A slot (plural slots) is a narrow opening or gap. A slot is often used to accommodate a cable, wire or cord. The term is also applied to the space in a computer where an expansion board can be inserted. A slot can also refer to a position in a game of chance or a computer program.
In sports, a slot is the position where a receiver lines up on the field, typically between the tight end and offensive tackle pre-snap. This positioning and their pre-snap movement has given the Slot receiver its name. It is a versatile position, one that is often used in passing plays, such as screens and crossing routes, but it can also be a key component of running plays like pitch plays, reverses and end-arounds.
As more teams opt for multiple wide receivers and shift their formations to a spread, the Slot receiver has become an important part of many offenses. They must have excellent route-running skills and be able to handle the rigors of an up-tempo offense, especially when asked to run precise routes on a regular basis. The Slot receiver is usually smaller and shorter than outside wide receivers, so they must also be extremely fast to beat coverage and gain separation on defenders.
Despite their specialized skill sets, Slot receivers must be adept at other aspects of the game, too. They must be able to block on run plays, which means mastering just about every blocking scheme in the book. They must be able to run precise routes, as well, and excel at running short and deep patterns. In addition, Slot receivers must be able to act as the ball carrier on some run plays and pitch plays, so they need good hand-eye coordination and solid route running skills.
A slot machine is a gambling device that accepts cash or, in the case of “ticket-in, ticket-out” machines, a paper ticket with a barcode. It is activated by pressing a lever or button (either physical or on a touchscreen), which then spins the reels and, if a winning combination is achieved, awards credits based on the paytable. The symbols on a slot machine vary but include classics such as fruit, bells and stylized lucky sevens. Many slot games have a theme and feature bonus rounds and other interactive elements that align with that theme.
Psychologists have studied the relationship between slot machines and gambling addiction. They have found that players reach a debilitating level of involvement with the machines three times more rapidly than with traditional casino games. Some have even compared the problem to other addictive behaviors, such as alcohol and drug addictions. The 2011 60 Minutes report “Slot Machines: The Big Gamble” highlighted these findings.