“I didn’t feel too bad going into the last frame because, from 5-3 up to 5-5 I didn’t do much wrong, John froze me out,” said Allen.
“I missed two really tricky shots, so I was just looking forward to the decider and to hopefully getting the chance.
“When John missed a long red at the start and got away with it, I was fearing the worst.
“But I played a few good safety shots there, got another chance and made the most of it.”
Double Masters champion Higgins last won the title 18 years ago and was understandably hungry to end his forgettable barren run at snooker’s most prestigious invitational tournament.
The 48-year-old Scot won a scrappy opening framing before Allen fluked the final black to level matters.
Breaks of 83 and 80 saw Higgins lead 3-1 at the interval, but the four-time world champion missed a decent chance to open up a three-frame cushion – and that gave Allen the opportunity to fight back.
The Antrim player duly reeled off four frames in a row, with top breaks of 123 and 58, to edge within one frame of victory.
Higgins responded with runs of 58 and 61 to take the match the distance, but Allen finished the job with a composed break of 86.
“I certainly feel a bit punch drunk after losing,” said Higgins.
“From 3-1 in front I never capitalised. I missed a few terrible balls.
“I managed to dig in, but Mark produced a great break in the final frame. He’s got fantastic bottle and he showed it.”