You checked in on time, made it through security, found your gate, queued to get on board, struggled with the overhead lockers and settled into your seat. But then the captain says, “We’re waiting for a slot.” What is a slot and why can’t you take off as soon as you’re ready?

A slit or other narrow opening for receiving something, such as a coin. Also: a time, opportunity, position, berth, nook, niche, window, hole, vent, or gap.

In a casino, the area containing the machine’s reels. The slots are usually organized in rows, with high-limit machines placed in separate’salons’.

In computing, a software component that manages the allocation of resources to jobs. A slot can be purchased at the project, folder, or organization level. Projects that do not have their own slot assignments use slots assigned to their parents in the resources hierarchy.

A popular myth is that a machine that has been cold for a while is due to pay off. This is wrong, as slot machines’ random-number generators run through dozens of numbers every second. The machine’s odds of hitting a specific symbol, or combination of symbols, are the same whether it has just come off a hot streak or is brand new. The only way to increase your chances of winning at a slot is by understanding its rules and learning how to play it. To do this, you should always read the game’s rules before playing.