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 group, series, or sequence; an assigned time period for something: The program is scheduled to run during that slot.

In gambling, a slot is a position where a winning combination of symbols appears on a reel or in a pay table. Winning slots are those that give you enough small jackpots to keep your bankroll from depleting, which is known as “bankroll cycling.” This is important because there are two different kinds of odds when it comes to slot machines: the probability of a specific symbol appearing on the reels and the probability of hitting a certain amount of jackpots.

The difference is that the odds of hitting a particular jackpot are much higher than the probability of hitting a specific symbol. The reason is that with microprocessors now ubiquitous, the computers inside slot machines can assign a different probability to each symbol on each of the reels. This makes it look as though the chances of hitting a jackpot are closer than they really are.

It’s important to remember that casinos wouldn’t be in business if slots never paid out anything. Most jurisdictions require that slot machines return a minimum of 85 percent to players. That might not seem like a lot when you’re down to your last nickel, but remember that someone has to win that money — and it might as well be you next time.