April 17, 2014

Elyria
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Quintet of Elyria natives willing to bet on poker-Scrabble hybrid

ELYRIA — In the coming years, we all could be playing SPPoker.
It combines the fast action of poker with the word fascination of Scrabble.
The specially designed cards have the regular playing cards symbols in one corner and letters of the alphabet in another. You can win points three ways: by having the best poker hand, the longest word hand, or both.
It’s all the creation of five Elyria natives: the four Fujka (pronounced Fweekah) brothers and their friend, Jerry Klein, of Elyria.
They’re still waiting for their big break while marketing their game at www.sppokercards.com and tinkering a bit with advertising on cable television.
They said it all started about five years ago when Ken Fujka called his brother Dennis at 2 a.m. after a light bulb went off in his head.
“I’m asleep like normal people would be and Ken said, ‘I have an idea — there’s 52 cards in a deck and 26 letters and there has to be a connection!’ ” Dennis Fujka said.
He was a little grumpy, but he agreed it was worth a thought.
The brothers — Ken of Lorton, Va., Dennis of Bay Village, Mark of Bryan, Ohio, and Gary of New York City — all pitched in with ideas, along with Klein, an assistant safety-service director in Elyria.
They first devised a board game, but a manufacturer wanted $15 each to make them — and a minimum first order of 10,000.
They got the patent on the board game, but also devised a game using a single deck of cards. It is now available and sells for $9.95 on their Web site.
Klein also sells the decks from his home at 39646 Calann Drive. Call first at (440) 322-1071.
The best part of SPPoker is that it makes poker accessible to everyone, according to Ken Fujka. If you’re old enough to spell a significant number of words, you can play SPPoker.
“Our wives didn’t know how to play poker, but they learned the rankings of poker games by playing SPPOKER,” Ken Fujka said.
His wife, Jan, said she doesn’t play regular poker but she likes SPPoker.
“It’s a challenge to figure out whether you have a good spelling hand or a good poker hand,” she said.
If you have both, you rack up a quick four points, and that usually happens at least once every game, Jan Fujka said.
SPPoker is catching on at venues such as Spring Valley Country Club, where Dennis is a regular. Klein also has handed out a few decks at City Hall. The game caught the attention of Mayor Bill Grace, who declared Monday SPPoker day in honor of the inventors.
The mayor said he hasn’t played yet, but Ken Fujka was ready with a quick initiation.
“What are you doing tonight?” he asked with a grin.
Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or cleise@chroniclet.com.

071707cards.jpgsteve manheim / chronicle
Dennis Fujka (left), Lynne Fujka, Jerry Klein, Ken Fujka and Jan Fujka, of Elyria, play a new card game SPPoker.