What is a Slot?

A slit, hole, or other narrow opening, especially one for receiving something, as a coin or letter. (From the Latin scutum, meaning “hole”)

Modern slot machines look similar to the mechanical models that preceded them, but they work on a completely different principle. Instead of gears, they use computer chips that randomly pick the sequence of symbols stopped on each reel. This means that the outcome of any spin cannot be predicted or reliably influenced by the results of previous ones. Consequently, winning remains solely up to luck.

Charles Fey’s machine had three spinning reels and was programmed to pay out if any of the symbols (as listed in a table called a pay table) lined up on the pay line. Fey’s machine also dispensed tickets that could be exchanged for cash, and it allowed players to collect multiple tokens in order to receive a bonus pay out. The concept was an instant success.

Today’s electronic slots can offer a huge variety of paylines, special symbols, jackpots and other bonus features. In addition, most have a HELP or INFO button that will walk players through the pay tables, symbols, prizes, and jackpots. One thing to remember is that it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the game and if you don’t set some limits for yourself, it can quickly become a time-consuming and money-sucking experience. Getting greedy or betting more than you can afford to lose are the two biggest pitfalls in playing slots.