensive with an electronic display and connected to a hinge for supporting and pivoting the table top.
Other advantages of the present invention will be readily appreciated, as the same becomes better understood by reference to the following detailed description when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings wherein:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a table game apparatus of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a top view of the apparatus shown in FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is side view of the apparatus shown in FIG. 1; and
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the table game apparatus shown in FIG. 1.
Referring to the Figures, wherein like numerals indicate corresponding parts throughout the several views, a table game apparatus 10 for playing an electronic game is shown. In one embodiment, the apparatus 10 may provide an electronic card game, such as poker, using virtual cards and virtual chips to a plurality of players. One said apparatus is disclosed in U.S. Provisional Patent Application 60/610,262.
The apparatus 10 includes a substantially planar table top 20 having an upper surface 22 and a lower surface 24 extending to a border 26. A plurality of pieces 28 are disposed about the border 26 to define a bumper 30 that is rigid, by example and not meant to be limiting, the bumper 30 may be enclosed in a leather or cotton shell. The table top 20 defines a centrally located electronic display 32 that is embedded into and substantially flush with the upper surface 22 of the table top 20. The electronic display 32 may show virtual cards representing the virtual dealer's cards, player seat assignments, wager information for participants of the game, pot information and/or other information. In an alternative embodiment, the electronic display 32 may be implemented to cover a large portion of the table top 20.
A plate 34 is attached to the lower surface 24 for supporting the table top 20. The plate 34 includes a periphery 36 that is spaced inwardly of the border 26 and presents a first side 38 and a second side 40 parallel to one another and a first end 42 and a second end 44 with a plurality of diagonal corners 46 interconnecting the sides 38, 40 and the ends 42, 44. The table top 20 defines a pair of first openings 48 disposed along each side 38, 40 of the plate 34 and a pair of second openings 50 disposed at each end 42, 44 and at each corner 46 of the plate 34.
An electronic player interaction area 52 is disposed in each of the openings 48 for player input, displaying virtual cards and other information to the players. In one embodiment each electronic player interaction area 52 is embodied in a touch screen display. Each electronic player interaction area 52 may include the display and a computer contained with a single housing. The electronic display or centrally located electronic display 32 may be controlled or driven by a separate computer such as a personal computer. In an alternative embodiment, the electronic player interaction areas 52 and the electronic display 32 may be implemented in a single display that covers a large portion of the table top 20. The apparatus also includes a support frame 54 for supporting the table top 20. The apparatus includes a hinge 56 for pivotal movement of the table top 20 relative to the support frame 54 between a closed position and an open position.
The apparatus is distinguished by the plate 34 presenting a plate aperture 58 substantially co-extensive with the electronic display 32. The plate 34 is also connected to the hinge 56 for aiding in the supporting and pivoting of the table top 20.
The apparatus includes a plurality of biasing members 60 interconnecting the support frame 54 and the plate 34 for holding the table top 20 in the open position. Air springs, shown as an example and not meant to be limiting, represent the biasing members 60.
The support frame 54 defines a cavity 62 with an oval shape and a side wall 64 for housing electronics such as computers, game controllers, fans, power supplies, etc. An electronic control 66 unit is disposed in the cavity 62 and electronically connected to the electronic display 32. For example, the electronic control unit 66 may include a game computer (not shown) for running one or more computer program applications which provide the electronic game to the players. Another computer (not shown) may be provided for controlling or driving the electronic display 32. The support frame 54 further includes an access panel 68 disposed on the side wall 64 that provides access to an on/off power switch (not shown) and a reset switch (not shown). The side wall 64 engages the plate 34 with the table top 20 extending in a cantilevered portion outwardly of the side wall 64 and the periphery 36 of the plate 34.
The support frame 54 includes a box frame 70 and a leg frame 72 for supporting the box frame 70. The leg frame 72 includes a pair of oppositely disposed and horizontal T-shaped members 74 and a pad 76 disposed at the distal end of each leg of each T-shape member 74 for supporting the leg frame 72 on a floor. The leg frame 72 includes a post 78 extending upwardly from each leg of each T-shape member 74 to support the box frame 70. A ring 80 extends about and connects to each of the posts 78 to define a foot rest 82.
An alternative embodiment of the table game apparatus 10 is shown in FIG. 4. In this embodiment, the plate 34 is spaced apart from and attached to the lower surface 24 of the table top 20 to define a space 90 there between. Furthermore, the plate 34 extends to an edge 84 disposed at the border 26. In this embodiment the side wall 64 engages the plate 34 which results in the plate 34 and the table top 20 extending in a cantilevered portion outwardly of the side wall 64. The plate 34 also defines a plurality of apertures 86 that are used for receiving one or more electrical leads 88 or a wiring harness that extends into the space between the plate 34 and the table top 20. For example and not meant to be limiting, one end of the electrical lead can be connected to the electronic display 32. While the body of the electrical lead would extend throughout the space 90 and out one of the apertures 86 to connect the other end of the electrical lead to the electronic control unit 66 housed in the cavity 62. The apertures 86 can also be used for the insertion of electronic devices, for example and not meant to be limiting, speakers.
Obviously, many modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings. The invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described within the scope of the appended claims.