A slot is a narrow aperture or groove, especially in a machine. A coin dropped into a slot of a vending machine triggers the machine to accept the coin and give it back to the customer. In a computer, a slot is a connection to a processor. A slot may be used to connect a newer processor to an older motherboard, to make it possible to upgrade the computer without replacing the entire unit. A slot is also a place in a schedule or program where an activity can take place. For example, visitors might book a time slot a week or more in advance at a museum.
Charles Fey was the inventor of the first three-reel slot machine in 1899. Fey’s invention was inspired by the Liberty Bell, a large bronze statue of the Declaration of Independence. A plaque marks the spot in San Francisco where Fey built his first machine. Modern slot machines use microprocessors to determine the probability of a winning combination on each reel. The odds of winning are printed on the face of each reel, but the probabilities of getting specific symbols vary from one machine to the next. Some machines, called multipliers, offer multiple chances of winning in the same spin.
Because they line up just behind the wide receivers and in front of the offensive linemen, slot receivers must be very skilled at blocking. They must be able to anticipate where defenders are going, and they must be able to align themselves with the linebackers and defensive ends to create gaps for themselves. This requires very good awareness of the defense, and it takes practice to develop a solid understanding of the tendencies of each defender.
Slot receivers must also be able to catch passes from a variety of angles. They often run short routes up, in, and out of the slot, but they might also be asked to act as a running back on some plays, such as pitch plays, reverses, and end-arounds. In these situations, the quarterback will call a pre-snap motion and then quickly hand the ball to the slot receiver before the defense can close the gap.
The slot receiver position has become much more important in recent years as offenses have shifted away from the traditional three-receiver, two-back sets toward more spread formations. Because they are shorter and faster than traditional wide receivers, slot receivers must be able to catch the ball with ease while also being excellent blockers. To be successful, they must have great chemistry with the quarterback and good route running skills. Some examples of successful slot receivers include Wayne Chrebet, Wes Welker, and Charlie Joiner. They each racked up over 10,000 yards and 50 touchdowns during their careers.