A slot is a thin opening or groove in something. You might use a slot to mail a letter or postcard or put money in a vending machine. A slot might also refer to the time of day at an airport when airplanes can take off and land. Air traffic management uses slots to manage congestion at airports.
It is important to understand that slots are based on random number generators, and your chances of hitting a winning combination are determined by chance alone. The casino has no control over the outcome beyond setting your wager and pulling the handle (or pressing the Spin button these days). This also means that there are no ‘due payouts’ – the results of each spin are entirely random and independent of the results of previous spins or other player activity.
In addition to the random number generator, modern slot machines have microprocessors that assign different probabilities to each symbol on each reel. This can give the appearance of ‘close calls’ – where a winning symbol seems so close that it must be due. The reality is, however, that these ‘close’ symbols are still just as likely to appear next time as any other symbol.
If you are playing a slot machine that requires you to bet maximum credits, then make sure that you are able to do so. If you cannot afford to play the max, then choose a machine that is appropriate for your budget. This will help you avoid losing more than you can afford to lose, and will ensure that you are getting the best return-to-player percentage possible.