A slot is a narrow notch, groove, or opening, such as a keyway in a piece of machinery or a slit for a coin in a vending machine. The term is also used for a position in a group, series, or sequence.
A player inserts cash or, in “ticket-in, ticket-out” machines, a paper ticket with a barcode into a slot on the machine and then activates it by pushing a button (physical or on a touchscreen). The reels spin and stop to rearrange the symbols. When a winning combination is displayed, the machine awards credits based on its pay table.
Early mechanical slot machines had a fixed number of stops on each reel, limiting the number of possible combinations. With the introduction of electronic computers, manufacturers could program each reel to have different odds for specific symbols, allowing them to make more frequent wins. Modern slot machines have a random number generator (RNG) that produces a random sequence of numbers for each spin, independent of the previous results.
Slot receivers must have excellent hands because they receive many short passes behind the line of scrimmage, and catch a variety of routes, both up and in. They must be very quick with their route running and have great awareness of where the defense is in relation to the quarterback. This allows the receiver to match up with a defender and create a mismatch. In addition, slot receivers must be able to block, although this is not as critical as it is for outside receivers.