What is a Slot?

A slit or narrow opening, especially one for receiving something such as coins or a letter. Also, a position or assignment: The chief copy editor got the slot for the Gazette.

In computer science, a portion of the data path that shares a set of instructions and resources. This term is also commonly applied to the operation issue and execution pipeline in very long instruction word (VLIW) machines.

The term slot has a more general meaning in the context of gambling and video poker. In these types of games, a symbol may appear on a payline only once for every 100 spins, but may occupy several positions on the reels and therefore be eligible to form multiple winning combinations. The occurrence of these different outcomes is controlled by the probability distributions of symbols and the number of stops on each reel.

More recently, the concept of a slot has been used to describe a specific feature of a game. For example, many video slots have a bonus round where players can win extra money or pick up additional prizes. These bonuses often have a theme and can be very lucrative.

In American football, a player who lines up wide or to the outside of the defensive backfield is called a slot cornerback or nickel back. They can stretch the defense vertically and use their speed to make big plays on short routes, such as slants or quick outs. This type of play is becoming increasingly common, as teams seek to find ways to maximize the talents of their fast receivers.