What Is a Slot?

A time and place for an aircraft to take off or land, allocated by an airport or air-traffic control authority. Also, the position of a wide receiver on a football team that lines up in the slot, a few steps off the line of scrimmage.

A slot in computer hardware is a set of holes on the motherboard where expansion cards (such as an ISA, PCI, or AGP slot) fit. The slots are usually numbered, and each has a different function.

It is a common sight on casino floors for patrons to hop from machine to machine before settling on one they think might be due for a big payout. But the truth is that the odds of winning or losing are the same for every spin of a slot machine, regardless of what happened in a previous play or series of plays.

On a traditional mechanical slot, each reel has stops that can line up with symbols to create winning combinations. A slot machine pays out a percentage of the coins it accepts to players, based on its payout table. The pay table is listed above and below the spinning reels, or within a help menu on a video slot. Symbols vary, but many follow a theme and feature fruit, card numbers from nine to ace, or images based on the theme. Some slots have special symbols that act as wilds, or multiply the value of other symbols when they appear on a pay line.