A slot is a thin opening or groove in something. For example, if you go to the post office, you may have seen mail being pushed through a slot. Similarly, a slot in a slot machine is a way to insert coins into a machine and get cash. The word slots is derived from the French term esclot, which has uncertain origins. In the 1520s, the term slot became a synonym for machine.
A slot represents an area where a player has the best chances of scoring without a deflection. In addition, a slot is a low area, so a player can shoot with a wrist shot with a clear view of the goal. It also allows a small winger to make wrist shots, as defenders tend to lay big hits in this area. But the slot can also represent an area of opportunity where a player can score from a bad position.
Slot machines have pay tables that list the credits that a player will receive if their symbols line up. In addition to the pay table, some symbols may represent many other symbols. Typically, pay tables are found on the face of the machine (on older machines, these are found above and below the wheels), although a video slot machine’s help menu may have one too. However, a pay table is a valuable tool in the game.