A slot is a narrow opening, especially one for receiving something, such as a coin or a letter. It may also refer to a position, such as the eight o’clock slot on the program schedule. To slot something is to place it in or on a slot: He was slipping the disc into the CD player’s slot.

The history of the slot machine is a long and complicated one, but it began with the 19th century invention by Sittman and Pitt, who created a device with five drums that could line up poker hands. Eventually, a man named Charles Augustus Fey invented the Liberty Bell machine, which used reels instead of cards and paid out winnings according to combinations on a pay table.

In modern video and online slots, a pay table is an informational guide that lists the different combinations that can make up a winning line and shows how much each combination pays out. Traditionally, these are listed on the actual machine, but on most video and online games, they can be accessed through a menu or information button.

The name slot comes from electromechanical slot machines’ “slot switches” that would open or close to signal whether a machine had been tilted. These days, most slot machines use different sensors to check for a variety of faults. If the sensors indicate that the machine has been tampered with, it is considered a void and the game is over.