A slot is a narrow opening into which something can be fitted. The word is attested from 1520s, in the sense “narrow opening into which a coin can be inserted,” but the meaning “place in a list” is first recorded from 1888 (as in “a slot on a copy desk at a newspaper”). A machine that takes coins and pays out prizes is also called a slot.
Slots are a universal casino favourite because they’re easy: just put in your money and press the spin button. If the symbols line up in a certain pattern, you win a prize. They’re also fast: you can be in and out in a matter of seconds.
There’s no real strategy to playing slots, but you can improve your odds of winning by choosing the right game for you. Look for a low variance game if you’re looking to win more often or a high variance game if you’re after larger jackpots.
Another thing to keep in mind is that every time you play an online slot it’s a different experience. Unlike a physical machine, an online slot is a manifestation of code and a simulation, so it’s unique to you while you play it. Once you quit, it’s replaced by a new iteration that can be played by another user.
If you’re playing for fun and you see someone else win, don’t be disappointed — it was their lucky day. You have no idea what the same split-second timing was like that the winner had, so it’s unlikely that you would have been able to beat them at their own game.