A slot is a narrow notch, groove or opening, as in a keyway in machinery or the slit for a coin in a machine. It also refers to a position in an activity, such as a hockey player’s high slot that affords him a good vantage point from which to take a shot on goal. The term is derived from the Latin word slittere, meaning to split or cut.
In a slot game, players insert cash or, in ticket-in, ticket-out machines, paper tickets with barcodes, into a slot on the machine and then press a button (physical or virtual) to activate the reels. When the reels stop, they are rearranged to reveal symbols that match a pay table and award credits based on their combinations. Depending on the theme of the game, symbols may include classic card suit icons, items or characters aligned with that theme, and/or bonus features.
The defining feature of a slot is its volatility, which indicates how often it pays out and in what amounts. Low volatility slots pay out frequently but with smaller wins, while high volatility slots have fewer payouts, but when they do pay out the amounts are large. The volatility of a slot is an important consideration for players because it can influence the amount of money they will win or lose. These examples are automatically selected and do not reflect the opinions of Merriam-Webster or its editors.