A slot is a narrow notch or groove, such as a slit for coins in a machine. It can also refer to a position in a schedule or program, for example, when someone books an appointment they may have been given a time slot that is a week or more in advance.
In a slot machine, players insert cash or, in ticket-in, ticket-out machines, a paper ticket with a barcode, into a designated slot on the machine to activate it. This causes the reels to spin and, if there are matching symbols on a pay line (which can vary by machine), the player will earn credits based on the paytable. The symbols can be anything from pictures of fruits and bells to stylized lucky sevens, depending on the theme of the machine.
Some modern slots have bonus features that allow players to win more than just the standard jackpot amount. These extras can include free spins, pick-style games, expanding wilds, re-spins and more. The rules for these bonus features are usually clearly explained in the pay table of the specific slot game.
It never ceases to amaze us how many players plunk down their cash on a slot without checking the pay table. These tables are normally designed to fit in with the theme of the slot and often use bright colours to highlight important information. They can also show the different patterns that can make up a winning combination. If a slot has a progressive jackpot, the pay table can explain how it is paid out. It might be paid out in a single lump sum or in instalments, and the pay table will give details of the minimum and maximum bets required to qualify for the jackpot.