What Is a Slot?


A narrow notch, groove, or opening, as in a keyway in a piece of machinery or a slit for a coin in a vending machine. Also: a position in a line, series, sequence, or program. He slotted himself into a speaking role at the festival.

A small amount paid out to keep a player seated and continuously betting on the machine, especially in order to avoid a technical problem such as a door switch being in the wrong state, reel motor malfunction, or out of paper. (Even though electromechanical slot machines had tilt switches, any kind of mechanical error that triggered an alarm was still called a “tilt.”) Modern slot machines don’t have tilt switches, but any problem that stops the machine from running correctly is referred to as a “short.”

One of the most dangerous myths about slots is that if a machine has been cold for a while it will suddenly get hot and pay out big. This belief is based on the fact that gamblers have egos and can’t accept that they will lose eventually. However, the truth is that a machine’s probability of hitting a jackpot remains the same after each spin.

It’s easy to determine how much a particular machine typically pays out by looking at its history. Casinos report their jackpot wins to New Jersey and the Federal government, and it’s possible to spot patterns in payout amounts. A high jackpot amount doesn’t necessarily mean a machine will hit soon; it just means that the jackpot has been high enough to attract more players.