Poker is not just a game about luck or making good bets. A master poker player is one who can also deceive their opponents the best, either by fooling their opponent in making them believe their hand is stronger than it actually is, or by downplaying a powerful hand. Both of these deceptive tactics make up an integral part of the game of poker that must be learned if someone wants to succeed at the game.
Bluffing is a bet or a raise on a hand that is not considered a strong or winning hand. The bluffer wants to force their opponents, who may have stronger hands than the bluffer, to fold. There are two kinds of bluffs in poker, a semi-bluff and a pure bluff, with both having their own uses on the table. A semi-bluff is a bluff that has a chance of improving when more cards are revealed. A semi-bluff can win the game by causing the opposing players to fold, but it can also win through strong cards that become revealed. A pure bluff, on the other hand, is a now or never strategy being used by the bluffer. The only way the pure bluffer can win is if all other opponents fold; he cannot win with he hand he is playing. Bluffing can be a very powerful tool by the skilled user, but it can also spell doom for those that use it incorrectly.
A slow play, on the other hand, is the opposite of a bluff. A slow player places weak bets on a strong hand in order to build up the pot by baiting those with decent hands to bet more money, thinking their hand is the superior one at the table. The other possibility with the slow play is that players may fold to a raise due to the lack of confidence in their hands. Either way the slow play will slowly build the pot and put the slow player in a good position to win by sacrificing protection against hands that might improve with new cards being drawn.
Both bluffing and slow playing see extensive use in the poker world. By learning and mastering both of these deceptive tactics, one can work on bringing their poker game to the next level, both by using them and identifying when they are being used against the player.