What Is a Slot?

A narrow, elongated depression or groove, notch, or opening for receiving something, as a coin or letter. Also: a time for something to take place: a new time slot for a program. A position in an organization or job, as a manager or chief copy editor: He had the slot at the Gazette for 20 years. A narrow notch between the tips of the primaries in certain birds, which during flight helps to maintain a smooth flow of air over the wings.

A time allowed for an aircraft to take off or land, as authorized by an airport or air-traffic authority: 40 more slots for the new airline at U.S. airports. Also: a scheduled time for an event or activity: He had to be at the concert by 17:00 in order to get his slot.

In a slot machine, the symbol that lines up along the pay line, which runs across the middle of a viewing window, determines whether or not a player wins (certain single images can win as well). Video slot machines have multiple pay lines, which can run horizontally, vertically, diagonally, or even in circles. Bonus symbols can substitute for other symbols, increase winning chances, and trigger special game rounds.

It’s important to read the pay table before playing a slot game, as it displays how much you can potentially win on a given spin and explains what combinations of symbols payout or unlock special features. It’s usually located either physically on the machine or on the screen for a video or online slot, and is typically accessed by pressing the INFO or MENU button.