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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Three ways to play 8 Ball

Level 1: London Pub

Waiting for your match

Breaking the rack

Angling it just right

Tidbits of conversation

Time for a rematch?

After several attempts...

Available for iOS and optimized for the iPhone 5, 8 Ball Pool is a 99-cent billiards game that lets you play pool with your Facebook friends or random opponents online.

Caption by / Photo by Lynn La/CNET

To play a round, each player pays the entry fee in in-game coins. The game consists of five levels -- London, Sydney, Moscow, Tokyo, and Las Vegas -- each requires a higher entry fee. If you win the game, you'll win twice the amount you paid.

Caption by / Photo by Lynn La/CNET

The app has a robust community. At any given time, I've seen anywhere from 1,000 to 4,000 players currently online on every one of the five levels. Every game you play, whether you win or lose, will earn you experience points. Earn more points and you can level up (this is designated by the number given to you on your badge star), letting you unlock the harder levels in the game.

Caption by / Photo by Lynn La/CNET

To play after the rack is broken by the cue ball, you simply adjust the angle of your pool stick with your finger. Two lines will then appear, one showing the trajectory of the ball you're aiming for, and the other showing the trajectory of your cue ball.

Caption by / Photo by Lynn La/CNET

To keep the game moving along, each player gets 30 seconds to set up and complete a shot. If you take longer than that, you'll lose your turn and your opponent can then move the cue ball to wherever he or she likes (known as "ball in hand"). To win, pot either all the solid or striped balls, and get the eight ball in last.

Caption by / Photo by Lynn La/CNET

During the game, you can chat with your opponent using preloaded terms like "Oops" and the subtly condescending "Nice try."

Caption by / Photo by Lynn La/CNET

After playing an opponent, you have the option to rematch or play against a new user altogether.

Caption by / Photo by Lynn La/CNET

No fireworks here -- after you win a round, the simple phrase "You Win" appears.

Caption by / Photo by Lynn La/CNET
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