What Is a Slot?

A slot is a narrow opening, groove or hole in something, often used to allow for the passage of objects such as coins or keys. A slot can also refer to a position on a computer motherboard, typically one of the expansion slots that hold memory chips and other components. A slot may also refer to a specific feature on a casino game machine, such as the ability to win bonus rounds or additional spins.

In modern casinos, slots are operated by random number generators (RNG). When a player inserts cash or, in “ticket-in, ticket-out” machines, a paper ticket with a barcode, the machine activates and begins to spin. Each reel has a different combination of symbols, and when the reels stop spinning, the RNG generates a series of numbers at a rate of dozens per second. The combination of these numbers corresponds to a particular symbol on the reel, and the resulting payout is determined by the paytable.

Players can find the pay table for a given slot machine by looking at its display, which shows how each regular symbol pays and the number of matching symbols required to trigger a payout. The table will also list any special symbols, like wilds or scatters, and explain the rules of any bonus features that the slot has. Some slot machines also have a ‘hot’ designation, which means that they are programmed to pay more frequently than others. This has led to a common misconception that a machine is “due” to hit, but this is not true: the result of each spin is determined by chance.