How Slot Machines Work

In the casino, slots are a universal favourite because they’re easy to play and fast. But behind the flashing lights and the spinning reels are complicated algorithms that determine your odds of winning a jackpot. It’s important to understand how slot machines work before you start playing.

A position or location in a group, sequence, or series: the slot of a job; the position of a child in school; the slot of an airplane on a runway. Also, a slit in an aircraft wing that acts as an airfoil and helps to maintain a smooth flow of air over the wing.

An area in an airline or military aircraft that has been assigned a specific time and place for taking off or landing: the airline was allocated 40 slots at U.S. airports. Also, an oblong space between the tips of the primaries on certain birds that provides an air gap and allows for a steady flow of air over the wings during flight.

Slots are based on the number of symbols that line up on the reels (for older machines, these were actually large metal hoops; now they’re images on a video screen). Once you’ve activated a slot by inserting cash or, in “ticket-in, ticket-out” machines, a paper barcoded ticket, the machine’s computer sets off a random-number generator that assigns a different combination of numbers to each possible stop on the reels. When you hit the spin button, the reels then stop at each of these combinations and pay out credits according to the machine’s paytable.