What is a Slot?


A narrow opening into which something else can be slotted: a coin slot in a machine; the slot at the bottom of an ice hockey rink that allows players to approach the goal. Also, in aviation, a scheduled time and place for an aircraft to take off or land, authorized by an airport or air-traffic control authority: We have a flight with a two-hour delay because of a weather-related ground slot.

A position on a football team, especially the receiving position closest to the ball carrier: On running plays, a slot receiver runs routes that correspond with the other receivers in order to confuse the defense and gain advantageous positions for slant and sweep runs.

The slot on a video game that displays the symbols to be used to form a winning combination: Originally, these appeared directly on the machine’s glass; now they are usually embedded into the help screen. Many slots also have a table that lists the various payouts for landing (typically) three, four, or five matching symbols on a pay line. A few even have information on special symbols, like Wilds and Scatters.

When you see a slot machine that seems to have gone long without paying off, remember that these machines are never “hot” or “cold.” Each symbol is assigned a random number by the computer and when it receives a signal — anything from a button being pushed to the handle being pulled — it sets that number. Then the reels stop on that number. Between signals, the random number generator continues to run through dozens of numbers every second.