What is a Slot?
A slot is a small gap, opening, or pocket. It can also refer to a position or assignment. In sports, a slot is the unmarked area in front of the goal between the face-off circles on an ice hockey rink.
In the movie National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation, Chevy Chase’s character gets consumed by gambling fever while playing a slot machine. While luck plays a big role in winning and losing, having some understanding of probability can help you improve your chances of getting the best payouts.
Some research on slot machines has linked the games to gambling addiction. A study by psychologists Robert Breen and Marc Zimmerman reported that players of video slots reach a debilitating level of involvement with gambling three times more rapidly than those who play traditional casino games. The researchers found that players of video slot machines reached this point even if they had engaged in other forms of gambling without problems.
The main problem with these experiments is that the stimuli used were too simplistic to reflect the real-world contexts of slot machines. For example, the experimenters presented participants with a single pay table rather than the multiple pay tables typical of real-world slot machines. Moreover, the experiments tended to produce net gains for participants—a condition that may have reduced the putative reinforcing value of near misses. Despite these limitations, however, several studies have replicated Strickland and Grote’s finding that near-miss density increases gambling persistence.