A slot is a narrow opening in something that allows for movement. In football, a player who lines up in the area between the outside wide receivers and the offensive linemen is called a slot receiver because they need to be able to catch passes at different speeds. These players tend to be shorter and quicker than traditional wide receivers.
In the past, slot machines had a limited number of symbols (usually just 12) and therefore a limited number of combinations. However, with the advent of microprocessors, slot manufacturers were able to assign different weightings to the various symbols on each reel. This made it possible to produce a sequence that appeared to be very close to a winning symbol – even though the actual probability of the sequence was far lower.
Another key aspect of slots is the variance, which determines how often a machine pays out. It is important to understand the variance of a slot before playing it, as this will help you choose the best machine for your gambling goals.
Most modern slot games have an information table that explains what each symbol in the game means, how much you can win if you land them on a payline and how to trigger bonus features. Usually these tables are displayed as small windows with colourful graphics to make them easier to read. They may also include a short animation to help explain the rules of the game.