1) I’ve always washed for bread 3 times each hand, but most people seem to do only twice. Is there a source for washing 3 times for bread?
2) What about washing before davening? Does one time suffice? Do I need a cup?
1 The Halacha only requires 2 timer per hand.
2 For davening [mincha and maariv] one time suffices, a cup should ideally be used but is not a halchic obligation.
1 O:C 162:2, Mishna Brura s”k 1, 19, 21
2 Shulchan Aruch 92:5 implies no cup is necessary as is the strict halacha for washing in the morning [Ohr Ltzion Vol 2 45:24]. This is also the opinion of the Ramban in his Teshuvos 195. However the opinion of the Rambam Brachos 6:2 is that the washing for tefila is as for bread which requires a kli. The Mishna Brura 7:3 brings the opinion of the Vilna Gaon that washing for mincha and maariv should be the same as for shachris, and such a cup should be used as we do for shachris.