What Is a Slot?

A narrow notch, groove, or opening, as in a keyway, the slit for a coin in a vending machine, or an aircraft wing strut. Also, a position in a group, series, sequence, etc.

In computer technology, a slot is an empty area on a motherboard into which a memory chip or other component can be inserted. The term can also refer to a specific expansion slot, such as an ISA (Industry Standard Architecture), PCI (peripheral component interconnect), or AGP (accelerated graphics port) slot. A slot is sometimes mistakenly used to describe a connector on a computer, such as a serial or parallel port.

The first of Charles Fey’s mechanical slot machines allowed a single payout per spin, instead of requiring multiple pulls of the handle to achieve the same result. Fey’s machines also introduced a new payout system, in which different symbols — such as poker chips, horseshoes, spades, diamonds, and liberty bells — represented various jackpot levels. Three aligned liberty bells were the highest prize.

It’s important to remember that winning a particular slot game is purely random. Just like rolling a die or flipping a coin, there’s an equal chance that any of the possible outcomes will occur. That’s why it’s so critical to set limits before you start playing: don’t spend more than you can afford to lose, and don’t waste your time or money chasing a “due” payout that doesn’t exist.