Many people, new to poker and already hooked alike, tend to have a 'wrong' perception of what poker is all about. In view of the complexity of the game and the reputation it has had in the past this is not a surprising observation. Some think poker is all about bluffing, others think it is all about luck. Some might still see poker as a gambling game played by suspect people in obscure basements filled with cigarette smoke and lit by flickering lights. Others might perceive poker as an easy way to make a fortune, 'cause 'hey, that guy on TV could do it too, right?'
So is it all about money? The money certainly adds excitement and emotion to the game. If you think poker is all about money, then you probably would want to win as much as possible. And isn't the only thing you can do to achieve this trying to make the best decisions as often as possible? About bluffing then? In view of the above, bluffing is nothing more than a tool to make the optimal play and/or inducing mistakes from your opponents, now or in future hands. What about luck? Sure, luck is part of the game. But how can a game that takes a lifetime to master be all about luck?
Poker is a game of decisions. And the better the decisions you make are, the higher will be the likelihood of you ending up as a winner. Therefore playing winning poker is all about making as many of the most correct decisions as possible and at the same time inducing mistakes by your opponents. David Sklansky, a well know poker author (-ity), defined a mistake in poker as making a different decision than you would have made had you known the exact cards of your opponent.
However, even if you would know the exact cards of your opponent it won't always be clear what exactly 'the' correct decision is. Besides his or her cards, you also have incomplete information about your opponent's reaction to your decision. Therefore a mistake in poker would be making a different decision than you would have made if you had known the exact cards and the exact reaction of your opponent; a different play than the 'optimal play'.